History Shows Triple O’s Has Quite the Past


Before it was the Six House it was Triple O’s, and before it was Triple O’s, it was the Transit Cafe.

The point is, what is now called the Six House on West Broadway has been a bucket of blood through at least three incarnations and for more than 40 years. And for all I know, some other plug-ugly owned it before Donald Killeen made it the Transit Cafe.

Donald Killeen came from what the FBI described as “a longtime South Boston racket family.” In the late 1960s he hired an ex-con bank robber named Whitey Bulger, and shortly thereafter he got cut in half by a machine gun in Framingham. Pretty soon, the Transit Cafe belonged to a guy named Kevin O’Neil, who worked for Whitey Bulger.

O’Neil was once accused of stabbing a black guy to death in Southie. His first trial ended in a mistrial, then he hired a new lawyer. The new lawyer’s name was Billy Bulger. Charges dismissed. Soon he owned the Transit, which he renamed Triple O’s. The first shot was on the house, after that you had to use your own bullets.

Somehow these joints stay open, bust after bust, shooting after shooting, sale after sale. There was the Baoines’ joint, the Waltham Tavern on Shawmut Avenue. And don’t forget the Nite Lite Cafe on Commercial Street. But first let’s talk about the Transit Cafe.

In the early 1970s, before Whitey’s hostile takeover, the Killeens ran their small-time rackets out of the Transit Cafe. They were going up against a younger group of hoods, the Mullens, which is why Donald Killeen needed some extra muscle such as Whitey Bulger.

Southie was soon a shooting gallery. (Go to the Herald Web site to read a recently unsealed three-page FBI report on the early 1970s gang war.)

Naturally the Transit Cafe became a real hot spot. One night one of the Mullens somehow got into a brawl with a Killeen hood on the sidewalk outside the barroom. The Killeen emptied a revolver at the Mullen, hitting him only once, in the shoulder. (I suspect alcohol may have been a factor in the poor marksmanship.)

With his gun now empty, the Killeen got a bright idea. He jumped on the Mullen (who was the brother-in-law of a politician still in office in Boston, by the way). Then he bit off the Mullen’s nose.

Fight over. The Mullen ran off screaming, and the Killeen spit out the nose and stumbled back into the Transit to celebrate. A few minutes later, Donald Killeen arrived, and knew he had a problem. Let’s face it, once you bite off a guy’s nose, you have to keep a very close eye on him from then on.

Donald asked what had become of the nose, and nobody could remember. So he ordered everybody outside to look for it. It turned up in the gutter, covered with dirt. They took it back inside, washed it off in the bar sink, wrapped it in a napkin and put it in a Styrofoam chest with some ice. Then Donald Killeen called a cab and told the hack to drive the chest down to Boston City Hospital and drop it off in the emergency room.

True story. It’s right there in the FBI report, if you want to check. Also count up the number of hoods named in the report whom Whitey ended up killing. I stopped at five, plus one more crippled for life.

But it’s not just South Boston. How about the Nite Lite Cafe on Commercial Street? In 1966, the Mafia murdered two of Joe Barboza’s gunsels inside there. Then they whacked one of the bartenders.

Almost 20 years later, same address, different sign. The Mafia was concerned about Nicky Giso’s moll, Liz McDonough. They said she had to go. Somebody made a date with her at the old Nite Lite. Wear your cowboy hat, Liz, her date said. It turns me on.

Liz walks into the joint, and 10 minutes later, a guy in a mask shows up with a gun, and walks straight to the woman in the 10- gallon hat. Lucky for Liz, his aim was as good as Killeen’s, and she lived.

I got a letter a few weeks back from Liz. She was in Framingham, MCI-Framingham to be exact.

“I am looking forward,” she said, “to having lunch with you.”

It’s a date Liz. Let’s just stay out of the North End, and the South End, and the Lower End. And Liz, lose the cowboy hat.

(c) 2007 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.