Hill Happenings

Happy 90th birthday (July 31) to grand John Clifford, a World War ll veteran who has the distinction of being the longest continuous Mission Hill resident, having moved to the Hill in 1928.

John graduated from Mission High School in 1943 at age 16. At Mission, John was on the debating team, and according to his school yearbook, John was an A1 debater with sound logic. After high school, John joined the Navy and he served on the USS Marcus ship. John is a graduate of Boston University and he was a teacher-guidance counselor in the Waltham school system for many years.

John loves Mission Church and he has been an admirable parishioner throughout his life. John became an altar boy whileattending Mission Grammar School in the 1930s. Remarkably, he continued as an altar boy-altar server for more than 70 years.

Lionel “Sky” King, also a distinguished Mission Hill man, celebrated his 83rd birthday July 18. Sky was a pro baseball player who pitched in Canada and Mexico and also in the minor league after being signed by the New York Giants in 1952. Sky was also a great hoop player who played in the Boston Park Basketball League at the Tobin Gym in the early 1960s.

I’ve been listening to terrific Irish music on Sunday evenings at the Puddingstone Tavern on Mission Hill. Irish music is in my lineage. My father, Dan Martin, was a gifted accordion player who often played at Hibernian Hall, a popular Irish dance hall in Roxbury during the 1950s. My brother, Kevin Martin, was a talented tin whistle player who played in several Mission Hill watering holes. My cousin Jimmy Kelly (my mother was Margaret Kelly) was a banjo player who played in the acclaimed Irish orchestra, The Joe Joyce Band.

One summer evening in 1953 the Joe Joyce Band played at the Knights of Columbus in Mission Hill. [Editor’s note: Some of the details from this story are from “See You at the Hall” by Susan Gedutis.] A large crowd attended the dance, as many from the Wednesday night Novena at Mission Church strolled down Tremont Street to the dance. After the dance, band members Frank Keough and Jack Doherty stayed at Joe Joyce’s house on Wyman Street in Jamaica Plain.

The next morning the three went to the Boston Commonwealth Pier to bid farewell to a few ladies who were traveling to Ireland. Joe Joyce parked his car on the wharf and the three musicians each paid 50 cents to board the ship, which was a common practice in those days. However, when the ship departed, they hadn’t disembarked. They planned to exit at the first stop, Halifax, and hitchhike back to Boston.

To their chagrin, the first stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia and not Halifax, Massachusetts. They slept in the ship’s lounge, but were soon discovered and sent to the galley for cleaning duty as punishment. But they soon sang and danced their way to the good grace of the ship’s captain and the passengers. They stayed in Ireland for several weeks, renting donkeys and touring the Irish pubs in Connemara, where Joe Joyce had cousins. Joyce was in Flan O’Brien’s about 20 years ago, reminiscing about the adventure, which made headlines in Boston and in the newspapers in Ireland.

The stories among the three varied with the passage of time, but Joyce had a suspicion that Frank Keough knew that the first stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia and not the town of Halifax, which is 30 miles south of Boston.

It’s a boy! Phil and Christine Kane became the proud parents of Shiloh William Lavin Kane last month. Phil Kane grew up on the Hill and he was a fine first baseman for Mission High School. In 1975 Phil was on the Mission team that played St. Patrick’s of Watertown in the Massachusetts State Baseball Tournament on a Saturday afternoon.          The team met at their home field Jefferson Park to change to their baseball uniforms and board the bus. Mission held their school prom the previous night and Phil, who stayed at a friend’s house, arrived at Jefferson Park still clad in his tuxedo from the Friday night prom. Mission’s coach, the great George Dunn, was surprised upon seeing Phil in his tux, saying to Phil, “Are you here to dance or to play ball?”

Good luck and congrats to Mission Hill resident, A.J. Green, who will attend Latin Academy in September as a seventh grader.A.J. is the son of Tony Green and Jenlewis Green. Jen, a lovely woman, is the director of the Mission Park teen center. I fondly recall coaching Tony Green when he was a hustling infielder on our Mission Hill C.Y.O. baseball team in the 1980s. We didn’t win every game but we always played the game properly and with vigor.

Condolences to the family of Bob “Herk” Hurley who passed away last month. Herk, who lived on the Hill at Calumet Square, was an ironworker, out of Local 7 in South Boston for many years. Herk had a keen sense of humor and he was loved by his fellow workers, including Steve Lynch, currently a U.S. Congressman. With many Hurleys in South Boston on the job and in the taverns, Herk, to distinguish himself, wore his hat that read “M.H.H.”—Mission Hill Hurley.

Mission Hill was saddened by the death of Danny McLean last week. Danny was a great guy who grew up in the Mission Hill projects. Danny, who worked as a guard at the old Deer Island, was a terrific athlete, as were all the McLeans. Danny will be missed.

Happy birthday (sweet 16-July 31) to Siobhan Green, a lovely young lady who attends Boston Arts Academy.

A contingent of Mission Hill folks will be on hand Aug. 13 at the V.F.W. Post in Norwood (193 Dean St.) for a fun night of karaoke with D.J. Joe Looby running the show. Locally, “Disco Dan” Martin took center stage during last Saturday night’s karaoke show at Flan O’Brien’s. Disco Dan sang and danced to the music of Paul Anka.

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