Hill Happenings

Steve Ross, a remarkable man who survived five Nazi concentration camps, passed away last week. Steve was the father of former Mission Hill City Councilor, Mike Ross. I wrote about Steve a few months ago after reading his book “From Broken Glass.” Steve’s life turned hellish at age 9 when the Nazis arrived at his home in Lodz, Poland. His survival is a testament to courage in the face of brutality and hatred. Steve was rescued by American troops in Dachau, Germany, in 1945, after which he dedicated his life to working with young people. Several Mission Hill kids were steered in the right direction at Steve’s guidance. I got to know Steve when we crossed paths working for the Youth Activities Commission in Boston in the ‘70s, and I am honored to have known him.  

This week (March 12, 1846) in local history, Roxbury was incorporated as a city with John J. Clarke becoming its first mayor. In 1868, Roxbury was annexed to Boston, as was Dorchester in 1870. At about the same time, Roslindale, which was originally part of Roxbury, is supposedly named. Roslindale after the historic town of Roslin, Scotland.

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Mike Mangiacotti last month at age 78. Mike was a wonderful guy and perhaps Mission Hill’s best all-around athlete. A 1960 Mission High graduate, Mike was a terrific quarterback, earning League All Catholic honors, and he also excelled in baseball and basketball. Mike, who served in the U.S. Marines, was a retired postal worker. In 2018, Mike was inducted into the Xaverian High School Athletic Hall of Fame, among just a few Mission High inductees. Although Mission High closed in 1991, the schools and alumni remain affiliated.

Hall of Fame Basketball coach, Jim Calhoun stopped by the Tobin Gym last month. The personable Calhoun, age 78, who coached for many years at Northeastern and U Conn., mingled with the youngsters and he chatted with Mission Hill youth coach, John Jackson.

Congratulations to Beau Bevilacqua, who won the New England Gold Gloves Boxing title in the 132-pound division, last month at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. The skilled boxer, who lives in Roslindale, is the grandson of my awesome childhood friend, the late Phil Thompson. Phil was a proud grandfather and close to his grandchildren, and he would have been delighted by Beau’s success. Phil was also proficient with his fists, and many times in the old days, he saved several of his friends, including myself, from bullies and muggers.

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, here’s hoping some of our fine Mission Hill taverns will be serving the traditional corned beef and cabbage while celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. Speaking of Ireland, a tip of the hat to Captain Robert Forbes, a great man from Jamaica Plain, who was an unsung hero during the horrendous Irish potato famine of the 1840s.  Captain Forbes persuaded the U.S government to loan him the USS Jamestown and led the voyage to bring food to the starving Irish people. He and his inexperienced crew of volunteers departed the Charlestown Navy Yard on April 2, 1847, despite being pounded by miserable weather.

“Snow and sleet rendered ropes stiff as crowbars,” the Captain wrote in his log. Almost two weeks later Forbes sailed the mighty ship into Cork Harbor, where food and supplies were unloaded, and multitudes of people fed. The great humanitarian, who was born in Jamaica Plain, wrote in the Captain’s log: “It’s not an everyday matter when you see a nation starving.”

It was a nice gesture by District 8 City Councilor, Kenzie Bok in honoring 93-year-old Mission Hill resident Enoch “Woody” Woodhouse last month at a Council meeting. Woody, a retired lieutenant colonel, is a great American who served in the Air Force as a Tuskegee Airman. Woody is a graduate of English High and Yale University. Woody and I are neighbors here at the Charlesbank Apartments, and I love to chat with him. I also enjoy chattering with Councilor Bok, who is doing an excellent job representing Mission Hill.

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