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Stop all the clocks

The clock in Peabody Square didn’t stop itself.

Jeff Gonyeau, a neighbor from Ocean Street, has the only set of keys to the restored timepiece that stands watch at the corner of Ashmont Street and Dorchester Ave.

On Tuesday morning, Jeff walked down to the square and set the clock to 2:50 p.m.— the precise time on Monday when our world stopped.

Jeff had the Richard family in his heart and a heart-wrenching W.H. Auden poem on his lips:

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”

Jeff laid out black bunting along the railings that surround the clock— as tasteful a roadside memorial as one will ever find.

Bill and Denise Richard helped restore the old Peabody Square clock. They led the charge to reconfigure the intersection to make it safer. They gave oversight to the long-time-coming reconstruction of Ashmont Station and paved the way for a new landmark building, the Carruth, to rise above the stations’s once-forlorn frontage. Bill led the Main Street organization as board president for years and — along with men and women like Chris Stanley, Chris Douglass, Nancy Anderson and her late husband Vince Droser, Jim and Christina Keefe and others– he and Denise have made their corner of our neighborhood a better place.

“Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.”

When they weren’t volunteering most of their personal time to transform Bill’s adopted home of Dorchester, they were busy raising a family. Three kids, all adorable, none perfect. Dorchester kids who liked to step-dance, play street hockey, and sing Irish tunes.

Martin Richard was a little boy who charmed his teachers, annoyed his sister, and rough-housed with his big brother. He could be mischievous, but was old-school polite with his elders and peers. He loved the Bruins and Dustin Pedroia and going skiing with his dad. He wanted to be a hockey goalie, even though he wasn’t yet a hockey player.

He was a fierce competitor on the fields of Garvey, Pope Park and McConnell playground— where he was destined for greatness. When he wasn’t scoring touchdowns and batting homers, he liked to star-gaze and learn astronomy from his next-door neighbors, who in Dorchester, are like family even if there’s no relation.


“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Martin was only 8 and he still held his mother’s hand last Friday when they walked to the Tedeschi’s for a gallon of milk. Martin wasn’t a saint and he shouldn’t be made a martyr or a symbol. He was a little boy who got killed because someone— some unknown person or group— has some perceived grievance against us.

Our world has stopped. For some of us it will stay that way forever. But Jeff Gonyeau will be back one day to wind it up and set the hands in motion again. It won’t be this week and probably not this month.

The day will come when justice is done for Martin. We will wait – all of us together— for that day.

-Bill Forry