By Cary Shuman
Steven A. Rosenberg is a reporter who wrote about the North Shore for the Boston Globe for 15 years. His stories and columns focus on the region’s interesting personalities, well-known businesses, pillars of the community, and Jewish culture.
Rosenberg has released a book, “Middle Class Heroes: Voices from Boston’s Suburbs,” that is a compilation of personal essays and articles from his wide-ranging Globe portfolio.
“It’s a book about families, traditions, and customs,” said the talented 57-year-old journalist, who still writes a monthly column for the Globe. “It’s a homage to northeastern Massachusetts.
Known for his extensive knowledge of Jewish history, Rosenberg devotes an entire chapter of his book to Jewish stories.
Rosenberg also includes two narratives in the book, one about a homeless Korean War veteran, the other a look at a rooming house in Lynn that his parents, Sam and Ruby, owned in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The book contains the pieces that were the most meaningful to me,” said Rosenberg, a UMass/Amherst graduate who holds a Master’s degree from Bennington College. “The stories are about people who are currently middle class or formerly middle class. The other common theme is their ‘struggle,’ which is a big part of the middle class.
“This is the world that I came from,” added Rosenberg, who as a youth worked at the family’s famous Murray and Eddy’s Delicatessen in downtown Chelsea. “My dad (whose photo graces the cover of the book) was my role model. He was my mentor and the epitome of the American dream. He was an immigrant from Lithuania who came here as a child in the 1920s. He grew up in very difficult circumstances and he was totally dedicated to middle class values beginning with family – and he instilled that in to my sisters (Phyllis, a Jewish educator, and Sheri a Hollywood agent) and me.”
Among the landmarks and businesses that Rosenberg revisits in his book are Salem Willows, Wonderland Greyhound Park, Revere Beach, New Brothers Deli in Danvers, and Temple Israel in Swampscott. And in a tribute to his father, Rosenberg returns to the family delicatessen in a heartwarming essay, titled, “The Tao of Potato Salad.”
There is an elegantly written piece about Joe Smith, a Chelsea High School and Yale graduate who went on to become the leader of the Warner Brothers, Elektra/Asylum, and Capitol/EI record companies. In the book Rosenberg credits Alan Lupo, the former Globe columnist from Winthrop, as one of his earliest supporters in journalism.
Rosenberg is proud of his first book and the fact that “it reflects on a history that otherwise would have been lost if one didn’t go back to read the stories again.
“That’s why I decided to put this book together,” he said. “A lot of the voices that I captured were people who had lived in neighborhoods and had come from families that helped establish these neighborhoods in some cases. I wanted them to be in one book where they all could be recognized and accessed and their names could live on. ”
The book is being well received, especially on the North Shore. David M. Shribman, Pulitzer Prize winner and executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes on the book jacket, “I like this book because it is a little jewel of a read about a little jewel of a place at a special time in Steve’s life, and in mine, and in so many others’. Our towns and our times – he [Rosenberg] captures them with a sharp eye, a clear eye, and warm heart.”
Rosenberg and his wife, Devorah, live in Swampscott and have a 22-year-old son, Aaron, who is a student at Clark University.
(The book, “Middle Class Heroes: Voices from Boston’s Suburbs,” is available on Amazon.com).