Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob (7 page)

BOOK: Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob
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But there were some real funny times during those years. When Kevin Barry was born, I asked Kevin O’Neil if he would be the godfather. He agreed, but when Jimmy said he wanted the honor, I said, “No problem,” and told Kevin he’d have to wait till the next kid. The baptism was held at St. Augustine’s in South Boston when Kevin was a couple of months old. Pam and I were up at the altar with her sister Sue, who was the baby’s godmother, while Jimmy held Kevin. The priest asked Jimmy, “Will you watch out for this child’s spiritual well-being?”

Jimmy kind of smiled and said, “Yes, I will.” There were other families there that day whose kids were being baptized and they all knew who Jimmy was, so everyone in the church started laughing. Except for the priest, who had no idea who Jimmy was or what was going on. Pam and I were living in a first-floor apartment at 178 L Street at the time, and our family and close friends came back to our place for a celebration after the ceremony.

In 1983, I bought a nice one-family house in the suburbs. With the help of some friends in construction, I fixed it up and put in a Jacuzzi, a sauna, and a weight room. When Kevin was maybe six years old, he fell down while he was outside playing. His whole face got scraped up, his nose, his lip, his forehead. When he came in the house, Pam began to clean him up. She stopped for a minute and looked up at me and saw that my eyes had teared up and she shook her head. But I couldn’t help it. It really bothered me to see him like that. All I wanted was to take the pain for him. For both my boys. Whenever they got sick, it was devastating. I had so many scars all over my face, all over my body, but my kids were different. Sure, I was a criminal and I fought all the time, but my kids were young and I wanted to protect them from any pain. I also knew that I didn’t want them to be any part of the criminal life.

As the boys grew up, I made it to as many of their baseball, basketball, and football games as I could. Most nights I got home for dinner, and then, after the boys were asleep, I headed back out after nine to spend the rest of the night driving around, doing business with Jimmy. I brought in good money then and made sure the three of them had pretty much everything they needed.

I did take my boys to Disney World when they were nine and six, and we had a great time. We should have taken more trips like that. My brother Jack and I had a place in North Conway, New Hampshire, where we would all go skiing. Pam’s family always had big get-togethers, at her father’s or one of her sister’s houses. As a result, the boys were closer with their cousins on Pam’s side. To this day, neither of my boys has ever gotten into trouble. They’re great kids. That’s because of how Pam raised them, as well as the environment. It also shows that they have chosen a better life than I did.

Jimmy was generous to both my boys, giving them $1,000 savings bonds and cash for their birthdays and Christmas. But he had his own philosophy about children: If you’re going to be a criminal, don’t get married and have kids, because everything you do affects them. If you have no responsibility and you get pinched, you just have to worry about yourself. But if you’re the main support for your kids, it affects you and them, emotionally as well as financially. He was right, and I experienced exactly what he said. But still, I never regretted having my boys. I couldn’t be prouder of each of them.

As I continued to spend more time with Jimmy than with my own family, he had his worries about me and my fights, always telling me I was one punch away from jail. His biggest fear was that I would hit someone and kill them. That was never my intent, but once I got into a fight, I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, to hit my opponent hard and not end up rolling around in the street with him. There were a lot of tough kids out there, and I often had my hands full, trying to leave no doubt as to what would happen to anyone who fought me.

But not every fight I got into enhanced my reputation. Or involved tough guys. One night, in the late 1970s, a bunch of my friends and I went into the Saints, a bar near Faneuil Hall. When we walked into the bar, nothing stood out to us as unusual or different. But the bartender, a woman, greeted us with, “Gentlemen, I can’t refuse to serve you, but I want to tell you that this is an establishment where women prefer the company of other women. I suggest you have a drink and move on.”

My friends and I looked around and, for the first time, noticed that the bar was filled with just women, lots of them in leather jackets, holding each other, dancing with each other. I ordered a Michelob or a Miller and so did most of my friends. But one guy, who obviously did it on purpose to screw the bartender, ordered a screwdriver. “I’m sorry, but we don’t serve orange juice,” she told him. “Because of Anita Bryant.”

My friend understood that she was referring to Bryant, a 1959 Miss America runner-up and spokesperson for the Florida orange growers, and her antigay crusade. “Hey, what are you anyhow?” he yelled. “A bunch of lesbians?”

