The Boston Library is a regal and elegant affair. When I pass between those noble lions that guard the periodical archives, I somehow feel as though I have been vaulted into a higher realm of understanding. I know it sounds crazy, but those stone lions stir feelings of grandeur within this poor peasant's soul.
I have always trusted Scarborough's memory. He never forgot an anniversary or a birthday. So if his mental file had a recollection of 1935, then 1935 was where I would start. Wading through those boxes of newspapers is one of the reasons police detectives get a paycheck. An hour of doing that kind of sifting and searching is like a year in purgatory. But my detective angel must have been nearby for 1935 prove to be the year. There it was in all its aging, yellowing glory. May 4, 1935. Headline: LOCAL PRIEST ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT IN LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE.
"Father John Collins, priest at Saint Bernadette's Parish in Charlestown, was arrested and held over night on charges that he assaulted a Boston Police Department officer. Police reports indicated that police officers were responding to an unauthorized demonstration by members of the local International Longshoremen's Union. As police officers attempted to break up the unlawful assembly, a Roman Catholic priest, a Jesuit, Father John Francis Collins allegedly struck Officer William Flannery of the 12th Precinct with a protest sign, lacerating the officer across the face. Father Collins stated that "he was merely tying to protect a member of the union who was being beaten by overly zealous police. Father Collins was kept over night and then released on $500. bond."
"Well, well. Father Collins had a little spit and fire in him."
The follow-up stories told that charges were eventually dropped. The ILWU won its strike against the Boston Harbor and Maritime Commission, operator of the Boston Docks. Father Collins remained active in the labor movement in the Boston area, though complaints were filed by then Mayor Billy Mansfield. An interesting footnote was that the union member being protected by the good padre was none other than Sean Mahoney. And who was Sean Mahoney? The younger brother of one Kevin Mahoney, that one day excommunicated mobster who would be denied a holy funeral by Archbishop Collins.
Once I got to reading, nearly three hours passed before I waved farewell to the newspaper archives and passed once more between those noble lions. I grabbed a Green Streak edition of the Boston Globe from some enterprising red-head kid who was working that part of Boylston Street. I made the decision that three nights in a row of having Chinese from Chang's was enough, therefore, tonight, Big Al's would get my two dollars and "keep the change."
I had now rented this parking spot in Big Al's for over four years now. A handy arrangement indeed. I received a nightly private parking place right close to my apartment and Big Al got special police preference and an extra five bucks a month from the City of Boston coffers.
I always got the same order, but I still took time to mull over the huge green board of sandwich options that Big Al and his crew could throw together for you. Bologna, pastrami, olive loaf, roast beef, pork roast, turkey, ham, in combination with rye, white, wheat, roll. Then after a few moments of my muttering through the options and after a few moments of Big Al, Jr. tapping his fingers of the top of the meat case, I'd always call out Italian sub, no onions, extra oil and vinegar. To which Big Al would roll his eyes and say nearly under his breath, "Jeez, MacKenzie." Then I would add, 'You best slice about four ounces of turkey for Boo." To which Al would always grumble, "The d*mn cat eats better than I do."
"Toss in a couple of those whole, dill pickles."
All that fine cuisine got wrapped up in clean, white paper, then I was out the door and down the block to the Mallory Arms, the residence of one Ian MacKenzie and his wonder cat, Boo.