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South Boston Unwrapped:

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 Rite Aid
  • 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….… 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 actually kicked a can.
  • A Runner: Someone old enough to buy underage kids alcohol from a local 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.
  • Spuckie: A sub sandwich.  "My mom left me spuckie money so I'm going to H&5th to get a tuna spuckie."
  • The greeny: The strip of green grass between Day Boulevard and Columbia Road.  "Grab a couple of lounge chairs and let's get some sun on the greeny."

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

  • The Tynan
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
  7 – 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.)
9th street
  • The Old Harbor Projects

(Always say the letter before the number as in L & 8th - Never 8th & L)

Painting entititled "Southie Street Corner"  by Paula Villanova


Roger's picture

Haha, I'm from South Boston too, but I gotta tell you that I didn't know everything listed above! I remember giving my bottle of jojoba oil when my mate said "give me some tonic"!

Linda (Aldsworth) Taylor's picture

your page brings back so many memories....I was born on 2nd st,went to St. bridgits. and then to Oliver Hazard Perry in the early 60s....would love to connect with people from that error.....

George's picture

You forgot the boat house that was recently torn down to put up that burger place. I know I grew up with that place but i don't know how old it has been there.

josh's picture

Hey everyone.....Im from the Midwest and I have a question for anyone who would wanna answer. I WAS wondering if any of the movies depicting Southie ever did a semi accurate job. I know people in Boston do not like how they are portrayed in movies but i was wondering if there was a movie you guys respected for the way it depicted Southie.

Also I just wanna address something. I know you guys get tired of all the folklore and stigma that comes with being from such a famous neighborhood, and I think I can tell you why people are so intruiged by it. It is because the idea of a dangerous white neighborhood is baffling to most people in America.

I mean Im from the midwest and I have never seen a tough white neighborhood anywhere. Ive seen bad hoods that are a mix of races including white.....but I have never seen a predominantly white neighborhood thats rough. Neither has most anyone else in America lol. Im pretty sure that Boston and New York are the only places in America with tough white neighborhoods . Anyway thats why I think people are intruiged with Southie.....because outside of the east coast, rough white hoods just dont exsist. But back to my question is there a movie or a documentary I can watch that gives an accurate portral of Southie?

Stacey's picture

Good Will Hunting did a good job. I'd say that Southie is pretty much like any neighborhood really. Most of us are normal everyday people with a handful of dirtbags thrown in to keep everyone on their toes. If you're from around here, you know the areas to avoid at night (and some during the day too) but aside from those few spots I feel perfectly comfortable walking around at any time of day or night. If you're looking for trouble you'll find it, if not then the odds of trouble finding you are pretty much the same or less here as anywhere else in the city.

barbara gatto's picture


Tommy's picture

Wow you taught me , I never got the obsession with southie . But you explained it. NO movie ever will .. All the reality shows are disgusting

City Point Kid's picture

I grew up in Southie during the 80's and 90's - at the tail end of its hayday. My parents grew up there as well, so my roots in the neighborhood are authentic. I was kid who played and hung out on one of those "corner crews" listed above, but I'll leave out which specific one it was. I will tell you that I grew up in "The Point", which is also described above. 

I was a film major in college, so I have an additional, particular interest in how my neighborhood and city are depicted on screen. I can tell you that no film has really ever taken the time to truly depict what it meant to grow up in Boston, and especially South Boston. No film has ever truly grasped the essence of what it meant to be a part of my neighborhood. This whole hard-knocks, tough-guy, badass, Irish gangster stuff you see in the film and television depictions of Southie are really the most ridiculous glorifications ever in the history of that industry. (I will agree with another commenter though and say the closest anybody ever came was in Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did a pretty good job in writing the personality of a fair population of Southie kids into fictional characters, despite the fact that they are from a completely different city.)

Southie certainly is a unique place. Or it was, at least - things have changed there. But what I would stress is that the "rough neighborhood" you've been led to believe was reality, isn't quite as realistic.

