Hill Happenings

It was a touching Memorial Day observance of our fallen Mission Hill veterans at Brigham Circle in a ceremony presided by Mission Hill Post 327 Commander Col. George Rollins. 

Memorial Day is a somber holiday, but it was nice to see many of the past and present Mission Hill people who solemnly watched the placing of the wreath at the Memorial Headstone. Faces in the Brigham Circle crowd included 94-year-old Enoch “Woody” Woodhouse, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and Tricia Fitzgerald. Tricia, a nurse at the New England  Baptist Hospital, looked gorgeous, even though she was wearing a mask, as was everybody else. 

A tip of the hat goes to Steve Kern for being the recipient of the Kevin Fitzgerald Mission Grammar School Alumnus of the Year. Steve was to be honored May 28 for his benevolence to Mission Grammar, particularly supporting the school’s Road to College program. It was scheduled be a virtual ceremony. The Kerns are a wonderful family from Mission Hill, who didn’t forget where they came from. Steve is a graduate of Princeton University, where he starred in football as the team’s middle linebacker. 

This month in local history, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (now commonly referred to as Mission Church)  opened in June of 1878. It is constructed from puddingstone brought from the nearby Coleman’s Quarry (later known as Coleman’s Ledge). The massive twin towers were added in 1910 and in 1954 Pope Pius X11 elevated the church to Basilica status.

A round of applause goes to Kerry Mullin who last week received a master’s degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School. Kerry, an alumna of Boston Latin School and Boston College, has the gritty Mission Hill lineage, and I’m proud to be close friends with the Mullin clan. Kerry will return to Excel Academy in Chelsea where she previously taught for five years. Incidentally, Boston Latin is the oldest public school in America, founded in 1635, and five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended that acclaimed school.

Writing about Kerry, I got a flashback from an unusual night hanging out with Kerry’s dad, Bill Mullin, and John Killion in 1968. I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Sometimes too much drink is not enough,” and this was one of those nights. John, home on leave from the Army, was leaving for Vietnam in the morning. We started our evening up the “Ledge” with a case of Schlitz beer. At about 1 a.m., we were at Brigham Circle about to call it a night when we were diverted by the large “Nixon for President” sign above the New England Merchant Bank. Evidently, we disliked Nixon because we inexplicably climbed on the roof of “My Dream Pizza” and then laterally on top of the bank to get to the sign and we dissected Nixon’s “face”. After defacing the sign we descended the back of the building at Francis Street and Huntington Avenue, only to be met by police sirens and officers with guns drawn. They thought we were breaking into the bank, and who could blame them? 

The cops scolded us and checked our identification but they decided not to arrest us after Bill, a freshman at Harvard and a future lawyer, pleaded our case. After all, it was a sendoff to John Killion, whom we loved, and John had to get up in five hours to go to Vietnam.   

Condolences to the Mission Hill family and friends of Joseph Barry who passed away last week. Joe was gifted with talent, being a Master Carpenter and a licensed builder. As a little kid, Joe would make bicycles and build go-carts. Joe, who was recently living in Pittsfield, was known for his gourmet skills. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he generously shared his stews and tasty food dishes with his neighbors. R.I.P., Joe.

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