SOUTH BOSTON UNWRAPPED: Southie Speak Deciphered
(Written by a ten year Southie resident with much help from “Original Southie”)
This piece is meant to be a walk down memory lane for those of you who grew up here and a crash course in all things Southie for those of us who have lived here less than 30 years. I called on many residents for information for this piece and welcome more as I’m sure we missed some. I hope the newer residents learn a lot and I hope those of you who coined these phrases enjoy it!
If you didn’t grow up here, you might not know:
- Rite Aid will always be Osco’s, not Brook’s
- Stop and Shop will always be Flanagan’s
- The L Street Tavern will always be Striggies
- A Boss of tonic= a 2 liter of Pepsi
You might hear people refer to Woolworth’s 5&10, Pober’s, Robel’s, Bay View Men’s Shop, and Kay’s to name a few. These are all stores that were on West Broadway between Dorchester Street and F Street on the same side as McGoo’s & CVS.
- The 5&10 or Woolworth’s had a soda Fountain.
- Pober’s was known for beautiful children’s clothes.
- Robel’s had clothes for both men’s & ladies.
- Bay View Men’s Shop was just that & was the place to go for a Scally cap.
- Kay’s was a shop for teens & ladies.
- Slocums (Slocie’s): Tiniest over-packed toy store that had everything you could think of for toys & had penny candy too. If you were hunting shops everywhere for a hard to find toy, they * always had it. Probably would now be considered a fire hazard. There was one very skinny aisle to the back of the store & boxes of toys stacked to the ceiling around the entire store. It was located across from the library on East Broadway. Oh & the staff would watch you like a hawk!!
- But….…..no more than the staff at Jones on the corner of K & Broadway… They would follow you around the store & had mirrors above the dressing room!!! So you could literally watch people trying on clothes from certain areas in the store!!! Jones or we always called it ‘Jonesies’… always had the coolest sneakers or latest sweatshirts or jeans that teens would be clamoring to get. Think Girbaud Jeans, Champion sweatshirts, Gazelle sneakers in their hay-day.
- Pizza-Rama – way before McGoos - great juke box (.50 for 3 songs – Still Rock n Roll to Me by Billy Joel and I Love Rock n Roll by Joan Jett were worn out). 2 slices (just like the old pizza truck slices) and tonic (nice and syrupy from the fountain) combo for $1.50
Big Broadway (West Broadway) & Little Broadway (East Broadway). West Broadway was where all the big shops were and was often used as a marker when kids from City Point (East Side) that you were old enough to go to West Broadway on your own.
- City Point – G-Street down to Farragut Road – Although some City Pointers say it’s not City Point until M Street down to Farragut Road.
- Lower-end – Dorchester Street down to A Street (basically when street signs turn from east to west).
- The Bug House: The old movie theater on West Broadway across from CVS. Take a guess why it was called that? Yup… No joke!! Your feet literally would stick to the floor from soda that had spilled & hadn’t been cleaned!!!
Someone might say…
- Crickets (usually during an awkward silence in a conversation… Liken it to… ‘that went over like a lead balloon’)
- Hicks: Anyone from anywhere outside of the Boston, Southie, Dorchester, South End, Charlestown, North End area. Or perhaps might be easier to describe as folks from the suburbs.
- Alligator Arms or Crocodile Arms or T-Rex Arms: Someone who is notoriously cheap. Their arms are too short to reach into their pockets for cash!!
- See you at the ‘Q’. (The Quencher Bar on I Street near 7th)
- Can I have a tonic? (a soda… Pepsi, Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale… Basically anything artificially flavored with bubbles)
- Pill Hill (used to be a lot of doctors offices going up the hill on Broadway from I street toward H street)
- Flood Square (I Street & Broadway area)
- Pie Alley (alley that runs between houses on K Street between 6th & 5th)
- The Orchie (large empty land between H& G & 6th & 7th… It was an orchard… Not sure it still exists)
- The Pit (This is where folks go sledding down by the skating rink)
- J Street (yes, Southie does have one but it is spelled ‘Jay Street’…. It’s a dead end Street located on 5th St. between K & I streets & leads toward 4th Street & to the Tynan School.
- Kick the can: An outside game with teams of kids where you actuallykicked a can.
- A Runner: Someone old enough to buy underage kids alcohol from alocal liquor store.
- The Packie or A Packie: Any package store (not UPS or FedEx silly!!). It’s a store that sells liquor. I guess back in the day alcohol was ‘packaged’ up. You might hear someone say… We need a packie run or I’m going to the packie, you need anything?
- Book it: To get away quickly. Run as fast as you can.
- The Golden Stairs: The Stairs off of Thomas Park they lead to Covington Street. I was told they were called that because boys used to pee down them…. Hence Golden Stairs! However, there could have been someone named Golden they were named after!!! It was always funnier to imagine someone peeing down them.
- No Man’s Land: A plot of land behind Southie High & Dorchester Heights monument that belongs to no one. It’s been recently (last 10 years or so) being taken care of by various groups including; The Medicine Wheel, Girls Scout Troops, etc.
- “Lover’s Lane “: The small street that runs next to the Pop Warner Football Field next the Murphy Rink.
Groups of kids that hung on certain corners or areas in Southie…
You might hear someone ask where did you hang (out) when you were a teen. Sometimes there were rivalries between different groups – real Jets/Sharks stuff.
P & 4th
P & 6th
O & 6th
O & 3rd
Ticknor (between L & K Streets & off of Marine Rd)
L & 8th
K & 8th
K & 7th
H & 5th
M Street Park
The Heights (Dorchester Heights Monument behind Southie High)
Hub (corner of I & Broadway where Edible Arrangements is)
L & 8th
F & 5th
F & 4th
E & 5th or 5th Street Park
3rd Street Park
F & Silver
F & 7th
The (Boys) Club Yard
The Gavin (School) – walkway between the school and Saintee’s church (St. Augustine’s)
Eddie’s Gym on F & Broadway
The D Street projects area was covered with a simple going down “D” – but also could be broken down to:
- The Platform (train tracks area)
Various courts in D St.:
(Orton Morotta, Crowley Rogers, Joyce Hayes, etc..)
The (basketball) Courts (behind the Condon).
110 – Meant Joyce Hayes Way
74 – Meant Condon Basketball Courts
Old Colony Projects was simply “going down OC” but could be broken down specifically into:
- 301 (Mercer & 8th in Old Colony)
Patterson Way (Old Colony)
Billy’s (pizza – Old Colony Ave.)
The Old Harbor Projects
(Always say the letter before the number as in L & 8th - Never 8th & L)