The truth is that we were city kids. I stress those last two words. City kids, in a blue collar neighborhood. Not much different than the kids who grew up in other cities around the country.  We possessed a certain personality that suburban kids lacked. We were confident, even when it was around authority, but not in a snobby way. We were quick witted - although there were obviously a fair share of morons around. And we were all pretty god damn funny. 

And before older people from Southie start knocking my depiction, I understand that before my time, people like White Bulger existed. I get it. But let us remind the world that mobsters during the 70's and 80's were a New England problem. Not a Southie problem. So I stand by what I have to say. 

Linda Taylor's picture

with 4 kids in my family and money tight my mother use to love to go to the ...Morgan Memorial building.....I think it was like 3 floors of second hand stuff and cloths....


Dee's picture

Kennedy's, where you could buy as much fresh butter or peanut butter as you wanted..........and Kostiks Deli at I and Broadway..a genuine Jewish deli for the best sandwiches.  The corner drugstores, at I and Broadway (Caspers) and H and Broadway (forgot the name!) where they sold "grasshoppers" or "vanilla Cokes" at the soda fountain and of course, Helen's Bakery where all their stuff was good.

Jane Finn 's picture

Remember Taylor's market at E and Broadway? Ohara's meat market on Broadway between E and F street, the Lit club, Rosenguards clinic , the Library use to be next to the clinic. Maryann's restaurant at F and Broadway. The Elite, the donut shop, the South Boston Bank, Supreme Market, Grants dept. store. So many memories

Walt's picture

I am trying to find out Joe the Butcher' last name. He worked near the Lituanian Club either at Taylor's market or O'Hara's meat market in 1957. I know he was Jewish. Any contact information would be appreciated. Contact me at or call me at 917-696-6587. Thank you

milo's picture

The smell of the coffee and tea in Kennedy's is in my memory. As a kid, I used to stop in just to inhale it.

milo 's picture

There was a yard with a pear tree in it in pie alley. I couldn't resist it. I snuck in a couple of times after dark and took a couple of pears. They cost 5 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Mary's.

Amy L Conley's picture

I remeber all of this, but I wanted to add one more. Do you remember Morrows Discount Toy Store located on West Broadway and if I remember right W. Broadway & E street. They would watch you like a hawk so you wouldn't shop lift.

Amy L Conley's picture

I remember all of this, but there is one I would like to add. Do you remember Morrows Discount Toy Store on West Broadway and if I remember right W. Broadway & E street? They would watch you like a hawk so you wouldn't shop lift.

Barbiegirl's picture

Drug store @ H & Broadway was Cuddyer's, right next to Heken's Bajery which later became Klemm's and kets not forget Mae's Donut Shop @ I and 5th and the amazing Persians , also Adams' ato H & 5th..

barbara gatto's picture



Susan's picture

No one mentioned the "Blindie," aka the "orgie." I grew up across the street from that building on 4th between G and H, first nicknamed after the school where Annie Sullivan (Helen Keller's teacher) attended, and then became an organ factory. Still remember hearing them testing the organs. Now it's an apartment building but I'll always reference it as the Blindie!

Michael P. Morgan's picture

The family "homestead" was on Columbia Rd. and I never heard the term Greeny applied to the strip betwen Columbia Rd. and Day.  It was always called "the bushes", as in "I'm going to take the dog for a walk in the bushes."  Of course this was in the 40's and 50's, so terminology might have changed.


sikiş's picture

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Al Nasiatka's picture

Hi I was born in Southie. I lived in the Andrew Sq area. I lived on Harvest st but we called a dirt road from St. Margaret's to Mt. Vernon pie alley. There was a big rock in the middle we used as a ramp to jump our bikes off of and think we were Evil Kinevel.

pat lavey's picture

great article. morrows discount was on F and west bway, that was our lower end slocums. i didnt see anything on our southie bakeries. Greenfreedmans down on o.c. ave & how could you forget Argusis bakery on 8th street( best brownies in town) . do you remember the original southie BEST BUY. in was on the top of purity supreme market/Flanagans. my father bought me my first aluminum baseball bat there( a ron cey 27oz little league bat). gallaghers drug store on the corner of dorchester and 8th.

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