Hill Happenings

There have been several famous Mission Hill gangs, going back to the “Mohawks” in the early 1940s. Dave O’Connor, James “Specsy” Cummings, and John H. Clifford were among the group that wore the sparkling blue and gray Mohawk jackets. The Mohawks convened on Calumet Street by the “Ledge” site where they played “kick the can” and they occasionally hopped street cars on Huntington Avenue.

Shortly after their youthful fun and games, many of the boys served in World War II. Dave O’Connor, a Pearl Harbor survivor, served on the U.S.S. Chester. Dave later was a state legislator, representing Mission Hill for many years. Shortly before his death in 2011 at age 86, Dave said, “The greatest joy in my life was being a Mohawk with loyal friendships spanning 75 years.”

In the early 1960s a band of Mission Hill kids called themselves the Grizzly Gunners. The name derived from a grocery store owner, Bill “Grizzly” Tsina. The store, called “Bills” (currently Chacho’s Pizza & Subs) was located on Tremont and Burney Street and it was the meeting place of the group.

I was thinking about these guys because Bill Malone, a 1964 Mission High School alumnus and the patron Grizzly Gunner, passed away on Aug. 16. He was a great family man and a hard worker. Bill was the co-owner of Marlboro Market in the Back Bay for many years. Two of Bill’s best friends were the late Franny Killilea and Jimmy Foley. Those guys were the best. The Grizzly Gunners were frequently playing sports and were terrific athletes, including local football star, John “Harpo” Foley.

Another Grizzly Gunner is youthful looking Terry Gibbons, a 1965 Mission High graduate. Terry is known as the Charles Bronson of Mission Hill. Rest in peace, Bill Malone and the Grizzly Gunners, who will live in Mission Hill lore.

More than 300 fans, many from Mission Hill, crammed into Belle Isle Seafood in Winthrop last week to watch Gracie Curran and the High Fulutin Band, a magnificent Blues orchestra. Gracie stimulated the crowd, at one point, playing continually for two hours. Gracie is the daughter of Chuck Curran and Sam Curran. Chuck Curran grew up on Mission Hill and he worked at the Hillside Market for many years. The seafood at Belle Isle, incidentally, is an A+.

It was nice hanging out with Jim Monahan and his pretty wife, Therese Monahan, last month at the Mission Church “Ice Cream Social.” Jim and Therese are from Mission Hill and some locals will recall that Jim Monahan, a hard throwing southpaw, hurled a no-hitter for Mission High in 1962 against Boston Trade School.

Good luck to Olivia Todd, who will attend the University of Maine in September. Olivia, a lovely young lady, is a graduate of Boston Latin. Olivia has the Mission Hill lineage, being the daughter of Kevin Todd and Tina Todd.

Billy “Bucky” Rollins says hello to his Mission Hill friends. Billy is a retired Harwich policeman who grew up at Tobin Court on Mission Hill. Billy is currently working as a security guard at Nauset Beach on the Cape. He’s doing a good job, as the beach and the sand are still intact.

The 5th annual Dixie Cup Charity Soccer Tournament will take place Sept. 17 at Smith Street Park, next to Mission Church. The first game starts at 11 a.m., featuring Flann O’Brien’s and the Squealing Pig. Other Mission Hill bars participating in the event are the Puddingstone Tavern, The Mission Bar & Grill, and The Penguin. The championship game will be held the same day at 3:30 p.m., which will be followed by prizes, raffles, and trophy presentations.

Condolences to the family of Anne Buckley, a beautiful woman who passed away last month. As a youngster I spent hours at the Buckley home on Hillside Street hanging out with Kevin Buckley, Davey Grogan, and the boys. Also, condolences go to the family of William “Red” Corcoran who passed away recently. Red is a Mission High graduate, class of 1952 when he was a terrific football player.

I had a great time last Saturday visiting my friend, Joe Conlon, from Mission Hill, who currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. Joe, who joined the military two days after graduating from Mission High School in 1960, is the recipient of the Silver Star Medal for his brave actions while in Da Nang, Vietnam. On Aug. 23, 1968 Conlon’s Special Forces Headquarters was attacked. As stated in the citation page, “Conlon displayed remarkable courage by running through the furious firefight to rescue fellow soldiers and he moved wounded soldiers to the medical area, while returning fire, thus saving countless American lives.” The citation also states that, “SSG Conlon unhesitatingly threw himself across a wounded man, protecting him from further injury.”

I was accompanied on the trip with Joe’s dear friends, Frank Pedersen, Frank Dwyer, and the lovely Susan Shearns. The five of us ate, drank, chatted, and laughed.

Happy 80th birthday to “Coach” Jim Dyer. Coach Dyer was the basketball coach at Mission High during the glory years in the early 1960s. I love Coach Dyer and I enjoy talking hoops with him at the Mission Hill Post. The coach celebrated his birthday with a limousine gambling trip to Twin River Casino in Rhode Island with friends.

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