"Prosperity always inflates the imprudent, and worldly peace weakens the vigor of the soul." - Peter Abelard

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mobsters And Losters: Wellesley Duo Launches New Boston Trolley Tour

This story was originally published in the August 18th issue of The Wellesley Townsman.

Tour guide Tom Collins with the trolley. Courtesy photo.
WELLESLEY, Mass. - - Wellesley residents Marcia Weaver and Jack Keating have what seems to be one of those meant-to-be business partnerships, but it took sheer coincidence to bring them together.

The two became friends when their paths serendipitously crossed at South Station. Jack, a locomotive engineer for Amtrak, and Marcia, an entrepreneur with a concierge business at the station, realized they had something important in common.

Keating, who grew up in hardscrabble South Boston in the late 50s and early 60s, had a plethora of gangster stories from his childhood. Marcia was a published author with a passion for stories about Boston’s underbelly.

The two immediately saw the potential for combining their skills. Their first venture, the “Mobsters and Lobsters Trolley Tour,” launches on Aug. 18.

“We tell about 16 stories over the course of a few hours,” said Weaver. “They take place all over the city, and people will get to see the places where a lot of these things happened; the Boston Strangler, Whitey Bulger, Sacco and Vanzetti, the jewel heist at the Parker House Hotel, all that good stuff.”

The trolley, which seats 40 and is chartered from City View Trolley Tours, departs from the waterfront Boston Aquarium. The tour ends with an Italian seafood dinner and wine tasting at the Venezia Waterfront Restaurant and Boston Winery in coastal Dorchester (thus the “lobsters” in the title).

Tom Collins, another South Boston native, will lead the tours. “He’s worked on a lot of the Boston-made movies, and he has an appropriately gritty persona,” said Weaver.

Weaver wrote the script used for the tour over nearly three years, consulting with Keating frequently about his firsthand stories.

“Marcia tells me that I’m her inspiration, growing up in Southie,” said Keating in a textbook Irish Boston accent. “That was a wild time to grow up. The gangsters were who you looked up to.”

Keating started shining gangsters’ shoes in bars on Friday and Saturday nights at the tender age of 12. A couple of topsy-turvy years later, he remembers a Boston judge telling him, “Go find somebody in armed forces that’ll take you, or I will.” Jack served in the Navy for 4 years, and put his former life of crime well behind him. Many of his childhood friends, however, ended up running with Whitey Bulger.

“My mother knew Whitey, and thought he was a gentleman and a wonderful man. He was brilliant, and really could have done anything with his life,” said Keating. “It’s sad that he chose the evil side, and I just can’t glorify that kind of criminality.”

A portion of every ticket sold for the tour will go to the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, an organization that works to decrease violence in Boston.

 “I would say that most of the events that I’ve planned in my life, I’ve tried to do them with a social conscience. It’s good to be helping other people when you’re having a good time,” said Weaver.

Weaver said the tours will run approximately once a week, and that scheduling will be based on demand, which is still an unknown.

“I think there are always interesting stories about the places we live that we don’t really know about. A lot of people don’t know about this stuff about Boston. It was kind of a wild time in Boston, and it’s really amazing how it all turned out,” said Weaver.


The inaugural “Mobsters and Lobsters” Boston trolley tour departs from the Boston Aquarium at 6:30 pm on Aug. 18. The cost of the tour is $99, which includes the price of dinner and wine tasting. For reservations and questions, call (617) 274-4715.

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