Charlestown Pride Week finds new
entry with an old idea – a block party
By Seth Daniel
Charlestown Pride Week is well underway by now with a host of cherished events already having been held and others about ready to go off.
No Parade week would be complete without the Family Feud, which was last night (June 7) and figured to be bigger and better than ever thanks to the efforts of the Bunker Hill Associates.
As well, few would recognize that it was early June if there wasn’t a CHAD March as one of the kick-off events with the newer Touch-A-Truck event also breaking the Bunker Hill ice.
Naturally, few cherished traditions are as sentimental for the Town as the Edna Kelly Doll Carriage Parade, which goes off this Saturday morning, June 10.
But a new tradition is in the mix this year, and it comes from an idea that’s as old as the hills – the Bunker Hills that is.
Chief Marshal Robert Beckwith this week said, “Think wooden spoons and Hoodsie cups.”
The new entry is the Chief Marshal’s Block Party, an idea created by Beckwith and several long-time friends and Townies who remembered how things were in the old days when the Parade happened on June 17 every year.
Typically having great weather, residents of Charlestown usually stopped everything to enjoy the community events and to catch up with neighbors. That, quite obviously, resulted in parties.
And growing up in the Town, Beckwith and others remembered so many Block Parties throughout the week coinciding with the Town Carnival.
So they figured, why not bring it back?
“Shortly after I was chosen as Chief Marshal, I was speaking with some long-time friends and we decided we need to give the Parade a shot in the arm, something new,” he said. “In days past, everyone made their plans around June 17. The Parade was paramount, but we had lots of neighborhood parties and get-togethers. I grew up in the Projects like a lot of other people and the courtyards during Parade week always had Block Parties and everyone got together there. We starting thinking about that and figured why not bring back an old idea and make it new.”
Quickly, they realized it was going to be an expensive and time-consuming affair.
However, Beckwith reached out to John Tagliatela of the Associates, and to several businesses and organizations in the Town to pitch the idea. Everyone bought in quickly, he said.
Funds were raised through selling T-Shirts, stickers and gathering donations from local businesses. Everyone seemed to pitch in to support the effort, Beckwith said, including Teamsters Local 25, State Rep. Dan Ryan and the Boston Firefighters’ Union.
Meanwhile, next to the 520 Club that Beckwith manages, Chris Duffy donated his large, fenced in lot to host the party so that it could be contained and safe for the kids.
“We wanted everything to be free for the community and the kids,” Beckwith said. “We had a very positive response from everyone and that was very encouraging. It’s going to be a really fun time. We want everyone to come out, the new people to Charlestown and the people who have been here. This is for everyone, young and old.”
The festivities include one great surprise, and that being the reconstitution of the Bunker Hillbillies Band, who will warm up for the Irish band Erin Org.
“The Bunker Hillbillies are back together and presently practicing in an undisclosed location, I’m told,” he said. “The boys are back in Town again. They have a good group of guys coming back and opening for the Irish band. It’s going to be fun.”
The musical acts, which will play on a flatbed trailers donated by the Teamsters, will be complemented by food and beverages from local businesses, face painting, a ventriloquist, and dunk tank and a group of rascally pirates.
The Block Party is at 500 Main St. in the Duffy parking lot and will take place from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, June 10. It will be followed up by the Concert on the Monument, which takes place at 6 p.m. and will feature the Bridgewater Antiphonal Brass Band.
‘Forward, March!’ Bunker Hill Parade
Committee ready for a great procession
By Seth Daniel
The Battle of Bunker Hill Parade is a huge undertaking, but only a small group of dedicated Townies put the grease to the machine each year to make it work, and this year the Committee said they have a great Parade ready for Sunday, June 11, that they hope will provide the structure to continue building in the coming years.
The Parade will step off at Hayes Square on Sunday, June 11, at 12:30 p.m.
Participants will queue up on the surrounding streets, and after a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Mayor Martin Walsh and Chief Marshal Robert Beckwith – among others – the command will sound to move forward – starting a procession that should last about two hours.
This year’s Parade has been dedicated to first responders, said Chair Arthur Hurley, and so it will have several nods to that throughout the route, including a tribute to Ensign Doherty – killed in action in World War II – at Doherty Park and also a tribute to the Vendome Hotel Firefighter victims near St. Francis de Sales Church.
It is the 45th anniversary of the fire on June 17, and two victims were from Charlestown – including Chief Marshal Beckwith’s brother, Tommy.
