Following former Mayor Thomas Menino’s death on Oct. 30, former City Councilor John Tobin, now a Northeastern University vice president for community relations, posted several personal anecdotes about Menino on his Facebook page.
Tobin represented Jamaica Plain on the City Council from 2002 to 2010 and got to know Menino well. His detailed, often humorous stories include being tricked by Menino into helping with fundraising for Menino’s parish at St. John’s in West Roxbury, and celebrating Boston comedians making it big in Los Angeles.
One story takes us behind the scenes of Menino’s famed love affair with the now-shuttered Filene’s Basement clothing store in Downtown Crossing. Tobin recounts encountering Menino at a breakfast event during his first weeks on the council.
“The mayor, who always dressed like a million bucks, asked me where I bought my suits and ties. I think he had a good idea that my mornings choice that day may have been from the Clinton Administration. The first term,” Tobin wrote. “I told him, and then he said, ‘Meet me after the breakfast and we will take a ride.’ I said, ‘OK,’ having no idea where we were going.”
The destination turned out to be “an alley behind Filene’s Basement.”
“We get out the car and he raps on the back door,” Tobin’s tale continues. “A splendidly dressed man meets the mayor and [me] at the door. We walk through the dark back rooms of the Basement and onto the floor, which was still dark because the place was not open yet. The mayor says to the Suit Man, whom he obviously knows quite well, ‘Take my friend John here to the suits that are going on sale Friday.’”
Tobin told the Gazette last week that his reminiscing “seemed to get a lot of response. It made me feel better. I hope it gave some comfort…He was extraordinarily good to me.”
Tobin told the Gazette that even following disagreements, including some that caused the two men to not speak for weeks, Menino told Tobin that he would “never yell” at him.
“All I ask is that you hear me out before it gets too far,’” Tobin remembered Menino saying.
“He had a people antenna that was better than anyone I ever met,” Tobin said, speaking of Menino’s occasional opining on Tobin’s team members. “He would call me in to his office and ask who I was working on a project with, and six or seven times, he would say, ‘That’s a bad guy.’ And he was right!”
Some of the hundreds of comments on Tobin’s Facebook page include numerous thanks for sharing his memories and compliments on Tobin’s storytelling.
Tobin’s Facebook page is available at facebook.com/john.m.tobin.