Jay Nickerson From The Point of Pines, Revere MA

by Bill Brenner on September 1, 2011

A few months back when I wrote “The Lost Generation of Revere,” I forgot to mention someone very important to the story; a kid who died six years ago: Jay Nickerson.

Mood music:

I don’t remember Jay doing what a lot of us kids were doing: smoking pot and drinking under the General Edwards Bridge that connects Revere to Lynn, fighting (or cowering from a fight); bullying or getting bullied.

Jay always seemed to exist in a cheerful fashion, peacefully co-existing with the punks and the more mentally-balanced kids. I don’t think he ever said an ill word of anyone. He was just this big, lovable bear. He did insult me once. But the problem was more my lack of humor at the time.

We were standing in the Gibson Park tennis court. I was just starting to get into heavy metal and was wearing a Motley Crue “Shout At The Devil” t-shirt. Jay looked at me and said, “heavy metal vomit.”

“What did you say?” I asked, shocked.

“Heavy metal vomit,” he repeated.

If I remember correctly, I told him to fuck off and walked away. I don’t remember how he reacted to that, but I can picture him shrugging, smiling and going about his business.

We started out in the same grade at the Roosevelt School, but I was forced to repeat first grade because I was a year or two less mature than the other 7 year olds. But when we were still in the same first-grade class, I remember him hounding me to share my Ritz crackers with him. Actually, he wanted the whole sleeve I would usually bring for recess.

Both are fond memories of a big kid with a bigger heart.

I lost track of Jay after high school, until one day in the summer of 2005. My mother called and told me he had died of cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea he was sick.

That a former schoolmate died young wasn’t the shock. I had already seen that happen plenty of times. The saddest example was Zane Mead, a troubled but tenderhearted kid who threw himself off the top of an apartment building off of Shirley Ave in the late 1980s.

An old friend recently suggested that there was a curse hanging over Revere natives from our generation. I found that intriguing.

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.

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 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 kids like Jay always seemed to be happy.

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 has life ever been fair?

Some would say that what happened to Jay was brutally unfair.

I wasn’t there when he was sick, but I suspect he handled the illness with the same good cheer he always seemed to carry in abundance.

I have no idea if he thought life had dealt him an unfair blow.

But I’m pretty sure he made the best of it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dottie Savilonis September 2, 2011 at 1:50 am

This big lovable bear was my nephew. I miss him as much today as I did when he passed away. Jay was a gem. Losing him was the most difficult thing my family and I have had to deal with. Jay will never be out of our minds and hearts as he is spoken of and remembered with so much love and laughter so often. There must have been a bigger plan for Jay and we can not question that. I know he is making his mark in heaven and keeping them all entertained. He is loved and missed.

Frank M May 3, 2014 at 8:02 am

Jay and I were friends at Dom Savio. Him and I rode our bikes up and down Revere Beach.. To this day I think about him.

Anthony Tammaro Alley May 31, 2015 at 4:07 pm

I was just thinking of Jay today and decided to goggle his name with the hopes we could catch up. I never expected to be faced with such shock and grief. He was loved by all. He didn’t have a hateful bone in his body. We also knew each from savio. After college we lost touch. I will always remember him.

Jamie Appel April 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Billy:

I don’t know how I came across this but I was so moved by. It just brought back so many memories of my childhood in the Pines. It was a pleasure to read this. I also enjoyed the piece on “The Lost Generations of Revere”. Jay and I as you know basically grew up in the crib together. Life was so simple back then. I went College to play in Florida and ended settling my roots in Tampa. My brother, Corey and Jay became best of friends. I remember flying back for his funeral. It was so tough to see someone my age pass away. I go back home a lot and every time I try to say hello to Mr. & Mrs. Nickerson.

I read the Zane Mead piece. I know Johnny Muse and I were the very first friends Zane had when he moved to the pines. We all hung out a a lot back then. As we got older we went different directions. I went toward sports and zane went hanging out under the bridge. We remained friends. Every time we saw each other he was always nice and kind of the same Zane I first met when were about 9-10 years old I believe? He was very good person who had some issues that unfortunately he couldn’t deal with. I always like him. I can still picture those big ole glasses he use to wear.

We also lost another Point of Pines brother a few years ago, Tommy Haney. He was my brother and best friend. I was his best man at his wedding. He like Zane had issues the sadly he couldn’t over come. I miss him dearly.

Again thank you for your perspective and wisdom and thank for giving me for a short moment memories of my childhood buddies.

Take Care,

Jamie Appel

Laura Ezekiel-Marsh (Doyle) January 10, 2017 at 3:21 am

I remember Jay from early on from school. He was a quiet kid who liked to draw and once told me he wanted to be an architect. I was saddened to hear of his passing on and hope he was held in loving hands.
I also read a few of the responsrs and realized that Tommy Haney had also passed on. Tommy was my first crush when I was in elementary school. I remember us challenging each other as to who could run the fastest and I won because Tommy skidded on some sand and wiped out. I placedmy foot on top of him and raised my arms like a champion that day. It was a joke, of course.
I am sorry to hear that both these children of my childhood have left this plane of existence, but I wish them bon voyage!

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