Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Courant brings neighborhoods together

Offsetting the concentration of the media world into empires, some small community newspapers persist, delivering interesting information and services to the community left behind by the behemoths.  One such, as I have mentioned, is the 16-year-old Boston Courant, serving several downtown neighborhoods.

An example of the kind of story you might find is one entitled "A Homeless Man's Generosity Helped Park,"  written by Zack Huffman.  It is the story of a vagrant named Eldred "Max" Hiscock, who provided half of the funds raised in the neighborhood to build the park.  Excerpts from the story (sorry, there is no electronic edition):

Josh Young [a banker living in the area] first met Hiscock when his front door was accidentally left open and his two children ran outside.  When Young's wife, Hollis, went to look for them, Hiscock beckoned to her from where he was sitting near the corner of the street.

"He told her he was watching them down in the alley," said Young.  "From then on, Hollis would allow him to sit on the steps of our house."

Young assisted Hisckock, who was 62 at the time, in acquiring his birth certificate from his home state of Maine so that he could apply to receive Social Security benefits. Young also assisted Hiscock in opening an account at State Street bank, where Young worked as a trust officer.

"We had the money in a joint account so that I could put money in and take money out for him.  He used to pick it up from me in small amounts, usually about $10," said young.  "He didn't spend it as fast as it accumulated."

When Hiscock passed away in 1970 . . . in part because of excessive drinking, the remaining funds went to the new park . . . as per Hiscock's wishes that his money go towards something that would benefit the neighborhood children.  Said Young, "I just thought that it would be both nice and ironic to have his contribution be the naming contribution for the park."

The park is a gem.  The Phoenix says "Nestled deep in Boston’s South End, Hiscock may be tiny, but it’s one of the neighborhood’s crown jewels. An oasis of stately seclusion, Hiscock sees little action. It’s hardly neglected, though, thanks to a devoted group of groundskeepers — the Friends of Hiscock — who make sure it’s impeccably manicured. So bring a lunch. And a pet. According to its signage, Hiscock “welcomes all neighbors and four-footed friends.”  The Trust for Architectural Easements notes:  "The park works to preserve the overall architectural integrity of the neighborhood, which is the largest collection of Victorian row houses in the country."

Good for the Courant in reminding the neighbors about the generous instincts of one of their own.

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