It is in the DNA of every big brother to resent little brothers tagging along, but it just didn’t work out that way with Steve and Dave Musto.
They grew up in Roslindale, and Steve was a year older so what he said was the law. He could have told Dave to take a hike, but he didn’t.
“I really liked my little brother,” Steve Musto was saying, “and so did my friends. So he became part of our crowd.”
When he was old enough, Dave was invited to join the older guys for a beer at Doyle’s, the great neighborhood bar in Jamaica Plain. The Mustos and their buddies — Steve Sarro, Danny Flynn, Michael Kelly, Jerry Viola, Sean Conway, Joe Spinale, Matt Foley — were all Boston guys from Rozzie, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park.
They never needed an excuse to meet at Doyle’s. There was always a Sox, Pats, Bruins, or Celtics game on the TV. Whenever there was a special occasion — a wedding, a funeral, a baptism — they went to Doyle’s after.
Steve Musto was in the real estate business and knew his crew spent so much time at Doyle’s that Gerry Burke Jr., the proprietor, could have charged them rent. But Gerry didn’t, because the Musto boys became part of the furniture, like the heavy wooden stools and the photographs of JFK and James Michael Curley.
“We basically spent our 20s there,” Steve Musto said.
Dave Musto, a union tile setter, didn’t make it out of his 20s. He was 29 when his car collided with a cement truck in Dedham 10 years ago.
On the morning of Dave’s funeral, before his family left for Sacred Heart Church, Steve Musto was startled by his mother’s screams. At first, he thought she was just overwhelmed at the prospect of burying her son. But then he learned his cousin Dom Musto, who was very close to Dave, had just suffered a heart attack and died as he was getting ready for the funeral.
Steve Musto’s head was thick with grief when he walked into Doyle’s that night. Their friends, his and Dave’s, were waiting for him. They hugged him, one by one, and then they toasted Dave with a Sam Adams Lager, the same brand the two brothers had shared that first night at Doyle’s.
Years went by, and everybody got married and busy and the visits to Doyle’s grew less frequent. With the 10th anniversary of Dave’s death approaching, Steve Musto reached out to Steve Sarro and talked about getting the whole crew back together at Doyle’s.
“Then,” Steve Musto said, “the next thing I know, I hear Gerry’s closing the place.”
Last week, Steve Musto was showing a property in West Roxbury to a developer when his phone buzzed. It was a notification on a neighborhood website from a woman who needed help pulling a heavy table out of the auction of furnishings and memorabilia at Doyle’s.
Steve Musto had no idea there was an auction. He raced over to Doyle’s and walked up to the auctioneer, holding out a credit card.
“It’s cash only,” she said. “You’re too late anyway.”
Crestfallen, Steve Musto went over to Gerry Burke Jr., saying he had wanted to get something in his brother’s memory.
“There’s still stuff in the basement,” Burke told him, leading him downstairs.
Not long after, Steve Musto walked out of Doyle’s with a bunch of beer taps. He stopped at the Midway Cafe to take $150 out of the ATM there to pay for them. The next morning, he drove to the mausoleum at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Roslindale.
There is a pedestal below Dave’s tomb and usually there are flowers there. Steve Musto put a Sam Adams Lager tap on the pedestal and looked up at his little brother’s final resting place and smiled.
Somewhere, somehow, Dave Musto was smiling back.