I met a woman once, who told me that a long time ago, she lived in an apartment above Leone’s on Broadway in Somerville. She remembered that at that time, the owner of the sub shop was asked if he’d mind if a few wires were run through his property to bring cable t.v. service to the auto body shop behind his property. He obliged without hesitation. He wasn’t stupid. He knew what that place behind was the headquarters of the Winter Hill Gang – Boston’s Irish mob. Perhaps you’ve heard of the gang’s most famous member – Whitey Bulger. He’s the ruthless killer who was protected by the FBI (in exchange for information) for quite a while, and enabled tp escape capture. He lived for years on the run and was eventually captured in California where he lived by the beach. He’s in now in jail for the rest of his life. Jack Nicholson’s role in Martin Scorcece’s film “The Departed” was loosly based on him. “Black Mass”, the actual story of Whitey Bulger, will star Johnny Depp as Whitey. It’s being filmed here in Boston, as I write.
The Winter Hill Gang is gone now. Their hangout on Marshall Street, has made quite a conversion. It’s now a Pentecostal church. The building that once hosted an Irish gang now hosts a black congregation. Lot’s of Irish have been replaced in the neighborhood. The little store that I drew in front of was El Valle de la Sultana Market, with plantains in the window.
Drawing on Washington Street, I watched firemen and truck drivers stop in for subs up ahead, under the huge funky neon sign. Quite a few times, some tough-looking African American guys came up from the barbershop behind me see, to see what I was up to, and then later, check back on my progress. The owner of the shop never smiled, he just squinted at the drawing. After a couple of hours the light had changed a lot, so I decided to finish things at home. (That’s common for the long drawings that I do.) The boss came over to get a last look as I packed up and I told the owner that I’d send him the finished image by email if he’d give me he address. He went back and then returned to give me his business card.
I was more than happy to send him the scan. After all, I’m not stupid. His shop is called Goodfellas Barber Shop.