The Lost Generation of Revere, Mass.

by Bill Brenner on November 22, 2014

An old friend from the Point of Pines, Revere, sent me a note some time ago. He came across my post on Zane Mead and another on the Bridge Rats gang. For him, they brought up more memories of kids from the neighborhood who died young.

Mood music:

I’ll keep his name and certain details out to protect his privacy, but here’s some of what he wrote to me:

I came across your piece in your OCD Diaries about Zane Mead. It stirred up some old memories of growing up. I was actually friends with Zane until I left for the military in 1985. He was a sweet kid with a good heart most of the time. Occasionally he would be angry and self destructive. This was usually followed by an attempted suicide.

I had many talks with him about it. he never would say what was eating at him. Not sure why but I don’t think it was an issue at home. I feel like it was a personal daemon. As you stated, our life’s experiences at the time didn’t give us the ability to see the problem no less the wisdom to offer any real help. I often wonder if there was something more I could have done.

It seemed that I lost a lot of friends over the five years I was gone.

We lost your brother, Scott James, Mike McDonald. Kenny Page. It’s like we lost a generation. For years I thought I was a under achiever in my life. The more time moves on I think we may be lucky for just getting out of the city. Revere was just eating people up back then. Probably still is.

I also read you piece on bullies where you mention the Bridge Rats. I’m sincerely sorry for any part I may have caused in your distress.

Thanks for the memories. Good, Bad and Ugly. I guess they make us who we are.

Indeed they do, my friend.

I had forgotten about Mike McDonald and Kenny Page. As a teen I was so self-absorbed over my brother’s death that I didn’t realize how much loss our generation was suffering. After reading my friend’s note, I thought hard about his points about Revere eating people up. Was there some kind of curse hanging over the city in the 1980s? Were all my adolescent traumas part of that curse? Was my brother’s death and Sean Marley’s death part of it?

If you asked me that about six years ago, I’d have bought the theory straight away. Today I tend to doubt it.

It was a sad and unfortunate period, but it wasn’t a curse. We all had our share of childhood happiness in Revere in between the bad stuff. And I know now what I didn’t get back then: That we weren’t meant to live soft lives devoid of pain and struggle. These things are tossed in our path to mold us into what we can only hope to be: good people. It doesn’t always work out that way, of course. But let’s face it: Has life ever been fair?

As for the Bridge Rats, my memories are fond ones.

The last post I wrote about this gang suggested they were a band of bullies. But if you read all the way through the post, you’ll see some nostalgic warmth in my memories. As I’ve said many times, I was a punk like everyone else. I got picked on, but I did my share of picking on other people. For the most part, the Bridge Rats were a collection of pretty good kids. Some grew into happy, productive lives. Some didn’t.

That’s life.

I recently wrote about the time the Brenners nearly left Revere. There’s no question that for a time, I hated that city and would have done anything to get out.

But I stayed, and good things happened in the years that followed. A lot of good things. Precious, joyful things. I look at my kid sister Shira and the amazing, beautiful woman she is today. Would she have been that way if not for the Revere in her? Perhaps. But living there certainly didn’t damage her.

I’ve said before that Revere is where I survived and my current city of Haverhill is where I healed. That was and still is the truth.

But make no mistake about it: Revere helped make me who I am today.

And I’ll admit it: I like who I am today.

7,Revere Point of Pines

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Scopa April 14, 2011 at 2:50 am

Bill – Great post about Revere. And, in general, about your life experiences. Everything we all had to go through as kids growing up, whether brought on by ourselves or just what we thrown into, definitely molded us to the people we are today. Did not define us, but molded us. And as you say you are happy with who you are today, so am I. It took me a while to realize I was happy with me. But, something my mom had said to me will always stay with me even though she is no longer here. She said, “I am so proud of you and the man that you have become”. And honestly, just typing that right now is making my eyes water.

Thank you

Bill fennell September 25, 2011 at 4:05 am

Nice Post Bill. Your mention of your sister was touching.

Rick March 23, 2012 at 12:29 am

Curse, no. But that city did help define the people we are today. CS said it pretty well so I will not write too much. Love you guys.

Julie Doyle May 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hey Billy,
Thanks again for the memories. Revere ate up a lot of our generation, but look what it spit out.
Me and you and many other great people. Especially the Bridge Rats who I am proud and honored to have as my oldest and dearest friends!
I am glad I no longer live in The Pont of Pines but in a small way I also miss it!

Patricia Hanlon September 18, 2013 at 8:11 am

Bridge rats! What a great place to grow up . For all the good and bad we as adults endured, I wouldn’t wanted to have lived anywhere else. Tradgedy and birthday parties seemed to go hand in hand. Every couple of years there seems to be a group of neighborhood kids that stand out. This is one of those years. Traveling in an a pack , you can pretty much pick out the leaders and those who are looking for something. Stick ball replaced with electronics. Night time hide and seek replaced with alcohol and drugs. This is a sad group. I fear for them.

David Meaney November 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Hey Bill
Another great look back. You sound great. I hope that’s true. I’ve been staring at that pic of the Pines. Pondering how things were back then and how things have changed. If I had the chance to go back to the early 80’s I would do it in a NY second. It was a time of almost complete freedom. No real commitments or future concerns. I miss all the awesome people and the great times. It’s also the formative time of my life. I would like to think I would have challenged myself more. But I can’t guarantee that. I had every tool I needed at my disposal and I just didn’t reach out and grab the light. I guess we get our one shot. I’m very happy with my life and where I am. Plus.. At the time of me writing this.. Father time is still undefeated.

I hope you are well my friend. I hear that Frank and Bob have been talking. Give mom a hug from me.


David M Meaney

jodi hunt June 27, 2016 at 10:01 am

I wouldn’t change anything. I graduated in 1981. Had a life filled with want for nothings…however, at this age I am seeing a lot of people pass away. Recently lost a best friend I miss so much. But what bothers me is the disrespect a lot of today’s youth have. Sad to see so many on hard drugs. It’s a shame, one weekend 6 people died. Not all young, my age early to mid 50’s. I haven’t lived in Revere for 18 years but when asked where I’m from I always say Revere…and then get the jokes which I don’t laugh at I rebuff.

Ed June 28, 2016 at 1:49 am

I can totally relate to your sentiments about Revere. It’s so hard to share my experiences growing up in Revere with people who didn’t grow up there. They don’t believe it’s real. This works the opposite way too. My buddies from Revere can’t relate to the life God gave me after he pulled me out. It made me question my own reality. I finally have put it all together and realize the success I enjoy today would not have happened without Revere. It made me a survivor and that you cannot learn from a book.

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