Mobsters and Lobsters’ Tom Collins was featured in a great article this past weekend, written by Christian Schiavone of The Patriot Ledger. Along with the article are two videos of Tom in action aboard the Mobsters and Lobsters trolly. Check it out: Weymouth resident leads Mobsters & Lobsters trolley tour.
By Christian Schiavone
The Patriot Ledger
BOSTON — Tom Collins might have been on stage instead of behind the wheel of a trolley rolling through the narrow streets of Boston.
The South Boston native and Weymouth resident was regaling a crowd of businessmen and businesswomen from out of state with stories of the city’s underworld past during a recent tour, pointing out the sites of gristly gangland slayings, a jewel heist and the dark bars where reputed mobster James “Whitey” Bulger hung out.
For out-of-towners on the Mobsters & Lobsters tour, Collins’ thick Southie accent, scally cap and the trademark fat cigar set in his wide grin are as much a part of the experience as the underworld landmarks along the route.
“I was in my glory out there,” Collins said in an interview after a recent tour. “I’m what makes the tour what it is, with the accent and the demeanor. I guess you could say I’m an entertainer.”
A union ironworker by day, Collins, 46, has been giving the tours for Mobsters & Lobsters for the past three years. The tour ends with a lobster dinner at Venezia in Dorchester.
So far, he’s the only driver who gives the tours, which are offered from May to December.
The subject matter is dark, but the mood aboard the trolley is always light, with Collins dropping one-liners and bantering with the passengers between stops.
At a long light on Cambridge Street during a recent tour, he turned to a tourist from Brooklyn.
“I don’t wanna be rude, but you talk wicked funny,” he quipped, sending the crowd into fits of laughter.
Collins started giving historical trolley tours in Boston several years ago, when ironwork jobs became scarce because of the faltering economy. That eventually led to him working for Mobsters & Lobsters.
Collins moved to East Weymouth about three months ago, after living in Quincy for 15 years.
Having grown up in Southie, Collins was already familiar with some of the stops on the tour, including Triple O’s bar and the liquor store by the rotary on Old Colony Avenue, both of which were run by Bulger.
For others, including former Mafia hangouts in the North End and the site of one of the Boston Strangler murders on Charles Street, he did research and wrote up his own script for the tour.
Collins has already given more than a dozen tours this year, compared to just three in the first year. He says much of the increased interest is due to coverage of Bulger’s trial. On Monday, Bulger was convicted in 11 killings, at the end of a two-month trial.
“With the whole ‘Whitey’ Bulger thing, everybody wants to hear about mobsters,” Collins said. “It’s that whole appeal of the underground and the dark side.”
Most often, the tours are bought out for corporate charters.
Collins isn’t sure whether the interest will keep building, but he plans to keep doing the tours as long as people keep signing up.
“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said, “but I’m enjoying the ride.”
Reach Christian Schiavone at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CSchiavo_Ledger.