The Corner of Cottage and Nichols
Aug 27, 2020 12:17PM
By Donna Lane
He’s been called ‘Martini Man’, ‘Cat-man-do’ and, ‘The Earl of Norwood’, but his given name is Steven Paradis. He’s been a Norwood resident for 12.5 years and lived in the same house at the corner of Cottage and Nichols the whole time.
His habit of wandering the neighborhood with a martini while walking a cat didn’t begin in Norwood. It started years earlier while living in Boston’s Back Bay during a particularly stressful time in his life. He said that he and his cat Otter, who is no longer with him, walked up and down the street every afternoon. Paradis is by nature a very gregarious man and thoroughly enjoys meeting and talking with people. During our interview, many passersby waved or called greetings to him.
Originally from South Florida, Paradis is the only family member who has ventured north. All of his siblings – three older brothers and a younger sister – plus 14 nieces and nephews, and 20 great nieces and nephews have remained in the sunshine state. He came to Boston to study architecture and design at Boston Architectural College, followed by graduate studies at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He said that Boston Architectural College is unique in that you work for an architectural firm during the day and go to school at night.
He enjoys talking about the projects he has worked on as an architect and the many people he has met over the years from all walks of life.
Most of his work over the years has been with colleges and universities such as Harvard University, Radcliffe College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Sarah Lawrence College in New York. He has designed transportation facilities such as some of the gates at Logan airport, and worked on projects requiring historic preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures. His projects range from several million to 250 million dollars. His favorite historic preservation project was for Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum for which he received the Boston Preservation Alliance Award for architecture in 1994, along with Carol Johnson who did all of the landscape architecture for the project.
Paradis still works on design projects from his home office. He said he often works as an OPM (Owner’s Project Manager). He explained that in July of 2004, it became mandatory that municipalities working on public projects had to hire an OPM before they could hire an architect. He explained that OPM’s essentially take over running the project for a municipality because they typically don’t have the in-house expertise required to do so. He also works as a consulting architect expert on design and construction legal cases.
Outside of work, he enjoys sailing but says he doesn’t get to do it very often. He also likes watching cricket matches but said he does not care for traditional sports.
“I’m not one who lives vicariously through others,” Paradis said.
He believes that that’s what drives many who follow major sports teams. He also said he does not like crowds, which was surprising considering his ease with small talk.
While sipping and observing on the corner, Paradis said he has gotten to know a lot of Norwood residents. “People stop by all of the time,” he said. He especially enjoys the company of a retired physicist in his mid-80s who drops by every 10 days or so and stays to chat for about an hour.
“This corner here is the nicest place in Norwood,” Paradis said. “And my neighbors are amazing!”
He especially enjoys his four-year-old neighbor who always brings him presents. He related the story of the day the lad visited and asked if he’d like to go see his yard. And, after being told yes, took his hand to lead him on the tour. According to Paradis, the neighborhood hasn’t changed much in the years he has been here. He said the one thing that he’d like to see fixed is a reduction of the people who fly through the stop sign on Nichols Street.
During the summer, he leaves his chair on the corner to spend time in Westport and Little Compton, RI. Although he has never been married, he was in a relationship for 17 years. He has been “single” for the past eight years, and while he does not have family in the Boston area, he considers his cats part of the family ¬– 11-year-old Pippy, the cat who accompanied us during the interview and the only one trained to walk with and without a leash (Otter helped to train him); Yoko, a black oriental, also 11; and three Maine coon siblings (1 male and 2 female). “They all get along well,” he said. “I believe the key to raising cats to be good and affectionate is that you’ve got to talk to them all of the time. It’s just me and the five cats and I talk their ear off,” he said chuckling.
Asked what people might find most interesting about him, he said, “I don’t know ... that I’m different?”
Any day you are feeling a bit lonely or want to chat with someone new, grab your beverage of choice and head down to the corner of Cottage and Nichols, weather permitting, and introduce yourself to the Martini Man and his cat Pippy. You just might make a couple of new friends!