Bloody Too Bad — the Somerville the Royals Didn’t See

I’m no fan of foreign freeloaders. But since the “royals” did bring their ancient grift to town this week, shouldn’t somebody have given them a real tour of Somerville yesterday?

I’m sure everybody was nice to them at their visit to the local green whatever-it-was, but you know, Brits haven’t always been quite so warmly welcomed by residents of the All-American City.

Whatever else happened yesterday, no members of the royal party were bitten, and no elected representatives of Somerville gave a fake name to the police when arrested and charged with biting a police officer.

Does the name “Rita Plunkett” ring a bell? Perhaps not, because it was back in July 1976 when the Tall Ships were visiting the city as part of the Bicentennial and Queen Elizabeth was in the city.

As was the custom in those days, the local Hibernians were out protesting the Troubles in Northern Ireland. One of the demonstrators against the Queen was Rep. Marie Howe, who was in fact my state representative in Somerville.

One thing led to another, a Boston cop was bitten, and after the stateswoman was placed under arrest, she gave her name as… Rita Plunkett.

The charges were dismissed after Rita, er, Marie made the wise decision to hire as her attorney one William M. Bulger, a fellow Fenian. It made for interesting commentary at St. Patrick Day breakfasts for years afterwards.

As we all know, the “royals” are in the colonies pushing the green grift. They’re very concerned about global warming, which brings us to another old Somerville story that I’m sure nobody thought to share with the lovebirds yesterday.

Let me put it this way – there was an awful lot of global warming in Somerville back in 1834, around what was known as the Ursuline Convent.

The Brits, whether in Britain or in New England, have always had a problem with certain… types of people, shall we say. Catholics, among others.

So the local descendants of Brits – Yankees, as they’re called around here – didn’t much like a nunnery in what was then Charlestown, but is now Somerville.

The Yankees burned our convent to the ground. Those arsonists were William and Kate’s ancestors. Just sayin’….

By the way, the native Yankee population in Somerville held a grudge against us for a very long time. One time, in the 1980’s, I was working for a TV station and reporting on some nuts on the Republican State Committee. (Some things never change.)

There was a 300-pound guy named George “the Animal” Leavitt from Somerville who waddled up to me and started yelling:

“You know, Somerville was a nice place before all you Irish bastards started moving in!”

(The Animal later filed assault charges against me, but I beat the rap in East Cambridge. An Irish judge acquitted me because, you know, we all stick together.)

Somerville has changed, of course. It used to be a blue-collar, working-class city. Now it is, without a doubt, a non-working-class community.

What happened was, as they say in the real-estate racket, location location location. All the snowflakes whose trust funds weren’t quite large enough to pay for a three-decker in Cambridge just moved across the line. They could still almost walk to the fake Indian’s favorite cheese shop in Harvard Square.

I still remember those old real-estate ads touting the buys on the other side of Porter Square – “Cambridge Style, Somerville Price.”

It was humorous for a while, just like the way every house listing in West Roxbury is “near Brookline line,” and all property in Framingham is likewise on the Wayland line. But soon the statues of Virgin Mary – bathtub Madonnas, as we called them – began vanishing, and the Oldsmobiles gave way to Volvos, and we begin scanning the listings for Billerica.

Just look at the results on Question 1, the referendum on the so-called millionaires’ tax. Somerville voted 79-21 percent to soak “the rich,” which in itself is pretty damn rich, considering all the swells from New York who’ve overrun Somerville.

You’d think the blow-in drifters who inhabit Somerville now would identify with William and Kate – they don’t work either. But no, they were all bent out of shape because of… traffic.

These Barneys think they’ve seen some bad traffic jams in Somerville? They should have been in Magoun Square on Jan. 4, 1980.

Sal Sperlinga, a bad-will ambassador for the Winter Hill Gang, was playing cards with a Somerville alderman whose brother the other state rep was about to be indicted for attempted extortion.

Sal was on work release, and a junkie from Union Square walked in and started firing a .32 automatic at him.

“The defendant,” a later court decision noted, “then walked up to the victim, who uttered a cri de coeur (‘No, don’t”) and at point blank range fired a bullet into the victim’s head.”

The royals would have understood that. Another of their ancestors, Richard III, uttered his own famous cri de coeur – “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

Let me tell you, the day Sal got whacked wasn’t a good day for traffic in Somerville either.

I hope the royal grifters’ motorcade drove up Winter Hill yesterday.

Their hosts could have pointed out where the Hughes brothers whacked out Buddy McLean in 1965 – traffic on Broadway was terrible that night too! They could have slowed down as they passed Marshall Street, where the boys would sometimes turn right onto Broadway on their way to Revere to dump a bookie’s body – say, Richie Castucci’s – that they had stashed in the trunk of his Cadillac.

Heading up Winter Hill, someone could have recreated for them the famous ride of Paul Revere of 1775. If I’d been driving, I’d have mentioned that on the right was the Paul Revere liquor store which as we all know is where Paul turned onto Main Street on his way to “every Middlesex village and farm.”

I could have told them so much about the immortals of Somerville… Vinnie Piro, Denis McKenna, Larry Bretta, Howie Winter, John Buonomo….

I would have been a great tour guide for the Somerville tour. Almost as good, in fact, as Rep. Rita Plunkett.

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