Hill Happenings

April 5, 2013
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Several former neighborhood folks traveled from throughout the globe to attend the Mission Hill-Jamaica Plain reunion at Cedars of Lebanon Hall in JP last month. I was surprised to see my ’67 Mission High classmate Stephen Coote at the reunion. Steve, who was a brilliant student, has lived in Germany for many years.

Other distant travelers at the reunion, which raised funds for several local charities, included Patti Mitchell from San Francisco and her sister Carol Mitchell, who drove down from Welles, Maine.

A notable face in the crowd was former Mission Hill resident Joe Conlon, who recently received the Silver Star Medal relating to bravery in Vietnam in 1968.

I was also glad to converse with Veronica Whiffen and her charming daughter Patricia Whiffen at the reunion. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Veronica was the crossing guard at Tremont Street and St. Alphonsus Street, diligently crossing the youngsters to and from Mission Grammar School in rain or snow.

A fine job was done by music man Gary Greenwood, who provided “oldies” to the reunion throng. Mission Hill City Councilor Mike Ross attended the function, and he gave an inspiring, brief speech. More important, Mike gave me a ride home, dropping me off safely at a reasonable hour.

Special thanks to the volunteers, including Ellen Saucier, Yogi O’Keefe, Kathy Haggerty, Arlene O’Neill and Joe Ryan. Thanks also to Joe’s son, Dan Ryan, who worked the bar. The lovely young lady checking coats was Joe’s daughter, Haley Ryan.

Costello’s Tavern in Jamaica Plain, incidentally, did an unexpected surge in business late Saturday night. The midnight closing time at the reunion was too early for the Mission Hill folks, as many of them found their way to the popular JP watering hole for last call.

This week in Mission Hill history: On April 12, 1894, Gordon Dexter applied to the Board of Street Commissioners to develop the Mission Hill area. He chose Indian names for the streets, perhaps because Alleghany Street had already been laid out in 1845.

Congrats to Karen Gately, who was recently named director of Roxbury Tenants of Harvard. A 1978 Mission High graduate, Karen honed her leadership skills on the Tobin Gym basketball floor when she was a terrific hoopster for Mission.

Karen’s mom, incidentally, is Cathy Gately. Cathy worked in the famous Ellie’s Donut Shop across from Mission Church back in the ’60s, where I and my schoolmates frequented. Cathy cared deeply about the kids, always keeping a watchful eye on us young knuckleheads.

Marty McEachen, who had lived in Mission Hill for many years, passed away peacefully at his home in Quincy on Feb. 19. Marty, a hard worker, was a master carpenter for the Boston Housing Authority. For 50 years, he was a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 40.

Marty was the epitome of a man who loved his family and who loved his country, having served in the United States Marine Corps. Marty leaves many children and grandchildren, and a great-grandchild, Kyleigh McEachen.

Marty will be missed. He was a great guy.

Happy anniversary to Deborah (St. Cyr) Femling and Norman Femling, as the happy Mission Hill couple will commemorate 20 years of marriage April 24. Debbie and Norm will be sailing to Bermuda this month. The trip is on the house, as Debbie won the cruise recently while gambling at the Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

By the summer, Twin Rivers, incidentally, will also feature blackjack and poker. As a Texas holdem player, this is music to my ears, as the travel time is much less than the trip to Foxwoods in Connecticut.

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