Family donates in memory of athlete, veteran, ‘force of nature’

  • Eileen Merullo’s baseball team, the Boston Olympets, that she played for as a 17-year-old. She is in the back row, second from left, under the name “Ellie Haydock.” SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Eileen Merullo was a Red Sox fan. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Eileen raised the money to create a women’s World War II memorial in Revere. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Eileen on a family trip in 2006. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/11/2020 9:10:27 PM
Modified: 12/11/2020 9:10:14 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — The Merullo family donated to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund in memory of “Beatlebah.” That’s the nickname for Eileen Merullo, a World War II veteran who died in 2018 at the age of 95.

“She was named ‘Beatlbah’ by my daughter when she was about 2 years old,” Amanda Merullo said of her mother-in-law.

A teacher and a veteran, Eileen lived in Revere all her life. For many years, she was a science teacher and then worked at a nursing home. “She was not someone who liked sitting at home,” Merullo said. “She worked well into her 90s.”

Eileen was also very athletic.

“She was city tennis champ when she was 16. She played hockey with the boys on the pond in Revere,” Merullo said. She also played softball, and players who helped start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which is depicted in the movie “A League of Their Own,” tried to get her to join, according to her mother-in-law. But, “her father wouldn’t let her go,” she said. “That was the end of her baseball.”

During World War II, she served as a physical therapist. “She was a force of nature,” Merullo said, recalling that in her 90s, she was set on solving a problem.

“There had never been a memorial for World War II women soldiers or women who were in the war,” Merullo said. “She raised, on her own, $10,000 and she had a stone placed in front of the American Legion hall in Revere with names of the … women from Revere who had served.”

When the memorial was unveiled at the American Legion Post 61 in 2014, Eileen Merullo spoke to the Boston Globe. “Some were in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Corps,” she said. “They did so much, without receiving any credit at all. I was afraid that history will fade away, and nobody would know what these women did.”

Each year, Amanda Merullo’s family decides to donate money to a particular cause. “My family,” she said, “we have a jar of change that we keep on the top of the microwave in the kitchen, and we empty out our pockets and put the change in there.” During the past year, the money went to the toy fund.

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the Toy Fund began in 1933 to help families in need during the Depression. Today, the fund distributes vouchers worth $40 to families for each child from age 1 to 14. Eligible families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware, in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury, and Leverett, and in Holyoke in Hampden County.

18 Degrees Family Services for Western Massachusetts at 59 Interstate Drive in West Springfield verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Blue Marble/Little Blue, 150 Main St., Level 1, Northampton: Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; High Five Books, 141 N. Main St., Florence; The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Once Upon A Child,1458 Riverdale St., West Springfield; Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., Village Commons, South Hadley; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 W. Bay Road, Amherst; World Eye Bookshop & Magical Child Toy Store, 134 Main St., Greenfield; Holyoke Sporting Goods Co., 1584 Dwight St. #1, Holyoke.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, P.O. Box 299, Northampton, MA, 01061, or made through Gazettenet at www.gazettenet.com.

Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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