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Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday – Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Christie retires

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  After 48 years of dedicated public service, Elizabeth “Betty” Christie (the longest tenured full-time employee of the city) retired. Betty has been a staple at City Hall and the Treasurer’s Office for many of those years – known and beloved by colleagues and residents alike. The date for history to note was Thursday, Jan 27.

  When I first heard that Betty was retiring from the Treasurer’s Office, I was saddened. Not because she loves my columns, or she is always a pleasure to work with whenever I would do business there, but because it is the end of an era. Betty started her career in 1974, working 48 years for the City of Malden, in a Malden quite different from today’s Malden, in a world quite different from today’s. As I thought more on her retirement, speaking with her about it also, I was happy that Betty would be getting some much-deserved time off from the hectic pace of the 9-5 working life.

  Some Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Christie background…Betty was a force of nature. A certainty in an uncertain world, from what sources from up on high have told me, she successfully managed the window at the Treasurer’s Office on a daily basis with almost perfect attendance year after year, after year. She’s assisted tens of thousands of Maldonians in person (my mom included), processed millions of payments and been happy to do it each and every day (with a smile most of the time, stern Betty when necessary – insert smiley face). As a resident of Malden her whole life (and Malden High School graduate), Betty has seen the city grow into what it is today: a vibrant, diverse community that we can all stand tall and be proud of. Betty was indeed part of making this happen. In her capacity in the T’s Office collecting the funds needed to support all the city’s initiatives that we enjoy today, Betty can look back with pride at her and the city’s accomplishments. For real!

  Loved this quote by the Director of the T’s Office, Dan Grover: “People come and go in this city but Betty has shown that you need not go far to leave an indelible impression upon your co-workers and the city in which she has dedicated so much of her life to. Betty, you will be missed greatly by all of us here in the office as well as by those in City Hall and all the constituents you have helped day after day, year after year and decade after decade. I wish you the best of health and happiness in your retirement and am happy to say I have had the privilege of working with you.”

  Ten fun Elizabeth “Betty” Christie facts:

  • First day, 1974
  • 48 years working for the city
  • At four City Hall locations
  • Under six Treasurers
  • Voting for 10 Presidents during that span and serving six Mayors
  • In the year Betty started at the old City Hall, 1974, The Rumble in the Jungle saw Muhammad Ali defeat George Foreman in Zaire, Africa.
  • In the year Betty started at the old City Hall, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned.
  • In the year Betty started at the old City Hall, 1974, Leonardo DiCaprio was born.
  • In the year Betty started at the old City Hall, 1974, Carl Douglas’s “Kung Fu Fighting” reached number one on the pop charts.

  Well, another Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Christie is not walking through the front door of City Hall any time soon. Betty was a very special employee as well as a very special person. Her presence at City Hall will be missed for years to come. I always enjoyed our times interacting as I would visit the Treasurer’s Office. So did my mom. You will be dearly missed, my friend.

  For those who do not know Betty, for those that knew Betty, for those who will befriend Betty in the future, here is a small peek into Betty’s life. Enjoy…

  1. My full name is…Elizabeth “Betty” Christie
  2. I am currently…recently retired.
  3. I am saving up for…a new car.
  4. My home is in… Malden.
  5. I love people who…are sincere.
  6. Something I say a lot is…“It is what it is.”
  7. I consider myself to be…a caring person.
  8. I need to have…stability in my life.
  9. My favorite movie of all time is…“Fiddler on the Roof.”
  10. My all-time role model is…my maternal grandmother.
  11. I respect people who…are truthful.
  12. The best thing anyone has ever said to me is… “You can do it, Betty!”
  13. I am happy when…I am with my family.
  14. I find watching animal videos funny/hilarious.
  15. I am named after…no one in particular.
  16. I have one child, a daughter.
  17. The farthest I’ve ever been from home is…sunny Florida.
  18. My special talents are…putting stuff together.
  19. I have two pets (cats).
  20. I never played sports as a youngster.

