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Malden Musings: “John Jarvis”

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City of Malden Veterans’ Services Officer Kevin Jarvis, for the most part, flies under the radar. His contributions to Malden and Malden’s veterans are immeasurable. I just wanted to take a moment to thank him for all he does – usually going the extra mile every single time he’s called up to bat!

For those with short memories, here is a brief synopsis on Kevin’s dad, John, one of the Greatest Generation: “In October 1942, John Jarvis’ engineer battalion sailed for the Pacific. In November 1942, aboard ship enroute to Guadalcanal he was promoted to Sergeant and then participated in the occupation and the defense of Guadalcanal from January 1943 to July 1944. On February 1, 1943, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and then participated in the consolidation of the Southern Solomon Islands and was promoted to Supply (Gunny) Sergeant on December 1, 1943.

“John Jarvis fought on Iwo Jima as the Acting Battalion Quartermaster with the 2nd Separate Engineer Battalion attached to the 5th Amphibious Corps Troops. On Iwo Jima his battalion repaired the Motoyama #1 airfield.

“The battalion spent the next 36 days fighting on Iwo Jima and trying to complete their assigned duties. They repaired Motoyama Airstrip #1, built roads and structures such as Corps HQ Command Post, defused bombs, booby traps and destroyed countless tons of U.S. and Japanese unexploded ordinance and landmines.

“John Jarvis served with his battalion on Iwo Jima until the end of the battle. On March 27, 1945, they departed the island and sailed back to Guam. In May 1999, John Jarvis died and is buried at the Forestdale Cemetery.”

How ’bout that – ordinary men doing extraordinary things! More on John Jarvis will follow.

As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – it’s déjà vu all over again. With a “long national nightmare” in the foreseeable future, I’d like to bring to you a “long national nightmare” from yesteryear via Malden.

I remember the morning as if were yesterday – “Richard Nixon Resigns!” It’s the summer after my junior year, soon to be BMOC at MHS. August 8, 1974, was an unusually warm Thursday morning and I am matriculating at Malden High, working hard towards graduating in the top 715. I succeeded, by the way (top 715, Ma!). I am reluctantly working the summer with my father at Agar Supply as his sidekick on his truck. You remember those Agar trucks, right!? They were ubiquitous way back in Agar’s heyday. Big blue box trucks with a pig painted on the side? We listen to WMEX all day and hear “The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace, “Sideshow” by Blue Magic and “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus at least 10 times a day (with news of the day sprinkled in every half hour). So, this particular ordinary morning started on Clinton Street in Boston where Agar was located at the time. After the truck was loaded, our first stop was Malden Square: Gold Coin at the corner of Main and Charles. Gold Coin was the go-to place in Malden for Chinese food. Think All-Seasons’ Table of Old Malden! The best! We pull up on the Charles Street side; my dad gets out of the cab and enters the back alley; it’s early morning, so there is nobody in the restaurant. My father has the key. Standard procedure in those days was to rap on the back door as loudly and as long as possible to disperse any rodents that may be lurking behind the door. True story. We finish the delivery and are about to hop back into the cab when Tee Wilson walks by with his Doberman. My dad pulls out a flank steak that had fallen out of a box and gives it to Tee for the pup. Happiness all around and a friend made for life.

Cambridge Street in Cambridge is our next stop. It’s a little after 9 or so at this point. Like clockwork my dad pulls up to the nearest payphone to call mom for the morning checkup (“How are the kids?” “What’s for supper?” “I love you!”). That phone was in front of the Mayflower Poultry Company with the iconic “Live Poultry Fresh Killed” sign attached to the front. Dad parks on the opposite side of Mayflower and jogs across the street (yes, my father could jog at one time). As soon as he leaves the cab – breaking news from our nation’s capital. I hear it first on ‘MEX: Our “long national nightmare” is over.

For days the Malden Evening News covered the resignation in depth. Editor David Brickman was at the top of his game in 1974 and was a power player in Greater Boston journalistic circles, his Malden Evening News the envy of every local daily in the New England area. Here is a very small sample of what transpired on the pages of the old Malden Evening News 49 years ago this August. An article called…


“Relief, Sadness Greet Resignation”

“It was a hot, slow day in Malden Square Thursday afternoon as the United States prepared to change presidents by resignation for the first time in its history.

“Maybe it was the weather, but most persons interviewed in and around the Square simply shrugged their shoulders and wondered what else Richard M. Nixon could have done.

“No one thought the President should have stayed in office and fought impeachment through to the Senate floor, though two persons said they were sorry to see him go.

“As for Gerald Ford, who will become the 38th President of the United States, almost everyone echoed Louis Yanakopoulos, who said, ‘I don’t know anything about him.’

“Yanakopoulos, a Malden man, said he was happy to see Nixon go, and added he was glad the President had chosen to do it by resigning rather than putting the country through the ‘turmoil’ of an impeachment trial.

“A woman waiting for a bus in front of the Malden Savings Bank said with a smile that she was happy that Nixon would soon be out of office and agreed that he should not have taken his case to the Senate.”


“It’s Rough”

“‘Impeachment is harder on the people,’ the woman said as she waited to board a bus drawing up, ‘and harder on his family too,’ adding she had voted for Nixon in 1968.

“A Rhode Island man in town for a job interview said how Nixon leaves office, ‘makes no difference as long as he leaves.’

“Frank Mastrati, of Cranston, outside of Providence, said he had no opinion on Gerald Ford, and added he thought Nixon had, ‘done enough to be impeached, but was also hounded out by the media.’ [My note: that sound familiar?]

“Mastrati was against prosecuting the president for any crimes he may have committed in connection with Watergate but thought Nixon should be losing the office of the president, which was enough punishment.

“Virtually everyone questioned as to their feelings on what looks like the end of the longest political story in the nation’s history spoke slowly and apparently with some thought.

“One man walked a block through Malden Square pondering his reaction on Nixon’s resignation before simply saying, ‘I don’t think he has any choice.’

“Many persons interviewed on the street said only that Nixon had no other option open to him, refused to give their names, acting, in the words of one man, as though, ‘There is nothing to say.’

“Only two people still supported President Nixon, though they both agreed that Nixon had no real option open to him but resignation.

“William Powling of Revere said the president has done, ‘More good than bad, and everyone is a crook,’ and that he thought Nixon had, ‘definitely been persecuted.’ As for Ford, Powling shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘I didn’t vote for him, no one did.’

“The one other man who called himself a Nixon supporter was a visitor from Attica, New York, who echoed Powling with the comment, ‘He’s just another crook, one who got caught.’

“The New Yorker, Ray Kiskis, said despite his support of the president, he was glad to see him resign instead of fighting impeachment, ‘that just would have made more trouble.’”


“Very happy”

“Two persons in the Square were quite glad Nixon would soon be out of office. Pierce Butler of Brighton and Barbara Bishop of Malden.

“Butler said he was ‘overjoyed to have him out,’ and said he didn’t mind that Nixon had not been impeached, ‘The primary thing is that he is no longer president.’”


Postscript 1: Louie Yanakopoulos is alive and well in 2023 and was spotted last weekend at the San Rock Feast making merry and living la dolce vita.

Postscript 2: Happy 10 years on earth to my sweet, adorable granddaughter, Lola Nicole Falzarano!


—Peter is a longtime Malden resident and a regular contributor to the Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or criticisms.

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