A Tourist’s Guide to Southern Vermont

1. Introduction:

Easily accessible from lower New England, Southern Vermont is a rolling carpet of Green Mountain foothills and valleys that offer a extensive array of seasonal sports, yet maintain all of the state’s characteristics, including picture postcard villages, covered bridges, maple farms, and cheese producers.

2. Orientation:

Brattleboro, gateway to the area, is “home to an eclectic mix of native Vermonters and transplants from all over the country,” according to the “Greater Brattleboro” guide published by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce. “This cosmopolitan town is southeastern Vermont’s undisputed economic, recreational, and cultural center.”

Accessed by Interstate 91, it is both the first major Vermont city north of the Massachusetts state line and the only one served by three exits-in this case, Exit 1 leads to Canal street, Exit 2 to Main Street and the historic downtown area, and Exit 3 to Route 5/Putney Road, which offers a commercial concentration of hotels and restaurants. The Comfort and Hampton Inns and the Holiday Inn Express, for example, are located here, while the art deco Latchis Hotel, complete with its own movie theater, is located downtown.

3. Brattleboro:

Situated at the confluence of the Connecticut and West rivers, Brattleboro was originally occupied by the Abenaki tribes, but protection against them took form as Fort Drummer, constructed by and named after, Governor William Drummer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1724.

Siding with the French in the French and Indian War, they migrated to Quebec the following year, at which time the structure was transformed into a trading post for the friendly few who remained behind. Nevertheless, peace, often fleeting during this period, dissolved between 1744 and 1748, prompting its troop re-occupation.

Becoming a New Hampshire grant, the area surrounding it, designated Brattleborough after Colonel William Brattle, Jr. of Boston, was chartered as Vermont’s first town the day after Christmas in 1753.

From the fort sprouted a settlement, giving rise to the area’s first store in 1771, first post office in 1784, and first Connecticut-spanning bridge in 1804. Becoming increasingly industrialized for the period due to the power provided by the Whetstone Brook’s waterfalls, it soon boosted paper, flour, and woolen textile mills, paper making machinery and carriage manufacturers, two machine shops, and four printers. It has been home to the Estey Organ Company for more than a century. The Massachusetts and Vermont Valley railroads subsequently facilitated commerce, trade, and travel with and to the rest of New England.

The current “Brattleboro” spelling was adopted in 1888.

Today, more than anything, the city is synonymous with art. Aside from its numerous venues, it uniquely features its Gallery Walk program, in which exhibits are displayed at some 50 locations throughout town on the first Friday of every month, some accompanied by live music and others by the artists themselves. Numbered, each display corresponds to the description, location, and route of the guide published monthly.

Maintaining the town’s raison d’être is the more permanent Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, located downtown, across from the Marlboro College Graduate School in the former Union Station and offering views of the river paralleling tracks outside and retaining the original ticket windows inside, behind which is the appropriately designated “Ticket Gallery.”

“Founded in 1972,” according to its own description, “the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art and a wide array of cultural events, including lectures, workshops, performances, film screenings, (and) family activities.”

“Close to Home: New Pastels by Ray Ruseckas,” one recent exhibit, offered, as its title suggests, an artistic perspective of the area.

“The hillsides, forests, and glades of the Connecticut River Valley,” said Mara Williams, museum curator, “are Ray Ruseckas’ stomping grounds and inspiration. Ruseckas renders the changing dynamics of land in seasons, deftly capturing fleeting atmospheric effects, as well as the rhythms and proportions of place… Through refined tonal shifts or contrast between light and dark, (he) produces an effect of psychological apprehension, a frission between what is seen and what is implied or felt.”

“Threaded Dances,” by Debra Bermingham, another recent exhibit, equally featured surreal effects.

“(Her) paintings are elusive and mysterious as a landscape enveloped in mist,” Williams wrote. “Images emerge slowly, sensually from delicately layered surfaces. Veils of blue-gray to pearl-white shroud empty or barely populated space. Glimpsing objects-a fragment of a vessel under full sail, a teapot, a moon-through the mist, we are unmoored from time and space.”

Other recent exhibits included “People, Places, and Things” by Jim Dine, “Art + Computer/Time” from the Anne and Michael Spater Digital Art Collection, and the three-dimensional, inflated sculpture “Expanded Forms” by Rodrigo Nava.

Art, at least in literary form, may be interpretable through architecture-in this case, of Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha home-Hindi for “jewel beyond price”-in nearby Dummerston. One of Vermont’s 17 National Historic Landmarks, it served as his home in 1892, because his bride was native to the area, and he wrote his famous “Captain’s Courageous” and “Jungle Book” novels here.

As a living house that can be rented for varying stays from the UK’s Landmark Trust, it features its original furniture, while the carriage house, which had once been Kipling’s barn, sports a living room fireplace and accommodates four.

Although it is not open for museum visits, one recent patron who had partaken of its “hotel” status, found that a decided advantage, writing in Naulakha’s guest book, “It is fascinating to visit the house of writers and artists, but all you usually get is an hour’s tour with an absolute prohibition ‘not to touch.’ How wonderful then to sit at his desk and soak up Mr. Kipling’s bath.”

Aside from art, Southern Vermont is often equated with its covered bridges and Brattleboro is no exception. Constructed in 1879 and located on Guilford Street off of Route 9, the 80-foot-long by 19-foot-wide Creamery Covered Bridge, for instance, spans the Whetstone Brook. Made of spruce lumber, with timber lattice trusses and either-end stone slab supporting abutments, it features a 5.5-foot wide, equally covered sidewalk that was added in the 1920s. It is the only such structure visible from Route 9 and the only one of Brattleboro’s symbolic structures to survive.

