Saturday, November 10, 2007

Patrolman William F. Bulger

Class of 1941 - Jamaica Plain High School

(Copyright 2007. All rights reserved)

Patrolman William F. Bulger, (the father of your writer), some time around 1950. He is standing in front of Central Congregational Church. The photographer was facing towards the corner of Seaverns avenue and Elm street.

(Copyright 2007. All rights reserved)

Here is similar view in November, 2007. Notice the dormer windows on the third floor and the chimney. The tree on the left hides the single-floor extention the back that appears in the older picture. The building to the right in the older picture was down on the corner of Green and Elm streets, and is no longer there. The phone pole in both pictures may be the same.

My parents were married in 1947, and lived in on of the little mansard roof houses that are opposite Capen Hall and the church on Seaverns ave. Judging by how skinny my father looks in this picture, it could have been taken any time between when he went on the police force and when we moved away from Seaverns avenue in the mid-1950s.

I've looked through the family snapshots, and unfortunately most of the pictures from Jamaica Plain show very little of the building on the streets. They are mostly close-ups that just show the sides of houses or yards. I like this one because I think it shows the pride that my father had in his uniform.

You'll often see it said that the Irish became policemen because Irish politicians got control of patronage and took care of their people. That's a small part of the story, and paints a misleading picture. The Irish became policemen because no one else wanted the job. My father went on the job when he came back from the war. At that time, the men who swept out streetcars at the end of each run were paid more than a Boston police patrolman. There was no union at the time. My father worked the graveyard shift. If they came up a man short, he would have to stay through the next shift for no extra pay. On election day, he would have to work his shift, then go to a polling place for the day. When voting ended, he would have to bring the box into City Hall on a streetcar. And then it was time for his next shift. It took unionization and many years before a job on the police force became an attractive one.

I found the top picture online this year - I had never seen my father's yearbook before. I was surprised to see "Policeman" listed as his ambition. By the end of the year, Pearl Harbor had happened, and he had enlisted, so the police job had to wait for several years.

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