by David Felton
“The Manson Family preached peace and love and went around killing people. We don’t preach peace and love…” Jim Kweskin
Five years ago a small community of young white intellectuals and artists from the Boston-Cambridge area moved onto the hill and “took over” several empty apartment houses bordering the park. Relations with the black neighborhood immediately deteriorated, and soon guards, members of the new Fort Hill Community, could be seen patrolling the fort for the first time in almost 200 years.
Since then peace has returned, relations have improved, and there is some question on a recent summer evening why guards are still needed at Fort Hill. Or who, exactly, is being watched. It’s dark, about 9:30 PM, as one of them approaches holding a flashlight. He appears troubled, glancing nervously up and down a long row of houses now owned by the community. Inside the first house some 60 Fort Hill members are eating dinner, methodically cleaning their plates after a 12-hour work day. Suddenly the guard turns and walks briskly to an area at the rear of the houses where garbage is dumped. He shuts off his flashlight and from a large green plastic garbage bag secretly retrieves a suitcase packed the night before. Then, without looking back, he runs as fast as he can, as fast as he’s ever run, past the garages, past the basketball court, past the tool sheds, down the long dirt driveway at the rear, through the winding paved streets of the ghetto and the straight paved streets of the first factories, past the nearest subway station, where they’d be sure to check, to a second station, blocks and blocks away, more difficult to find.
As the sentry boards a subway train, safe for the moment, the interior lights reveal his panting, boyish face. He is Paul Williams, a rock author and first editor of Crawdaddy Magazine, who several months ago gave up his writing career to join the Fort Hill Community.
Used to live right downhill from here, near the RCC. Never knew about this.