Hill Happenings

Happy birthday to Kay “Big Red” Ryan, who had 90 birthday candles at her celebration April 21 at her daughter Joannie’s home in Jamaica Plain. Kay, a beautiful woman who hails from Mission Hill, was joined by family members, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I have fond memories of Kay and her children, having lived next door to the Ryans in Mission Hill at Tobin Court back in the old days. Kay’s son Joe Ryan was a running back on the Killilea Club in 1979. The Killilea club was Mission Hill’s Park League football team, which won the City League championship that year. Joe is currently my favorite bartender at the Mission Hill Post 327.

Condolences to the family of Frank Gately, a Mission Hill resident who passed away suddenly on April 18. Frank was skillful working as a handyman and he was a loving family man. Frank was close to his daughter Joann Gately, and he spent much quality time with his grandchildren Nikhi and Nevhaeh.

Recently, because Frank was assisting me in installing a new washer and dryer in my condo, we got talking in length about family and life in general. Unfortunately, it was our last conversation. Frank will be missed.

It was a Who’s Who of Mission Hill luminaries at the Mission Bar and Grill on April 21, as folks gathered to raise money for the Dana-Farber in honor of Mission Hill’s beloved late state representative Kevin Fitzgerald. The theme of the fund-raiser was an Ed Burke’s bartender’s reunion. Former Burke’s bartender Bernie Fitzgerald put the apron back on and poured drinks for many thirsty Mission Hill patrons. Bibby Cotto, also a former Burke’s bartender, was the doorman, collecting $20 donations for the terrific cause.

Ed Burke’s, located across the street from Mission Park, was a legendary Mission Hill watering hole that closed about 25 years ago. Ed Burke, the former proprietor of the tavern, attended the Fitz fund-raiser. Ed is looking trim and fit. Ann Coyle (McNally), my 1967 Mission High School classmate, attended the event, as did Jean St. Cyr, also a Mission High graduate. Other faces in the huge crowd included my Mission Hill neighbor, Robert Lewis, and Penguin Pizza owner Dermot Doyne.

Former Mission High and St. Anselm’s scholar-athlete Jack O’Neill and his lovely wife Evelyn attended the party, as did former Mission High School softball great Ellen Saucier.

Thanks to Mission Bar and Grill proprietor Michel Soltani for hosting the fund-raiser, which was highly successful. Several former Mission Hillers, who hadn’t been back to their neighborhood in a few years, were surprised entering the Mission Bar, noticing how different the place looks and its nice ambience.

Shortly after World War II, the bar was named the Calumet Café. In the ’70s, it was the Town House, but it was more aptly referred to as the Red Rug with the bloodspill as a result of fisticuffs. More recently, the bar was called the Choppin’ Block.

Sean Clarke, the owner of Diablo Glass School on Terrace Street, is back on the Hill after seven weeks in China, where he traveled and taught glassblowing. He said the people are beautiful and receptive to learning the glassblowing art.

A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of Mission Church April 19 to witness the Patriots’ Day re-enactment of Major William Dawes’ famous ride in 1775, warning the colonists and militia that, “The British are coming!” Said Mission Hill resident John Todd, “I thought there would be more people here. What a great history lesson this is.”

The famous ride leading to the battles of Lexington and Concord was actually set in motion four nights earlier. That night, American spies discovered that British soldiers in Boston were planning to march to Concord to confiscate arms and munitions of the colonists and to capture revolutionary leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington. Capt. John Parker and about 70 American militiamen had other ideas, meeting the British army in Lexington.

Congrats to the talented fifth-grade art students at the Maurice J. Tobin School, whose terrific drawings are displayed at the Harvard School of Public Health at Longwood and Huntington avenues. Encouraged by their excellent teacher, Jessica Barry, the students were urged to “think about a meaningful place.” The diverse students drew images of places from El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Local student Kayla drew a portrait of Mission Hill because, “The bird’s-eye view of Mission Hill is cool.”


It’s nice seeing lovely Kathy Ryan, a 1966 Mission High School graduate who occasionally has a coffee at Mike’s Donuts. Kathy is usually with her friend and Mission High classmate Pat Bottary at the popular Mission Hill coffee shop. Pat is the proprietor of Pat Bottary Real Estate in Brookline.

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