Remembering newburyport’s bossy gillis local news newburyportnews.com industrial electricity prices by state

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It was known and it was said publicly by a male teacher, whose name I do not recall, that Bossy was a bright student in school, one who also had his own ideas and ways and was stubborn to his own beliefs. It caused conflict with school rules and regulations during discussion.

Bossy served his country in World War I and returned home to Newburyport, where his entire life was spent until his passing in 1965. For doing good deeds for as many people as he possibly could, he never sought a reward nor did he ever acclaim any of the goodwill he’d done.

He managed to get people work in Newburyport and at the Portsmouth Navy Yard prior to World War II and during and after the war. Many people in Newburyport at that time were jobless until Bossy came forward to help. The people were very grateful. And, while my family and others were in distress, while I was overseas serving on Guadalcanal along with other Newburyporters, it was Bossy Gillis who checked up on the welfare of these families. Bossy quietly had set up a program in various coffee shops and restaurants whereby he paid for meals of the traveling military coming and going through Newburyport.

While he was mayor, he cut down a tree at the corner of State and High streets to gain access to a gas station he’d planned to construct at that corner. I personally happen to know he did not realize the commotion it would create. The powers that be, including the historical society, which Bossy enjoyed referring to as the "hysterical" society, and others made a tremendous issue out of eliminating a tree, and they managed to have him placed in jail for 30 days for improper storage of gasoline. He wrote about the incident and the entire situation in his newspaper called "Asbestos" — named that because Bossy said what it contained was too hot to handle without gloves.

Annually, at his expense, Bossy would give out bags of goodies and baskets of fruit and toys to all the children of Newburyport and invite children from surrounding towns to Newburyport City Hall on "Beggars Night." Children and parents attended in droves. This was Bossy’s way of keeping the kids off the city streets.

The children — and parents — looked forward to this event. There was even a small bouquet of flowers for the ladies with plenty of food and soda — all at his expense. Sometimes, Bossy even had a band perform. And, not a homeowner’s window was ever broken again on "Beggars’ Night"… thanks to Bossy Gillis and his good deeds. That vicious tradition of breaking innocent people’s windows on "Beggars’ Night" was stopped once and for all.

It was Bossy who placed an emergency/warning siren on the roof of City Hall. It served a necessary purpose. The alarm sounded when alerting people of the night curfew, and it alerted people to take cover during imminent danger. It could be heard throughout the city and surrounding areas. It served the people well. Prior to the siren, the police had to go through the streets moving from ward to ward, ushering people off the streets and into their homes to seek shelter and safety.

The sounding of the siren was much simpler and more effective than having police going through the streets. The people accepted the siren and nicknamed it Bossy Gillis‘ "cow." He enjoyed it. Later, the Andrew J. "Bossy" Gillis Bridge was named after him, and he was worthy of the honor. There were so many other good deeds done by Bossy Gillis. These, which I’ve shared with you here, are but a few.

John Lagoulis is a columnist for The Daily News and writes about Newburyport as he lived it, particularly in the early 1900s. John is 92 and has authored and self-published Volume I of "Newburyport: As I Lived It!" ¬© 2011. He also made a DVD titled "Recollections of Newburyport in the 1920s and 1930s." John’s second book, "Newburyport: As I Lived It!’ Volume II" ¬© 2012 will be available soon. You may contact him by email: wharfrat01@att.net or visit www.NewburyportWharfRat.com.