  It is said in Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday…

  Very sad to see that they tore down the old Blue Star building. Watched the Red Sox win Game 1 of the 1975 World Series, 6-0, there at a corner table on Route One’s first big-screen TV. In 1990 I discovered Preacher Jack there as he held residency on Sunday nights. Disappointing to see such a cherished relic from our past gone – a place where the soundtrack of our younger days was played out.

  Very happy to report that Exchange Street has not been dug up and haphazardly put back together in nearly two months! Miracles do happen! Insert smiley face.

  On deck must be Highland Avenue! Looks like they tore it up, went to lunch and forgot to put it back together again after said lunch. Good grief, what a mess!

  I am fit as a fiddle (thank you to all who reached out to me) and ready to get back to bringing you all the Malden news that is vital to your existence – more hard-hitting questions lobbed at local pols and more updates on the best cemetery director in the Commonwealth, Jimmy “Stinger” Cahill.

  “The Beast That Ate Maplewood Square” has an insatiable appetite and is apparently, heartless. Stay tuned for the next episode of what will “The Beast That Ate Maplewood Square” eat next.

  “What you are about to read is a matter of human record. Explain it: we cannot. Disprove it: we cannot. We simply invite you to explore with us the amazing world of the Unknown … to take that One Step … Beyond.” Newly retired Betty Christie is one of the last Maldonians that can brag they worked in all four City Hall buildings. Betty started in 1974 at the original City Hall on Main Street next to “Jack in the Box.” If those walls could talk! Mark Twain spoke there. Not at Jack in the Box, the old City Hall, I mean. Lawbreakers languished in prehistoric jail cells. Otis Campbell sleeping one off in the Mayberry jail it was not. When the “Beast That Ate Pleasant Street” reared its ugly head in the middle of Pleasant Street an extra five minutes were added to Betty’s commute. A disaster for the public and employees alike the moment doors opened. Malden even survived the “glory hole” days. “The Beast That Ate Pleasant Street’s” days were numbered, though. Maldonians waited patiently for Gary “The Beast Slayer” Christenson to walk through that door and “tear that building down.” City Hall scattered at that point, with Betty taking up residence at 110 Pleasant St. until 215 Pleasant St. opened its door. That was Betty’s long, strange trip. True story.

  Yet more “Musings” from the inimitable pen of the late John O’Brien, whose wit and wisdom endeared him to generations of Malden High School students, Maldonians and faculty members at MHS Here are a few more witticisms (with 1974 in mind) from his iconic “Musings” column taken from a biweekly newspaper called the “Malden Sun-Times” (their motto: “In Malden for Good”) from 1974 (in honor of Betty and Tricky Dick):

  • “Nixon was caught between the house brokers and the housebreakers.”
  • “Nixon had the fix on.”
  • “Truman said, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ Milhous changed that to: ‘If you can’t stand the smell, get out of the bathroom.’”
  • “The Red Sox could use Milhous as a first base coach. He ought to be good at stealing signs.”
  • “Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light what strange creeps we did find in the Watergate building.”
  • “Milhous admits he is not gregarious and denies that he is nefarious.”
  • “Maybe the Milhous Library could be built on Alcatraz.”
  • “Milhous hopes his fellow Americans are fallow Americans.”
  • “Where were you in the Watergate, daddy.”

  “This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end” – get well soon to the “gregarious one” Kevin Alkins. By the time this appears in print the “Big Dog” will probably be up and around doing what he does best. Wise guys out there may snidely remark, “What exactly does he do best?!” To the haters out there, Kevin, I say, we know. All of Malden knows my friend. And we love and respect you for that! Get well, my friend with the huge personality, not only because you promised me some nice Malden Police swag, but because I miss you barking out for all to hear, “Don’t stand around, buy a round!”

  Postscript: In memory of Elizabeth Christie…Clarence to George in “It’s A Wonderful Life” – “Strange, isn’t it? Each (wo)man’s life touches so many other lives. When (s)he isn’t around, (s)he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t (s)he?”

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