Submitted by Jack Drsicoll, NESACS Public Relations Chair
The summer of 1960, I was working at Simco’s, a restaurant in Mattapan, before starting college. A rookie from Hyde Park was hired for the summer and I had to show him the ropes. The worst job in the place was filling the relish jars from a 55 gallon barrel and Tommy was obliged to do that all summer. When you finished that job you really needed a shower, but you had to wait many hours until you got home, since no shower was available.
I used to drive him to Hyde Park at night because the T was not running that late. We talked about what we were going to do in the fall. I was going to college to study chemistry. Tommy did not have a clue about his future.
The next time that I heard about Tommy was when Ray Flynn was appointed Ambassador to the Vatican and Tom Menino, President of the Boston City Council, was to take his place. I was stunned. I remembered him as a shy young man with no idea of his future. He would soon be the Mayor of Boston. Wow!
In 2006, I was at the Suffolk University Summa Dinner when Tommy was honored and was to receive an honorary doctorate from the University. I was in the receiving line and asked Tommy whether he remembered me from Simco’s. He said “I remember the relish barrel”. We both laughed and talked for a few minutes.
In 2013, Suffolk University was in the process of reorganizing its science programs. I had been discussing the importance of some of these programs with President McCarthy and I needed something extra to help us. Professor Shatz had just received an NSF Grant to provide engineering scholarships for minority Boston Public School students.
I sent an email to Mayor Menino with the tagline “Remember the relish barrel.” I received a note the next day and about two weeks later a copy of the letter was sent to President McCarthy in support of the electrical engineering program. The program was saved.
After he retired I invited Mayor Menino to the Cape, or to treat him to lunch at a restaurant of his choice, for his help. Unfortunately, his health did not cooperate. He certainly came a long way from his days with the relish barrel. He became a great man and a politician with a political career to be envied.