10th Annual Brick Jungle Street Hockey Game
With Covid 19 delaying the 10TH Annual Brick Jungle in 2020 the friends and family of the Mystic Projects were able to get back to business on Saturday afternoon.
The game was started in 2011 as not only a game amongst old friends but a reunion that could bring everyone together outside rather than seeing each other at the next wake or funeral. Unfortunately, as time goes by and we all get older it seems like each year is dedicated to another person or persons who have passed in the previous year and this year was no different. In September of 2020, the Brick Jungle Family lost Linda Thomas a long-time resident of Somerville. On April 21, 2021 we lost an extremely important person who impacted the lives of many of the kids from the projects in the early 70’s and 80’s. Jim Cabana who was not only a resident of the projects but starting in the early 70’s took over all of the recreational sports leagues from Sister Judy to create the Jim Cabana League. Baseball, Basketball, Flag Football and of course Street Hockey were played seasonally, and Jim ran it all to ensure the kids were able to learn sports, teamwork, competition and fun. I remember how hard it was for the parents to afford Somerville Little League, which was $30 for a season, so many of the kids that grew up in public housing did not play City Sports. Hand me down skates, equipment and cleats was what we were used to, but Jim wanted better for us. Jim held fundraisers, car washes and whatever else it took to raise money so that the parents did not have to feel the burden of having their kids play organized sports. Jim refereed, umpired, coached, watched and sometimes even played to ensure the leagues continued for as long as they could. The reason that most of the men and women who are all in their late 40’s and 50’s that were there today playing street hockey was because of Jim Cabana without question. Both Linda and Jim were recognized at the start of the event and a moment of silence was given on their behalf.
As the day continued it is hard not to notice the unity and love that we all have for one another. It seems like when times get tough, we unite even stronger. Then you look up and see someone like Kellie Vye who in 2014 was given less than a year to live come around the corner with her huge smile and feisty attitude. This is a woman who has had a double mastectomy from breast cancer, a brain tumor removed, stage 4 liver cancer and a tumor on her spine and yet there she was reminding us all she did not care what the doctor told her. We were not just proud to be from the Brick Jungle but also proud to be from Somerville and in 2015 it was obvious why. Kellie had made one last wish to go to Mexico with her husband Pat and ride the horses on the beach. She created her own group me and after being stuck at $75 for a long time some friends took over and created Kellie’s Wish. The entire city of Somerville responded with a party of over 200 people at the Dante Club and in just 6 weeks raised over $12k and made Kellie’s Wish a reality. That love and support propelled Kellie from a final wish to an attitude of I am not done yet.
A short time later Kenny Medeiros also a longtime resident still today of Somerville arrived with his sisters and his feisty and determined mind set to want to walk again. Kenny survived cancer 20 years go and over the last few years has been in battle again, most recently with a tumor on his spine that has left Kenny with the task of learning how to walk again. His nickname is Superman, and it is no surprise that he continues to push his sisters to get him out walking with the walker and even some leg reps at the gym. It was great to see both Kellie and Kenny reminiscing and sharing time with people who will do whatever they can to support these incredibly inspirational people.
The best part of the day is when you look around and see generations of adults with their kids, grand kids and even great grandkids at the event and you hear the conversations of the old days. We even have a Facebook page dedicated to all the Friends We’ve Lost Along the Way run by Mike Doherty also from Somerville. Every time we lose someone, Mike ensures it gets posted to the site, so we all have a chance to celebrate that life and send messages of love and prayers to that family. When you hear your friends and family telling their kids and grandkids about the old neighborhood and sharing stories of those who are no longer with us it brings a smile to your face. It gives you a sense of pride to see how your life and the lives of others can impact so many others that they want to share those stories with their kids. Growing up in the Mystic Projects was never easy and we had to fight for everything we had. Our parents did the best they could with what they had and when you see so many people turning their lives around and living better lives it makes us all proud. Somerville was a great place to live growing up. It was blue collar, hardworking, tough as nails city with some of the most caring and loving people you will ever meet in your life. We would do anything for each other if we could and that bond is hard to find nowadays. I understand cities need to evolve and keep up with the times, but I hope that our city can find a way to get that pride and neighborhood feel back in some capacity. Mayoral Candidate Billy Tauro made it a point to show up to the event today and yes, he is campaigning, but it was more than that today. He wanted to join in on the reminiscing of old times. We told him that although a lot of us have had to move out of Somerville over the years we still love to come back to support the local businesses and show our friends and family where we grew up. Billy said that is exactly why he is running for Mayor of Somerville. I hope the doctors and lawyers who can spend $1.5M on a townhouse in Somerville really know how lucky they are to call their new city home.