An energetic crowd gathered at the Parker Hill Library last month, welcoming Bill Raynor, who read from his newly released book “Poetry in Motion.” Raynor,who grew up in the Mission Hill projects, writes about the meaning of sports is everyday life. The book is pleasant and an easy read.
Among the notable faces in the crowd were former state Rep. Shirley Hicks and Mission Hill resident Lionel “Sky” King, who was a great hoopster in the ’60s.
Raynor is currently the athletic director at Mass. Bay Community College in Framingham. He was a terrific basketball player at Catholic Memorial High School and at Dartmouth College. During a span from 1969 to 1971, Catholic Memorial won 55 consecutive games. Two of Raynor’s teammates during that extraordinary streak were local players Paul “Knuckles” Riley and Charley Kelly, the great shooting forward who grew up in Mission Hill.
John Clifford celebrated his 88th birthday July 31. John, a 1943 Mission High School graduate,was an altar server at Mission Church for more than 70 years.
John’s birthday appropriately falls on St. Ignatius Day. Ignatius had a spiritual awakening while recovering from wounds after the 1521 battle of Pampeluna. In 1539 Ignatius founded the Jesuits, and St. Ignatius was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. John took Ignatius as his Confirmation name when he attended Mission Grammar School.
John Clifford, incidentally, is a World War II veteran, having served in the Navy on the USS Marcus.
Another World War II veteran who was also a Mission High graduate (1936) was the late Joe D. McLaughlin, for whom McLaughlin Park on Parker Hill Ave. is named. McLaughlin, who lived at 95 Calumet St., excelled at football for Mission. In fact, a few old-timers told me that McLaughlin was such an iconic hero that Mission Hill kids would wait for him after practice to carry his helmet and shoulder pads. After Mission, McLaughlin went to B.C., graduating in 1941. He then joined the Navy, serving on a PT boat, and he was killed in action.
McLaughlin Park, constructed in 1931,was renamed Lt. Joe D.McLaughlin Park in 1950.
Happy 50th birthday to Doreen Earley, a former Mission Hill woman now living in Tewksbury. Doreen, still youthful-looking, is the mother of three, and she has a career in nursing. Despite her busy schedule, Doreen keeps abreast of political issues and she shares her resolute opinions with her elected officials.
The next time you’re in the Mission Bar and Grill, say hello to their new bartender, Mike Condon. Mike is a good egg and he has that quick Irish wit.
When I have a beer at the Mission, I think of the outlandish occurrences that happened at that bar. In about 1970 on a Saturday morning, 70 or 80 of us boarded a bus at Brigham Circle at 6 in the morning. The bus took us to Rose Wharf for a fishing trip that never happened. For some reason, the boat never arrived to take us out to the ocean. At 8 a.m. and with about 40 cases of beer, we phoned the bar, then called the Town House. The owner, Jerry Dwyer, rented to us the function room of the bar for the day. By noon there were four or five high-stakes poker games going on, and the jukebox was bellowing. Shortly thereafter, the legendary Danny Murphy slipped next door to the Calumet Market and bought a five-pound haddock. Returning to the saloon with the haddock hooked to his fishing pole, Murphy declared himself the winner of the biggest catch of the day, which was worth 50 bucks. This is no fish story.