4. Grafton:

As a preserved village, Grafton, located north of Brattleboro, could serve as the quintessential image of Vermont and grace any postcard, with its church, crafts shops, galleries, museums, and historic inns lining Main Street (Route 121) and maple syrup taping and cheese making venues located just up the road.

With four general stores and a half dozen mills and schoolhouses during the mid-1800s, it was a hub for farmers, tradesmen, and travelers, producing shoes, sleighs, and butter churns. Retaining, a century and a half later, its blacksmith and cabinet making shops, it offers the visitor an opportunity to step back in time and sample true New England ambiance.

“Grafton’s uniqueness,” according to its own description, “comes from being a real town, not a museum-like recreation, with its citizens being its most valuable resource. It is a vibrant community still holding the traditional town meeting with participation from a wonderfully diverse population of 600 people.”

Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of color in the fall and covered with a blanket of white in the winter, it offers numerous recreational opportunities, but the latter season, particularly, “is a magic time in Vermont, making you believe that you are living in a holiday card. Cross-country ski, snowshoe, (or) stroll through the village. Then relax with a cup of hot chocolate,” it concludes about itself.

Cornerstone of the town is the Grafton Inn. Tracing its origins to the two-floor private home of Enos Lowell, who converted it to an inn to serve travelers seeking good food and lodging in 1801, it grew in size and prosperity with that of the village and counted several owners-from Hyman Burgess to the Phelps Brothers, who added a third floor after purchasing the property for $1,700 in 1865. That overall appearance remains to the present day.

Although it fulfilled its originally intended purpose of serving commercial travelers, several notable people have stayed there over the years, including Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Webster, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After Depression era stagnation, disrepair, and competition from emerging modernized motels, it was acquired by the Windham Foundation in 1965 and elevated to more expected standards with plumbing, heating, hot-and-cold running water, and private bathrooms. Yet its 45 guest rooms retain their country character.

Its dining venues include the Old Tavern Restaurant and the Phelps Barn Pub.

Aside from the inn, there are several attractions in Grafton, including the Native Museum, the Grafton History Museum, and the Vermont Museum of Mining and Minerals.

Behind the inn is the Grafton Village Retail Store, which offers a wide selection of cheese, maple products, wine, and Vermont indicative souvenirs, but cheese is handmade a half mile up the road at the Grafton Village Cheese Company.

Established in 1892 as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company, it continues to produce handcrafted aged cheddar, a process visible through a glass window, although its production plant and a significantly sized retail store is located in Brattleboro. Behind the Grafton facility is a short covered bridge.

Another Vermont associated experience can be enjoyed at Plummer’s Sugar House. Owned by third generation syrup producers, it sports 4,000 maple trees, which are tapped between February and April. Informal tours are conducted and syrup can be purchased in its barn-like gift shop.

5. Molly Stark Trail:

Designated the Molly Stark Trail by the Vermont Legislature in 1936, the 48-mile, officially numbered Route 9 zigzags through the Southern Green Mountains, lowland valleys, lakes, streams, waterfalls, and historic villages from Brattleboro in the east to Bennington in the west. It was named after the wife of Brigadier General John Stark, who led the Colonial militia of Vermont and New Hampshire troops to victory in the 1777 Battle of Bennington, during which he proclaimed, “There they are boys! We beat them today or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight.”

In the event, she had no need to, but also never stepped foot on the scenic byway that bears her name and is associated with several others of Vermont fame, such as Ethan Allen, Grandma Moses, and Robert Frost.

It serves as the threshold to the Green Mountain National Forest. Established itself in 1932 to control rampant logging, flooding, and fires, its 399,151-acre New England and Acadian forest ecoregion is located in Bennington, Addison, Rutland, Windham, Windsor, and Washington counties.

Three nationally designated trails-Long Trail, Robert Moses National Recreation Trail, and portions of the Appalachian Trail-along with 900 miles of lesser-known paths afford a wide range of related sports activities, from hiking to bicycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling, in three Alpine and seven Nordic ski areas.

Abundant wildlife includes bears, moose, coyotes, white tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and numerous bird species.

The town of Wilmington marks both the Molly Stark Trail’s halfway point between Brattleboro and Bennington and the crossroads with northbound Route 100.

Chartered on April 29, 1751 by Benning Wentworth, Colonial Governor of New Hampshire, and named after Spencer Compton, First Earl of Wilmington, the town itself was virtually fed by what its surrounding land provided, including grass, oats, corn, vegetables, potatoes, and the spruce, hemlock, birch, beech, and maple trees that were transformed into lumber. Haystack Mountain offered skiing.

Town and population growth were sparked by a series of precipitating events, such as the introduction of river-located sawmills in the 1830s, the establishment of a rail link at the end of that century, and the dedication of the Molly Stark Trail in the 1930s.

Threading through town, Main Street (Route 9 and the trail itself) offers views of another quintessential Vermont village, with quilt, craft, and antique shops, restaurants, and church steeples.

“Wilmington,” according to the “Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Visitors’ Guide” published by the Chamber of Commerce in Wilmington itself, “contains superb examples of 18th and 19th century architecture in as many as eight distinct styles. From Late Colonial (1750-1788) to Colonial Revival (1880-1900), the architecture is so well-preserved, that the major part of the village has been placed on the Vermont Register of Historic Places.”

