The Black Appendix

Police Cheif Paul Fenton
"Father" Richard Lavinge

St. Mary's has sinse been renamed Mary Mother of Hope

             My turn to be heard....

Is it possible that Father Richard Lavinge has gotten away with murder? Those who are born after 1985, please read my previous account of Lavinge's behavior; there I describe how society worked before the days of the web and social media.

I am going to present my story in three pieces, first some background so one can understand what I experienced. Secondly I will tell my story of the incident as I saw it then, third I will then state what I learned since the incident and wrap it all up with my thoughts right now.

St. Mary's was "the" Roman Catholic church for those who lived in the eastern portion of the 01104 zip code. Those of us who went to St. Mary's either went to Bowles or Pottenger schools. At that time most children went to the neighborhood schools; busing for racial integration was still a year away. I was in first grade at Bowles School for the '73 - '74 school year. At thst time, my homeroom was on the first floor of the old section. Each section had their own boys' and girls' rooms.

Another typical day, the boys from Mrs. Sullivan's home room were sent to use the boys' room and it got a bit too noisy for one of the other first grade teachers, Miss Maloney. Two wooden doors opened into the boys room and a few feet in front of them was a privacy wall; so we walked in usually to the right, did our business, crossed the room to wash our hands and exited on the left. Unknown to me Miss Maloney walked in and stayed behind the privacy wall. I was crossing the room walking close to the privacy wall on the way to the sink. I was grabbed hard from behind and pulled hard around the privacy wall. All I saw was an arm passing my face and I punched it and I kept punching that arm. I did not look up, I was still being dragged and I still kept punching. Finally I was forced to sit on some wooden bench in the hallway and the dragging stopped. At the time I didn't know who this person was, but I quickly knew who is wasn't. Off to the office went this person. Miss McGrath, the principal, came down the three steps and motioned me to follow her. Up the three stairs and to the left I walked into her office. Miss McGrath sternly asked why I hit a teacher, to which I replied "I thought it was Father Lavinge". Her eyes nearly popped out of their sockets and I was quickly ushered down the steps and back to the bench. Seconds later over the intercom I heard a shaken but firm voice of Miss McGrath "Mr. Fenton, please come to the office". I quickly thought to myself "why are they calling the janitor?". A minute later I thought to myself "because he's the only man in the building".

I sat in the hallway for what seemed forever, then I went back to Mrs. Sullivan's room, nothing was said. Went home, nothing was said. Next time we got too noisy in the first grade boys room, Mr. Fenton was sent in, he was cool. Mr. Fenton would let us know that someone complained about the noise while rolling his eyes. We'd quiet down as a favor to him.

Soon after I started seeing Miss Crowley a counselor who came to the school.

As a young child, I thought of my father as quite mean and as I got older he loosened up and respect displaced fear. In time we shared many "don't tell your mother" moments. (like when I had to pick him and his friend up because they had too much to drink). I later learned that Miss Crowley was brought in because I had issues with "my father". Having Miss McGrath as a principal was like having an aunt that was nice to us and our parents respected. I dare say she was very concerned, but like many of us in the 1970's, knew her place. So I now conclude that Miss McGrath had to hold her tounge knowing she could do more for me if she played te game.

In high school I learned that one of the police chiefs of Springfield MA was a Fenton and recently learned that his brother was / is John Fenton, the Bowles School janitor. John Fenton's brother Paul Fenton had become Chief of Police some time in 1973. While this account is no smoking gun, In My Opinion the fact that a first grader was that terrified of Richard Lavinge to the point that such a child would hit a teacher without question should have been cause for alarm. Instead the boys from The Hill decided to cover it up like good Roman Catholics. It is a shame to see what has happened to my former faith.

60 Minutes Video

Boston Globe
Boston Globe December 14, 2003
Hell's Acres Article 1
Mass Live
Catherine's Letter to the world
Mass Live article on the new Springfield Police Facility named for Paul Fenton