Townie Tidbits



Last Thursday, folks from Charlestown turned out in large numbers for a community meeting on the proposed construction of a public-private partnership to re-create the Bunker Hill Projects. Over in East Boston, the same kind of plans are on the books for a new Orient Heights projects.

In recent years, the old Maverick projects were re-built and most folks seem to like the new place.

As someone who grew up for a time in the projects back in my youth over in Roxbury at old Orchard Park, I drive by the new Orchard Gardens and can’t recognize it as the site of my Bataan Court back in the ’50s and ’60s.

Sometimes change can be good but it is good to know that people care enough to come out in numbers to hear all the plans for what appears to be very positive to this former kid from the projects.



I still miss Florence Johnson  during parades. She seemed to always be therre riding in vehicles that sometimes made it through the whole parade and sometimes finished with a tow. When I think of FloJo, I also usually think of another great Gold Star mom Chris Devlin. Both ladies were great friends who were always remembered their kids and all the kids who went off to fight wars and sadly were killed standing up for America. Florence is gone but Chris carries on and on and on.

  I caught up with Chris sitting on her float before the start of the recent Roslindale Day Parade in Roslindale Square and we chatted up for a while. With a name like Devlin, she could have been a Townie. After years of being active Gold Star moms, these two BFF represented the values we find commonplace in Charlestown.

  Carry on, Chris, we all love you!


  I caught up with Jimmy Carroll recently over in the North End with his wife Mary. Jimmy was looking real good considering everything he’s gone through We were both at the Sponsor Appreciation Dinner put on by the Society of St. Joseph of which we are both members. I loved his ad book advertisement. “The Wise Old Owl Services” Jimmy Carroll, the “Problem Solver.”



Traveling right next door in  East Somervile, I stopped off to get a cup of coffee a find a copy of the Somerville Times. In it was and advertisement from the City of Somerville which was looking for crossing guards. The ad stated that crossing guards ‘provide essential public safety by ensuring safe student crossing…” The City will give you a nice uniform and on the job training, you have to work BOTH mornings and afternoons and you must pass CORI and drug screen. Oh, and the salary for all this is $33.66 per day. The state pays folks more than that to stay home and watch TV, don’t they?

   Maybe this is why the City of Somerville is still looking for crossing guards, huh? Just thinking.


Charlestown’s High School’s Air Force JROTC was on the march through the streets of the North End during this year’s Columbus Day Parade. I caught up with them at parade’s start in Government Center. As soon as I told them that I was with the Patriot Bridge, they stood at attention for a great photo.

Back in my high school day’s when I went to Boston English, I was a member of the English High Army. Our uniforms had a WWII look and with my glasses on I looked like Sgt. Bilko. If you are old enough to remember him, you are getting older all the time nowadays.


 I wanted to thank Smokey Cain for his kind words in his letter to the editor last week. What he and his family have gone through is a sad story that too many families in Charlestown have gone through. The pain of alcohol  and substance abuse affects entire families. When some family members pass away from an overdose, those who remember are full of anger, frustration and often numbness. Some surviving family members often also feel guilty that they somehow failed the deceased.

Smokey’s story gets repeated over and over again. Sometimes families learn from other tragedies, sometimes, not. The good news is that history doesn’t always repeat itself. Addiction is often an invisible plight until it leads to law-breaking.

Charlestown also suffers from  too many killings over the years, in the near past and long ago. One reason  my mother’s Harrington family left Charlestown back in the late 20s was due to one of my mom’s older brothers found murdered in a doorway on Main Street one late night. My grandmother fled to Malpewood Square  in Malden which she thought would be safer for the rest of her kids.

  There’s an old AA saying that goes, “Denial is not a river in Egypt.” There has been too many Denial Rivers flown rough Charlestown  families. I am gad to recognize that Denial is a delusion. Sal can be reached at [email protected]

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