A right turn at the traffic light (coming from Brattleboro) on to Route 100 leads to the Old Red Mill Inn, “a wayside tavern, inn, and restaurant at the river’s edge,” as it bills itself.

Rustic in character, the inn, a converted sawmill dating back to 1828, retains much of its original construction and is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its dining venues include Jerry’s Deck Bar and Grill, with outdoor seating overlooking the Deerfield River, and the Old Red Mill Restaurant, whose “hearty food and drink are specialties of the house,” it proclaims.

“Prime steaks and rib roasts, along with fresh New England seafood, are menu favorites, all preceded by crisp garden salads and warm, fresh-baked breads.”

6. Route 100:

A short drive on Route 100 leads to West Dover, gateway to the Mount Snow ski resort, as evidenced by the Alpine-themed Austrian Haus Lodge, one of the first buildings encountered.

Settled by Captain Abner Perry, of Holliston, Massachusetts, in 1779, and granted a charter signed by Governor Thomas Chittenden, head of the newly formed Vermont Republic, the following year, West Dover and its easterly Dover counterpart began as the township of Wardsborough. After a successful petition to divide it, however, it evolved into Wardsborough itself and Dover after the passage of an 1810 Legislative Assembly act.

Although the summer initially served as the season of attraction for vacationers drawn to area farms during the early-1900s, its winter opposite took center stage mid-century when Walter Schoenknecht, of East Haddam, Connecticut, acquired the Ruben Snow farm, transforming it into the present and popular Mount Snow Ski Resort.

Demand soon turned the handful of lodges into the many of today, along with the coincident shops, restaurants, and motels necessary to support the influx of sports enthusiasts.

Literally paving the way to it all, Route 100 replaced the original dirt artery, which was plied by sleighs in its early days. Aside from automobiles, even the small Deerfield Valley Airport brings in winter tourists.

As a base town, West Dover’s purpose becomes increasingly apparent as you approach the Mount Snow entrance, revealing buildings such as the Inn at Sawmill Farm, the West Dover Inn, the Snow Mountain Market, and the Lodge.

“West Dover (itself),” according to the “Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Visitors’ Guide,” “stands as one of Vermont’s most splendid examples of a homogenous historic district. Consisting of just 20 buildings dating from 1805 to 1885, the entire district is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

“The village showcases a number of well-preserved buildings. The West Dover Congregational Church, (for instance), was built as a meeting house ‘in the modern style’ of 1858 with money raised by selling pews at auctions. The adjacent Dover Town Office was originally the District #6 schoolhouse, erected in 1857. Across the street, the Harris House, one of the oldest in the village, is now home to the Dover Historical Society.”

Tantamount to any Vermont village is an historic inn-in this case, it takes West Dover Inn form.

“Nestled within the serene Deerfield Valley of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest,” according to its own description, “and only two miles from the base of Mount Snow, our home continues an important American tradition of friendly hospitality begun over 150 years ago.

“Originally built in 1846 as a stage coach stop and tavern, the West Dover inn has been lovingly restored and now provides 12 quiet, luxury accommodations, as well as modern and memorable dining in the 1846 Tavern and Restaurant.”

Its menu features pub fare and house specialties, such as rib eye steak, salmon, roasted duck, and pasta.

Mount Snow, the area’s major attraction, is reached by its Northern and Southern Access roads off of Route 100. Considered the most accessible Green Mountain ski resort and located only nine miles from Wilmington, it encompasses 588 acres subdivided into the four mountain areas of Main Mountain, North Face, Sunbrook, and Carinthia, rising from a 1,900-foot base elevation to a 3,600-foot summit one. Its vertical drop is 1,700 feet.

Twenty lifts provide a 30,370-person hourly capacity.

During the summer and fall, the Bluebird Express offers scenic, six-person bubble lift rides to the summit, where views from the Bullwheel Restaurant encompass Little Equinox, Equinox, Mother Myriak, Dorset, Little Stratton, Stratton, and Glebe mountains, which collectively appear as if they were undulating, green-carpeted waves interspersed with icy blue, mirror-resembling lakes. Cloud obstructions stamp the expanse with black patches.

“Mount Snow,” according to its self-description, “offers long cruisers, black diamonds, and technical tree terrain. The ski area is home to eight free-style terrain parks and a super-pipe. (It) offers 12 lifts to access the varying terrain… Advanced skiers and riders will enjoy the 12 trails and two lifts on the North Face. On sunny days, the South Face of the mountain called Sunbrook features ten trails serviced by two lifts with great open-trail skiing and riding.”

Accommodations include the slopeside Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Snow Lake Lodge, a less expensive alternative on its namesaked lake. Complimentary shuttles take skiers to the mountain in season.

7. Bennington:

Bennington, on the western end of the Molly Stark Trail, is particularly rich in sights.

Awarded a town grant after it was chartered by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth in 1749, it experienced initial growth when soil and hands, of the original 20 settlers, transformed the area from ground to town, by means of hand-hewn logs and hand-ground corn, while mechanization took form as grain mills on the east side of the Walloomsac River and sawmills on the west, facilitating the population swell, to 1,500, only four years after the settlement was established.

Nail cutting forges, foundries, blast furnaces, blacksmiths, and tanneries augmented this expansion.

Today, a drive past the town on Route 9/Molly Stark Trail leads to several important attractions. The Bennington Museum is the first of them.

