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(This piece was published July 15, 2013 and appeared on

Six years ago last Friday, Allston lost a legend.

My earliest memories of the city are linked with Mr. Butch: visiting my dad in Allston and seeing this man outside the McDonald’s who was just so tall and seemed to know everyone. He was scary, but very interesting.

One time my Dad let him stay the night at his apartment. He woke in the morning to a bathroom soaked in urine, and a jovial shrug from the perpetrator. “Sorry my friend.”

Years later I saw him again, but he was wearing signs of age. He was still kind, he was still engaging, but he wasn’t as tall anymore. Revisiting things, and places, from your childhood when you are no longer small can be jarring. It wasn’t much later that he was gone, and the new people I met hadn’t heard of him. Each year a fresh supply of PYTs arrive in Allston, erasing everything that was here before.

Allston changes … a lot. It’s part of living here.

Complaining about the changes is silly; if you’ve been here a year you’ve seen Allston wear many different faces. It’s just too bad that there aren’t more people staying long enough to watch it happen. I think that maybe it allows change to happen here faster, not enough of us know what we’ve missed, what we’re missing now.

Mr. Butch was someone that everyone here had in common, but that’s fading. Someday there won’t be anyone who remembers him, someday we won’t remember Gary. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but

I’d love to hear any stories you have about Mr. Butch, about stories of Allston before, of all the great stuff we used to have that we don’t have anymore.

And please, always wear a helmet.

Also check out this awesome “Then and Now” of Allston via!

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