Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wickit old school

I must disclaim that this is a commissioned post, and that these memories are (mostly) not my own. I moved to Massachusetts in 1987, which now qualifies as old-school, but it is post Kevin White, busing, the Bicentennial rebirth, the "miracle." Mine is a Ray Flynn/Mike Dukakis Massachusetts, then the Republican governors' train and the reign of Mayor Tom.

When I start writing about Miller & Rhodes and Nostalgiafest, we are in my home country. This one is for the Readership. Now you know we take reservations.

Top 10 lost local "landmarks" I can claim
What everyone talks about on Reunion Weekends. Add your favorites I may have missed

10. Filenes/Jordan Marsh (CWT, Tellos, Weathervane, Lodge, etcetc)
For my homies, this is the Miller & Rhodes/Thalheimers section. Today, the most fiercely competitive corner in Downtown Crossing is Macy's and... well, nothing, sadly. But at one time, this rivalry had Coke/Pepsi on the ropes.

Obligatory puppet reference. You have been warned.

9. The Combat Zone - one of my regrets is not photographing the Naked I before it was torn down. I am proud to say, though, that I have had a speaking engagement in a college conference room that was once the site of a Peep Show Theatre. The legendary red light district now belongs to Emerson College and the Chinatown Merchant's Association.

8. The Artery - I did photograph the Artery, long before knowing it would be torn down. It was inadvertent, to tell you the truth. I was just taking pictures of Faneuil Hall. The North End. Haymarket. Boston Garden. They were all sort of dimly lit.

I think the saddest aspect of the Artery project was not how drastically it under-estimated the traffic growth, but how they thought we wouldn't notice it if they painted it bright green.

Here is a post from this Spring about walking the Greenway

7. Kennedys - Kennedys used to be everywhere. I used to do Ted Jrs dry cleaning. Ted and Viki could be spotted on Marlboro St, and John Jr would blow through town in a flurry of hairspray and awesomeness. In our younger days, when Ted's generation was the age we are now, you couldn't swing a bike lock without hitting a Kennedy. I sometimes think Caroline can't wait to be alone.

6. Commuter Yuppies - I have been her.
Several market crashes later, we have learned to just live in our yoga pants. (But seriously, the brick sidewalks will ruin your Aigners)

5. Local news wars - Even today, the greatest insult one Boston anchor can throw at another is to suggest they are not "from here." In these parts, that means you went to high school in a Massachusetts town. Like Leonard Nimoy. Who would be an awesome NECN commentator, by the way. This clip reel is before my time, but it is too groovy to skip.

And remember, dognappers think twice before touching a tattooed pet.
How about the teletype noise behind the news. Whatever that is.

I will file Dana Hersey, Dave Maynard, Rex Trailer all under this category.

4. Thank you for coming to Loews...
Follow my train of thought here. I went from Dave Maynard to community auditions, which had a theme song I was going to post, but decided it is not fair for me to pretend to know the theme song of a show that went off the air the same year I moved here. But that did make me think of the Loews Theatre Song, and that is fair game.

By the way, if you search You Tube for "Community Auditions," you may never get off the couch.

I would pay $200 for a satin jacket with the Loews logo on it.

3. Narcissus - You knew this was coming next.
I found this great website while looking for a picture of Narcissus, preferably one featuring Men in Motion. I think it is better that I just point you to it. And tell me if a picture of the Faces sign could be any creepier than this? I am working on the movie trailer that opens with this.

"In a world.... "

I am realizing that this is really a post about how sleazy my adopted home used to be, and how we tore it all down. Please also remember that at this same time period, New York City was a stinkhole and Lake Erie was on fire.

2. Harvard Square - Oh, the square is still there, of course. It's been there 400 years. Every generation has its own version of the Square, and it was better than anyone else's, and everything after that was crap. Ours centered around 2 of the scariest restaurants ever built that anyone pretends to miss: The Tasty and The WurstHaus.

Everyone will now write in and claim they loved the Tasty and it is a lost institution. And unless they were hanging out at Club 47 with Bonnie Raitt at the time... they lie. No one under 50 ever ate at the Tasty, and you only went to the Wurst Haus once as an amusement park ride.

And speaking of Amusement Parks...

1. Riverside & Whalom - Riverside became Six Flags New England, and you would never recognize the place. It was a trolley-line amusement park with rickety "the carnival's in town!" rides, an arcade full of heavy machinery, and a river boat ride that changed themes often but never changed the water.

Good news about Whalom is that Whalom is on the return! It ran a fast trajectory of beaten-by-the-Internet and these crazy kids today, a suspicious Scooby-Doo style fire, a shut-down, a sell-off, and then the real estate development that was supposed to move in crashed as well. Now a corporation has formed to restore Whalom as a local attraction. Learn more here.

Seems everything old is new again. Ask the teenagers wearing tie-dye and peace signs.


  1. "Star of the day, who could it be? It's YOU that holds the key!"
    Ahhh... the good ol' days.

  2. Charlene -- what's that from? It's hauntingly familiar, I think.

    Is the Faces sign *still* up...? I'm a skosh younger than Ms. Bender, and I think my first attempt at going to Faces was before senior year in HS, summer '89... only to find out (if memory serves) that they were closed down. Or, maybe we just chickened out and went to Fresh Pond Cinemas instead.

    And Dana Hersey's Movie Loft was a weekend favorite -- still can hear him in my head saying "It's a Mad Mad, Mad Mad World."

  3. I dragged Dr. A and Evelyn down to Concord because the City Auditorium was showing a documentary about Rex Trailer. And he was there! He's about 98 now and really small and frail but it was still thrilling to see him, even without his horse. I always wanted to go on one of his annual Disney trips he organized--even in the snowy black and white of my NH television, it looked like a fun trip.

    And if someone misses Dave Maynard, they can always move to that retirement community that he's hawking these days on TV. I bet he organizes amazing talent shows there.

  4. REX TRAILER: Howdy Kids!
    My dad brought me and the neighborhood kids to the show I think in like 1972. I believe they showed it live and then again on tape. One of my friends was chosen to be with Sgt Billy in the jail house and we all walked through the "line up".... hysterical. PETE

  5. i was just describing the old artery and raised highway to my staff kids. another for your list: kenmore! zanzibar and the rathskeller! nemo's! anything other than that damn huge hotel with it's swanky meat market of a bar...and that only happened in the last 10 years....!

  6. FACES! Great pick!

    What the IS the story behind that place? I always pictured an elderly person wasting away in an Allston nursing home claiming that they would NEVER, EVER sell FACES, no suh.

    Also, I was kind of always dying to go look inside, because what does it even look like in there!?

  7. Kevin White

    My first trip to Boston was to Charlestown in 1967 with my Navy flight crew. We were assigned to a sonobouy project up in Nashua, NH. We visited the home of my navigator, Billy Galvin, who had grown up on Bunker Hill. He was the son of "Mother Galvin" whose fame dated to the days of Boss Curley. Billy had a bunch of sisters, one of which was married to Kevin White, who was running for mayor of Boston against Louisa Day Hicks.

    Ms Hicks reminded me of George Corley Wallace. Kevin was elected and served many terms as hizzoner.

    We had a fine week-end in Boston which included a wonderful dinner at Durgan Park. Mother Galvin's political appointment was to run the fish market downstairs. We also spent a day at Monument Beach, somewhere on Cape Cod. It was cold, gray, and raining.

    Peace and Blessings, Fred


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