Tom Menino died yesterday at the young age of 71. After having declined to run for a 6th term, he officially retired from office in January this year and was soon after diagnosed with advanced cancer. He was my boss for some 13 years – I think everyone who worked for the City of Boston considered him that – but I was far enough up the food chain to have only a couple of layers between us. Plus I was on committees and volunteered in ways that put me in touch with him.
I believed it was when he was running for term number 5 that a poll showed that 57% of Boston residents had met him personally. I assume that those polled were adults and not children as I have to believe an even higher percentage of kids had met him as he made the rounds of community centers, schools and other events.
In fact, my favorite memory of the Mayor was with a little girl. I know I’ve told this story before but I’m telling it again.
I was at a Boston Housing Authority community day. Early summer, late afternoon. Some people were grilling and there were chips and stuff, but the big attraction for the kids was the ice cream. If I remember correctly, Ben and Jerry’s had donated, or one of their stores or distributors had, ice cream and cones. Some volunteers were scooping it out. A little girl had attached herself to me and wanted some. I got her a cone and we were walking away with it when the ice cream fell out of the cone and onto the ground – right at the feet of the Mayor. She started to cry. He picked her up and took her over the ice cream table and got her another cone. Of course he cut into the front of the line. One boy started to object and another whispered loudly, “That’s the Mayor.” She was happy. The Mayor was happy.
And that is how I will remember him most. He loved all the children of Boston and I think they loved him back.