Meet me at the mailbox


South Street crowd gathers again

After 55 years of not seeing each other, nine old friends met for lunch last month at Doyle’s Cafe. Ted Walsh, Dick and Bob Shields, Mike Flynn, Jack Keneary, Tom Hines and Tom Keough, Jerry Sawyers and Frank Ratea came from Marshfield, Malden, Norwood, Dedham, West Roxbury and South Boston back to their childhood stomping grounds in Jamaica Plain to see what their old friends had been up to in the last half century.

“I think it surprised everybody how much everyone had changed,” Walsh said.

Dick Shields called Walsh and suggested they meet for lunch, and, after 55 years, Walsh once again fell to organizing an outing. After a little sleuthing and a few phone calls, he tracked down most of the old group. A few have died, one is in a nursing home—but most are still around town and were really excited to come back to the old neighborhood.

“We had such a great time that our lunches got cold,” Walsh said of their three-hour get-together.

Plans are already in motion for the next lunch outing. Walsh and Dick Shields are working on tracking down the last few names on the list.

“We talked of the old days,” Walsh said. “Next time, we’re going to talk about the 55 years in between.”

According to Walsh, there were 14 guys from the Rosemary/South/Hall Street area who hung together in the ‘40s and ‘50s. It was like having the whole street for a family.

“If I l didn’t like what I was having for supper at my house, I could always go next door,” Walsh said.

The group took Sunday afternoon walks in the arboretum, jaunts down to Howard Johnson’s for the 28 ice cream flavors at the Morton Street rotary, out to Franklin Park Zoo—and they’d all meet at the mailbox at the end of Rosemary Street in their shirts and ties before heading out.

“Every place we’d go, we’d all go together as a big group—even dates,” said Walsh. “All the girls, all the wives, they all knew each other.”

One by one, the guys left, moved away—to the armed forces, to raise families—and they mostly lost touch. It happens. But after 55 years, they thought they’d look each other up.

Walsh still lives on Rosemary Street—his address for 71 years now—and is the only of the old gang who still lives in JP. When he had the chance to buy a home, in 1977, in which to raise his four children, he did—and moved from the third-floor apartment to a house down the block.

“I just wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he said.

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