So, after that first robbery, life went on. I had entered Northeastern University in Boston during the fall of 1973. At the time it was the biggest private university in the nation. NU was accessible by subway from Quincy Point, where I was still living. I would walk to Quincy Center, take the subway to Park St., then the Arborway Street car which, once it came to the surface stopped outside the main entrance to NU.
I previously mentioned that I was a pretty fair middle distance runner in high school, and during my senior year at Quincy High, three other colleges reached out to me trying to recruit me. They were Boston State College, long gone, now UMass Boston, University Of Maine, and Southeastern Mass University, now known as the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
However, I finally chose NU for a few reasons. I entered into its fairly young Criminal Justice Degree program. Northeastern was unique at the time in that they also pioneered the co-op work plan. If you were in the co-op program, it took five years to earn your degree, but during that time NU placed you in jobs related to your course of study, and you alternately worked in this job and attended school. That’s why it took five years. It was a good concept, and after my first semester, they found me a job as a Security Guard for Burns International Security.
Also during that time, I met a guy that was to become a close, life long friend. Patrick came to work in the same store I was working in Quincy, and we immediately clicked. He was attending the now long defunct Graham Junior College, and he was living in a dorm in Kenmore Sq. Pat introduced me to some of the finer things in life, such a certain high quality liquors (up until that time my favorite drink was a seven & seven) and good restaurants like the Continental in Saugus, and even the No Name Restaurant. Later, Patrick became my Best Man when I got married. We also drove taxicabs for the same companies. One night he got robbed and stabbed when picking up a job in the old Orchard Park Projects near Dudley Station. I was working that night and heard the whole incident unfold over the radio as he called for help.
Over the years that followed, Pat’s family suffered several tragedies. He lost his Dad, and two of his three brothers. One brother was murdered, I think it was near Milford Ma. while he was visiting. The other died in a freak work place accident. Patrick eventually got a job in Los Angeles, and relocated there. Over the years, although I missed him while he was out in LA, due to the time difference, I could always call him later at night and chat with him anytime the urge hit. Patrick was taken from us suddenly a couple of years ago. He was much too young to go. I still miss him very much. At times, I occasionally have a momentary urge to pick up the phone to call him, but that passes quickly as I remember he is gone.
So, after the first robbery I worked a couple of overnight shifts per weekend for Burns Security and continued to work part time for the chain of convenience stores. I would open on Saturday, close on Sunday nights and filled in at the store a couple of evenings during the week. All time I was attending Northeastern.
Approximately a month after the first robbery, I was at work, having opened the store again on a Saturday morning. People were in and out. Many of the regulars often stayed a few minutes if they weren’t in a hurry and we chatted about whatever. Later that morning, a young lady stopped in who lived nearby. She was about 16 years old or so, I don’t remember exactly. I knew her from the neighborhood and we were friendly.
So, she is in the store, we are chatting when suddenly the same guy who had taken the young boy hostage a few weeks earlier burst through the doors again! I probably don’t have to lay out the details for this robbery for you if you read my last story, but I will. Care to guess what he does once inside?
Correct. He grabs the girl, points the gun to her head and starts screaming and threatens to kill her. I was both astonished and speechless that this was happening again! This time however, I knew the drill. The teen was very upset, to say the least. He pressed his revolver against the side of her head and I went to work.
I opened the register, pulled out a brown paper bag and put the bills into it. Again, he told me to put my wallet into the bag. However, after my last robbery, I stopped carrying my wallet at work. I placed it, with my cash in the back room of the store, just in case. This time I told him I didn’t carry my wallet anymore at work. He then bellowed more orders, telling me to open the safe. I bent down, opened the safe on the first try, put the cash in the bag. He released the girl, grabbed the bag and fled. If he remembered me from the first stick up, he didn’t let on.
I was stunned. Not about being the victim of another armed robbery, but that the same guy came in and repeated this scenario once again, this time taking a different, random hostage at gunpoint. Thankfully, there was a (very upset) victim present who was also a witness. Otherwise, I don’t think that the police or the company officials would have believed me.
This event played out just opposite the previous one: It was like a sudden, swift, precision strike. In and out as I remember it. Maybe because I’d been through it before, I reacted quicker. I’m sure it didn’t seem that way to the victim who was standing there with a gun to her head. I remember her telling me how brave she thought I was sometime after the robbery, but you can guess that she never came back into that store to visit with me. She was a good kid, nice young lady and I’ve always felt bad about what she experienced that day.
Well, after the bandit fled, as if on cue, my hands started to shake again. I couldn’t control it. Same routine, locked the door, tried not to touch anything, tried to calm the young lady down. I called police, who responded. Shortly afterwards, two detectives arrived. One of the detectives had responded to my previous robbery, but his partner this day was someone I had never met before. We all went through the same routine as before, they checked for prints etc, but as far as I know, they were never able to lift any from either robbery.
I eventually went back to work, shrugging the robbery itself off, which, as I look back on them, amazes me today. I don’t know why I stayed, especially after having endured these two pretty violent robberies. Maybe I was too young and inexperienced to know better. I just figured that’s the way this business is. I had to support myself and work my way through college. For whatever reason, I continued to work there, and I never really thought very much about my safety or well being.
