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Paul Smith Tells His Story

“Boston, MassachusettsMore Boston images”

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Paul Smith remembers the hot summers, cool falls, and miserable snowy winters. Smith was born in a town named Dorchester and in 1960 at the age of six his family moved to Weymouth where he would spend a majority of his life.

“I didn’t spend a lot of time in the house. I would be home for supper and right back out the door after supper until the streetlights came on.” said Smith.

While most people born in the New England area stay there their whole lives, Smith was the only one out of eight children to move out of state in 1994. Smith said, “I would go back a least once a year, I would see all of my friends in the same place I left them in 1994.”

Boston is flooded with history from the pilgrims landing in Plymouth to the Freedom Trail and the US constitution. Tourists from all over the world come to see these historical sites but for some Boston natives it just the city they have always known.

“I can tell you I never walked the Freedom Trail because I just knew about it,” Smith said.

Aside from the US history that inhabits the area, Boston was home to James Whitey Bulger the famous Irish mafia outlaw. Smith’s father and Bulger went through the same Boston school systems.

“My father never hung around him but knew him, they were the same age. Of course, they took two different paths as they got older.”- Paul Smith

Bulger was running drugs and extortion and even did time in Alcatraz in the 50’s for armed robbery. His brother, Billy Bulger was the most powerful man in Massachusetts politics for years as the president senate of Massachusetts. Smith said, “There was one brother running the place and the other brother covered for him, it’s convoluted.”

In South Boston it’s a tight knit community and many saw Bulger as the type of person to help an old lady walking down the street with her groceries. Fifteen minutes later Bulger was the same man that was shooting somebody in the back of the head. Bulger was caught in 2011 and later killed in prison at the age of 89.

Besides Smith’s father knowing a mafia boss, he has a more interesting story to tell that happened in Las Vegas in 1987. He had taken a trip several times with a couple of friends during Columbus weekend while all the sports were playing.

On this particular year, it was the night before their flight back home to Boston, he had decided to have one more beer before going to bed. The lounge was packed, and nobody could get a seat at the bar, so he stood waiting for the bartender.

“This woman came up next to me, I’d never seen her before, and she was also waiting to get a beer.” said Smith.

She had just arrived from Ohio, and he was going home the next morning. Two weeks later he called and flew out to Cleveland Ohio. “My dates used to cost me one thousand dollars because I had to take a plane. I did it about once a month close to a year.”

“She ended up moving to Boston and that’s how I met my wife,” said Smith.

The transition from Boston to Georgia was never difficult to adapt to because what was critical was a lung transplant for his wife. She had a genetic disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis where your lungs crystallize and loose the ability to function.

In 1994 she went through four days of intense evaluation in Pittsburg where they confirmed she was a candidate for a transplant. But they had an 18-to-24-month waitlist and her disease was progressing rapidly. Between Emory Hospital, Duke University in North Carolina, and a hospital in Saint Louis, Atlanta was the best choice. They had estimated that they could do it in three to six months.

“She flew down there by herself to meet with the transplant group and came back and said, ‘They’ll put me on the list, but we have to move there, like now.’”

Within three weeks they moved to Georgia in an apartment and six months later she had her new lung. Part of the program was that they had to commit to stay within a two-hour drive from the hospital for follow ups. There was not an option to fly back to Boston after the surgery. “I guess we could’ve done it, what were they going to do take the lung back?”

“My wife lived for almost 12 years; it was well worth it. We bought 12 years that she would not have had.”- Paul Smith

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Paul Smith Tells His Story