Tuesday, July 23, 2024

A memorial to Corporal Albert S. Teeven Jr. stands in Teeven Circle, Fresh Pond. (Photo: WikiCommons)

Many of us pass by myriad public markers, plaques and even statues on our daily commutes without taking note of the people and events they were designed to commemorate. A Cambridge resident recently emailed History Cambridge about one such marker, a large stone with a bronze plaque embedded in it that stands inside the Fresh Pond rotary. The marker’s location makes an up-close examination difficult, so Marvin Davis reached out to us to find out more.

The plaque is a memorial to a Cambridge soldier, Albert S. Teeven Jr., who was killed in action over Yugoslavia in February 1945, when he was just 19. The marker features a cross made from a pair of wings and an airplane propeller, honoring Teeven’s service as an airman. No other information is present on the plaque, but then-Boston Herald columnist and Cambridge resident Steve Buckley was also intrigued by the memorial, especially the way it honored a World War II soldier even as the Vietnam War veterans who were returning to the United States during Buckley’s childhood were being blamed rather than honored by some in their own communities.

In a 2017 article on the renaming of Yawkey Way Extension near Fenway Park in honor of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Buckley questioned the practice of naming streets, parks, bridges and other landmarks after sports figures – beloved as they might be. Buckley cites the marker in Teeven Circle as an example of the ordinary men and women whose sacrifice he believes should be commemorated in this way, and reveals that his curiosity about the person behind the plaque led him to research Teeven’s story, ultimately producing a documentary titled “I’ll Be Seeing You: An American Story of World War II.”

Teeven grew up on Hollis Street in North Cambridge, Buckley’s found, and he served as an altar boy at St. John the Evangelist Church on Massachusett Avenue before volunteering to serve his country as a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator. He was greatly aided in his research by Teeven’s older sister, Barbara, who gladly shared family photos, letters and stories of growing up in the 1920s and ’30s in North Cambridge. In 1999, Buckley received a commendation from the Cambridge City Council for his film, and for “keeping the memory of Cambridge Veteran Albert S. Teeven Jr. alive.”

A search of the Cambridge Chronicle and Cambridge Tribune shows that Teeven was featured in the local newspapers for his graduation from St. John’s High School in 1943, as well as for his attendance at and successful completion of flight school. Teeven was recognized posthumously on the city’s Roll of Honor, and his family was recognized as a Gold Star Family (one who had lost at least one member during military service). History Cambridge’s self-guided tour, “Gold Star Memorials in North Cambridge,” explores how other veterans and their families have been commemorated by the city.

Are you curious about a person, place or event in Cambridge history? Perhaps you wonder about a memorial you pass daily, or about a building, mural, park or other aspect of the city and would like to know more about its history. History Cambridge welcomes inquiries from our neighbors and will do our best to connect you with the resources to answer your questions. Reach out to us by email and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on our events and programs.


About History Cambridge

History Cambridge started in 1905 as the Cambridge Historical Society. Today we have a new name and a new mission. We engage with our city to explore how the past influences the present to shape a better future. We recognize that every person in our city knows something about Cambridge’s history, and their knowledge matters. We listen to our community and we live by the ideal that history belongs to everyone. Throughout 2023, we are focusing on the history of Cambridgeport. Make history with us at historycambridge.org.

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Beth Folsom is programs manager for History Cambridge.