In Her Words
Candid Profiles of Strength Told by the Women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March, we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Agnes's Story (Resident of Stonebridge at Burlington) told with the help of Martha Dooling, Program Director at Stonebridge.
Agnes Malkasian was born November 10, 1917 to Isgough Shaheazian and Vahan Malkasian at home in Stoneham, MA. She is one of three children, a sister Virginia and a brother Samuel. Both of Agnes’ parents were immigrants from Turkey. Her father who came from a family of considerable wealth, was about to be conscripted to the Turkish army when his father insisted he emigrate to the United States. He was joined two years later by his fiancé, Isgough, and the rest of his family.
The young family settled in Stoneham. Both of Agnes’ parents worked. Vahan at a shoe factory in Stoneham and Isgough in a knitting mill in Wakefield. They remained in Massachusetts until the Great Depression closed the factories and forced them to move to Philadelphia for employment. Agnes was in the seventh grade at that time. Agnes’ memories of childhood are of hard work and going to the movies for enjoyment. The family eventually moved back to Massachusetts and after a few years in Boston, settled in Medford. Her father opened a variety store and her mother took in sewing. After high school, Agnes went to work in Boston and enjoyed her employment at United Drug in the Advertising Department. Sadly, her sister Virginia passed away and her niece Sandra, who was two at the time, came to live with Agnes and her family. They were very busy and happy years. Eventually, Sandra’s father remarried and took the child to live with his new family. For as sad as parting was, to this day, they remain very close. Agnes lived in her family home with her brother for seventy years before moving to Stonebridge.
She never married although she was under constant pressure to marry a nice Armenian man. Agnes was a woman ahead of her time. Many of her friends succumbed to arranged marriages and she wanted no part of it. In many instances, it was a ticket to citizenry for the men or women. Her parents wanted to “protect “her and keep her home; higher education was out of the question. As she stated, “It was a different time.” She knew that her ticket to personal independence was a career. She is emphatic that all women need to be self-sufficient so that if life doesn’t go as planned, you can walk away and be “just fine”. Agnes is an amazing, creative and strong woman who possesses a quick wit and loving heart. I am grateful to have her as a friend.
For more information about the wonderful way of life at Stonebridge at Burlington, click here.