Hill Happenings

University of Kansas player Wayne Selden (right), who is from Mission Hill, with his mother, Lavette Pitts, and his brother, Anthony Selden.  Courtesy Photo by Edie Janas

University of Kansas player Wayne Selden (right), who is from Mission Hill, with his mother, Lavette Pitts, and his brother, Anthony Selden.
Courtesy Photo by Edie Janas

Mission Hill lost a beautiful woman when Cathy (Clifford) Gately passed away last month. A lifelong Hill resident, Cathy served on the board of Roxbury Tenants of Harvard for many years. If you knew Cathy, you were blessed.

I was fortunate to have known Cathy going back to my high school days when I hung out at Ellie’s Donuts. Cathy worked at Ellie’s, a popular coffee shop across from Mission Church, which was owned by Cathy’s sister, the late Mary Clifford. It’s been a half a century, but I vividly recall sitting in the booth at Ellie’s and Cathy, with her pretty eyes focused on me, inquiring about school and other life happenings. She was so nice. Cathy was a magnificent mother to her three fine children, Karen Gately, Paula Gately, and Jimmy Gately.

This month in local history, Dec. 15, 1824, Roxbury’s first newspaper, the Norfolk Gazette was published. I found this tidbit in the interesting book, “When In Boston,” which was written by former Mission Hill resident Jim Vrabel.

On Thanksgiving Day a good way to work up an appetite is to attend a high school football game, which I did for the English High School versus Boston Latin game at Fenway Park. Thanks to local English High alumnus Frank Williams for inviting me to watch the game at a Fenway Park private box. Frank played on the undefeated 1966 English High team, as did All-Scholastic quarterback Mike Thomas. We reminisced about those days.

My close friend, Phil Thompson, who recently passed away, also played on the ‘66 English team. Phil grew up on Mission Hill on Sunset Street. A terrific player and beloved by his teammates, Phil’s spirit lives on.

Another outstanding former English High football player is Boston Police Department officer Jerry Smart. Jerry is currently the Mission Hill police liaison officer. Jerry is a great guy and an excellent officer. He was a halfback for English, class of 1970 and he graduated from Notre Dame in 1974

Wayne Selden, the superb junior hoopster for University of Kansas, was named as co-Big 12 “Player of the Week” last month. Selden, from Mission Hill, is 6’5’’ and built like a Patriots linebacker and he can play guard or forward. Wayne is an honor roll student and a nice young man.

In the 1990s when I played softball at McLaughlin Park for Mission Hill Liquors, Wayne was the bat boy. Of course we had an excellent team with players such as Wayne’s dad, Wayne Selden Sr., and Tony Pitts, who is “Little” Wayne’s grandfather. Fifteen-year-old Anthony Selden, Wayne’s brother, recently sprouted to 6’4’’ and he is also a gifted player. Stay tuned.

A tip of the hat to 7-year-old artist, Zhiyuan Gao, who won the Brown Rudnick Arts Center award for his Christmas card drawing, “A Little Sparrow.” Gao is a second grade student at the Maurice J. Tobin School and his superb teacher is Jessica Barry. Jessica hails from Mission Hill and she gets her coffee at Mike’s Donuts every morning, always wearing a cheerful smile. Chrisnel Pena, also a second grade student at Tobin School, earned an art award for artistic merit.

I was recently asked who has been living on Mission Hill for the longest period of time. I believe it is my downstairs neighbor, John Clifford. John lived in Roxbury until the age of two before his family moved up the “Hill” in 1928. John was an altar “boy” at Mission Church for 70 years.

There is a Mission Church fundraiser on Dec. 12, following the 4 p.m. Mass. The event is in memory of Fr. Manton, “The Novena Priest,” who passed away in 1998 after ministering at Mission Church for 60 years. A $50 donation includes dinner and there will be video clips of Fr. Manton from the old days. I will be at the church for this blessed celebration. I have been remiss in not formally meeting our newest Pastor, Reverend Joe Tizio. Perhaps Rev. Tizio is our first pastor of Italian descent. The first Pastor of Mission Church was Reverend Joseph Wissel. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

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