Winter Hill Reacts to Whitey Bulger's Capture
Some residents are still hesitant to talk about Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang. Some are glad he's caught. Others don't know who Bulger is.
Today, some people in Somerville's Winter Hill, home of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, are still reluctant to use their names when talking about captured gangster Whitey Bulger.
"I don't want to get involved," said a man at Winter Hill Liquor Mart, which is not far from the former Marshall Street headquarters of the Winter Hill Gang. "I thought he was dead."
His sentiments were echoed by Joe at Mamma Lisa's Pizzeria, which is around the corner from those former headquarters, Marshall Motors, which is now a church. "I'm surprised. I thought the Italians killed him years ago," he said. "I never thought he was alive, to be honest."
Like many people in Winter Hill today, Joe did not want to provide his last name. "At least they got him," he said, noting that Bulger used to go into Mamma Lisa's, which has been in business for 42 years.
People in the neighborhood old enough to remember don't like Whitey Bulger.
"Nobody liked him," said a man at Tony's Barber Shop, who also wouldn't provide his name.
"Ordinary people never had anything to do with any of this," said Tony, the barber, who lamented that Winter Hill has a bad reputation thanks to Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang Bulger was associated with.
In the national media, it's sometimes reported that the Winter Hill Gang comes from South Boston, which is not true. It was originally based in Somerville, and here in Somerville people remember not Whitey Bulger, but the gang's long-time leader Howie Winter—a coincidental last name—who helmed the gang from 1965 until 1979, when he was jailed for fixing horse races, among other things.
Some say Bulger, an FBI informant, provided information to put Winter in prison and then allegedly took over as the gang's leader once Winter was locked up.
Some people in Winter Hill see Bulger, now that he's captured, as getting what he deserved.
"If you want to play the game, you're gonna play the game … and there are consequences," said Peter Frazzoni, who grew up in Somerville. "He"—Bulger—"thought he was big," and as a result he drew attention to himself, said Frazzoni. "The smart ones are never seen."
At Winter Hill Bakery—a storefront on Broadway once occupied by the Winter Hill Gang's bar, Pal Joey's—Fred Donato said, "I'm glad that he was caught."
A woman named BeBe, who wouldn't give her last name, said, "It should've been years ago" and the arrest was "too little, too late."
Nearby, waiting for her bus on Broadway, Celia Valada said, "I'm happy about [the arrest]. It's been a long time."
Winter Hill was and is a neighborhood that attracts immigrants. Italian immigrants followed Irish immigrants into the neighborhood, and today some shops are run by immigrants from South Asia. Many don't even know who Whitey Bulger is.
As Jon Schiff, a real estate agent on Broadway, said, "I mention to people that I work right across the street [from Whitey Bulger's former headquarters], and some young people say, who's Whitey Bulger?"