Incorporated in 1852 as the Bennington Historical Association, which itself was founded to commemorate the pivotal battle that raged a few miles across the New York state line, it is one of Vermont’s few accredited museums, whose missions is to “showcase and model the creativity of Vermont in all its forms and throughout its history, as well as serve as a venue for visual and performing arts that enrich our community and our world.”

Even the building that houses it is of historical importance. Constructed of native stone and originally serving as the first St. Francis De Salas catholic church between 1855 and 1892, it was acquired by the Bennington Historical Museum in 1928. Subsequent expansions and intermittent name changes resulted in the present Bennington Museum, the largest art and history repository in Southern Vermont with diverse collections from the early-18th century period to modern times. It features the most extensive public collection of paintings by American folk artist Grandma Moses.

Thirteen continuous and changing exhibitions have included “Gilded Age Vermont Reflects the Industrial Boom,” “Bennington Modernism,” “Works on Paper,” and “Regional Artist Gallery.”

The town, in many ways, was defined by the brief Bennington Battle that can be interpreted at the next attraction, the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site, only a short drive away on Route 9.

Numerous, diverse reasons and circumstances have lit the spark of war throughout history. Supplies, or at least the pressing need for them, precipitated this one.

By the end of July 1777, the British invasion of New York, intended for the purpose of regaining control and led by General John Burgoyne, had reached Fort Edward, east of Glens Falls. But the flow of necessary staples from Canada that would ensure the movement’s advance through the Mohawk Valley and down to New York City, including draft animals, wagons, and beef, had been reduced to a trickle.

Because intelligence advised Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum that Bennington-located storehouses were ill-protected, he elected to redirect his garrison to Vermont and New Hampshire instead. But Vermont’s Council of Safety, receiving word of his pending onslaught, solicited aid from Vermont troops under Seth Warner and some 1,500 New Hampshire men under John Stark.

Threshold to the confrontation was a hill overlooking the Walloomsac River, five miles from Bennington and not in Vermont, to which Stark sent defensive forces on August 16, 1777, two days after the British had reached it.

Although initial musket fire prompted the immediate surrender of Indians, Canadians, and Tories, the British themselves held their ground and a two-hour clash with the Americans, which Stark later described as “one continuous clap of thunder,” resulted in the capture of the hill and the death of Baum. When the last puff of gun power dissipated, 200 British had perished and 700 had been captured, as opposed to the 40 Americans killed and the 30 wounded.

The Bennington Battle monument, located at the supply storage site and the state’s tallest structure, had its origins in 1873, when the Vermont General Assembly established the Bennington Battle Monument Association, itself an extension of the Bennington Historical Society, with $112,000 for land and the actual structure raised by private citizens, the three states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and Congress.

Designed by Boston architect John Phillipp Rinn and dedicated in 1891, the resulting monolith, constructed of blue-gray magnesian limestone quarried from Hudson Falls, New York, rises 306 feet, 4.5 inches from a 37-square-foot base and is elevator accessible to an observation level, whose 20 11-foot slotted openings afford views of three states. Guided tours up the 421 steps are also periodically offered.

Tickets are purchasable from the gift shop, which occupies the precise site of the original storehouse, goal and catalyst of the battle, while a smaller monument honors Seth Warner, commander of the Green Mountain Boys who helped defeat the British during the second engagement.

Another important Bennington sight is the nearby Old First Church.

Influenced by the “great awakening” in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, local separatists first gathered on its site on December 3, 1762 in a rudimentary pine structure on what is today the green in front of the church and the village’s center.

Constructed in 1805 by architect Lavius Filmore, cousin of the nation’s 13th president, the church itself, of Colonial architecture, features full pine tree trunks hand-planned into columns, wooden block exterior corner decorations that resemble the stone ones used by their European counterparts, and both lower and upper pews, the latter for visitors and young parishioners.

After a 1937 renovation, which restored the box pews and the high pulpit, poet Robert Frost read “The Black Cottage” during the rededication ceremony, although a second, more extensive project, undertaken between 1994 and 1999, added the exterior’s present white and gray coat of paint. The interior was also replastered and attention was given to the marble steps, the basement beams, the roof, and the bell tower.

Although Frost was not himself a member, he purchased two family burial plots in the adjacent cemetery, where he is interred, along with 75 Revolutionary War patriots.

Art can be appreciated in Bennington in the Bennington Center for the Arts, located a short distance from the Old First Church and built by local philanthropist Bruce Laumeister and his wife, Elizabeth Small, in 1994, initially to display pieces from their own collection. Since, it otherwise achieves its goal of bringing world-class art to residents and visitors of New England.

Paintings and bronzes of and by Native Americans, along with Navajo rugs, pots, and kachina dolls, have yielded, from its earliest days, to an increasing number of notable exhibits in the expanding, multiple-gallery venue, including those from the Society of Animal Artists, the Plein Air Painters of America, the American Watercolor Society, the New England Watercolor Society, the Allied Artists of America, the American Academy of Women Artists, the Pastel Society of America, and Arts for the Parks. It is the only East Coast museum to have hosted the California Art Club.

Connected to the center is the brightly red painted Covered Bridges Museum, which was completed in 2003 and is the world’s first such venue dedicated to their preservation, understanding, and interpretation. They are, in essence, Vermont itself.

Exhibits focus on their design, engineering, construction, and history, and are augmented by films, computer work stations that enable the visitor to explore their building techniques, and a working model railroad layout depicting area covered bridges.

