Hill Happenings

August 3, 2018
By

Condolences to the family of Mary Gray, who passed away last month. Mary was a terrific woman who lived on Mission Hill after emigrating from Ireland as a child. I often chatted with Mary at the Mission Hill Post in the old days. She and her husband, Peter Gray raised four wonderful children, one of whom also named Peter Gray gave a wonderful eulogy at the Mission Church funeral mass. Peter quoted his mother during her last days when Mary said, “I’ll always be there for you kids, if you need me, just look for me.” God Bless Mary.

Glancing through the Herald a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a picture of my friend, Betty Veneto, a beautiful woman, who is the proprietor of Ginger Betty’s Bakery in Quincy. Betty and I were teammates on the Mission Hill Liquors Softball team in the 1980s. The only woman in the Mission Hill Softball League, Betty displayed the skills that previously made her an All Scholastic softball player at North Quincy High.

Getting back to the Herald photo, there was a political story about people being shunned because of their support for President Trump. Betty has a Trump bumper sticker on her car and while delivering cookies one day, a woman approached Betty and noticing her bumper sticker, she shouted, “Oh my God, Betty.” The small-minded partisan zealot added, “I can’t believe it.”

Condolences to the family of Billy Casey, who passed away in June. Billy grew up on the Hill at Hillside Street and he graduated from Mission High in 1965, where he was a terrific football player.  Billy sometimes had a rough exterior, but as his buddy Richie Stanton said, “He was a loyal friend.” Billy played right guard on the great Killilea Club teams in the late 1960s when hundreds of Hill fans would hike to Fens Stadium for the Friday night games. I recall Killilea coach, the late and great Donnie “Yogi” O’Keefe, holding court at Ed Burke’s Tavern after a game saying, “When we need tough yards we run between Casey and (Bernie) Fitzgerald.” Rest in Peace, Billy.

It was nice having a beer with Boston Globe writer Brian MacQuarrie last month at The Puddingstone Tavern. Brian is a great guy and a brilliant journalist, who has done reports from Afghanistan and Iraq and has written extensively about the opioid crisis.

Welcome to the world, Hayden Ann Johnson, who was born on July 5. Hayden is the daughter of proud parents Melissa (Raynor) Johnson and Eric Wade Johnson.  Eric is the proprietor of Mission Reality Advisors at 1613 Tremont St.

It was nice seeing all the former Mission Hillers last month at the annual Breen cookout in Roslindale. Thanks to John Breen and Dennis Breen who hosted the party. Faces in the crowd included former marathon runner Big Jim Moynihan and Frank Pedersen, who anchored the Killilea Club defense when he was the team’s rugged middle-linebacker during the glory days of Park League Football.

Happy birthday to my friend, Jim McGonagle, who will celebrate his 80th year August 18. Jim, from Tobin Court in Mission Hill, was a superb amateur boxer, who fought often at the Boston Garden, the old Boston Arena and Mechanics Hall. Jim, a retired postal worker and who also worked for Canada Dry, is in fine condition and looks as though he could still go a few rounds.          Mechanics Hall, incidentally, was a great venue for events. Located near Symphony Hall, Ted Williams often did his Fishing Shows there. Jim, reminiscing at Mike’s Donuts, recalled chatting with the famous Jim Thorpe at Mechanics Hall in1951. Thorpe won the Decathlon gold medal in the 1912 Olympics. “I was a young kid and I got his autograph but it’s long gone,” said McGonagle.

The sixth annual Mark MacDougall Memorial Golf Tournament will be held Thursday, August 16 at the Easton Country Club. A terrific day of golf was enjoyed last week at the Norwood Country Club, which raised money for disabled veterans. Thanks to event organizer, Col. George Rollins, and thanks to the generous sponsors, including The Mission Bar and Grill.

Local boxing fans watched South Boston’s Joe Farina fight to a draw last month at Foxwoods Casino. The fight, which was televised on NESN, had a Mission Hill facet as boxing guru John Curran was the corner man for the young Southie boxer. Older folks, including myself, remember John Curran when he was the bartender at the popular Mission Hill watering hole, Travers Tavern (currently The Squealing Pig).

Congratulations to “Ironman”  Brent Kendall, who was the only American to finish the grueling  Tour de Mont Bicycle Race last week in the Alps. Brent is the son of Kerry Ann Curran from Mission Hill.

Please join local curators, Sylvie Agudelo and Randace Rauscher, who will showcase 14 artists at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, which will take place in the Green Street T. Station August 18 from 4-8:30.

My close friend and Mission High classmate, Bill Mullin, celebrated his 70th birthday July 25. Billy, a retired bank president, graduated from Harvard University in 1971, where he was the intramural boxing champion. I also did some boxing in my youth. When I was 16 I worked at the old Calumet Market, boxing the oranges.