By Alexandra Diamond
Vincent Sallinger, sheltered from the -16 degree wind chill in a doorway, enjoyed his daily routine. Every morning, the 70-year-old visits Dunkin’ on the corner of Parker and Tremont Streets to fill his thermos with coffee and buy the newspaper.
“It’s a wonderful neighborhood,” he said. “People leave me alone.”
As a 23-year resident of Mission Hill, Sallinger has seen the community change.
“Back when I moved in, it was all families,” he said. “Now it’s college kids.”
He first noticed the change when contractors bought family homes and converted them to off-campus housing for college students. As a result, he said, rent in the area increased.
“Everybody else is like, ‘Oh, I got a place for $1,500,’” he said. “$1,500? That used to be three months’ rent.”
He said rent increases in the neighborhood have pushed people out of Mission Hill. Sallinger lives in government-sponsored housing on Burney Street, which exempts him from some difficulties affecting the community.
“It’s killing everybody,” he said. “I get a break.”
Sallinger mentioned drug abuse in the Mission Hill area has been hurting the community. If he could, he said, he would stop the epidemic in its tracks.
Despite the hardships the neighborhood has faced, Sallinger is hopeful about the future in general. “Mankind is gonna get better,” he said.
Sallinger, though retired, is also a part-time cab driver. He said he is a recognizable character on Mission Hill. The workers at Dunkin’ know him as “grumpy,” he said.
“Every morning they say, ‘How are you?’ and I say, ‘Grrr.’ ‘Cause I just woke up!”
On cold mornings, he wears a bright green puffer jacket emblazoned with the logo of the Boston Celtics. Regardless of the weather, Sallinger always enjoys his coffee and cigarettes outside. He said his neighbors have noticed his smoking habits.
“Frankly,” he said, “I’m getting sick of people mooching off of me.”
His winter uniform distinguishes him as a notable installation in the Mission Hill neighborhood.
“The green jacket is kind of well-known.” He chuckled and tossed his cigarette. “Big Celtics fan.”