Mission Hill’s beloved Joe Doyle passed away last month at the Marion Manor Nursing Home in South Boston at age 73. For decades Joe was a fixture in the neighborhood, ambling around the Hill and throughout the city, his gangling 6-foot-6-inch frame hardly unnoticed. Joe was somewhat mentally impaired, but also intelligent with a dry sense of humor and a big heart.
I knew Joe since the early 1960s when he lived at Cornelia Court in the Mission Hill project. He always mispronounced my name to “Mousey” and he had many catch phrases such as, “Mousey, are you a big dummy or not a dummy?” Joe was homeless for years, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He was a survivor. One night in the winter of 1968 Sockie Motsis took Joe into his Hillside Street home for food and shelter. He came back every night at dinner time but Joe, not one to intrude, insisted on sleeping in Sockie’s “57” Chevrolet Beach Wagon.
In the 1970s at the Town House (currently the Mission Bar & Grill), they would show movies on Sunday nights and Joe would select the movies. Joe was in his glory and tavern owner, Gerry Dwyer, would have Joe operate the movie projector. Joe didn’t have to ask people for money, we would simply hand it to him. When Tommy Kelley walked by him, he’d give him a buck with no words exchanged. Tommy called it, paying his toll. Joe loved the 1950s and 1960s music. I worked at Mission Hill Liquors for 18 years and Joe would often walk in and invariably request me to put on the “oldies but goodies.” Joe would hang out in the store for hours with us and enjoy the old music on the radio. Listening to Father Sullivan at Joe’s Memorial Mass at Mission Church, Father Sullivan recalled Joe asking him, “Does Jesus love me or not love me?” Replied Father Sullivan, “Jesus loves you.” R.I.P., Joe. Of course Jesus loves you.
Congrats to Craig Galbraith on his great performance in the Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament at Foxwoods Casino last month. Craig and I work together at the New England Baptist Hospital and being a poker player myself, I constantly pick his brain regarding the strategy of the game. In the tournament that lasted 11 hours, Craig finished fifth in a field of a 100, pocketing a cool 800 bucks. My advice to poker players is, don’t count on luck from the rabbit’s foot because it didn’t do the rabbit any good.
Thanks to my nice neighbor, Francie Hauck, who surprised me by leaving a delicious crock of turkey soup at my door step the day after Thanksgiving.
A tip of the hat to James Redfearn whose terrific novel, “An Appointed Time” was featured in the November issue of “American Police Beat.” Redfearn, from Mission Hill, is also the author of “The Rising at Roxbury Crossing.”
Redfearn recently spoke about his new book and about growing up in the Mission Hill project at the Parker Hill Library. It was a small group but they particularly enjoyed Redfearn’s reminiscing about Mission Hill life in the 1950s and 1960s.
Condolence to the family of John F. McElinney, a Mission Hill resident who passed away last week. McElinney served in the Navy and he is a veteran of the Korean War.
Richard Phillips passed away last week after a long illness. Richard was a plumber and he serviced many Mission Hill residents. I got to know Richard when I was the bartender at Winnie’s Pub (currently Flann O’Brien’s) in the 1970s. There were a few tough characters at Winnie’s back then but I liked serving Richard. He was from the old school and if he didn’t like you, he’d tell you to your face. He could be rough but he had a good heart. R.I.P, Rich.
Happy Birthday to my friend, Emma Lane, who will celebrate her 90th on Dec. 16. Emma is full of life and she still possesses a pleasant singing voice. She volunteers her time for numerous causes. Last week Emma was raising funds for Mission Church, selling nice winter hats, which she knitted herself.