Townie Tidbits

By Sal Giarratani

GALS AT NAVY YARD, 1942-1945

Historian Polly Kienle, a ranger from the Boston National Historical Park gave a riveting story about how women changed the Boston Navy Yard during World War II AND what it all means for us today. My mom always recalled with pride her time working at the Charlestown Navy Yard during that world. While the men went off and joined the military, the ladies stepped in to fill their spots aiding the war cause. Many women ended up doing jobs they never expected to do. Many actually real live Rosie the Riverters. My mom not one of them. She said “riverting not for her.” She did paper work but every job back then was an important one even office work.

Everyone remembers and praises members of the Greatest Generation but they weren’t all men and not by a longshot. This lecture was given at the South Boston Branch Library last week. Made sense to have it at the South Boston Library Annex since Southie was home to the South Boston Naval Annex down off Summer Street across from the old Boston Army Base building.

I hope this lecture makes it over to the Charlestown Branch Library too. Women shipbuilders was a chapter of Charlestown history too.



I hear Jennifer Phelan is now holding weekly outdoor group fitness classes at the Bunker Hill Monument. As Jen says, “Get moving, get fit and feel strong and sweat together under the sun.”

For more information, go to                



Andrea & Bruce Garr have been a part of the Charlestown landscape for over 39 years but will shortly begin a brand new adventure together in Colorado. They have purchased and will operate the Redstone Cliffs Lodge on the banks of the Crystal River. Sounds like an adventurous turn in their lives. Talk about never getting stale, huh. Hopefully, this move will work out great for them and that they can bring all they learned in Charlestown to work I Colorado. Methinks, they will do it. I know they will miss the Patriot but as I told Bruce, you can get it on line even in Colorado.



When I first moved into Cjharlestown, the Charlestown Savings Bank was still located inside the old Bank Building in Thompson Square. It was at the time I recall one of the most beautiful banks in all of Boston. Then the Bunker Hill Mall opened on the other side of this square and shortly thereafter renamed Neworld Bank or as many Townies called it, Ne World Bank.”

Well, now back across the street in that grand old 19th century bank building a new bank will be moving in. Cambridge Savings Bank will occupy first floor  retail space beginning sometime in October. I guess as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.



Recently, the Passacantilli for City Council Committee recently opened up its Charlestown campaign office on Main Street next to the Cooperative Bank. Candidate Stephen Passacantilli  also hosted a packed  kick-off campaign event at the Warren Tavern last week.

I reminded Dougie MacDonald during the parade that Brian Hickey also used the same  office space for his 1981 city council campaign… and that a year later Republican Greg Hyatt leased it for his short-lived gubernatorial bid. That campaign hit a major roadblock when it was reported that at another of his campaign offices, he went clothing optional and was caught by a female in his clothing optional outfit. Not a way to win votes in Massachusetts no matter how liberal we are.




I can’t believe it has been a year already. I remember last year’s first event in memory  of  young Michael  once again hosted by his pop DJ Michael “Smokey’ Cain. This year it was held last Sunday on Father’s Day down at the Knights.  The fundraiser is to be held always on young Mike’s birthday and it is a fundraiser for the Charlestown Recovery House. Once again everyone showed up and brought items for the folks living with recovery at the Hayes Square site. This coming July 2 will be the second anniversary of young Mike’s death by overdose.


DJ Smokey Cain has now become a full-time job as a recovery coach and street worker in Chelsea. Working for North Suffolk Mental Health and is part of a new team funded by the City of Chelsea helping those fighting addiction get the help they need, many like his own son that lost his life to drug addiction..


Part of Smokey’s mission is now Michael’s Mission.”











I had a Mercury once for about 7 years. It was a beige Grand Marquis with front wheel drive. Always an adventure during winter snow storms. Always reminded me of Tom Cruise’s “Risky Business’ because I always took grand risks driving around and around with front wheel drive. Should be outlawed. I survived seven scarey winters with the car before it died from old age.


However, back when I was growing up I always thought it was slightly classier than a plain Ford. I can remember back in the late 50s when an older teen drove a great 1957 Mercury. I thought it was so cool. Bold front with giant fish tails just like those DA haircuts the nuns would never let us wear in class at St. Rita’s School.


By the mid to late 50s, you could see what cars would look like in the 60s. The old 40s and early 50s look by then quite outdated. The 1957 model didn’t look like the WWII tank-looking ’49 model. Both were  pure American steel unlike today’s plastic cars. People kept them for years because they seemed so indestructible ( and they were).





1949 Mercury


1957 Mercury

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