Best wishes in retirement from the BPD to Tony Nunez, fondly known as Mission Hill’s singing policeman. Besides being a dedicated police officer, Tony is a talented singer. A few years ago many of Tony’s Mission Hill neighbors and I enjoyed ourselves watching Tony perform at the Cathay Pacific in Quincy. One Saturday night in the summer of 2002, I was working behind the counter at Mission Hill Liquors when Officer Nunez came to my rescue. An unhinged, brazen and not-too-bright thief suddenly grabbed the cash register, ripping it from its chord. In an attempt to exit with the register, he scurried too fast before the automatic door opened and ran head on into the glass door, giving me time to corral him before a melee ensued. Fortunately Officer Nunez, on his night off, was relaxing nearby at the Mission Hill Post, and he was summoned by one of my quick-thinking customers. Officer Nunez handcuffed the derelict and waited for the police wagon to arrive.
Condolences to the family of Martin McCauley Sr., a great American from Mission Hill, who passed away last month. At the budding age of 14, Martin joined the Marines and served during World War II. He later served in the Merchant Marines, after which he became a member of the Local #3 Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Union. Marty and his late wife, Kathleen raised eight children in their Burney Street home, a popular Mission Hill abode, augmented by a half-dozen cheerful and pretty young ladies.
Mission Hill also mourned the loss of Mary Merner, who passed away on Jan. 9. Mary was a beautiful woman, who, along with her husband, Sonny, raised five terrific kids. Mary was a diligent worker, who was employed at the New England Baptist Hospital for many years. R.I.P., Mary.
I was saddened by the news that my friend, Billy Cummings suddenly passed away. Billy, who grew up in the Mission Hill project, was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. As a youngster hanging out at the St. Alphonsus Hall Recreation Center, I enjoyed watching Billy display his awesome skills on the pool table. Billy was a good athlete who played shortstop on the Ed Burke’s championship softball team in 1975. He was classy and easygoing. Billy was quick with the one-liners, and he was a great storyteller. Billy’s tales were glowingly on display at our annual “Breen Cookout,” held at the home of his cousin’s John and Dennis Breen in Roslindale. This summer, while the burgers are sizzling and the beer cans pop, we will think of our great friend, Billy.
Happy birthday to Gerry O’Connell, who will be a youthful 68 on Feb.11. Gerry was a savvy middle linebacker and my teammate on the last Killilea Club championship football team in 1979. I appreciate Gerry periodically calling me for updates on the status of players from that great team, many of whom unfortunately are no longer with us.
Another terrific Killilea Club middle linebacker was Frank Pedersen, who never misses reading the Mission Hill Gazette. Frank is still called “51” at Mike’s Donuts, because of the number on the jersey he wore 50 years ago. He anchored Killilea’s defense for several seasons, including 1970, when the team defeated the South Boston Chippewas at White Stadium in the title game.
During this time period Frank was a youth worker, and he and the late Steve Ross worked with the kids in the South Boston projects. Frank is mentioned in Ross’s remarkable book, “From Broken Glass,” published in 2018, in a chapter about their days in Southie. The crux of Steve’s book is his story of being captured by the Nazis in Lodz, Poland, at age 9 and later being rescued by American troops in Dachau, Germany, in 1945. Steve is the father of former Mission Hill City Councilor, Michael Ross.
Last week, I was searching for a quick bite and took a chance at the Food Mart across from Flann O’Brien’s. The crispy chicken displayed through the window glass looked good, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not gourmet cooking, but four pieces of chicken and a couple of tasty biscuits for $6 was a good deal. The workers at the Food Mart are nice guys and always polite, too. I’m glad Buffalo lost their playoff game to the Chiefs after the Bills disgracefully stayed in the locker room during the National Anthem. In this Sunday’s Super Bowl at Tampa Bay, the Bucs will oust K.C. 24-23 on a last-second field goal.