Hill Happenings

Ed Burke, proprietor of Ed Burke’s Tavern on Huntington Avenue in Mission Hill, died of heart failure on March 9 at 76.  Burke’s death evoked an array of memories of the famous bar from legions of Mission Hill folks.

Burke took over the bar in the early ‘70s upon the death of his father, also Ed Burke. Later in the ‘70s, Burke expanded the bar and added live music. These were the best of times for Ed, as he booked talented performers, such as Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson and Fat City band, both of whom would pack the place. Unlike his gregarious father, Ed was, at times, aloof. Ed, however, found his groove, having a knack for discovering  entertaining bands, particularly blues and R&B. Ed would later received a lifetime achievement award from the Boston Blues Community.

There were wonderful and zany guys who frequented Burke’s. “Irish Jack” Kelly had been badgering his friend, young Ed, about the lack of a coat rack in the tavern. Burke’s was not noted for its frills. In fact, the bands played on a makeshift stage, made of beer cases. One evening, Irish Jack walked into the bar and pulled a railroad spike and hammer from his coat. He hammered the spike into the wall, which he used to hang up his coat. He then calmly sat down at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.

In 1993, with the changing neighborhood, the inevitable last call occurred, as the door closed for the final time.

Condolences to the family of Peter Flynn, who passed away last month. Peter lived in Mission Hill and he was retired from the New England Baptist Hospital. He was a diligent worker, who also tended bar at the Mission Hill Post. Peter was a great, fun-loving guy and always a gentleman. He was a terrific father and husband. His son, also Peter Flynn, passed away a few years ago. Peter is survived by his wonderful wife, Susan Flynn.

Thanks to the folks at Roxbury Tenants off Harvard for inviting me to their St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the R.T.H. gym. The Mission Bar and Grill provided the delicious corned beef and cabbage dinner, which was served by R.T.H. teens. Our senior citizens were all Irish on this evening and they had a great time. Thanks to the volunteers and particularly Laura Adams, who helped organize the event.

Happy birthday to Betty Smith, a lovely Mission Hill woman, who will celebrate her 90th year on April 8. Betty is still sharp on the uptake and she recently joined us at Flann O’Brien’s for a day of eating, drinking, and storytelling.

Congrats to Eric Wade Johnson and beautiful Melissa Raynor, who tied the knot last month. Eric is the proprietor of Mission Hill Realty Advisors.

Condolences to the family of Tommy Gray, who passed away last month. Tommy emigrated here from Limerick, Ireland with his family years ago and he was always a hard worker. Rest in peace, Tommy.

Wayne Selden, the great hoopster from Mission Hill, was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies last month for the remainder of the season and also for next year. Wayne was promoted from the D League after playing brilliantly for the Iowa Energy. Wayne’s grandfather, Tony “Amps” Pitts was a terrific local basketball players in the late ‘60s.

Being a part-time worker at N.E. Baptist Hospital, I will be watching with interest four of my colleagues who will be running the Boston Marathon on April 17. Scott Siegel, Codey Gillum, Allison Gwilliam, and Paige Legassie are running to raise funds for N.E.B.H. charities. Incidentally, the first Boston Marathon was in 1897 and won by John McDermott.

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