NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 1, 2014

Playing pranks on the 'Sunshine Boys'

Well, what da ya know? It’s July, and now I can peel off my long underwear. The Red Sox are not a fun team to watch, but we die-hards hope for the best. Our 57th Yankee Homecoming celebration will kick off the end of the month, with seasoned veteran volunteer Mike Volpone at the helm. Good luck, Mike!

Staying with the 250th history, in addition to events, people also played a role in history, including our “Sunshine Boys.” Who were they, and where’s the connection? Retired firefighter Larry Bograd asked me, on several occasions, to do a story, so here goes, Larry.

The Sunshine Boys were local retired fathers who, on a regular basis, walked downtown and got their morning paper at Fowle’s News. I’ll just give you their first names, as some member of the family might get mad and attack me in my fragile condition. There were two Freds, two Johns, one Mike and, on some occasions, Dave, another Mike and Warren. After purchasing their morning paper, they headed to the corner of State and Pleasant streets to catch the morning sun and swap stories that included pranks.

In turn, they would pass the story onto a passer-by, and in lots of cases, it spread like wildfire. Let me give you an example! I dropped by one fine day in the ‘70s and told the boys that the contractor doing all the brickwork and roads, as part of the restoration, was going on strike and it would last a year. They promised me they would keep it a secret, but by noon, just about everyone had heard the news, which, by the way, was a prank. Mayor Byron Mathews heard it, called me to City Hall and accused me of planting the prank. Of course, being a good Christian, I denied it and still do.

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