The peninsula threw a party Sunday. Houghs Neck residents kicked off a six-month celebration of its founding 375 years ago by Atherton Hough. Like the neighborhood itself, the day’s emphasis was on family, community pride and sharing – stories, photos, memories and the latest news about one another.
No one was exactly claiming bragging rights, but folks were quick to tell just how many generations in their families had lived in “The Neck” and were “Neckers.” And how many sisters, brothers, cousins, parents and grandparents had gone to the Atherton Hough school, which is celebrating its own 100th birthday this year.
Veronica Walsh, who turns 104 on April 19 and lived in the Neck from 1907 to 1921, bared a wrist to show her bracelet saying, “I love Houghs Neck,” with a heart for the word love. Walsh also brought her class photo from the Atherton Hough School in 1921, when she went on to the first graduating class of 1925 at Quincy High School. Her daughter, Susie, and grandson, Tommy, were with her.
Families, elected officials, and expatriates returning to the scene of their youth hugged and talked up a storm on a sunny afternoon inside St. Thomas Aquinas Hall. The hall is right behind the Atherton Hough, the oldest elementary school building still operating in the city.
“Houghs Neck is just a fantastic place – the people who live down here are all friendly and we know everybody,” said Tom Timcoe, head of the anniversary committee. His wife, Eileen, treasurer of the Houghs Neck Community Council, has lived in the Neck since 1955.
Timcoe said that on Jan. 4, 1636, Atherton Hough was granted a deed to 500 acres of land in what became Houghs Neck.
City Councilor Margaret LaForest presented a proclamation to Houghs Neck Community Council President Brian LaRoach from Mayor Thomas Koch. The mayor declared Sunday Jan. 30 as “Houghs Neck Day” throughout the city.
Residents Sandra McCauley, wife of former Mayor Frank McCauley, and Peg O’Connor, a longtime elder advocate, helped cut the 375th birthday cake after everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”
The hall was lined with tables representing various organizations that serve the community, including the community center, the Houghs Neck Garden Club, the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Edan, End Drug Abuse Now.
“Houghs Neck is a small peninsula neighborhood that is very tight knit,” LaForest said. “Instead of neighbors, we are more like an extended family.”
She proudly listed six generations of Houghs Neck residents in her family, including a cousin, Paula Younie, 93, and her mother, Betty McLean, 73, both with her at the party.
Several residents credited the geography, the peninsula, with helping to shape strong ties and a peoples’ philosophy of sharing and support through good times and bad.
Julie Berberan, a Girl Scout leader with five children, has lived in the Neck for 28 years, after spending summers there as a child. “It is so beautiful . . . this incredible nature and the birds and the beach is awesome, to have that right at our footstep,” she said.
A realtor, she described the community as “absolutely the most wonderful people. . . everybody cares for each other and takes care of each other often and watches out for each other.”
Necker native Barbara Logan, a retired nurse from Quincy Medical Center, helps run the Holy Trinity Parish Nurses Program. Logan said the wellness program reinforces the sense of community as it provides care and health information for the residents, including clinics and blood pressure screenings.
The community council is planning other special events each month, with the culmination in mid-July as a parade, picnic and “Rock the Neck” concert.
READ MORE about the Atherton Hough School’s 100 years.