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SUMMER of ‘66 By Francis M. Mulligan, Esquire

I gave up my full time job at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for law school. Temple University’s job placement office found me a spot for the summer between 1L and 2L. They had very few legal spots. They placed me at the Germantown Settlement House (GSH). Don’t look it up. They liquidated the establishment years ago. Like so much of Philadelphia, Germantown had been going through changes. It wasn’t a German town in 1966. Parts of the white establishment still resided in mixed race neighborhoods. Kevin Bacon’s father, Ed, couldn’t leave. He ran the Philadelphia Planning Commission. When I worked at the Redevelopment Authority a Germantown Project existed — mainly sprucing-up a section of the city that needed an infusion of federal money. I’m still not sure why they hired me. Maybe, to tell a story about events that recently flooded my consciousness. Concern about grandchildren. There’s a reason no one bullied me. I had forgot about it until my brother Jack told stories about me at my daughter’s wedding. I rarely lost a fistfight, and, as a child, I had a lot of fights. In the summer of ‘66, Sam Bratton, one of the executives at GHS, told me about a Germantown High school boy who used the Settlement House as a way station. He had been chased most of the summer by a gang of neighborhood boys. Sam explained the boy’s problem. A gay boy who spent the summer outrunning the neighborhood boys. When he ran to the GSH to escape his pursuers, he had been asked if he wanted police protection. He didn’t. He’d figure out a way to level the playing field. Up to this point in his life his foot speed protected him. The executive at the Settlement House gave me the boy’s name in case he dropped by when I minded the store. It happened one time. The boy asked to speak with me. It wasn’t a long conversation. “Are you gay?” That’s how the conversation began. I asked why he asked. He told me that I was old and not married. Someone at the Settlement House told him that. My answer disappointed him. He asked, “Why aren’t you married?” I told him. “I want to finish law school without entangling alliances.” I disappointed him. He was looking for someone to help him on his life’s journey. When I told him I wasn’t gay, he had no further interest in me. I knew that sooner rather than later he’d be grabbed by the ones chasing him. Summer ended and law school and law review took over. I didn’t like the demands the editors of the law review placed on 30 | Berks Barrister

me. In mid-September I began my days at the Linton’s across the street from the former synagogue that served as the law school. Someone left the Philadelphia Inquirer on the counter. I think the headline read, TEEN AGE BOY MURDERS PURSUERS. When I saw the boy’s name, I kept reading. It happened during an evening chase in Germantown. The boy who had outran his pursuers all summer ran into a dead-end alley. They had him for their sexual gratification at last. So, it seemed. He didn’t run into a dead-end alley by mistake. As his pursuers approached he picked up the shotgun he had hidden in the alley. He killed two of his pursuers. The gay boy came under the jurisdiction of juvenile authorities. I sat at the counter, and reread the article. No mention in the Inquirer article about what really happened. “Just the facts” as Joe Friday would say. As if the “facts” tell the story. I don’t know what happened to the boy. The Inquirer records can’t be easily accessed. The Germantown Settlement House records found a home at Temple University. My inquiries haven’t been answered. I emailed a writer who advertises himself as Gay, Black, and Old. He graduated from Germantown High in 1966. He didn’t respond to my inquiry. I won’t have the success I had after the Barrister published BACK AFTER LABOR DAY. Berks lawyer Kevin Feeney called me after reading it. Our conversation about the Papieves family [parents of the boy buried alongside the Darby Creek] helped me finish Swamp Boat — a novel that needed an ending. It doesn’t help that I forgot the boy’s name. With bullies once and awhile there comes an awakening. It didn’t happen for the two boys killed in the alley. Maybe, some of the pursuers who weren’t gunned down learned a lesson that night. Mr. Mulligan is a past president of the Berks County Bar Association, frequent contributor to The Berks Barrister, and whose latest book, Swamp Boat, is on sale at Amazon.com.

The Berks Barrister | Summer 2016  

The Berks Barrister is the official publication of the Berks County Bar Association. www.berksbar.org. The Berks Barrister is published by H...

The Berks Barrister | Summer 2016  

The Berks Barrister is the official publication of the Berks County Bar Association. www.berksbar.org. The Berks Barrister is published by H...