More Stories of my Grandfather

In a previous post, I went over some of the thing I discovered about my late grandfather, Reverend Albert E. Bates, of things I was never told by family. In this post, I will go over some more discoveries regarding his personal history since the time of the first posting.

It is important to note that in one of his obituaries, it makes note of two locations to send Memorial Donations:

Memorial Donations may be sent to the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, 194 Hingham St., Rockland MA 02370 or to the Salvation Army, 147 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116 or to the Servants of Christ, 87A. Maple St., Scituate MA 02066 or to the White Chapel Bell Choir at the First Congregational Church, 12 Elm St., Braintree MA 02184. 

This particular location is somewhere I am very familiar with.



The Salvation Army located at 147 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

What this location currently looks like:


Liberty Mutual Group at 157 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

Indeed, my grandfather had worked for the Salvation Army, following his defeat running for LG, in 1971. From the Quincy Sun, Thursday, January 27th, 1971:

“Rev. Albert Bates, director of the Harbor Lights Mission in Boston’s South End, spoke at the New Year’s program of the Golden Rule Bible Class in Senior Citizen’s Hall, Quincy…”


The Harbor Lights Center in the South End, pictured here on Shawmut Avenue, at Blackstone Square. The original building was the founding of the Supreme Council of the Royal Arcanum, founded by immigrants seeking fraternal benefits, social interaction, and protection from financial hardships:


Sometime afterwards, it became the Salvation Army’s Harbor Lights Center:


The development project is currently underway for this sites redevelopment, in which it will be called “The Royal“:


In 1969, Reverend Albert Bates testified at the State House in front of the Joint Committee on Education in favor of his bill prohibiting teaching Darwinism and evolution being taught at the Boston Public Schools.

A Quincy clergyman wants Massachusetts law changed to prohibit schools from
monkeying around with evolution.

The Rev. Albert E. Bates, pastor of the Golden Rule Bible Club of Quincy, spoke in favor of his bill Monday prohibiting the teaching of Darwinism and evolution in the public schools.

Darwinism, named for Charles Darwin, is a theory of evolution developed in the 19th Century which states man descended from the apes and not from Adam and Eve, as depicted in the Bible and preached by fundamentalists.

“I’m a responsible clergyman who represents the fundamentalist point of view, not a lobbyist,” the Rev. Bates told a Joint Committee hearing. “A child has a right to believe his beliefs.”

“If the theory of evolution is going to be taught in the schools, then the biblical view of creation should also be taught. The Bible is the true source of creation,” Bates said.

An article, titled “His ministry walks mean streets” from the Boston Globe archives, dated February 13th, 1991, details more of his activities:

Rev. Al Bates ushers a visitor into his dank, two-room apartment just around the corner from the old Fore River Shipyard. He is talking on the phone, telling the audience of a local radio station about one of their own.

“Lori had no enemies among the girls on the streets,” the street corner preacher said softly, leaning on a Formica kitchen table piled high with inspirational audio cassettes, scripture readings and a worn, black leather Bible. A wooden plaque proclaiming “Jesus is Peace” teetered on top of the clutter.

“She loved her fellow sisters of the night and I love them, too,” Bates said before signing off.

It’s unlikely that many of those tuning in knew Lorraine DeLury, a reputed prostitute who was stabbed to death near South Station Monday night, allegedly by a customer. But Bates knew her, and thousands of others like her, and he wanted people in her hometown to know it.

For the past two decades, Bates and his loudspeaker have been ministering to the women of the night in the Combat Zone, providing fellowship — and financial help — to those whose constant companions are drugs and despair.

He lives on the edge in order to keep some of them from tumbling over it. Bates, who is 53, has no steady income. His ministry is entirely dependent on donations and all the money that comes in goes out, including about $3,000 within the past three months to help 10 women, he said.

Before moving into his bare-bones apartment in Quincy Point a couple of years ago, he lived in the dormitory at the Quincy YMCA. His clothes are stuffed in trash bags, strewn about a bedroom that contains a twin bed, a battered bureau and little else. Perched on his dresser is a small piece of needlework he picked up at a yard sale. In brown fuzzy yarn it reads: “The Happy Hooker.”

Known as the Rev. Al Bates, Brother Bates and the Combat Zone preacher, he has no degree in theology, though he has studied at Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian college in South Carolina, and the former Barrington Bible College in Rhode Island. Today he holds to no one religious doctrine. His is an open-ended, open-minded faith that leaves room for a large, enameled Star of David that dangled yesterday on top of his wide necktie.

He started street preaching in the mid-1950s, working out of a storefront church called the Golden Rule Bible Class in downtown Quincy. In the 1970s, he began working in the Combat Zone, bringing a band of Hungarian Gypsies to Christ, he said, while shuttling them back and forth to their homes in Natick.

“My ministry is to the downtrodden, wherever they’re at,” he said. “The street is my church.”

