Sunday, September 21, 2008

South Boston: Not Even a Nice Place to Visit

A while back I advised against outsiders moving to South Boston, and here are a couple of the things that made me do that. I know nothing about how South Boston is now. I do know that it got worse, much worse, after I left, but whether that has changed is something you should learn if you ever actually contemplate living there.

These episodes occurred during the one year I lived in Southie, which was around 1973.
  • I lived on G Street, on the third floor of a small apartment house which had its own parking lot containing perhaps fifty parking spaces.

    One work day morning I walked out to the car, which was . . . gone. This sort of turns your world upside down for a minute, until you adjust to it. I took that moment, shrugged, and walked down to the police station to file a report.

    A policeman at the desk asked me a few questions and gave me a form to fill out. I did so and returned the form. He scanned it, looked through some other documents of some kind, and assured me that when and if they found my car I would be the first to know.

    (For your amusement: I borrowed an old station wagon from my stepfather, who used it to haul various carpentry work and tools around. Three or four days later that too was stolen, this time from a downtown parking lot.)

    Perhaps ten days passed. One evening I got a phone call from a woman who wanted some information about my car and its theft. I asked her who she was and she told me "I'm the owner of the car that your car hit when it rolled down the hill."


    She was one half of a young couple who had just bought their first new car. Some young Southie thugs stole my car, drove it three or four blocks, put it in neutral, and turned it loose at the top of a hill. She was able to find me by going to the South Boston Police Station, and getting the info from my stolen car report. In the meantime, Southie's finest, who knew nothing about the incident when *eye* talked to them had in fact had the car in their posession the whole time, or more precisely, had called a garage and had it towed.

    Some annoyed, I went to the police station, was greeted by the same officer behind the counter, and contemplated asking him if he knew where his butt was, but decided against it on the grounds that it could do a stranger in Southie no good at all to antagonize the local fuzz.

    With some prodding I got him to look through various files and confess that yes, they had been in possession of the car all that time, and in fact had added my car to the national stolen car registry.

    After a bad repair job I got my car back (speakers missing from the doors) and took it to my hometown for a good repair job. Some battles you just aren't going to win.

    Two or three years later I bought a new car and gave the old one to my sister in New Hampshire. A week or two after she registered it, a New Hampshire State Trooper showed up with paperwork showing that the car was still on the national stolen car list. Well done, Southie Blue.

  • On Broadway, the main drag in Southie, there was a bar named "The Elite." Locally, this was pronounced "E-light," with the accent on the first syllable. One Saturday evening, with the house mobbed, two men argued over something. One left and returned a few minutes later carrying a shotgun. He walked over to a booth and ignoring the other people sitting in that very same booth blew his antagonist away.

    The customers filed out and the bartender turned out the lights and locked up.

    The Sunday Record-American carried a short story which mentioned that police were searching for Joe Blow, the bartender. A day later they found him and it was reported to me that in answer to their questions he told them "There weren't any bodies there when I left."

    I imagine that the murder is still "unsolved," as people in Southie never ratted each other out. Whether the perpetrator is still alive might be another story, depending on the victim's friends.

  • On another Saturday night, I was driving down Broadway (which is very busy on Saturday nights). There were cars parked along the curbs as far as the eye could see, and just as I came alongside the Elite there was a double-parked tow truck. I was doing the prescribed 25 miles per hour, or whatever the limit was, as I was in the middle of a line of traffic trying to go somewhere else. Just seconds before my car passed the tow truck, a young man walked out from in front of it. I actually got my foot on the brake and the car to begin braking before I hit him, but there was never any chance of stopping short of him.

    He went ass over teakettle and was hit in midair by an oncoming car. This car, by the way, did not bother to stop.

    He wasn't exactly unconscious, but was thrashing around a little on the road. I prevented other people from moving him, put a blanket from my trunk under his head, and waited for the police and an ambulance.

    A lot of people knew who he was, so I got his name, and from one of the policemen I learned what hospital he would be taken to. The next day I went to the hospital, got a visitor's pass, and went to his room. He was awake, alert, and chipper, and his hand was being held by his girlfriend.

    I introduced myself as the driver of the first car that hit him, and he was a little surprised to learn that a second car had hit him. He told me that he was fine, just had some bruises, that he had been dead drunk when it happened, and "You know, this is the second time this has happened to me."

1 comment:

John's Photo.s said...