Hill Happenings

Condolences to the family of Thomas S. Maher, a retired Boston Police detective and former Mission Hill resident, who passed away Nov. 12. Being a good friend of his son, Tom Maher, Jr., as a youngster, I got to know the elder Maher and he was a great guy, always keeping an eye on me and my friends in the Mission Hill projects. Tom was part of the “Greatest Generation” and he served in the Navy Seabees in World War ll. Tom will be dearly missed.

Last Sunday at Mike’s Donuts on Mission Hill I shared coffee and donuts with my distinguished friend, 93 year old George Salah. George is a World War ll veteran and a past commander of the Mission Hill Post. George is remarkably astute and he keeps busy, volunteering on behalf of veterans, most recently with the Nicholas G. Beram Veterans Association. The association is named in honor of Private Beram, a Massachusetts man who died in battle at Salerno, Italy in 1942. The association raises money for college scholarships for Massachusetts students.

Condolences to the family of Ann Marie Coyle, who passed away last month. Ann and I were classmates at Mission High and as I write this, I have my 1967 yearbook open looking at Ann’s picture conjuring up wonderful memories from that time. I fondly recall being on stage with Ann at St. Alphonsus Hall in the school plays, Oklahoma and Lil Abner. She gave me many laughs. Ann was a wonderful woman.

It was refreshing to hear Mike’s Donuts worker Esmeraldi Tangu speak proudly about voting in her first U.S. election. Esmeraldi emigrated from Albania and she recently became a U.S. citizen. Esmeraldi told everyone within earshot that she voted for Trump. Also a supporter of our President-elect is Esmeraldi’s fellow worker at Mike’s, Ermira Kembora. Ermira says that she was influenced by her son, Erdi Kembora, a vociferous supporter of Mr. Trump. Meanwhile, my friend and downstairs neighbor, 90-year-old John H. Clifford, a World War ll veteran, voted for Hillary. When I informed him early in the morning after election night that Hillary lost, John calmly said, “In four years, we’ll dump Trump.”

Mission Hill’s hero: Congrats to John Jackson, who received the ABCD Hero award last month. John is the administrator coordinator at the Tobin Community Center, which offers terrific programs, including after school homework tutoring, sports, and games. John is a great guy and a terrific role model for our kids.

For some alluring reading, check out Kris Alden’s blog, which features life as a mom, a grandma, and life’s little surprises. Kris lived in Mission Hill for many years when she was a terrific writer for the “Mission Hill Good News.” Kris now lives in Vermont and her link is lifetakebigbites.wordpress.com.

On Veterans Day, Jimmy Daley was a guest on the Jeff Kuhner Show on W.R.K.O. radio, and he spoke passionately about veterans returning home and the obstacles they encounter. Jimmy grew up at Tobin Court in the Mission Hill projects and shortly after graduating from Mission High in 1966 he enlisted in the Army and he served two tours in Vietnam. I’ve been friends with Jimmy for 60 years. He’s a great guy and so easy going, which leads me to the story Jimmy was calmly telling the radio audience. Upon finishing four years in the Army, Jimmy was refused a taxi ride to Mission Hill because the cabbie at Logan Airport said, “That area is too dangerous.” Jimmy told the story without a hint of bitterness. How ironic, Jimmy had just completed two tours in Vietnam and the cab driver is afraid to drive to Mission Hill.

Happy Birthday to Emma Lane (Dec. 16). Emma, a Mission Hill resident, is my friend and my coffee companion at Mike’s Donuts.

Kudos to the folks at Brenden Behan Pub in Jamaica Plain and Michel Soltani of the Mission Bar and Grill for raising money at their charitable golf tourney at the Putterham Meadows Golf Club in Brookline. The funds from the golf tournament went to the Boston Brakers Power Chair Soccer Club. The Brakers play their games at the Tobin Gym and Jim Farrow is one of their coaches and organizers.

A tip of the hat to John “Grapes” Grady, who was elected to the Massachusetts High School Basketball Hall of Fame last month. John, a Mission High graduate, has coached high school hoop for more than 50 years and he is currently the basketball coach at Xaverian High in Westwood. John was my coach my senior year at Mission High in 1967. We had some first rate players including Frank Nangle, Kevin Fitzgerald, John Clarke and 6-foot-5 freshman center, Mike Morgan. But we finished 7-13, losing the close ones. A memorable game occurred before a packed house at the Tobin Gym against Don Bosco High, who was one of the best teams in the state. We led throughout the game, but we lost by a point in the last second. That’s the way the ball bounces…Merry Christmas.

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