Around 1973, following his divorce, Bates began ministering to prostitutes in the Combat Zone. In those days, at any one time there might be 300 women working the street, he said. “There would be two aisles of girls up and down the street in front of Good Time Charlie’s and the other bars down there,” he said. “They’d be down into Chinatown, down to the corner of Tyler and Beach streets.”

As development and political resolve squeezed the Combat Zone into a smaller and smaller strip, the number of prostitutes dwindled. Today, Bates estimates there are only 25 to 50 women working the area between 2 and 6 a.m. Yet the streets they walk are far more dangerous, he said.

“Anybody in their right mind knows that with today’s economy the streets are doubly dangerous,” he said. “You got guys out there with knives . . . The perverts are out there all the more when they know they can pick up a girl for $30, for $20, for $10, for $5. You’ve got the same johns, but the john knows that he can get it for less.”

Bates is particularly worried about the teen-agers he sees working the streets, some as young as 12 or 14. “They don’t know what prostitution is about,” he said. “They don’t know that it’s about murder. The death of Lori, ’cause they’re new to the streets, that won’t even touch them because their pimps will salt it down, tell them, `This will never happen to you because I’ll protect you.’ They’ll tell them lies, bald-faced lies.”

Another article, titled “PRAYING FOR THE PREACHER MAN A STREET MINISTER FELLED, AND HIS CIRCLE GATHERS ” from the Boston Globe archives October 5th, 2003:

Preaching to prostitutes can be risky business.

One time years ago, according to a friend, street minister Albert Bates was turning a working girl away from the Combat Zone and into the Lord’s hands, the tears streaming down her face testimony to her near-conversion. The woman’s pimp took notice that he might lose his source of income, knocked Bates to the ground, and kicked him about the head.

Over three decades, that was hardly the only time Bates was pummeled by a pimp, friends say. Every time though, they add, Brother Al as the Combat Zone preacher was known rose up and continued to spread the gospel in the lonesome glow of the city’s red-light district.

Now, at 67, Bates is flat on his back again. This time, the divorced father of two was felled near the red lights of suburbia struck by a car in mid-September as he crossed a traffic-lit road near his apartment in Hingham.

Early last week, friends and family continued to rally around Bates, praying that he would awaken from the coma that has kept him inside a sterile hospital with broken bones and a collapsed lung and away from the steamy streets. The beachfront of Revere was the most recent location of his rescue mission of one.

“He needs our prayers,” said Susan Torres, 48, a born-again friend. “It’s time to pray for him yeah.”

As some friends see it, it’s simply payback for all the instant messaging to God that Bates has done since the ’70s on behalf of the modern-day lepers of the Boston area, the doxies and drunkards and desperate teenage runaways.

“He’s an institution,” said Alex Canavan, 67, general manager of several Christian radio stations on the Boston dial. “The apostle of love.”

Canavan remembers a typical scene from the ’80s: Bates alone in a blizzard trying to touch the wayward women of the Combat Zone with comforting words dispatched through a megaphone at 1 in the morning.

In politics, as well as preaching, Bates often stood out against his prosaic surroundings.

According to newspaper accounts:

In 1969, Bates trekked to the State House with a Bible to protest that teachers were telling students they evolved from apes.

In 1970, Bates held himself out as a candidate for lieutenant governor, running on the platform of the Prohibition Party.

In 1974, Bates showed up at a farmworkers rally. Amid a swarm of signs that said “Boycott Grapes,” Bates thrust his own into the air that urged: “Read Your Bible More in 1974.”

In 1978, Bates tried to part the red sea of Socialist Workers Party protesters, yelling: “Communists, Communists go back where you came from.”

Said his sister, Nancy Mills, 60: “He marched to a different drummer.”

Bates had been imbued with God’s word as a youth, and after a career as a button-down number-crunching auditor and accountant, told people the Lord called upon him to spend more time ministering to the crooked figures of the Combat Zone.

Bates’s midnight oratories were filled with compassion, not condemnation, friends say.

For every pimp who told his woman she was an ugly slut, they say, Bates was there to tell her: “You’re a beautiful person. Jesus loves you.”

Bates did not just talk the talk, they say. With streetwalkers and others, they say, he also walked the walk: taxied them to court sessions, stowed them in safe houses, directed them to detoxes, gave them bus fare to get out of town, even paid them not to sell sex.

Even as he sometimes found himself homeless and living in his car, and cut a quirky figure with his well-worn sports coat, friends and a family member say he spread money around the streets be it his own dollars, his earnings as a security guard, or donations he’d gotten from religious backers who saw him as their missionary trying to save souls in the concrete jungle.

“He’s just a great man in the kingdom of God,” said Armand Casale, a 55-year-old minister from Waltham. Friends insist that Bates was not just blowing hot air, that his offerings helped many people spin their lives around: from the teenager headed to the Combat Zone who he redirected to college, for instance, to the runaway he reunited with her parents, to the prostitute who became a devout Pentecostal.

In recent years, as the Combat Zone receded in the face of redevelopment, Bates took his message out of town: to Worcester, Springfield, Brockton.

Recently, Torres said, she visited Bates in the hospital, put her right hand on his forehead, and prayed for him, as he had done for others: “Lord, remove sickness and bring healing.”

