We’ve all been a recipient of a random act of kindness at one time or another. It could have been something as simple as a stranger holding a door open or someone reacting to a life-threatening situation. Sometimes these selfless acts – even the smaller ones – remain in our memories for a lifetime. One of my favorite memories is a kind gesture given to me as a young boy in the early 1960s by former Methuen Police Chief Cyril “Cy” Feugill.

In those days, I played Little League baseball at the Neil Playstead on Lawrence Street. Every year, all players were required to participate in “Tag Day” activities to raise money for uniforms and equipment. It was actually a three-day event on Thursday and Friday evenings and all day on Saturday. The league officials would assign us to the various stores and businesses in town where we would stand by the entrance door in our uniform with quart-sized collection containers. 

My assignment was always at the Skyport Restaurant on Lowell Street. It was in my neighborhood and I knew the owners and many of the regular customers there: all nice people.

One evening, a man in a police uniform walked up to the door where I was standing. I didn’t know him personally and I’m sure he didn’t know me, but I knew he was Chief Feugill. I thanked him as he dropped some money into my container. He then asked if I had eaten yet. I told him I would have something at home later. He then kindly invited me inside to get something. I was a bit apprehensive about leaving my post, but he told me it was fine. I wasn’t about to debate the issue with a police chief. As I sat at the counter, he said he would pay and to order whatever I wanted. Not wanting to abuse the offer, I may have had a hot dog or a hamburger. We chatted a bit. After I finished, I thanked him for the meal and went back to collecting.

It’s almost 60 years later and I still think about that act of kindness. In today’s society, that whole scenario would raise many red flags. Everyone is on high alert these days when a stranger approaches a child, no matter how well-intentioned. But this was just a very kind man offering to treat an 11-year-old boy to dinner. Nothing more. 

I never saw Chief Feugill again after that day. He died in 1972. He probably never realized that he left a lifetime impression on me that day and inspired me to pay it forward and try to do something nice for others whenever possible. He was a good man. 


Ken Doherty is a lifelong resident of Methuen. He served on the Methuen Fire Department from 1980 to 2010. He is the Fire Department historian and a former member of the Methuen Historical Commission. He wrote “Á History of Methuen and its Fire Department” in 1996. He is retired and still living in Methuen with his wife, Paula.

 

Back in the 1960s, a small gesture by then-Methuen Police Chief Cyril “Cy” Feugill left a positive impression that still resonates today. Courtesy photo