Connecting riverbanks and offering suspended passage for pedestrians, bicycles, horses, carriages, and motorized vehicles, they provide, according to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a “brief darkness leading from the light to light.”

The real thing, as everywhere in Vermont, is not far from the museum. A northerly drive on Route 7, followed by left turns on to Northside Drive (which itself becomes 67A West) and Silk Road, leads to the 88-foot-long Silk Bridge, which spans the Walloomsac River.

After another left turn on to Murphy Road and a two-mile drive, the Paper Mill Village Bridge appears, a town lattice truss design, although it is a 2000 replacement for the original built by Charles F. Sears in 1889.

Finally, the Henry Bridge, located 1.3 miles further ahead of the intersection of Murphy and River roads, is another reconstruction, built in 1989 to replace the original hailing from 1840.

8. Shraftsbury:

A glimpse into a poet’s life can be experienced in the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, built in 1769 of stone and timer and located on a seven-acre parcel of land in South Shraftsbury (Route 7’s Exit 2).

A literary landmark, it was the home Frost lived in from 1920 to 1929 and in which he penned poems for his first Pulitzer Prize winning book, “New Hampshire,” including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” ironically written at his dining room table on a hot June 1922 morning after he had been awake all night, working on a different project. An entire room is devoted to this effort.

“The ‘Stopping by Woods’ room,” according to the museum’s guide, “is (entirely) devoted to this poem-the story of how it was written, a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript, a controversial comma, presentation of meter and rhyme, what the critics said about the poem, and what Frost said about it. An example of extreme poetic craftsmanship, this beloved poem is one of the central poetic achievements of American literature.”

Because the surroundings remain virtually unchanged since Frost lived there-from the birch and apple trees, fields, woods, stone walls, and the timbered barn to the red pine trees he himself planted-the visitor can absorb his inspiration.



Source by Robert Waldvogel

The Friends of Tony Veranis

If edgy and nourish crime is your thing, then the short and violent lives of Boston boxer Anthony "Tony" Veranis and his friends just might fill the bill. Veranis was a tough Dorchester, Massachusetts kid who was born in 1938 to first generation Italian immigrants from Sardinia. Tony was in and out of trouble for most of his short life, as he alternated between professional boxing and low-level crime. He had "Tony" tattooed on the fingers of one hand and "Luck" tattooed on the other, but he did not have much of the latter.

Labeled a "persistent delinquent," Tony was incarcerated in 1950 at Lyman Correctional School for Boys in Westborough, 30 miles west of Boston. It was the first reform school in the United States and it was where he was anonymously involved in the Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency (UJD) study conducted by Harvard University professors in an effort to discover the causes of juvenile delinquency and assess the overall effectiveness of correctional treatment in controlling criminal careers. If the study led to any positive results, Tony was clearly not included in the academic largess.

While at Lyman, Tony joined the school's boxing team, and after being spotted by the savvy and acclaimed Boston fight trainer Clem Crowley, he began fighting as an amateur. Tony's amateur career culinated when he won the Massachusetts State Amateur Welterweight Title in 1956. That same year, at age 18, Veranis turned professional in Portland, Maine under the alias "Mickey White" and won his first pro bout with a fifth round TKO over one Al Pepin. Tony then launched an astounding run of victories, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tony often sparred with Joe "The Baron" Barboza, Eddie "Bulldog" Connors, Jimmy Connors (Eddie's brother), Rocco "Rocky" DiSiglio, George Holden, and Americo "Rico" Sacramone. Southie's Tommy Sullivan also found his way into this mix. The thing about these guys was that in addition to being well known Boston area boxers, each was brutally murdered between 1966 and 1976.

Joe Barboza (1932-1976)

"The Baron" was his boxing moniker and he ran up a modest record of 8-5 before taking on a far more lucrative and violent line of work. It was once rumored that a sparring mate had done a number on Joe, and The Baron responded by grabbing a gun out of his locker and chasing the pug out of the gym and down the street.
Joe would later assume other nicknames like "The Animal" and "The Wild Thing," as he became one of the most feared and wicked hit men of his era. He dreamed of becoming the first Portuguese-American inducted into La Cosa Nostra, but never was because he was not of Italian extraction. Fact is, LCR members called him derogatory names-but always, of course, behind his back.

Employed by the Patriarca crime family of Providence, Rhode Island, Barboza, while operating out of East Boston, allegedly murdered between seven and 26 victims, depending on different sources, but given his methodologies and the amount of fear he generated it's safe to err on the higher side.

Occasionally, Barboza flipped and would become the "Joe Valachi" (aka snitch) of the New England Mafia. The circumstances leading up to that eventuality are grist for a lengthy and intriguing tale featuring, among other sordid elements, corruption, deception, triple-crosses, murder, false imprimementment, and the worse scandal in FBI history. Suffice it to say that his testimony helped change the criminal landscape in Boston. For his reward, there was nothing a grateful FBI would not do, so Joe became the first man in the Witness Protection Program and was sent to Santa Rosa, California, but he soon reverted to form and killed one Clay Wilson for which he served only five years. Upon his release and using the name Joe Donali, he was resettle to San Francisco, but the LCN rarely kills or gives up, and Joe was soon killed by four shotgun blasts in 1976. The hit was reputedly carried out by the bespectacled Mafia captain, Joseph "JR" Russo.

