By Maurice “Mossy” Martin
Mission Hill mourned the loss of Billy Earley, who passed away on Aug. 1. Billy, a happy-go-lucky guy, was my friend, going back to our days in the Mission Hill projects. He enjoyed sipping a beer, be it at the race track or at his favorite watering hole, the old Curtin’s Tavern. I could sit with Billy for hours and he gave me many laughs.
In a tavern, Billy could be a psychologist. He had a heart of gold, but Billy had disdain for artificial people and he was adept at utilizing sarcasm for the phonies of the world. There was a serious side to Billy, the loving father of three terrific children. Billy was skilled in the field of refrigeration and he worked for Mechanical Cooling when that company was on Pontiac Street.
Billy’s lovely daughter, Janet Earley, spoke beautifully at her dad’s funeral at Mission Church. “Growing up, there was always food on the table, even if it was Chinese food late at night,” she said. Billy will always be loved.
Condolences to the family of Billy Jewell, a life-long Hill resident and a 1977 Mission High School graduate, who passed away last month. Billy worked at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital for many years. A member of the Mission Hill Post, Billy loved the local sports teams and he would watch the games at the Post with his comrades. A good guy, Billy will be missed.
Michael Joyce, also a Mission High graduate, class of 1945, passed away after a brief illness. Michael was a gregarious fellow who loved jogging around Jamaica Pond. Mike was a construction worker in the Laborers Local 223.
A sequel to last month’s column regarding local businessman Ivers Whitney Adams, who was the president of the Boston Red Stockings (currently the Atlanta Braves): Boston’s best player in those early years was shortstop George Wright. The golf course in Hyde Park is named after Wright.
Many Mission Hill folks play at that course, including amateur star Mike Killion. The manager of the George Wright Golf Course is Mike “Little General” Doolin. Doolin is from the Hill and he is a Mission High School graduate.
Marc Skelton lived in Mission Hill on Pontiac Street with his aunt, Mary Jane Curran, in the 1990s while he attended Northeastern University. Marc, currently a teacher and basketball coach at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in New York City, was featured July 19 on the front page of the New York Times sports page in a terrific article by Michael Powell. Fannie Lou Hammer, a small school in a poor Bronx neighborhood, came within a missed shot of winning the City Championship last year. The previous year team won the New York City Championship despite the lack of star players.
Coach Skelton relies on chess-like analysis and teamwork. More important than wins and losses, all of Skelton’s players graduate from high school with most of them going on to college. Skelton, 40, lives with his wife, Jessica, and their 6-year-old daughter Nina in Hudson Heights. He is a role model to his players, many of who are from single-family homes.
Some Mission Hill folks remember Skelton when he worked at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital as an orderly when he attended college. Mission Hill is proud of Marc Skelton for being a teacher, a marvelous basketball coach and a good guy.
Congrats to Ryan and Dee Fitzgerald on the birth of their daughter Naima Marie Fitzgerald last week. Ryan Fitzgerald’s dad, Bernie Fitzgerald, played on the last Mission High School football team in 1964. Bernie was a rugged lineman for Mission, as was his dad, also named Bernie Fitzgerald. He graduated Mission High in 1942.
I stopped by the Medford Art Center in the Meadow Glen Mall last week to see the terrific photos by George Mclean. George, who is from Mission Hill, is a young 80. Among the gems displayed at the Art Center are a couple of photos taken by George of Mission Hill folks in the 1960s.
Last month, dozens of Mission Hill folks gathered at the V.F.W Post in Jamaica Plain for “A Night at the Races” to raise money for “Organs R Us,” which promotes organ donation awareness. Trisha Casey organized the event. Trisha, a Mission High graduate, will be running in the Buenos Aries Marathon on Oct. 11 to advocate for “Organs R Us.” I had a nice time at the “Night of the Races,” although I didn’t win anything. I did come close when I bet “Bubble Gum” in the third race, but after a quick start, he seemed to stick to the rail.
Happy birthday to Jimmy McGonangle, who turns 77 on Aug. 18. Jimmy, from 56 Tobin Ct., looks great and he never misses reading the Mission Hill Gazette.