Written by Jennifer Gordon
C’mon. You’ve seen it. If you grew up in Southie when I did, (circa 70’s, 80’s) you saw this written everywhere. It was on school notebooks, buildings, walls, and mailboxes. I remember a school field trip to the New England Aquarium once, and there it was, graffitied on the side of the big fish bowl: “Southie #1.” I went skiing in Killington, Vermont with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club and it was on the top of the mountain: “Southie #1.” In 1988 I was in Galway, Ireland playing the pub’s jukebox, flipping through the selections and I saw, “Southie is My Hometown.” Are you kidding me? I scanned the walls of the pub looking for the familiar tag.
Growing up, I wondered about it. Could Southie indeed be #1? In all the time I spent visiting my grandmother in the ‘burbs, I never once saw a Pembroke #1, but…I would be in Pembroke, and see a “Southie #1!” Dorchester for instance, would never write Dot #1, because Dorchester knew that even though they’re a great town full of great people — some of my best friends are Dot Rats– they were at best, #2. No disrespect to Dorchester. There’s no shame in the Silver. I would occasionally see a Dot #1, but inevitably by the time it reached my eyes, someone had scratched out the 1, substituted a 2, and scrawled beneath it “SOUTHIE #1!” Even Dot rats knew that they weren’t as uniquely awesome as Southie. Honorable mentions to Charlestown and Quincy too, but that’s only because there were lots of families in Quincy who were originally from Southie! Southie was driving, Dorchester sat shotgun, and Charlestown and Quincy sat in the back seat slap fighting each other.
I considered the source of this Southie pride. Where did it come from? Why were we so damn awesome, and knew about it? I decided to determine once and for all if Southie was indeed #1, and if so, why? I used the Internet to search for answers, and compiled a list of Southie firsts and notable facts.
Jennifer Gordon’s scientific model for determining the awesomeness of Southie:
#1. Southie is home of the First Vietnam Memorial in the country, and predates the one in Washington. We all chipped in a lot of money for it because that’s how we roll. $outhie always antes up for a good cause. +1
#1. Yes, $outhie antes up. If your mother has cancer or your house burns down, we will throw you a “Time” and say it with cash. We take care of each other. +1
#1. James Brendan Connelly won the first gold medal at the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece for the triple jump. He dropped out of Harvard to attend the games. +1 for the Gold medal, and +1 for snubbing Hahv’d, and giving ‘em two in the eyes!
#1. George Washington slept here, and it was at Dorchester Heights here in Southie that he placed his cannon and made the British turn tail and ‘book it’ outta here! +1
#1. Paul Revere slept here too at Fort Independence. +1
#1. SB was the original home of the Perkins School for the Blind. +1
…and Helen Keller slept there. +1
#1. Edgar Allen Poe was inspired to write The “Cask of Amontadillo” while stationed at Castle Island. He got the idea from a “True story.” Supposedly some soldiers walled up an officer in the fort, and buried him alive. +1 for Poe, but -1 for burying some poor guy alive in a wall. Tisk, tisk Southie.
#1. SB resident Jesse Pomeroy is the youngest person to ever become a serial killer. (Although I should clarify that Pomeroy was actually born in Charlestown.) Sorry Southie. That’s a -1.
#1. St Augustine’s Chapel is the first Gothic church in Boston. +1
#1. St. Patty’s Day Parade. +1
#1. St. Patty’s Day Parade. -1
#1. The Ambassador to the Vatican was from Southie. +1
#1. The same Southie guy was also the mayor of Boston for quite awhile too. +1
#1. Mayor Curley! +1
#1. Southie is home of the Macallen Building the first Green Residence (Gold LEED Certified) in Boston. +1
#1. Whitey Bulger held the #1 spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Ummm…+1?
#1. John Ferruggio – hero of Pan Am flight 93. +1
#1. Eugene F. Lally was a pioneering rocket scientist and invented digital photography. +1 Yeah, that’s right, Southie: home of ROCKET SCIENTISTS!
#1. One of the Mullen twins (I forget which) won both showcases on The Price is Right! Whoo-hoo! Southie, “COME ON DOWN!” +1
#1. Kenny Houle – Calvin Klein’s original underwear model. +1
#1. Southie takes home the Oscar with Good Will Hunting. +1
#1. William Bulger, Senate President +1
#1. He was also The President of U. Mass Boston. +1 for the position, (and +1 for not ratting out his own flesh and blood. Family is family.)
#1. Southie is home of the hard core L St. Brownies who’ve been plunging into the icy water since 1904. +1
#1. Brian Noonan brought home the Stanley Cup. +1
#1. David Lindsay Abaire won a Pulitzer Prize. +1
#1. Southie “may take you and break you, but we’ll never forsake you.” +1
Of course I’ve missed tons of cool facts, and fists (Whoopsie! Freudian slip. I meant to say ‘firsts,’ but now that I think of it, we do have lots of fists; pro boxers and such, and Southie CAN and WILL slap you silly if need be so that should get some points too. +10
So here is my conclusion. I tallied up the points by subtracting the negatives from the positives, and here is the result; the final number is… well wouldn’t ya know, it’s #1! (You don’t need to check my math! I did it right!) Therefore, my model proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Southie is indeed #1!
It’s saddened me over the past decade or two to see Southie scattering to the wind. Many, if not most, Southie natives have moved on to greener pastures. (Well, that’s a poor analogy really, because what’s greener than Southie?) Many have moved to big houses in the ‘burbs, others live in Ireland, London, Paris, Rome, Hawaii, Alaska…there are practically gangs of Southie folk in California! Southie lives in New York, and everywhere in between. We also have truck-loads of Southie people in the Middle East with the Armed Forces.
It doesn’t matter where you’re living now. You’ll always be from Southie and you’ll always feel the pride. The fashion for tagging up everything with “Southie #1” has long gone out of vogue, but I miss seeing that Southie pride, and I’d l love to see it make a comeback.
In an effort to revive the practice, I’ll give $50 bucks to anyone who can tag a “Southie #1” on a Pyramid! $25 for The Great Wall of China, and a C-note if you can slap a yellow sticky note reading “Southie #1” on Ben Affleck’s ass. Of course this will all require picture proof. So come on Southie! I’m urging you to get out there and show me your Southie pride! Grab one of your kid’s magic mahkahs, and tag a wall today! And I’ll throw in an extra $10 spot if you dot your “i” with one of those lil’ shamrocks.