Several former Mission Hill folks assembled at the Corrib Pub in West Roxbury on Jan. 7. The occasion was George Traylor’s 60th birthday. George is a keen observer of local politics and he was an aide to the late Mission Hill state Rep. Kevin Fitzgerald during Kevin’s early State House years. Among the birthday party celebrants at the Corrib were Tommy Maher and former Mission High School basketball great Dave Prendergast.
Also at the party was the legendary Davey Grogan. Davey and I were teammates on the 1979 Killilea Club City Championship football team. Davey was a seldom-used reserve quarterback whose heart and desire exceeded his talent.
One game I’ll never forget that season occurred on a warm September evening before a large crowd at Fens Stadium. The Killilea Club, guided by starting quarterback Eddie Gillis, led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Grogan, anxious for playing time, went to his fanbase and gave a dollar to two little kids, instructing them to cheer, “We want Grogan.” Within minutes, the “We want Grogan” chants from several hundred fans cascaded through Fens Stadium. Killilea Club coach George Higgins was reluctant to make the quarterback switch with the game still on the line. Eventually, Coach Higgins gave Grogan the green light. When the popular Grogan ran onto the field, the Fens Stadium crowd erupted in applause. The Killilea Club went on to win the game.
Happy 80th birthday (Feb. 6) to Les Payne, who lives in San Diego. Les’s heart never left Mission Hill, as he was devoted to a plethora of local endeavors. Les was among the founders of the Mission Hill Theatre Group, and he was also an actor and director in several curtain-raisers. In 1975, Les directed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which attracted vast crowds to St. Alphonsus Hall. In that play, Mission Hill entertainer Rick McDermott brilliantly portrayed Randle McMurphy, the flamboyant leader of the troubled group.
Les was a photographer by trade, but he disdained the 9-to-5 working day. A true Renaissance man, Les was a participant in several undertakings, including being the umpire in the Mission Hill Softball League for many years. Les was excellent at calling balls and strikes, but was occasionally combative, which invariably resulted in memorable confrontations with players. This was during the ’70s, when softball was in vogue and large crowds would watch the games at McLaughlin Park, some of them to watch Les’s antics.
Les also coached Park League football in the ’50s for the Hilltoppers and later with the Killilea Club. Folks over 50 may remember the excellent Mission Hill newspaper “The Good News.” Of course, Les wrote a column, which was titled “More from Les.” I remember having a coffee at Ellie’s Donut Shop (across from Mission Church) back in the early ’70s when the paper delivery arrived. A patron shouted, “‘Good News’ is here!”
Congrats to Pat Twomey, who will graduate Feb. 27 from Bay State School of Technology in Canton. Pat is a member of the Mission Hill Post. His presence at the Post radiates cheerfulness and he always shares the joke of the week with me.
Pat is adept in the field of refrigeration and he diligently earned his degree while working full-time as a delivery man for Brookline Ice. Back in the old days, incidentally, Brookline Ice got its ice by carving it out of Jamaica Pond.
Condolences to the family of Billy Cannata, who died suddenly on Jan. 25. A West Roxbury resident who grew up in the Mission Hill projects, Billy was a hard-working roofer. He enjoyed working with his brothers and fellow roofers John and Joe.
Circle March 23 on your social calendar. That is the date of the Mission Hill-Jamaica Plain reunion at Cedars of Lebanon Hall in Jamaica Plain. This event is held every few years, and folks from around the country return to rekindle old friendships. “Oldies but goodies” man Gary Greenwood will provide the music, and there will be a buffet and cash bar. For tickets, which are $25, contact Yogi at 617-323-6536 or Ellen Saucier at 617-438-5787. You may also get tickets from bartender Joe Ryan at the Mission Hill Post.
Joe, incidentally, is a congenial bartender. Last week, when Mission Hill’s ardent wrestling fan Paul “Muffin” Fitzgerald requested to watch the wrestling matches, Joe acceded to Fitz’s request. It was a wise choice for Fitz, because in the ring was wrestling star Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
Corrected version: This version corrects Ellen Saucier’s phone number for the Mission Hill-Jamaica Plain reunion.