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Three Samaritans of Southie

Written by Kristen McCart

Update: A Special 50th Anniversary Mass will be held on Saturday, December 15th from 4pm-5pm at Gate of Heaven Church.

If you’ve ever walked by the L Street Bathhouse in Southie, you may have noticed the carved monuments on the outside of the building.  Have you ever wondered about the stories behind them? They are not historical landmarks, but memorials to those we have lost and who hold a special place in the hearts of the community. One of those memorials belongs to three teenage boys, known as The Three Samaritans of South Boston.

On December 14, 1968 Mike (Michael Beatty), Ernie (Ernest Santoro), and Jackie (John Walker) were three friends who attended a dance on the South Shore to celebrate Mike’s 16th birthday. When the dance ended, the three boys offered their rides home to others at the dance, and decided to hitch a ride back to Southie. It was a raining that night and the three teens came upon a young couple with car trouble and offered to assist them by pushing their car.  While the three boys were pushing the back of the car, a driver of another car who had been drinking,  hit the three boys and the car with the young couple inside. Two of the boys died instantly, while the third died later at a hospital. Three families from Southie were forever changed. The community mourned the boys then quickly began to raise funds for a memorial in tribute to Mike, Ernie, and Jackie and heir last act of selflessness.

On the one year anniversary of the tragedy, the dedication of the memorial was held at the L Street Bathhouse as the families and community looked on. The words carved into their memorial speak true to the spirit and loyalty of this community. “The measure of their lives was not in years. Their thoughtful friendship enriched the lives of all who knew them and as friends shared their joy and sorrows to the end of their days. Their little nameless acts of kindness and love will serve as an inspiration and their memory a benediction. May they rest eternally together.”

You may wonder how I know this story so well.  Michael Beatty would have been my uncle and though we never met, my grandmother made sure to tell me just how wonderful he was. The same high school photo used in the memorial,  hung on her wall.  She would smile as she told me stories about “her Michael.” Though his death devastated our family, we have continued to keep his spirit alive and we hope you will too.

Kristen McCart is a 30 something Southie original and proud dog momma of Benji. Kristen still lives in Southie, and loves being so close to her family. Kristen is unapologetically honest, but has a huge heart. 

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  1. Kristen; I was a friend to Jackie, mikie and ernie..i graduated from SOUTHIE HIGH..class of 1969..we were all devastated when the tragic accident happened..i still live in SOUTHIE and often walk past the monument honoring these great guys…they are sadly missed by all..may they rest in PEACE.
    JACKIE C. S.B.H.S. class of 1969

  2. Just beautiful, Kristen! Your grandmother would be so happy and proud to read this. We, the older cousins, especially my brother Stephen, remember Michael and his unique, warm, easy going and loving nature. And the aunts, of course, were very close to him having lived with him when he was a baby and little boy. This horrific tragedy left an unfillable void in so many people’s lives especially your grandparents, your mother and Aunt Marianne, and the Santoro and Walker families.

    Keep writing! You have talent – and this is a great tribute and reminder that love is eternal.

  3. Kristen, what a beautiful article! Ernie Robert is my uncle . I never had the chance to meet him but am always reminded through the loss my family suffered over the years. When my grandmother was told she was dying She said , “that’s okay, I’ve been waiting a long time to see my son.” She was so strong and one of the kindest people you could ever know . So many of my uncles classmates came to say goodbye to my grandmother in the days before her passing. This past month I’ve been asking for a sign from her. This has to be it! They are all together watching over us … ????????????

  4. I remember this all too well. Hung around with them. Devastating to everyone.

  5. Kristen, I went to school with Michael at Gate of Heaven. I remember it like it was yesterday coming to class that Monday. We were all so heartbroken. So sad. You come from a wonderful family.

  6. Although I was only three years old when these beautiful souls were taken, I knew the story years later as a
    Mid-teen. When it was revealed to me, my heart was broken! I often walked there to say a prayer when I lived in southie. When I come to southie now,,I always have and always will stop by to say a prayer for their souls! ☘️????☘️????☘️????

  7. Haven’t seen a photo of Mae and Buster Beatty in decades. They were my parent’s friends, landlords, babysitters, you name it. Wonderful family that I was introduced to at birth.

  8. I was a friend of Kay Walker, Jackie sister. I remember that night as I lived in Hull. Which was were the boys were coming from. Jackie was a good kid. They made Southie proud of them. On the other hand so sad that had to happen. Thank you boys Rest In Peace. Never to be forgotten.

  9. I believe that my brother Jimmy Quigley was a classmate of theirs. Such a tragedy. Very well written.

  10. Kristen, I knew your uncle Michael well. I also knew Ernie and Jackie. We were all the same age and spent time together. I grew up a few doors down from your grandparents Mae and Buster, they were lovely people and wonderful neighbors.

    Ernie and I shared a blanket in nursery school and we went to Boston Tech together where we played on the hockey team.

    I remember that Sunday morning when my mother came into my bedroom to break the news. The world shook. It was never the same . Tears, tears and more tears. Not just from me but for a whole gang of us. Life hit hard. Not just one good guy gone tragically but three. All of South Boston was shook. I can absolutely vouch that those three kids we good souls. They were clean cut, not angels, but as good a kids as any parent could ask for.

    I stayed close to Ernie’s parents; Phyllis and Ernie. Phyllis was a special lady and Ernie Is one of the most loving and loyal guys I’ve ever met (Don’t let his grouchieness fool you, it’s an act). And for those who don’t know, Ernie’s a decorated WW2 hero ..

    Thank you for your remembrance of those Three Samaritans. They were good kids.

  11. My mother and father, Frances and Arthur Contini, lived in Southie and were best friends with Mae and Buster Beatty. My mother and Mae used to push me and Michael in our carriages when we were small all around Southie. Michael and I were the same age. We played together as small children until my parents moved to Dorchester, but our families remained close through the years. I just remember the tragedy, and up until Mae’s passing, I always remembered to give her a call around Michael’s birthday to chat and see how she was doing and we always would reminisce about Michael and our our days in Southie. Thank you Kristen for this wonderful story and keeping the boys’ memory alive.

  12. Kristen Jackie was my uncle! Intrsesting story about the Monument,the city didn’t want to take care of it. My grandfather said that he would make sure it was kept up. Over the years the grass was cut. Until a few years ago I replaced the two spot lights that were there. Now it’s LED! At our family funerals we’ll stop by and place flowers.

  13. Kristen, what a great article. Like T (Richie Torsney) I hung around with your uncle and Jackie and Ernie down L and Marine Road. I often think of them and always made a point to visit your Grandmother at the Hallmark store downtown.
    Once again it’s a great article and brings back a lot of great memories.
    Thanks,

    Jack McGrath

  14. This brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful story and how tragic I often wondered walking by L street who these young gentlemen were.