Hill Happenings

January 5, 2018

The Mission Hill Veterans Post, closing after 60 years, held its farewell party Dec. 23. Although there was a touch of sadness among the throng of celebrants, it was an upbeat crowd, who reminisced about the old days of the Post when many of the World War ll veterans were active participants. Changing demographics and financial matters were the reasons for the closing.

Throughout the decades the Mission Hill Post was a wonderful asset to the neighborhood, raising thousands of dollars for veterans groups and supporting the Mission Hill Little League and other Hill undertakings. At the party, bartender Paddy Gleeson, who operated the Post for many years, received a standing ovation. Paddy’s sister, Annette Gleeson, incidentally, did a great job decorating the Post with Christmas ornaments for the party. Kevin McNulty, who did a fine job as the Post’s last Commander, quietly sipped a beer at the parting celebration. Charley Kelly a wonderful man, was also sipping a beer. Charley is a World War ll veteran, who grew up on the Hill. He graduated from Mission High School in 1943.

I’ve been a member of the Post for 40 years and the memories are many. In the 1980s I always went to the Post on Wednesday nights because Jim “Thunder” Prendergast was the bartender. Jim, also a World War ll veteran, was quiet but I loved to hear him spin his anecdotes. There were many weddings and after funeral gatherings at the Post, tears, and joy. Col. George Rollins was the Post Commander back in the 1990s. The Colonel, from Tobin Court in Mission Hill, had a rousing party at his inauguration with Albert “Dapper” O’Neil as the guest speaker. Dapper, a former Boston City Councilor and from the “Greatest Generation,” gave a fiery speech about veterans and our great country.

My fondest memory of the Post is the card games in the back room, a place I spent many smoke filled hours with Abner Keiley, Peter Flynn, Phil McDermott, Dennis Scanlon, Joe Ryan, and Jake “The Snake” Heim. So beloved was Scanlon, after he passed away a few years ago, his name was memorialized, carved into his bar stool. Among the many other great guys at the Post were Yogi O’Keefe, Davey “Lil Cowboy” Gill, Ed Kern, and the younger Peter Flynn. Peter (same name as his father) raised hundreds of dollars for the Wounded Warriors Project.

I can still picture my neighbor, “Big Dan” Fitzgerald quietly drinking his Budweiser at the Post. Big Dan, from Sachem Street, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and last month (Dec. 10) would have been his 100th birthday.

One memorable night in the card room occurred about 30 years ago on a steamy, hot night. The air conditioner broke and there was a power outage, but the game continued all night by candlelight. We must have looked silly, many of us stripped to our waste because of the heat, playing seven-card stud under candlelight. My friend John chided George “Lil Money” Paris, who was scratching lottery tickets between deals. Said John, “You should go to Gamblers Anonymous. I’ll go with you and we’ll flip quarters to see who buys the coffees.” Shortly thereafter John bought a $5 lotto ticket and he scratched a $10,000 winner. I miss those days, but of course, change is inevitable.

Welcome to Mission Hill Randice Rauscher, a nice woman and a talented artist who recently moved from England to the Hill.

My friend, Jake Vaughan, a Mission Hill actor, was featured in “Blood of the Tribades,” a scary flick which received four “skulls” (five is the best grade) in Famous Monsters Magazine. Jake has been relegated to the trashy movies, but luck is a key factor in that business. A wise man once said, “Luck is the intersection between preparation and opportunity.”

Condolence to the family of Richard W. Ploss who passed away last month. Rich lived in Mission Hill since his childhood and he was a terrific guy. He coached the kids in the Mission Hill Little League for several years and he was always a great asset to the community.

Elaine Kerr (Mullin), a wonderful woman from Mission Hill, passed away last month at age 92. Elaine, who graduated from Mission High School in 1943, was a terrific athlete. Nicknamed “Lefty,” she was unbeatable on the tennis court. More important, Elaine raised a great family and I’m fortunate to be close friends with them. At her Memorial Mass at Mission Church, Elaine’s son Sean Mullin spoke beautifully about his mother, tinged with humor. One story Sean told was about being admonished by his math teacher Sister Salerno at Mission High in the 1960s. The honorable Sister had also taught Elaine a generation earlier.

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