Most notable is the change in the route, something that was decided last month after many years of careful thought. The route will no longer wind through the smaller streets off of Main Street (such as Union, Washington and others), but will turn left onto Green Street in Thompson Square and proceed up to High Street. There it will take a right, skipping the Bartlett Street jog. A reviewing stand will be set up on the southern side of the Monument this year for the Parade to go by. Instead of circling the Monument, it will pass by the Stand and then end at the Training Field.
Hurley said there will be a great return of the Navy Band this year.
“We have a good group of militias and bands this year, and especially good is the Navy Band is back after a two or three year absence,” he said. “That is very good and very important. They really make the Parade.”
In addition on the music front, the Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps and the 7th Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps will be stepping the route to entertain everyone.
Hurley and fellow Committee member Bob Gillen said they have divided the Parade into five elements.
The first is the Chief Marshal’s contingent, and Beckwith – a former State Trooper from a family with deep roots in the Boston Fire Department – promises to bring a huge group marching with him. It will be not only his family and friends, but also Fire Department personnel and a few surprises as well.
The Military and Veterans group is second, and Hurley said those numbers are not what they used to be, but they persist nonetheless.
The National Park Service brings up the third element, followed by the much-beloved Military History element.
That element includes loads of Colonial Militia re-enactors from all over the region, setting the mood for the commemoration of the cherished Revolutionary War battle. That includes re-enactors from Colonial militias, the Civil War and all other wars up to current veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The final element is one that Hurley and Gillen hope to build upon, and it is the community element. There will be Disney characters, Town organizations and Sports leagues, the Cycling Murrays and even some rouge pirates.
“That’s an element that we hope to build up in the coming years,” he said. “The Community element is something we can use to put everything together and then we have the beginnings of something interesting and fun for the kids…I’d like that to be a little larger…It will take more community input and more people working on it. We’d like to have all the youth sports back in the Parade.”
Not to be forgotten are the politicians. All of the District 1 candidates will be marching, as will some of the at-large councilors – so far to include Michael Flaherty and Council President Michelle Wu.
Gillen stressed that the tribute to Ensign Doherty would be meaningful, given that his niece, Margaret Doherty, will be in attendance. The Navy Band will play a tribute there and dignitaries will be present as the Parade comes to a halt for that.
“There are only a few of us that put this together and we put a lot of work into it,” said Gillen. “I’ve been doing it for 47 years and Arthur has been at it for 50 years. We have consistently done this and we think this year is going to be a good one.”
Common Man in Uncommon Role: ‘Old Put’ got a bad rap
By Seth Daniel
The stars of the Battle of Bunker Hill are well-aligned with history, and many folks are quite aware of who they are – especially in Charlestown.
Most are household names, reminding the Town of their presence in the names of streets and places and even businesses.
There’s Warren, Prescott and so many others.
But few have heard of the leader on the battlefield that day, Gen. Israel ‘Old Put’ Putnam – a decorated war hero from the French and Indian War who lived just over the line in Connecticut and rushed to Boston at a moment’s notice when he heard about the Colonial cause. Having been born in Salem and having ancestors who participated in the Witch Trials, he had deep roots in the colonies, but never took his place among the giants of the Revolution.
Most at the time of the Battle of Bunker Hill reported that he served valiantly, exhibiting bravery and good leadership of the rag-tag Colonial militia groupings (there was not yet an organized Continental Army at the the time). However, more than 30 years later – and after his death – former Bunker Hill soldier Henry Dearborn, quite out of the blue, decided to disparage Old Put’s good name publicly. Apparently, there had been whispers among the veterans about his effectiveness, but no one questioned his good name publicly until Dearborn – in a tight race for governor – used a Philadelphia newspaper to bolster his gubernatorial campaign and forever besmirch the name of Old Put.
The controversy over Old Put’s role, his effectiveness and his bravery raged for decades afterward among historians, veteran soldiers and even Old Put’s family. He never quite recovered from that, and despite being one of the first generals appointed by George Washington in the Continental Army later in the war, he never took his right place in the history, particularly the history of the Bunker Hill.
Author Gene Procknow, who frequently writes for the Journal of the American Revolution, wrote a piece on the subject last August, and he told the Patriot Bridge in an interview last week that Old Put likely got a raw deal as he viewed it.
“I do think Israel Putnam is not very well understood by the public in general today,” he said. “Some of that is the result of things that took place in the 19th Century that poisoned the well for him. He had a better reputation from his contemporaries than he does from history…I think Putnam had courage. That’s one of the biggest things Dearborn accused him of. I think that is positively not right. He displays personal courage in the French and Indian War several times. When the Battle of Bunker Hill was being fought, he rode over the Charlestown Neck six or seven times under heavy enemy fire. I really think he should be better remembered and should receive more credit for things that he did.”