He had barely spoken the words when they were on us, at least 125 hard-fighting women on eight guys. Suddenly it was a full-blown brawl, and we weren’t winning. The women were going after us with chairs and beer bottles, glasses, everything. We were hitting them like they were guys, but they weren’t backing down. They really wanted to hurt us. We ended up fighting our way out of there, laughing once we got outside, but feeling lucky that they hadn’t killed us.

But Yogi Cummings pretty nearly made Jimmy’s fears that I was one punch away from jail come true. Yogi, who came from Andrew Square, was one of the tougher guys at Triple O’s. Around five-ten, stockily built, and strong as an ox, he was about four years older than me. One October night, Kevin O’Neil wouldn’t let Yogi in the bar and the two of them had words. Outside the bar, as they continued their shouting match, Kevin punched Yogi in the mouth with a right hand. Yogi fell back a step or two before going after Kevin. Immediately I went after Yogi, and before we knew what was happening, the two of us were having an old-fashioned fistfight in the street in front of the bar. It was a weekend night and Triple O’s was packed, as were the other two bars within twenty yards of Triple O’s. It didn’t take long for all three bars to empty, and a crowd of over 150 people had gathered to watch the two of us.

As Yogi and I squared off, I was getting the better of him. But he hit me some hard shots and staggered me a few times, keeping it a fair fight. As the fight went on, I kept knocking Yogi down and he kept on getting up. At one point, I had hit him so much that he was bleeding from his nose and his mouth and had cuts over both eyes. Every time I hit him, blood would fly from someplace on his face and splatter over the people watching us. But Yogi would not stop and kept coming straight at me. Once, he caught me one shot in the throat and I found myself unable to swallow for a few seconds. The guy could hit. Finally, when I knocked him down for the fourth time, I figured that was it. I couldn’t believe it a few seconds later when he got back up and said, “Is that all you got?” That infuriated me so much that I started hitting him mercilessly.

Again he went down and I said, “Fuck this,” and got ready to end it for good and kick him in the face. I’d had enough of this crap. Suddenly, out of the crowd, a voice shouted, “No!” I turned around and it was Jimmy. “Fight him fair,” he told me. “He deserves it.”

When I let Yogi up, people were yelling at me to stop it because he was bleeding so much. Still the bastard wouldn’t quit and went right after me. Finally, I hurt him bad, he went down, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought. A minute later, Yogi was back up and, totally exasperated, I went after him. Just before I hit him, Jimmy said, “That’s enough,” and stopped me. “You’re going to kill him.

“Get out of here while you can still walk,” he told Yogi.

As Yogi walked away, he turned around to look at Jimmy and said, “Fuck you.” Jimmy didn’t hesitate. He grabbed a beer bottle and smashed it over Yogi’s already battered head. This time, Yogi didn’t say a word. He just slowly and painfully staggered away.

I looked at Jimmy and said, “You told me not to kick him.”

“This was different,” he said. “He made it personal.”

As I walked back into the bar, all I could think of was the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Everybody else, except for Yogi and his friends, walked back into the bar. I cleaned up a bit, changed my shirt, and went back to work at the door.

The next day, it was all over town that the Triple O’s gang had beat up Yogi. He looked so bad that no one could believe one person could have done all that to him. A girl who worked as a waitress at Triple O’s was at her bowling league when Yogi’s friends started telling everyone that the bouncers at Triple O’s had jumped Yogi. “It was a fair fight,” the waitress told them all. “Just him and Kevin Weeks.” When a couple of people from Andrew Square who had been there also told the truth about what happened the night before, Yogi’s friends shut up.

There was no doubt Yogi was a tough guy who wouldn’t quit, and I knew if we fought again I’d have to pack a lunch, ’cause I’d be there for a while. A week later, Jimmy and I were at Lechmere’s in Cambridge looking at TVs when we spotted Yogi. “Here we go again,” I said to Jimmy, but Yogi walked up to me and stuck out his hand. His face was still swollen and discolored, and he had a child with him. When I shook his hand, he said, “Fair fight,” and that was the end.

