Townie Tidbits

By Sal Giarratani



I was way up on Bunker Hill Street at St.Francis de Sales Church for the funeral of a man I have known over 40 years. Marty O’Brien Sr. was an imposing figure but of the silent type. Most Townies are usually anything but silent. However, with him, he let his actions talk for him most of the time. He was a loving father, husband grandfather great-grandfather (you get the idea). He was dedicated to his job as a Boston firefighter. He was always a firefighter 24/7. He did it well at Ladder 9 for 32 years.When  he passed away, he did what firefighters always wish for. He was on the job 32 years and he was a retired firefighter 36 years. He beat the pension system.

The service at the church was wonderful. It was crowded as it should have been. He was a memorable person in the community and in his parish. The eulogy by Marty Jr. was from his heart and showed what a great dad Marty Sr was to him and all his siblings. I have known Marty Jr. and his brother Jamsie for almost as long as I had known their dad. I never knew how many siblings there were until recently which was partly why the church was so packed.

When I looked at Marty Jr. and Jamsie I saw how long we all have known each other. It seems like only yesterday when we were members of the People’s Firehouse. Jamsie and I were a part of the security force at the firehouse on  many overnight shifts. I almost didn’t recognize Jamsie with his new bearded look.

Another building stone of Charlestown has left us. He lived a great and long life. He did his life and is now up in heaven with his wife who left him too soon. Let us all keep him in our prayers and those of his grieving family too.



A few weeks back, I saw the news item in the Patriot about renovations to be done at the Winthrop Street Firehouse where Engine 50 is housed. The apparatus will be moving over to the Sullivan Square Firehouse for a short while.

This will be the first time since the end of the Peoples Firehouse siege in May of 1981 that Engine 50 has not been inside the house. Thirty six years ago what Townies most  feared was taking out Engine 50 from this house. We would have gone paranoid. Today, things are much settled. Engine 50 is here to stay and we know the firehouse itself will look even better and be more functional for all the members of Engine 50.

This is why myself and so many others took over the firehouse in April 1981. We wanted to keep the firehouse operational as it has been and will continue to be so.

Long live Engine 50 and the Peoples Firehouse. No matter how old I ever get, I will never forget that one month siege that made a statement and won the day.

Victory for the Peoples Firehouse came on May 8, 1981 when this photo was taken



I always wanted to use that Ku Fu TV show line. Remember how David Carradine played that Asian drifter back in the Old West and nobody ever noticed he didn’t look a bit Chinese? Well, this piece here has nothing to do with any of that. However, it is about a grasshopper as in the Grasshopper Restaurant  up on Bunker Hill Street not far from Pearl Street.

Recently, stopped by for a great bowl of oatmeal which I started eating on a regular vbasis after some of my numbers needed to improve, so said my doctor. I actually have been eating it so much, it now tastes really good to me. I mean it too.

One recent weekday morning I stopped by for breakfast and sat two stools away from Leo Martin who was there with his usual coffee and corn muffin. He always gets coffin and a muffin. Everyday without end. I›ve bumped into him there before and eating his corn muffin too. Serving us on this latest morning was Jill LaVallee. She’s been at the Grasshopper since before day long. She loves the place and you can tell just by listening to her talk about it. She said she has never been in the Charlestown Patriot ever and loves Townie Tidbits too so I decided it was time to make her famous right here today. You know back in the old days most Townies prided themselves by never making the pages of a newspaper if you get my drift. But this is the New Charlestown. Kinda.

This is no longer the Charlestown I knew back nearly 50 years ago when I was still living with my parents at 12 Pearl Street. However, being inside the Grasshopper you kinda feel like it is a piece of the old town. Here the old and new mix and there’s no one fighting anymore.

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