What Putnam did was inherit a group of rag-tag soldiers who were not united under any flag and weren’t part of any army. However, when he showed up, that force of resistance began to follow him as he was the most senior officer in the Town. He immediately began to test the British, Procknow said, being bold enough to march a detachment of the militia over to Charlestown and parade up Main Street in defiance of the British and under their watchful eyes and guns. It was a bold move, and not one that a coward would have made, he said.
The problem in the Battle of Bunker Hill for Putnam was that there was no plan and no chain of command. Most did what they wanted to do, and it left Putnam riding back and forth trying to encourage the militias and unite them under one cause.
It was not a good situation, and Procknow said it was quite impressive that things turned out so well for the Colonials, even though they lost – having inflicted severe casualties on the British. Many of those fighting were simply looking to protect their own interests, their own land, and didn’t have the same high-minded cause as the leaders.
“The chain of command wasn’t all that clear,” he said. “It wasn’t like later in the war with lieutenants, captains and leadership that went up the chain of command clearly. It was a confusing battlefield from that standpoint…They didn’t have a great plan in place. This was not a well-oiled machine that Putnam was leading. It was a questionable group.”
While no one criticized him at the time, Dearborn – who served on the Rail Fence at Bunker Hill – laid upon the fact that Putnam was often nowhere to be found, riding back and forth to try to organize the forces. Dearborn believed that he was simply trying to avoid the fighting. He claimed that Putnam was preoccupied with building a fortification on Bunker Hill while fierce fighting took place on Breed’s Hill. He also roundly criticized him for not sending re-inforcements when they were needed from his detachment. Instead, he sent them on other errands, and they never returned to fight. Dearborn, and later others, claimed the Colonials could have won had Putnam showed more courage and leadership, seen running around more with a shovel than a musket.
Oddly enough, many quickly agreed, and a whole other set came to Putnam’s aid.
Procknow said he believes Putnam wasn’t cowardly, and doesn’t believe Dearborn did the right thing especially since he was easily defeated in the election for Massachusetts governor – leaving the most lasting piece of that election to be the criticism of Putnam.
“I give Putnam a little more slack than most people because of the situation,” he said. “I think he gets unfairly criticized because of this. At the end of the day, I think he really tried to make the best of a bad situation.”
That said, the debate still rages on in the circles of historians who analyze Bunker Hill, and the matter is still not settled by any means despite Procknow’s most recent writings in favor of Putnam.
And therefore, Old Put’s place in history never materialized the way it did for Washington, Warren and Thomas Jefferson. He is largely forgotten, and Procknow said it has a lot to do not only with the controversy, but also his station in society.
“I think the other thing that generally worked against him was he wasn’t part of the landed gentry,” he said. “He was wealthy in Connecticut, but not really in Boston. He was a common person in an uncommon role…He was a farmer in Connecticut. He didn’t have any schooling. His letters, if you read them, have spelling that is very inventive and he wasn’t very literate.”
Despite his besmirched character, one thing can’t be taken away from Putnam, and that is he led the forces that shocked the world at the time. The Battle of Bunker Hill is remembered because a disorganized group of men inflicted severe casualties on the British Army, including many of its top officers.
And the man at the head of that resistance on June 17, controversy or not, was Gen. Israel Putnam.
BUNKER HILL DAY PARADE ROSTER – june 11
This information is printed as an informational guide only.
The parade lineup is subject to change by the Parade Committee.
BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL PARADE
June 11, 2017 12:30 P.M.
Sponsored by Battle of Bunker Hill Parade Committee
The 2017 Battle Of Bunker Hill Parade is dedicated to the memory the nine Firefighters who died in the Hotel Vendome on June 17, 1972
Arthur L. Hurley, General Chairman
Under auspices of City of Boston
Honorable Martin J. Walsh, Mayor
Adjutant: Arthur L. Hurley
Past Commander, J. W. Conway Bunker Hill Post 26,
The American Legion
Honorary Chief Marshals
Honorable Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston
Honorable Michael Capuano, Member of Congress
Honorable Sal DiDomenico, Member, Massachusetts Senate
Honorable Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker, Massachusetts House of Representatives
Honorable Daniel Ryan, Member, Massachusetts House of Representatives
Honorable Sal Lamattina, Boston City Council
Michael Creasey, Superintendent, Boston National Historical Park
Honorable Gerard Doherty
Honorable James Collins
Honorable Dennis Kearney
Honorable Richard A. Voke, Esq.