The two detectives in this case and their follow up investigation appeared to be very aggressive . The detectives’ names were Perchard and Casey. I chose to mention their names because they earned my respect as I got to know them while they worked this case.
For a week or two following the second robbery, I don’t remember exactly how long, they made arraignments to meet me wherever and whenever convenient in the evening in order to go out and look for this guy. They would pick me up in their unmarked cruiser, and we’d spend time cruising around town, spending much of that time roaming around Quincy Point. We staked out houses of possible suspects. We also visited every bar, restaurant and hangout where local miscreants hung out. Believe me, there were plenty of those places in Quincy Point. From Quincy Square, down to the Fore River bridge, or all the way down Quincy Ave to Braintree. The hope was that somewhere, I’d see the guy who robbed me.
Each time the three of us entered these local bars, there was always a scene. The cops walked around inside, many of the patrons either ignored the cops or cursed them, all wanting to act tough in front of their friends. The two cops walked around inside each bar we checked like they owned it. They had me look at each customer who happened to be present. I didn’t mind. I had a case of the ass for this guy who robbed me twice. The fact that he had threatened to kill me and the three young kids angered me more as time passed. I would have liked to run into him some time when he didn’t have his gun with him.
We walked into one bar on Washington St. and as soon as we entered the door way, Perchard walked up to an unsuspecting guy sitting at the bar. He grabbed him off the stool, throwing him face first against a wall telling him
“ I’ve been looking for you! Good to see you!”
Before I knew what happened, this guy was handcuffed and the four of us were all stuffed into the unmarked car together, headed to the station. Turns out this guy had a warrant for something, I don’t remember what. That was the end of that night’s manhunt. It got so that I started to look forward to going out with Perchard and Casey after I got home from classes at Northeastern. It was a great inside look at real police work, and while I was with them, I felt like their junior partner.
I never found out, or don’t remember, if they suspected my guy in any other robberies that may have occurred in the area. I do know that a few of the persons they suspected did not pan out. After a few weeks, my evenings with the detectives came to an end. To the best of my knowledge, an arrest was never made for either of those robberies. After we stopped going out at night, I never heard from them or the Quincy Police about either robbery. And that’s a damned shame. But this is real life, not NCIS or Law and Order. However, it was not the last time I heard from the Quincy PD while I continued to work at that store.
The following summer, after my freshman year, I gave up on college and quit. I went to work full time for the convenience store company. I eventually ran stores for that company in Hyde Park, Roslindale and West Roxbury. Of all three, West Roxbury was by far the toughest store I had managed. It turned out to be my last store.
When I worked on Hyde Park Ave in Hyde Park, during the fall of 1974, I witnessed the day to day violence that occurred during the Boston School Desegregation Busing, and my observations during that time is a separate story that I think is certainly worth telling.
Also during that time my boss moved me around to clean up and restaff stores that no one else would work in. I truly didn’t care where he sent me. I worked in stores on Dorchester Ave, Geneva Ave, Codman Square, all in Dorchester. I was robbed at gun point in Codman Square. While at the Geneva Ave store I was robbed twice, once with a sawed off shot gun. While I managed the store on Hyde Park Ave in Roslindale, I was robbed three times at gunpoint and once with a knife. On another day, a close friend of mine who was working in that store was robbed and actually ended up in the middle of a gun fight between the robber and the responding officers. He resigned his position after that day.
The Boston cops had made a couple of arrests during those robberies, and one day I found myself in the news as Mayor White and Police Commissioner DiGrazia held a press conference from inside my store.
On a sadder note, the manager of the store on the corner of Washington St and Archdale Rd. in Roslindale, which very close to my store, was shot and killed during a robbery. On another day, an innocent customer walked into one of the stores in nearby Dedham during a robbery and was shot dead. Turned out he wanted to buy some model airplane glue there so he could build a model with his young son. Working in those stores around Boston during the mid and late 70’s really was dangerous. We also had a store on Blue Hill Av near Morton St. that was firebombed and it nearly burned to the ground. Luckily, this happened at night when the store was closed and no one was inside. The stores on Archdale Rd. Blue Hill Ave. and Bussy St. in Dedham never reopened. We also had a store burn down on River St. in Hyde Park during that time that never reopened.
Each of these events are stories in themselves. One time, I chased a guy on foot, helped the police apprehend him and I helped recover the gun he used and the bag of stolen cash. Maybe I’ll sprinkle in some of these stories as I continue to write on this site.
I finally left that company’s employ early in 1976. When I was running that West Roxbury store, I demanded a raise and threatened not go back there until they gave it to me. The district manager told me not to bother coming back. I was still young, and being fired for the first time was tough for me to take. I loved that company, was a loyal and worked hard. I had a tough time adjusting to the fact that they didn’t want me anymore. In the end, as I look back upon it, they may have done me a favor by firing me. However, I learned a lot during the three years I worked for them and I was able to build on those lessons as life went on.
By the time I left, I had been working as a security guard at the Boston Globe. Also in 1974, I had obtained my Boston Hackney Carriage License (license to drive a taxi in Boston) and I worked at that job part time and full time, on and off until 1983. If you haven’t guessed, there are more stories from those days. Oh yeah. I met my wife in the summer of 74 and we were married in November of 1975. I’m sure she didn’t know what she was getting herself into!