Hill Happenings

I stopped by Brendan Behan’s  in Jamaica Plain on Feb. 9 to celebrate the  birthday of the famous Irish playwright, and by the long arm of coincidence, it is also the birthday of Mission Hill’s Michel Soltani, the owner of Brendan’s, the trendy watering hole with delightful bartenders.

Thanks to talented Kacy Hughes who made a delicious tray of cupcakes for the event. Kacy added  a smidgen of genius to the cupcakes with a bit of Baileys Irish cream enhancing the frosting.

I first met Michel Soltani about 30 years ago when I worked at Mission Hill Liquors, and Michel was the proprietor of the restaurant next door, Solstice Cafe. Michel would always look out for his Mission Hill neighbors  and was the first to lend a helping hand.

Brendan Behan was not the only famous one in his family, as his brother, Dominic Behan was the renowned Irish songwriter who composed “The Patriot Game>.  Brendan Behan’s uncle, Peadar Kearney, wrote what would become the Irish National Anthem in 1907.

It was nice seeing so many great Mission Hill friends at the Elks in West Roxbury who were celebrating the life of Joe Looby who passed away in December. Thanks to Ellen Killion who made a few loaves of Irish bread for the appreciative Elks crowd. The Irish bread was a nice dessert after which I hustled an extra slice of the delicious bread into my coat pocket.

The Mission Hill sector of the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League was played on the Parker Hill Ave. courts, and in 1973, rookie Boston Globe scribe, Dan Shaughnessy, wrote an article about 18-year-old Debbie Shaughnessy (no relation) who was player-coach for one of the boys teams, quite a novelty at the time.

I reread the interesting story which was recently posted on Facebook. I recall watching Debbie’s team play which wasn’t too good and they were aptly named “The Hackers.” Debbie, a 1973 Mission High graduate, had a beaming attitude, telling the Globe writer: “We don’t win many games, but we have a lot of fun.”

Local star, Wayne Selden, playing for Afyon in the Turkish Basketball Super League, is helping his team win games. Wayne previously played for several NBA teams, and it doesn’t seem that long ago when he was the bat boy for our great Mission Hill Liquors softball team. Wayne’s younger brother, Anthony Selden, is a powerful forward for Gardner-Webb, a Division 1 school in North Carolina.

Anthony was named Player of the Week last month in the Big South Conference.

A funeral mass was held at Mission Church on Feb.21 for the renowned Father John Lavin, who served at our parish for many years. Fr. Lavin had been living at St. John Neumann Residence in Maryland since 2018 because of an illness.

I’m honored to have been a friend of Father Lavin, who grew up in the Mission Hill project at Tobin Court. He graduated from Mission Grammar School in 1954, as did my late brother, John Martin, and the pair were childhood friends. Fr. Lavin beautifully eulogized my brother at his funeral mass at the Church in 2012. In the mid ‘70s at St. Alphonsus Hall.

Fr. Lavin mentored youngsters who engaged in activities including dance, self-defense and prayer “to build the moral fiber of the neighborhood kids.”

I last conversed with Fr. Lavin about four years ago over lunch at the Squealing Pig (currently Wood Fried Love ). Fr. Lavin loved baseball, and he enthusiastically reminisced about walking over to Fenway Park to see Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio.

Meanwhile, the start of the baseball season is in jeopardy because of a dispute between greedy players and greedy owners, and I couldn’t care less. At one time, I loved baseball, but the “American pastime” is becoming the American past time, inhibited by many long drab games. I have particular distaste for Red Sox owner, John Henry, who had Yawkey Way changed back to Jersey Street in 2018.

Henry said he was “haunted” every time he walked by the Yawkey Way street sign, evidently because of Yawkey’s perceived racism. Henry surely misses the irony of Jersey Street, named after George Villers, the sixth Earl of Jersey who made a fortune in the British slave market.

Sister Patricia Hammond and Sister Joan Doyle, graduates of Mission Grammar School visited the children at their former school last month. Sister Hammond and I were classmates from the famous Mission High Class of ‘67.

I walk by the wonderful Mission Grammar School kids every morning on my way to Mike’s Donuts, and hopefully by the time this paper comes out, the kids will be free from their masks so I can see their smiling faces.

Dan Prendergast, a health inspector for the City of Boston stopped in Mike’s Donuts recently and his first inquiry to the owner, Maria, was about the delicious jelly donuts.

Happy birthday ( Feb .27) to Annie York, a nice lady who sits with our gang at Mike’s Donuts. At this writing the Mission Hill Post 327 was scheduled to hold a meeting March 1 at Victory Point Restaurant in Quincy, followed by a meeting in the first week in April. St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, so stop by one of our fine Mission Hill restaurants for a corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Did you hear about the leprechaun who got arrested ?

He’s now a lepre-con.

Mossy can be reached at [email protected]

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