Honorable Eugene O’Flaherty, Esq.
Honorable Daniel Ryan,
Patricia A. Papa
Aides De Camp
Carol Beckwith, Lauren Beckwith, Carolyn Beckwith Doucette, Valerie Beckwith Thayer, Robert George Doucette,
Alexandra Beckwith, John McDonough, Gene Kee,
Tom Beckwith, John Taglilatela, Ben Thayer, Mike Doucette,
Ed Kelly(BFD), Rich Paris(BFD), Jay Colbert(SFD), Paul Brady, Ted Ryan, Rich Johnson, Jack Morris, Fred Ezekiel, Leo Carey, Ken Russell, Bill Kelly, Rich McCarthy, Bill MacDougall, Leo Boucher, Lefty Devlin, Bill Killoran, Jack Sullivan, Jerry McCormick,
John Grzelcyk, Ron Ridings
Rev. Daniel Mahoney, Pastor St. Francis DeSales Roman Catholic Church, Chief Chaplian Boston Fire Department
Rev. Patrick F. Healy, O.F.M. Chaplain Post 26 A.L.
Rev. James J. Ronan, Pastor St. Mary and St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Parish
Rev. Erik Maloy, First Church Of Charlestown
Rev. Thomas N. Mousin, St. John’s Church
John J. Mangrum
Military Support Committee:
Cdr. Robert L. Gillen, USN, Ret., Chairman
Veterans Participation Committee
Dan Sheehan, P.C. Post 26, A.L.
Eileen Locke, P.C. Post 26, Post 26, A.L.
Joseph Zuffante, GAR Post 11
Milton Lashus, Post 26, A.L.
Colonial Militia Committee
Tom Coots, Chairman
Community Fund Raising Committee
Daniel “Doc” Sheehan
Melissa Doherty Brennan
Hon. Daniel Conley, District Attorney of Suffolk County
John P. Comer, PNC, A.L.
Maurice “Mon” O’Shea, P.P., BHCC
Commissioner William B. Evans, BPD
Commissioner Joseph E. Finn , BFD
Commissioner Giselle Sterling, Boston Veteran Services
Commissioner Francisco Urena, Massachusettes Veteran Services
John A. Whelan
Raymond C. O’Brien, PDC, VFW
Formation of Parade
Boston Fire Department
Air Supply Unit
Fire Alarm Bucket Truck
Chief Marshal’s Element
Formation area: Vine Street (in front of St. Catherine’s Church)
Chief Marshal Robert Beckwith
Battle of Bunker Hill Parade Committee Staff
Chief Marshal’s Aids De Camp
Chief Marshal’s Family’s Car
The Fenian Sons Irish Band
The National Lancers
Mounted Militia Calvary
Martin J. Walsh
Mayor of Boston
Formation Area: Navy Yard adjacent to U.S.S. Constitution
Sailors from USS Bunker Hill CG52
Military Staff Officers
U.S. Army Color Guard
U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard
U.S. Navy Northeast Band, Newport RI.
U.S.S. Constitution Color Guard and Marchers
U.S.S Constitution Model
U.S. Navy Silver Dolphins Color Guard and Drill Team
U.S. Navy Submarine Force Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
USS Submarine Model
U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard
North End Marching Band
Massachusetts National Guard
Saint Alfio’s Band
Sponsored by Congressman Michael Capuano
Junior Reserve Officers Candidates Corps Of Cadets
JROTC Joint Service Color Guard
Composed of JROTC Awards Of Excellence recipients
U.S. Army JROTC
Brighton High School
East Boston High School
Boston English High School
Community Academy of Science and Health
South Boston Excell High School
Northeast Italian Band
U.S. Marine Corps JROTC
Madison Park High School
U.S. Navy JROTC
J.D. O’Bryant High School
Honorary Chief Marshall
Representative Daniel Ryan
The Grand Republic Fife & Drum Corps
Sponsored by Representative Dan Ryan
Formation Area: Navy Yard
J.W. Conway Bunker Hill Post 26
Al Snow, Commander
Veterans Of Foreign Wars
Disabled American Veterans
Abraham Lincoln Post 11 GAR
Veteran Of The Year
Ipods For Wounded Veterans
Chelsea Soldiers Home Honor Guard and Vehicles
Boston National Historical Park
Superintendant Michael Creasey
BNHP Ranger Color Guard
Law Enforcement Vehicle
World War II Weapons Carrier
Honorary Chief Marshal
Boston City Councilor
Honorary Chief Marshall
American Military History Element
Formation Area: Militia on Tufts Street
Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps
Sponsored by The Flatley Company
American Military History Element
Charlestown Militia Company
Sponsored by The Cooperative Bank
Westbrook Fife & Drum Corps
Watertown Provincial Guard
William Diamond Fife & Drum Corps
The Stow Minutemen
Concord Minute Men
His Majesty’s First Regiment Of Foot Guards
Fifth Massachusetts Battery
20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
First Massachusetts Calvary
Worcester Sound & Lights
Military Band Organ
World War I Re-enactors
World War II 1st Infantry Division
World War II Re-enactors
World War II Jeep
World War II 1 st Infantry Division Jeep
World War II Jeep
World War II Dukw Amphibious Truck
World War II Scout Halftrack
World War II Quad 50 Halftrack
Vietnam 2 ½ Ton Truck
Iraq War British Scorpion Reconnaissance Tank
Iraq and Afghanistan Re-enactors
First Responders Element
Formation Area: Chelsea Street(between Vine and Medford Sts.)
