Townie Tidbits

By Sal Giarratani


Last week, I was up near the Statehouse for a Downtown Fundraising Reception for State Rep. Danny Ryan at the 6B Restaurant & Lounge. The place was packed. It may have been raining outside but the sun was shining inside. Caught up with many old friends from Charlestown and for a political time, it was great.

One of the first familiar faces I spotted from back in the day was Brian Hickey. I remember long before he became a big time lobbyist on Beacon Hill, he was a member of the “Kevin Seven” back in 1981 when he ran for a seat on the old 9-member citywide Boston City Council. There was a campaign office on Main Street just outside Thompson Square. At that time I was a writer for the old Charlestown Patriot. Brian was 26 years old a and a former Charlestown Little City Hall manager with deep Townie roots and I was also rather young at 33 and in love with being a newspaper columnist and loved busting cannolis all the time.

The both of us had a good laugh talking about those days while I was munching on a piece of chicken from another party inside the same restaurant. I was hungry and introduced myself to folks from the other event and walked away with some free chicken for myself.

When I am covering a story, I always like to embed myself at the food table too. Any food table will do. Brian and I talked about how much Charlestown has changed in the last 35 years. It isn’t the same Town but that isn’t necessarily bad .

 Now Brian and I are both 60-something. He’s at the beginning of this decade of life and I am too quickly moving toward my next decade in a couple of years.

 When I saw Danny Ryan and Brian Hickey standing next to each other, I saw two different generations but one Charlestown, I saw the lifeblood of Charlestown as seen through politics. You rally can’t come from Charlestown without being addicted to politics.

 Brian ran in 1981 and lost but looking at the long view of things, he ended becoming who he was meant to be, a lobbyist with a good sense of humor and common sense.  After having tried to get elected to the District 1 school committee seat in 1983, I left Town for Quincy. Down there I eventually ran for Quincy School Committee but lost. However, I did get 2,232 voters to cast ballots for me and I thought that was pretty good. I then settled into my career in law enforcement. When I retired in 2013 after 28 years with the Boston D.M.H. Police, I too recognized I did what I was supposed to do with my life and had no regrets.

 Looking at Danny Ryan, I see great hope for Charlestown. He isn›t just a vote and voice for the community, he is part of the community, understands the community and works hard for it.

Looking at Danny, I can remember when he was a kid back during the 1981 occupation of the Winthrop Street firehouse when a bunch of Townies got together, Danny’s mother included and held Engine 50 hostage for one month and forced Mayor White to reopen the house and reactivate the engine apparatus.

Politics is often called a blood sport but in Charlestown, it is just lots of fun where you get to act out every so often and I much like acting out and having fun. How many guys named Sal  call themselves Irish American. In Charlestown, I feel just as Irish as my Grandpa Harrington who left Bere Island in West Cork for Charlestown back in 1906. My mom was always a Townie her whole left and she always told I was Irish too.

Oh, in closing my favorite meal is a cheddar burger and Irish coffee and not spaghetti and meatballs. Just saying!

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