Lakeville author shares mob memories at Library

Mar 6, 2023

James “Whitey” Bulger’s reign of terror in Boston is now a distant memory, but Lakeville resident and author Tom Cirignano brought his memories of that era to life in his autobiography “Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic.”

Over 30 people attended a lecture by Cirignano about his book at the Wareham Free Library on Saturday, March 4.

“Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic” is a nonfiction account of Cirignano’s life among mobsters, murderers, drug dealers and police officers, as seen from his garage and gas station in — where else? — South Boston.

His other book, “67 Cents: Creation of a Killer,” is a fictionalized version of his life. It imagines how his life would have turned out if he had said yes to all the shady offers he received.

“I get emotional thinking about this stuff because so many things could’ve happened,” Cirignano said.

In the audience was “Bubba Junior,” a childhood friend of Cirignano’s and the son of a police officer featured in “Memoirs.”

“[Bubba Junior] drove me home instead of to the police station many times,” Cirignano said.

Living across the street from a public school, he witnessed daily riots during the era of desegregation busing.

In order to preserve his old neighborhood’s history, both positive and negative, Cirignano emulated legendary journalist Walter Cronkite and his TV show “You Were There.”

Before becoming an author, Cirignano would relay his stories to his friends outside of Boston, who encouraged him to write a book about what he saw.

Cirignano sold his auto shop in 1987 and moved to Florida before returning to Massachusetts in 1998.

“If I stayed any longer, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

He and the audience also discussed how South Boston, or “Southie,” as they called it, has changed over time.

The person Cirgnano sold the garage to is now selling it for 10 times its original price. 

It is remarkable for him to think of now, but as it was happening, witnessing history and mingling with the mob felt normal to him.

“These people,” he said, “you wouldn’t know they were killers.”