New Hampshire Police Association
Pipes and Drums
Boston Police Department
Boston Fire Department
Boston Emergency Medical Services
Honor Guard and Vehicles
AMTRAK Police Department
Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department
MBTA Police Department
Brian Boru Pipe Band
Cambridge Police Department
Cambridge Fire Department
Everett Police Department
Everett Fire Department
Malden Police Honor Guard
Sutherland Pipe Band
Methuen Police Department
Cruiser Of Hope
Somerville Police Department
Somerville Fire Department
The New Liberty Jazz Band
Bunker Hill Community College
Suffolk University Police Department
Mayor Thomas Hannan
Hannan’s Island, Massachusetts
Formation Area: Hunter Street and
Lower Bunker Hill Street (between Vine Street and Lowney Way)
Boston City Council at Large
MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Boston City Council at Large
Waltham American Legion
John F. Kennedy Family Service Center
New Health Charlestown
Marchers and Vehicle
Candidate for Boston City Council
Aleppo Shriners Cape Cod
The Official Pirates Of Boston
The Cycling Murrays
Candidate for Boston City Council
Candidate for Boston City Council
DM Productions presents
The Top Hits of Patriotic Music
US United Lifetime Queen
Classic Ms Exquisite International
Tony Barrie Band
Candidate for Mayor of Boston
The Amazing Hinky
Charlestown High School
Bunker Hill Community College
Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps
Sponsored by Bunker Hill Community College
7th Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps
Celebrating Bunker Hill Day
By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
242 years ago, a band of patriots took a stand against the British Empire right here in Charlestown. As they stood up to a mighty nation, they stood up for liberty, and they changed the course of history. That spirit has defined Charlestown ever since.
Bunker Hill Day is one of the best ways we honor our history and values as a city. Just as when Charlestown residents stood up for freedom at the start of the American Revolution, Charlestown continues to stand for the values that make our city great. Since I’ve become Mayor of Boston, marching in the Bunker Hill Day parade is one of my favorite events of the summer — from residents who have lived in Charlestown all their lives, to new families, to young professionals, Charlestown residents of all kinds come together to celebrate Bunker Hill Day, and enjoy the spirit of Charlestown.
As Boston celebrates Bunker Hill Day, and Charlestown’s history, I also want to look forward to Charlestown’s future. As Mayor, I’m proud of the investments we’ve made in this neighborhood. We’re creating a city that makes key investments in our people and our places as we work towards achieving a thriving, healthy and innovative Boston.
This includes investments for our children, like the ones we’re making in Edwards Playground, which is getting a major, $703,000 multi-year renovation. Improvements include new safety surfacing and throughout the park, site furnishings and upgraded utilities and pathways.
This also includes investments in the safety of Charlestown. We’re investing $3.8 million in the next few years for a full renovation of Engine 50 — a firehouse in existence since 1853. Improvements include exterior masonry work, upgrades to the building systems and widening of apparatus doors with $1.3 million being invested in fiscal year 2018.
Finally, we need to protect Charlestown’s history, and make sure this neighborhood is a safe, accessible place for all. Leveraging state funds, a $30.1 million multi-year investment is slated for the design and construction of a new North Washington Street Bridge to replace the existing structure. Other essential transportation infrastructure improvements include $14.8 million towards Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue and $2.75 million towards the aging Cambridge Street Bridge.
Charlestown is a place that reflects the heart of Boston: a neighborhood that celebrates its past while looking towards the future. I wish all Charlestown residents a safe, fun, Bunker Hill Day, and look forward to joining the celebrations. Happy Bunker Hill Day — I’ll see you at the parade!