Joe Barboza was a complex individual who violent life story begged for a book to be written-and it was by crime author Hank Messick. Titled Barboza, it is difficult, if not impossible to find, but is as compelling a true crime story as you could imagine-and if you're a boxing fan, all the better.

Tommy Sullivan (1922-1957)

Irish Tommy, as he was known in South Boston, may have been the best boxer of the bunch as he finished with a 21-2-0-1 mark. Tommy went undefeated in his first 17 pro outings until he lost to Al Priest (25-1) in 1946 and then again in 1947 when Priest was 33-2. Among Sullivan's victims were Eddie Boden (18-0-1), Coley Welch (90-16-5) and "Mad Anthony" Jones (41-13-4) who Tommy stopped twice. Fighting before monster crowds of up to 13,000 customers, Sullivan engaged in a number of "" savage brawls "that are still talked about by Boston area aficionados.They include his brutal beats of John Henry Eskew and George Kochan. back after he had been dropped and snatched victory from actor defeat with a "hurricane attack" in the style of later warriors Danny "Little Red" Lopez and Arturo Gatti. Boston fans loved him for the excitement he brought to the ring.

In January 1949, his reliably brief professional boxing career inexplicitely ended and he began working as a longshoreman at Boston Harbor. While at the docks, he stuck up friendly relations with fellow-longshoremen Thomas J. Ballou Jr. (barroom brawler extraordinaire) and the more infamous Barboza. According to author Howie Carr, Ballou had an unusual style of fighting. It seems he always carried a grappling hook and a $ 100 bill. If Ballou wanted to attack someone, he'd throw the $ 100 dollar bill on the ground. The unsuspecting and greedy adversary would bend over to grab it, and then Tommy would plunge the grappling hook into the guy's back.

Tommy resented gang leader George McLaughlin of Charlestown who had attempted to extort money from one of Tommy's close friends. For the record, the famous Boston Irish Gang War started in 1961 and lasted until 1967. It was cooked between the McLaughlin Gang of Charlestown and the Winter Hill Gang of Somerville led by James "Buddy" McLean, but that's another long and violent story for another day.

Sullivan made the strategic error of getting into a vicious barroom brawl with Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin and proceeded to give McLaughlin, also an ex-boxer, a wicked bead that could not possibly have been duplicated in Hollywood. Beginning in a bar and then moving outside into the street, the two went at each other on reasonably even terms until McLaughlin finally could take no more punishment and roled under a parked car to escape. But Sullivan, the enraged Southie native, wanted more and he lived up one end of the car and propped one of the wheels up on the curve allowing him to get at McLaughlin so that he could continue the beatdown. The throng of onlookers, including Barboza, was amazed at this feat of adrenalized strength that would have made a Hollywood stuntman blink.

Deadly payback was swift in coming. Two weeks later, Tommy was called to the side of a car that was idling in the street near his East Fifth Street home and he was promptly shot five times. Seven years later in1965, Sullivan's brawling foe, McLaughlin, shot nine times at a West Roxbury bus stop. Some suspected Barboza as the triggerman for this execution.

Although he was never put under serious scrutiny for criminal activity, many viewed Tommy inside the context of where there is smoke, there supposedly must be fire

Rocco DiSiglio (1939-1966)

This former Newton welterweight with a modest record was found shot to death in 1966. Before he turned professional, he trained and / or spared with Veranis, Barboza, Eddie Connors, Sacramone, George Holden, Tom Sullivan, and the legendary Joe DeNucci. He was also a criminal associate of Barboza and Joe would later lead police to the site of Rocky's corpse in Danvers. It was believed that Rocky was murdered by the mob for sticking up their dice and card games, most of which were overseen by Gennaro Angiulo, the feared gambling czar for the Patriarca crime family.

In retaliation for his brazen, maverick, and foolhardy action, DiSiglio was set up in a Machiavellian-like scheme and historically shot to death in the driver's seat of his Thunderbird by the same men with what he had robbed the card games. He was hit three times at close range with one bullet reportedly teasing off part of his face and another going through his head and out an eye socket. His two killers were later killed at different times as more loose ends were tied. The entire affair had about it the foul stench of the North End's Angiulo, and further enraged Rocky's friend, Joe Barboza, who soon would turn stool pigeon against the LCR.

Meanwhile, still another of Tony Veranis's friends had died a violent death at a young age.

George Holden (1948-1973)

George, known as "Medford Irisher," mostly out of Portland, Maine as a heavyweight and chalked up a less-than-glorious record of 14-26-3. He went 9-3-3 in his first 15, but then the losses came in bunches and he would lose nine of his last 10. In his last bout against Jimmy McDermott (51-15-3), Holden disgraced himself by showing up drunk for which he was definitely suspended. He never again again.
Like DiSiglio, little is known about Holden's personal life except that he was a low level operative in organized crime. Holden trained with the usual suspects and met a similar fate. On August 23, 1973, his body was found washed up along the mucky shoreline of the Mystic River in Charlestown, Mass. He had been executed gangland style with a gunshot to the head. George was 25 years old. His killers were never found. Holden's murder was the 82nd homicide in the city of Boston in 1973.
Eddie Connors (1933-1975)

As a youth, Connors was a regular at the L Street Curley Gym and Bathhouse located in South Boston (ie Southie) where future gang leaders Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, James "Whitey" Bulger, and Frank "Cadillac Frank" Salemme hung out .

