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5 Things You Didn’t Know About South Boston

November 16, 2013 6:00 AM

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South Boston. (File Image)

South Boston. (File Image)

South Boston has plenty of secrets, both good and bad. From momentous battles during the Revolutionary War to Whitey Bulger’s reign, Southie has made its way into the history books. But here are five things you didn’t know about this Boston neighborhood.
Photo Credit: mass.gov/

Photo Credit: mass.gov/

1. Poe’s Inspiration

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston. And he seemingly hated everything about it. But there was some inspiration during the five months spent stationed at Castle Island as a private in the Army. It was there he heard a tale of a sword duel between two military men at the fort. The winner of that duel was said to have been locked in a sealed dungeon and left to die by angry colleagues as revenge. That tale, while not entirely true, was believed to be behind Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn.

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn.

2. The Mayor From Southie

Ray Flynn is the only South Boston native to ever serve as the city’s mayor. But his career nearly took on a very different path. Flynn, who played basketball for Providence College, was the last player cut from the 1963 Boston Celtics. Flynn also served as a state representative and a city council member before his tenure as mayor. At the end of his term, Flynn was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

3. The Oldest Catholic Church

St. Augustine’s Cemetery in Southie is New England’s oldest Catholic graveyard. It opened in 1818, as a massive influx of Italian and Irish immigrants poured into the area. A year later, St. Augustine’s Chapel opened, and is the is the oldest surviving Gothic-revival building and the oldest surviving Catholic church in the state. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Sullivan's on Castle Island. (CBS)

Sullivan’s on Castle Island. (CBS)


4. Sullivan’s Happy Customers

The now-legendary Sullivan’s (or Sully’s) opened back in 1951. Original owner Dan Sullivan, Sr. would commemorate the end of each summer season by quietly handing out hard liquor cocktails to customers during the last week in November. Then he’d close up shop for the winter. Sullivan’s son put an end to that unofficial policy in the 1970s, but replaced it with half-price hot dogs. Sully’s still offers the dog deal each November.

South Boston Parking Spot Savers (credit: CBS)

South Boston Parking Spot Savers (credit: CBS)

5. The Southie Space Saver

Every winter, the Boston media reports on harrowing tales of Southie parking space savers as a time-honored tradition. But when did the tradition begin? And did it even begin in Southie? It’s tough to tell. But here’s what we do know: according to a Pittsburgh writer, photographs show the tradition dates back to the 1950s in that city, and possibly even earlier. Outside of Boston, the space saver has been dubbed the “Pittsburgh Parking Chair.” Your move, Southie.

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