Donated Cars Mean a Way Out for Urban Boys | HumorOutcasts

Donated Cars Mean a Way Out for Urban Boys

January 3, 2018

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  This densely-populated near suburb of Boston is known as the Rebuilt Engine Capital of the World, in much the same way that Rome is the City of Fountains and Paris is the City of Lights.  Still, the glamour that comes with that renown is meaningless to the young boys who roam its crowded streets after school, desperately looking for something to take their minds off homework assignments.

“It ain’t easy,” says Earl “Chick” LeGrand, who had a few run-ins with the law growing up here, and who now serves as the city’s Assistant Recreation Director.  “There’s not a whole lot of room for soccer, so the most exercise some kids get is flipping baseball cards.”

“I’ll trade you a Don Mossi for . . . a piece of pre-chewed bubble gum.”


But it was the inspiration of little Matty Halloran, a twelve-year-old with a quick smile and a smart mouth, to change all that.  “I saw this ad in the paper asking people to donate their cars to charity,” he recalls as he stuffs a wad of chewing gum in his mouth.  “I thought we oughta have a program like that.”

And so Matty and a number of similar entrepreneurial-minded friends banded together to form the Somerville Young Boys Club to distinguish it from a national organization that threatened to sue if they used the name “Boys Club.”  “We were a start-up, and they had deep pockets,” says Matty’s dad Chuck, a journeyman papier mache worker at an electric train shop.  “I told the kids don’t get hung up on a name, just get out there and hustle yourself some cars.”

So the boys–ten at first, a number that grew rapidly as word of the wholesome fun spread–prepared flyers, signs and tax receipts for donors, and soon were “off to the races,” according to Matty.  And what kind of athletic equipment did they decide to spend the money on, this reporter asks.

“Who said anything about athletic equipment?” Matty says as he hops in the driver’s seat of a 2004 Toyota Corolla LE sedan whose interior is marred only by a few cigarette burns.  “We’re goin’ drag racing on Monsignor O’Brien Highway.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving.”

Con Chapman

I'm a Boston-area writer, author of two novels (most recently "Making Partner"), a baseball book about the Red Sox and the Yankees ("The Year of the Gerbil"), ten published plays and 45 books of humor available in print and Kindle formats on My latest book "Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!" was released by HumorOutcasts Press last year. My humor has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and Barron's, and I am working on a biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's long-time alto sax player for Oxford University Press .

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2 Responses to Donated Cars Mean a Way Out for Urban Boys

  1. January 4, 2018 at 1:19 am

    I’d vote for him.

  2. January 3, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Con, I see a long political future for this kid!

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