Hill Happenings

By Mossy Martin

My wonderful friend, Phil McDermott passed away on Dec. 21.

He was a champion of life, despite being encumbered by cerebral palsy. Phil, who came from a family of terrific athletes, loved sports, and as a kid, he would never miss a Mission High School baseball game at Jefferson Park in J.P. to watch his older brothers play. Similarly, Phil would attend the Mission High basketball games at the Tobin Gym, where he was the official scorekeeper. I loved talking sports with Phil and he was smart and a great student of the games.

Phil never complained about his condition, and he had a great sense of humor. That sense of humor was often displayed during our Friday night card games at the Mission Hill Post a few decades ago. The cast of characters at those poker games were easy prey for Phil’s pungent wit.

In the ‘90s, when I was the night manager of Mission Hill Liquors, I worked with Phil, and despite his lack of mobility, he was my best and most reliable worker.

There were dark times when Phil was in and out of hospitals. I recall visiting Phil at the Beth Israel Hospital when he was immobilized, but his spirit was unmarred. More recently, when I visited him at the Bourne Manor Extended Care Facility, his attitude was the same.

We reminisced about, among other things, Phil directing heavy traffic as the third base coach for Ed Burke’s Tavern in the Mission Hill Softball League. The last time I departed the Bourne Manor, I felt fortunate to have Phil as a friend.

Congratulations to Janet McCarthy from Mission Hill, who recently retired as a Master Sargent from the Air National Guard after 20 years of service. Janet, who is a nurse at the New England Baptist Hospital, was previously the recipient of the National Guard Public Health Technician of the year.

There was a cool photo in the Globe last month of couple Joe and Carol Barry, who were dancing up a storm at the Four Seasons in Milton during a celebration for couples married for 50+ years. Joe and Carol, a spry Mission Hill couple, have been married for 60 years.

Condolence to the family of Richie Cummings who passed away last month. Richie, who was a retired letter carrier, was a gentle and easygoing man. An excellent athlete, he was an outstanding pitcher in the Mission Hill Softball League. Richie and his buddy, the late Robert McGrath, had an egg delivery business in the Mission Hill project in the early ‘60s, and I fondly recall earning a few bucks on a Saturday mornings when I was a little kid, delivering eggs under Richie’s guidance. Richie will be missed.

Dudley Street is gone, as the City changed the name to Nubian Square. That area, at different times, populated by Irish, German, and Jewish people, and now mostly blacks, conjures up fond memories. When I was a young boy, my father would take me to Dudley Street to shop, culminated by a drop in to Joe & Nemo, the famous hot dog stand. There was also the Sulfaro Shoe Store at Dudley Street, which was owned by the Mission Hill Sulfaros on Hillside Street. I was against the name change to Nubian Square. Nubian refers to an ancient African empire, and as Joe Fitzgerald, the fine Boston Herald writer said: “ It has as much to do with the history and legacy of Dudley Street as ‘Sesame Street.’”

The Mission Hill Post 327 held their last meeting Dec. 17 at Sophia Italian Steak House in West Roxbury, followed by our Christmas party. I’m proud to be a member of this terrific organization, and on this evening we welcomed five new members: Tommy McCarthy, Tom “Dubba” Walsh, Jimmy Daley, Mike Killion, and George Salah. George, who was Commander of the Mission Hill Post in the early ‘60s, is an energetic 96-year-old World War II combat veteran. Among the topics discussed was sponsoring a Mission Hill basketball team, coached by John Jackson in the Thomas L. Johnson League, which are played at the Tobin Gym. The next meeting is March 5, but the place has not yet disclosed. 

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