Monday, November 17, 2014

Whitey Wuz Here

From Dave Brigham:

Boston's Castle Island, home to Fort Independence and many other fortresses over the centuries, has a great military history, but whenever I hang out there I can't help but think of Whitey Bulger.

Bulger, the gangster who ran South Boston for two decades before going on the lam in late 1994, used to walk around Castle Island with his right-hand man, Kevin Weeks, in order to avoid surveillance bugs. I love the pictures of Bulger in his dorky white Red Sox hat, t-shirt tucked into old-man jeans, and white sneakers. He looks so harmless. He was anything but.

No man is an island, they say, certainly not Whitey, who thought he could get away with multiple murders, racketeering and drug dealing. Bulger was on the run for 16 years, his time finally running out in Santa Monica, CA, in the the summer of 2011.

Despite its name, Castle Island is no longer an island, as it was connected to the mainland by a roadway long ago. My son, Owen, loves to spot planes there as they arrive at and depart from Logan Airport, which is right across the harbor. I take the occasional picture of planes, but mostly I scan for unusual things.

(Signal Corps building. I suppose the place is used for storage, but it evidently has other uses. I found a story in the Boston Globe's online archive about Bulger's capture in June 2011, in which an anonymous guy playing cribbage in the building is quoted as saying he hoped that with the gangster's capture, the FBI would come out with the full truth about Bulger's role as a government informant.)

(The U.S. Engineer Department doesn't exist any more. I believe it was renamed the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. This marker is on the sidewalk that circles Fort Independence, right next to the green wrought-iron fence that prevents people from falling into the harbor. If I'm reading this correctly, it's telling me that I'm 16.23 feet above sea level.)

(On a recent trip to the island with my kids, the tide was pretty low, so we walked among the refuse that washed up on the small beach below the walkway. We saw this dead seagull.)

(We also saw some cool pieces of driftwood, the second of which below looks like it was once part of the rotting pier you see in the background of the shot.)

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