Despite the subtitle of his recent autobiography, “The Constant Outsider: Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic,” and the sunrise photo of the statue of Admiral Farragut overlooking Pleasure Bay, Thomas M. Cirignano spent the first sixteen years of his life in Dorchester. Residents of Dot, Southie, and beyond who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s are invited to compare their own memories of that era in his unflinching, level-headed, and good-hearted reflection on those turbulent times.
As a “100 percent Italian” growing up in a predominantly Dorchester Irish neighborhood, Cirignano says, “I remember first feeling like an outsider when I was very young. I never felt like I fit in with the neighborhood kids.”
He never whined, but trouble seemed to follow him wherever he moved. He had an apartment on G Street directly opposite South Boston High and many a appalling clash during “forced busing” happened literally on his doorstep. He’s one of the few on whom Whitey Bulger pulled a gun who lived to tell the tale.
Cirignano, who now lives in Lakeville, shares his story not because it is unusual, but because it’s all too typical for some in this area. One reason he wrote the book was the hope that some young people might read about the things he did and avoid making the same mistakes.
“When I was young, I made more than my share of poor and dangerous decisions, such as drinking and driving. I thank God that didn’t I didn’t end up killing or seriously hurting myself, or more importantly, somebody else. Kids don’t think of it, but just one bad choice can change everything.”
Back in the day, Cirignano found he had to become a bully to survive. But that’s behavior he discourages kids from falling into today. The book has a foreword by nationally certified school psychologist Izzy Kalman, who praises the author for his candor in examining why he became a bully, and for his fervor now that he has grown up to encourage others to take advantage of today’s anti-bullying resources.
Cirignano invites readers to share and commit to paper their own personal experiences by including lined pages “to examine and record important facts from your past.”
“I believe that each and every person is a book waiting to be written. We all have secrets, and we all have life’s lessons to be shared. A person may think, ‘Who would want to hear my story?’ Rest assured that your kids, spouse, or other family members would. There are a million things I wish I knew about or had asked my dad before he passed away. It’s too late now. The blank ‘Readers Notes’ pages are for readers to document those things."
Was there any incident about his Dot days that didn’t make it into print?
“Other than my very first kiss, while standing next to the statue of The Blessed Mother in the deserted downstairs chapel of Saint Matthew’s Church, I think I covered just about everything. Maybe I’ll talk about that sixth grade experience in my next book.”
Cirignano will be discussing this sequel as well as his current book at upcoming book signings at two local branch libraries. Tom will be donating $1 from the sale of each book to the “Friends of the Library” at each of the hosting locations: Codman Square: Sat. April 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; South Boston: Sat. May 1, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
For more details go to TheConstantOutsider.Com.