Eddie, nicknamed "Bulldog," was a respected heavy-handed middleweight who cooked like a bulldog during the '50s and ran up a slate of 22-7-1 with 18 KOs against tough opposition. His last three fights-all loses by decision-were against Willie Green (27-4), Joe DeNucci (20-2 coming in), and former world champion Tony DeMarco (55-11-1). He also held the very capable George Monroe (39-13-3) to a draw. His brother James Connors (not to be confused with Jimmy Connors who thought out of New Bedford from 1957 to 1963 and who was trained by Clem Crowley) cooked between 1959 and 1961 and retired with a 13-0-1 record.

Eddie would later use his boxing experience to handle drunk and disorderly customers in his notorious Bulldog Tavern in the edgy Savin Hill area of ​​Dorchester where he acted as both bartender and fearsome bouncer, and which he also used as his criminal headquarters for illegal gambling, drug dealing, loan sharking, and planned armed robberies with his associates.

Later, because Connors was bragging too much about a murder he had helped orchestrate (of one James "Spike" O'Toole), the Bulldog had become a dangerous loose end. As such, he was set up for an ambush in Dorchester. When Eddie arrived at a service station on Morrissey Blvd. On June 12, 1975, to make a pre-arranged phone call, a young Whitey Bulger, John "The Basin Street Butcher" Martorano, and Stephen Flemmi were waiting armed to the teeth. Connors was nearly cut in half in the phone booth by the hail of heavy artillery and the loose end was tied. Curiously, the deadly Martorano was the one who had machine gunned O'Toole in 1973.

Americo Sacramone (1937-1976)

When he finished his brief boxing career with a 5-1 record, Rico, from Everett, entered the racks as member of Boston's Winter Hill Gang. After being wounded in the hit on Buddy McLean in 1965, Rico went back to prison on a parole violation. In 1976, he was gunned down this time for good by parties unknown.
During his boxing days, Sacramone would often spar with the great Joe DeNucci (54-15-4), who later became the longstanding State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Tommy Tibbs (1934-1975)

While probably not a friend of Tony Veranis, Tommy (60-74-4) did fight George Monroe three times in 1953-and just about everyone else including Willie Pep what he beat in 1958-and since then Monroe brought it back to a draw against Eddie Connors in 1955, at least the possibility of a dotted line connection exists. Monroe was from Worcester and Tibbs made his residence in Boston. However, where Tommy warrants an honorable mention is the fact that he was shot and killed in a dispute in a Roxbury bar in 1975-one of the seminal years of living dangerously in Boston.

Back to Tony (1938-1966)

Meanwhile, after beating Al Pepin in his pro debut, Veranis continued his attention-grabbing run as a professional. He was described as "one tough SOB; a Wildman who was brave in the ring." Other said he was well-trained and "a great prospect and that his boxing style was one of a slugger."

In 1957, Tony fought an astonishing 26 times (the majority at the Rollway Arena in Revere). Tony's best win may have been on December 3, 1957, when he stopped-and retired-the talented Bobby Murphy (19-3-1). Bobby, a former USA New England welterweight titleholder, had impressive wins over Vic Cardell (65-25-7), Fitzie Pruden (50-21), Rocky Sullivan (66-43-12) and Jackie O'Brien (65-17) -9), as well as a draw with top contender Chico Vejar (63-5-1). A win over Murphy mean something.

Tony's last fight in 1957 was against rugged Barry Allison on December 17 against whom he deserved to an admirable draw. Allison (40-19-2) was at the center of New England boxing during the 1950s but was never able to reach world championship level though many think he should have gotten the nod against Johnny Saxon in 1958. As for Tony, he slaughtered Silby Ford in a bloody encounter in February 1958, one that had blood-splattered ringsiders aghast as Silby's teeth and mouthpiece were knocked out. This moved Tony's record to 25-0-2 before dropping back-to-back fights to Allison in a rematch for Allison's USA New England middleweight title and to undefeated Joe Devlin at the Boston Garden.

Tony's loss to Allison was one in which he took a terrible beating and one that undeniably rendered him damaged goods going into the Devlin bout-not taking anything away from the Crafty Joe who himself retired undefeated. These two fights occurred within a 16-day span in March 1958. After his brutal knockout defeat to Devlin in which he was decked in every round, he was taken to Boston City Hospital in bad shape and remained in a coma before recovering some three month later. But his boxing days were over.

After boxing, Tony reportedly suffered from severe migraine headaches, nausea, temporary mood swings, and blackouts-maladies that were apparently not aimed and pointed to brain damage. When combined with heavy drinking and depression, this lethal mix could only spell major trouble for an ex-boxer. Tony was arrested for an unidentified crime on December 23, 1963, and sent to prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts.

While incarcerated he supposedly became an altar boy to serve at prison mass, prompting the prison chaplain Father John Fitzgerald to say, "He wanted to get straightened out, and I think he did. He constantly stopped in to see me … after he got out, and everything appeared to be all right. Some described him as a friendly and quiet guy who was the victim of circumstances beyond his control, but other saw him as a small-time hoodlum and mean drinker with a bad personality change who was more brawn than brain. Street lore and my own in-depth research clearly support the later depiction.