The fight turned out to be one more thing to enhance my reputation at the door. But I was glad that Jimmy had stopped me from booting Yogi. If he hadn’t screamed at me to stop, I would have hurt Yogi bad and probably been pinched for using a shod foot.

But that was far from the last time that Jimmy tried to tone down my punches. One summer night, Jimmy and I were driving from Castle Island on East Broadway past the South Boston Vietnam Memorial. As Jimmy took a right onto M Street, we found a car double-parked in the middle of the street. Jimmy stopped and the two of us were waiting while the kid in the double-parked car talked to someone leaning into his window. Jimmy strongly dislikes beeping horns because they draw the attention he shuns, but he gave his horn a light toot, which was a big deal for him. When the kid waved to him, Jimmy said, “Pull over.”

“Go around me,” the kid in the car said.

“I can’t,” Jimmy said. “You’ve got the street blocked.”

When the kid ignored him, Jimmy touched the horn again, a little bit heavier than before. “Go around me,” the kid repeated.

“I’ll go through you,” Jimmy said.

The kid gave him the finger and said, “Go fuck yourself.”

Jimmy got out of the car and, naturally, I got out, too. He went over to the driver’s side of the car and started arguing with the kid to move his car. The kid gave him another finger, opened his door, and started coming toward Jimmy, swearing all the while. He was maybe five-ten, regular-sized, and probably in his early twenties. And pretty damn stupid. Jimmy looked at me and said, “Kevin, hit him.”

I hit him a left jab in the mouth, and when the kid went down, I tossed him into the back seat of his car. His friend took one look at the kid and one look at me, and quickly moved the car out of the way and all the way down the street. I didn’t think it had been a hard jab, but the kid had gone down quickly. The next thing we knew, a bunch of his friends came running over from the park on M Street. When Jimmy and I turned around and started going after them, they all came to an abrupt stop and took off in the opposite direction.

An hour later, Jimmy and I pulled up to Triple O’s and found Kevin O’Neil outside. He told us that a motorcycle cop named Luongo had been down there looking for Whitey and Kevin. Kevin kidded him, insisting he must be looking for Whitey McGrail, a South Boston guy who owned a bar. The cop smiled at the joke but told him they’d just received word that Whitey and Kevin had hit this kid and knocked his teeth out. “I just want to let them know,” the cop had told Kevin.

It turned out that the father of the kid, whose name was Frank Bolstad and who came from City Point, the more affluent section of South Boston from G Street down, was a Capitol cop who guarded the State House, and his mother was a crossing guard. His folks were all upset and knew it was Jimmy and me who had done this to their kid. Someone reached out to Jimmy, and he ended up paying $1,600 for the kid’s dental work, which included a bridge for his missing front teeth.

Later, Jimmy said to me, “Why did you hit him so hard?”

“You told me to hit him,” I said.

“Yeah, well, I didn’t tell you to hit him that hard,” he answered.

When I looked at him and said, “Now, we’re gonna have degrees of hitting?” he just started laughing. I still can’t figure it out. It was just a jab, not a powerful punch. Maybe the teeth were loose to begin with.

But there were fights when I didn’t use my fists, like the one involving Chucka Devins’s brother Franny. Chucka, who was a little older than me, around six feet tall and heavyset at 280 pounds with brown hair, was always easygoing, laughing and enjoying himself. He worked at the door at Triple O’s with me. One night when I was standing at the door, he got a phone call. “Is he all right?” I kept hearing him yell into the phone. “Is he all right?”

When he came walking over to me, I could see he was visibly shaken. “Chucka, what’s the matter?” I asked him.

“They just stabbed my brother Franny,” he told me, his eyes filling up.

“Who stabbed your brother?” I asked.

“These guys in Dorchester,” he said. “I know where they are and I’m going over.”

“I’ll go with you,” I said. The two of us went outside and I hopped into his car with him. Larry Bavis, a regular down at the bar who played on the Triple O’s softball team, jumped in the back on his own accord, and the three of us drove over to Dorchester, which was about three miles from Triple O’s. When we got to the park where the kids were, the three of us got out of the car and walked over to the bunch of Franny’s friends who were still there. As soon as they saw us, three other guys in their mid-twenties started walking away. We didn’t pay any attention to those guys until one of Franny’s friends said, “Chucka, those were the guys who went after Franny.”

BOOK: Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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