Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kids These Days

As I scanned through weekly issues of the 1952 Jamaica Plain Citizen, the biggest running issue was juvenile delinquency. Vandalism was mentioned most often, but a general increase in youth crime was constantly being discussed by civic leaders. The merchant mentioned below would have been Mike Kalajian, proprietor of the Green Elm variety store - you can guess the location. Mike was known for helping kids, including those who might interact with the men from Station 13.

Jamaica Plain Citizen April 3, 1952

Costello Defends Local Youth In Delinquent Probe.

Edward A. Costello, president of St Thomas Unit of the National Council of Catholic Men defended the youth of Jamaica Plain at a meeting of judges, police and court officials as well as youth workers. The meeting was called by Mayor John B. Hynes in an attempt to stop vandalism by youths in different parts of the city. It was held in the office of the Mayor on Monday, last.

As the result of a disturbance at a Dorchester party where it was claimed that some local youths "crashed the gate," four Jamaica Plain boys were taken into custody. They, it was alleged with a gang numbering about 20 youths caused property damage at a Dorchester home where a birthday party was in progress for a Jamaica Plain girl.

As a result of their arraignment in court, a report was circulated that the youths had attempted to force the Jamaica Plain girl to join a club whose members engaged in unlawful practices.

Mr Costello told the Mayor's gathering that as a result of his investigation that he learned that the club in question was a hand ball club, formed by a merchant in the vicinity of Green and Elm streets and has been disbanded for five years. He also told the committee that the girl denied that she had made any such statement regarding such a club. She made this denial to local police in addition to denying it to Costello. She further told the speaker that she did not know what kind of a club it might be as she never belonged to it, he said.

The girl in question came from another section of the city and has resided in Jamaica Plain about six months, Costello said.

The speaker told the gathering that Jamaica Plain is free from rowdy gangs but that all of the youths there are not angels.He said there are plenty of burglars around and they do not distinguish between the homes of judges and policemen and ordinary workmen. He praised the people for catching many of them.

He said however that acts of rowdyism are seldom reported to the police and on the whole Jamaica plain juveniles and teenagers are a pretty good lot.

Speaking of his work with youth, Costello said that he had plenty of experience with them. He told of heading at one time the largest Boy Scout outfit in the entire country.

He said that the church organization does everything it can to wipe out temptation for youngsters. He told of Mr. Edward Matthews, president of the parish Holy Name society entering stores where suggestive pictures and books are displayed and of his telling the storekeepers that such things are dangerous to children and are displeasing to the parishioners of the local church. After such visits he said the literature adn pictures disapper from the shelves in the stores.

He also told of the driving out of business of a man who ran a cafe where liquor was sold to minors. He pointed out that while the establishment was across the parish boundry line, it did not stop the action against the place as minors from the parish were served liquor there.

He praised the Licensing Board for takng away the seven day license held by the cafe making it possible to eliminate teh condition.

"Regardless of where it exists, if a condition is found that is likely to tempt Jamaica Plain youth, we will go after it" he said.

In the conclusion he said that from his experience, education of and the proper approach to the youths that remain away from social and athletic events are the things we need.

He pointed out that youngsters are often engaged in bother and quarrels with other youth and they do not realize what harm they can do to innocent adults and property during such disturbances. It should be pointed out to them to settle their difference among themselves without injuring other people. "We must get to the youths that need our help. We must send people to them whose language they understand. We must come down to their level and we must make some concessions to them in some cases he pointed out. The incorrigable is another question. He must be segregated and treated differently from the boys who commit only minor infractions he said.


  1. I am glad to see his Name still resonating from the Green Elm I spent Many afternoons in that store. Does any one else remember him?


  2. I've seen Mike's name mentioned online - I think it was at, on the forum there (it's called "Voice" for some reason. If you're on Facebook, there's a group "I grew up in Jamaica Plain" where you might get a response as well.

  3. Thanks,

    I was just re-reading a book about him called the Elm Is Green.

    Good memories for me.