Tony soon found himself in debt to South Boston loan sharks and being overdue to such types was barely conducive to one's well being since examples had to be made. Tommy DePrisco, a Barboza associate, attempted to collect from Tony in a South Boston bar but was embarrassed, maybe even punched, and forced to leave as this was Tony's hangout. The Following night, John "The Basin Street Butcher" Martorano was at Billy O's tavern in Dorchester when Veranis braced him and reportedly slurred, "I'm Tony Veranis, you know who I am. ] I kicked him outta Southie with his tail between his legs, fuck him and fuck you, too. "

As Tony allegedly reached for his gun, the taller Butcher beat him to the punch and fired down into Tony's skull twice-blowing what was left of his already damaged brains all over the place. His body was dumped in the Blue Hills wooded area off Route 28 near where Milton and Dedham meet. He had $ 2.83 in his pocket. This was the end result when two former altar boys met up at the wrong time in the wrong place. One was 27, the other 26. Tony may have been tougher with his fists, but the Butcher was faster with his gun.

John Martorano: Last Man Standing

Many claimed credit for the hit on Tony Veranis and a few even suggested that Barboza was involved, but the most reliable accounting is that Martorano (also known as "The Executioner" among other aliases) was responsible. Early on, Martorano, who also was an altar boy, a good athlete, and well-educated in private schools, showed a marked prollivity for conflict resolution. He eventually became the chief enforcer for the Whitey Bulger gang running up an astounding tally of 20 confirmed hits (all carried out in a cold, detached, so-called "professional" manner).

One of John's familial Old World core values ​​was that of loyalty, and when he later learned that Bulger and Flemmi were FBI informants who leaked useful information, some of it even accusatory against John, he became enraged. The fact is, he flipped out and then proceeded to flip on the flippers, becoming a key government witness and in the process exposing the links between the Bulger gang and the FBI's Boston office. In return for his "cooperation" and confession to 20 murders, he served only 12 years and received $ 20,000 gate money upon his release. Said US Attorney Donald Stern, "The only thing worse than this deal was not doing this deal."

Of the murderers, Martorano incredibly and calmly stated, "I always felt like I was doing the right thing.

Today, while the mother of all rats, Whitey Bulger, spends the rest of his life in prison, John Martorano and Kevin Weeks (another deadly Bulger enforcer and righeous snitch who wrote the compelling "Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob, "are free to walk the streets of Quincy, Dorchester, and South Boston having done their time and having made their transactions. protected.

Red Shea

There was another ex-boxer, but he chose another, more difficult path. His name was John "Red" Shea and he traded an exceptionally promising boxing career for a more lucrative life as an important operative and enforcer for the Bulger gang. But the thing about Red was that when he was finally caught, he did not flip, but held fast to the Irish code of silence. The 47-year-old Red served out his 12 years in prison without ratting out and is now considered a rare man of honor in the Boston area. He went on to write the hot selling Rat Bastards: The Life and Times of South Boston's Most Honorable Irish Mobster. Red is now enjoying his freedom and the secrets of his life of crime most likely will be taken to the grave with him. His second book, A Kid from Southie has now been published amid solid reviews.

Joe DeNucci and Clem Crowley went on to live extremely respected and even celebrated lives, as did Joe Devlin, New Bedford's Jimmy Connors, and Barry Allison. However, Eddie Connors, Rocky DiSiglio, Rico Sacramone, Joe Barboza, George Holden, and Tommy Sullivan-all fighters in the Boston area who were connected to one another in one way or another-were each murdered at a young age.



Source by Theodore Sares

Love You More Written By Lisa Gardner

One of the best mystery stories I have read in some time-and, I read a lot of books! "Love You More" comes down to that very statement when a Massachusetts State Trooper, Tessa Leoni, has made that decision between her young daughter, her husband, and a long-time friend from the State Troopers, and must make that decision in a matter of moments. The story is told through her, Tessa Leoni, when her husband is found murdered in their home, their daughter, Sophie, gone with no signs as to where she was, and a strange crime scene full of blood. Boston Sergeant Detective DD Warren was on the job for this one thanks to a phone call from an ex-boyfriend, Massachusetts State Police Detective Bobby Dodge. When it was decided that the state police and the Boston police work together on this one, they started opening doors to all sorts of questions, possibilities, actions-good and bad, and former and present associates of the Leoni family. DD was in charge of the investigation.

DD had a boyfriend, Alex, who she was quite serious with and visa-versa but with this huge crime case they did not get to see each other much. This case put DD and Bobby in close contact. They were used to working together from past years and jelled together well. The theory and the evidence showed that Tessa had killed her husband and daughter and hid her daughter somewhere. She insured she did not kill her daughter. Tessa's husband was a merchant seaman and would ship out eight weeks at a time, then return home for several weeks until the next orders came. Sometimes Brian's temper would make him unload on anyone around him including Tessa. But love creates strange bedfellows as it did when Tessa agree to Brian's marriage proposal.

Tessa told the investigators that she had killed Brian and then left the scene to search for her daughter. Tessa was battered and bruised and had lost much blood but she was still alert enough to know what she was saying and what she had done but she would not give any information other than she had killed her husband. Even though DD was the main detective on the case she worked closely and well with other investigative officers from Boston and the state force. All they wanted was the truth-except for anyone that might have been involved in the murder and missing girl. They wanted anything but the truth.

DD and Bobby did not know how much to believe of what Tessa was saying or admitting to or how much of the evidence was in fact the truth or changed to make things appear as they were not. They tracked down all they could find from friends, present and former, neighbors, locations thought pertinent, and even to other law enforcement officers with past associations to Tessa. The story moves very well with great twists and turns, most of which you will not see coming. Lisa Gardner has a winner again in this book. I highly recommend it and I will not give nay of the plots away so you are surprised as you read through them.



Source by Cy Hilterman