Townie Tidbits


This coming May 10 would have marked my Uncle Neal Harrington’s 110th birthday. He ended up living out the last part of his life over in Uphams Corner in Dorchester, but never forgot his Townie roots. He was also a very prolific writer who writings appeared in many newspapers over the years, as did his photos. In the end, he was still involved in politics and did lots of stories on senior Bostonians. In his younger life, he was publicizing Irish dances and getting plenty of press for them, too. In real life he was a U.S. Post Office letter carrier ( You gotta pay your bills, too).

The other birthday to mention is my own. I will be turning the Big Seven -0 tomorrow (May 4).

Like my uncle before me, I became a writer and photographer . Like my Uncle Nealy, I loved being a newspaper writer, too. Considered him my mentor. To pay my bills, I  ended up a police officer for the state Department of Mental Health.

-Neal Harrington dressed in his post office uniform



I was a history major at Boston State College 50 years ago when I was 20 and living next to the Holden School on Pearl Street. My mother›s family roots were here in this community after emigrating from Beara Island separately. The ended up marrying and raised a large family in St. Mary’s Parish. While visiting Charlestown often growing up, it was until 1968 that I called Charlestown my home. I was no longer the place my mother came from, just as today’s Charlestown barely looks like 1968. In that year, housing prices were still reasonable. You could still find a shoebox townhouse on Pearl Street going for $9,900. YES, I said $9,900.

That part of the Town’s history is now history. I  remember the ’70s when Judge Garriety decided to start busing kids all over God’s Green Earth, treating kids like different colored jelly beans. I  remember all the marches and protests. If you were a parent at the time, it looked horrible. Those pushing the busing plan called everyone else a bunch of angry racists when all they wanted to keep their children safe and closer to home. Townies going back to the Battle of Bunker Hill have stood up and fought back. Actions always speak louder than words and Townies were an active band of folks. Back in 1968, I was 20 and tomorrow May 4, I turn the Big Seven-0. Wondering where the deleted did time go. I remember marching in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill like it was yesterday. It wasn’t. I remember being a part of the Peoples Firehouse #2 Committee who occupied the Winthrop Street Firehouse saving the Engine 50 piece from being driven out of Charlestown. I remember watching all those Toonies coming into Charlestown. We all feared the end was near. It wasn’t.

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