From “HINGHAM ACCIDENT FELLS STREET MINISTER” from the Globe, dated October 12, 2003:

In 1978, Bates tried to part a red sea of Socialist Workers Party protesters, yelling: “Communists, Communists, go back where you came from.”

Said his 60-year-old sister [Nancy Mills of Braintree]: “He marched to a different drummer.”

From this October 19th, 2003, article titled “MINISTERIAL SIGN: THUMBS UP”:


The power of prayer. That and the miracle of modern medicine helped pull street minister Albert Bates from the coma he was in for several weeks after he got hit by a car near his Hingham apartment last month, said his sister, Nancy Mills, 60. Mills said her 67- year-old brother is still healing from a collapsed lung and a bevy of broken bones. He has a tube in his trachea, she said, which makes it hard to understand him when he speaks. So, when his family visited him recently after he was transferred to the Northeast Specialty Hospital in Braintree, and they put a new Red Sox cap on his head, Bates responded with the universal sign of hope. He gave the thumbs-up sign. “It was awesome,” said Mills. Mills said she is hopeful that Bates will be able to return to the work he has carried out over the last three decades: ministering to hookers and homeless people and boozehounds on the streets of Boston and beyond. “God has a mission for Al,” said Mills. “Why would God allow him to come out of this coma if he did not have more work for him to do?”

Besides this, there is other information I have found regarding my grandfather’s father and mother, Clifford Bates and his wife, M. Natalie Bates. First, lets’ begin with my grandfather’s father, Clifford.

Clifford Bates passed away in 1989.

Clifford W. Bates, retired owner and operator of a Dorchester service station, died of a heart
attack yesterday in Quincy City Hospital. He was 73 and lived in Braintree.

Mr. Bates, known as Grampy, was co-owner and operator of Al & Cliff’s Service Station in Dorchester for 32 years before retiring in 1979. He was also a supervisor for Bethlehem Steel in Braintree from 1935 to 1946.

Mr. Bates was a deacon at the First Congregational Church in Braintree since 1973. He was also a longtime member of the Delta Masonic Lodge in Braintree.

A Braintree resident for 48 years, Mr. Bates previously lived in Hyde Park. He was born in Providence.

Mr. Bates leaves two sons, Albert E. and David A. of Braintree; a daughter, Nancy J. Mills;
eight grandchildren; and a niece and a nephew.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the First Congregational Church in

In regards to Al & Cliff’s Service Station, which operated out of Dorchester from 1947 until 1979, I have discovered no more information on this. I have no leads, no address, no pictures to this root I have in Dot. I am still looking for information pertaining to this so I can connect this part of my family’s history. 

Given my grandfather was an ordained reverend, it shouldn’t be surprising that religion was an important part of his family’s way of life, as his father was himself, a deacon. His mother, too, was very involved with the church as well.

M. Natalie Bates (nee Cummings) passed away in 1968. From “LATE DEATH NOTICES” in the Boston Globe Archieves (September 25th, 1968):


In Braintree, Sept 24. M. Natalie Bates (Cummings). The beloved wife of Clifford W. Bates…and devoted mother of Albert E. Bates of Camb., David A. Bates of Quincy, and Mrs. Nancy J Mills of Braintree. Funeral services will be conducted at the First Congregational Church on Elm at Braintree, on Friday Sept 27 at 1 p.m. 

From “CAMBRIDGE POST #27 A.L.” in the Globe archieves (October 4th, 1968):


IN MEMORIAM OF M. NATALIE BATES, MOTHER OF REVEREND ALBERT E. BATES OF CAMBRIDGE, AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE GOLDEN RULE BIBLE CLASS OF QUINCY, MASS. FOR THE PAST TWELVE YEARS. MRS. BATES PASSING ON TO HER REWARD SEPTEMBER 24, 1968. Rev. Bates would like to leave the following Bible verses in memoriam, thanking those who came and sent flowers to the family on this very sad occasion. I Corinthians 1:18 For the Preaching of the Cross is to them that perish FOOLISHNESS; But unto us which are saved it is THE POWER OF GOD. I Corinthians 15:45 And it is written, The first man, Adam, was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Verse 22. For as in Adam ALL DIE, even so in Christ shall all be made ALIVE. James 4:14 Whereas ye not know shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? Is it even a vapour that appeareth for a little time then vanisheth away. MAY THE HOLY BIBLE BE NOT SOMETHING TO RESORT TO IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE, BUT BY ITS DAILY READING, MAY JESUS CHRIST BECOME YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR.


9 thoughts on “More Stories of my Grandfather

  1. I am asking some folks who might remember for any info they have on the service station. Will let you know.

  2. Kay Dougan informed me – Right on the corner of Dot Ave. & Bailey St. I now go to church w/a woman 1 of them was her brother in law. Also the house next to us (66 Bailey st.) was on the corner & was moved on wooden rollers up Bailey St. Then the g.s was built. I blew up many a bike tire there. That’s when air was free! Kay is on Facebook

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