Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blizzard of 78

These pictures are of my Great Aunt Catherine McIntyre outside of her house on Walter Street in Roslindale during the blizzard of 1978.
The entire east coast is today being hit with a large snow storm and although we probably won't wind up with snow as deep as it was during the winter of 1978, I think people living here now know enough from recent memory about how bad these storms can be and are driving slowly and with much courtosy twards others on the road who are just trying to get safely home.

I was 8 years old in the winter of 1978 and lived on a small dead end end street. Every house on my street had kids in it and the fact that the street did not go anywhere put it dead last on the lists of roads plowed making our street a kids winter wonderland. I remember "swimming" in the snow without my feet touching the ground.
I also remember a few days after the storm one of my babysitters brought me to the corner store and showed me how to climb up the snow drifts onto the roof and slide back down the packed snow that plows had pushed up against the building.
I wasn't supposed to tell my parents that we did that but it was sooooo fun that little me couldn't help but squeal about it and I didn't get babysat by that babysitter ever again.
I still feel I owe her one tho, because that was one great storm memory....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cocoanut Grove

In June 1941 my Grandfather was sworn in as a patrolman with the Boston police force.

Known parts of his regular beat are just about 2 blocks east from this site and it is quite possible that he was working the night of the Cocoanut Grove fire.

This corner is just about 2 blocks east from where I now work and I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago when curiosity got the best of me and I went looking for it.

A thought that runs through my mind now is that I really wish my Grandfather would have been the sort to keep a journal. He wasn't and he didn't so I can only speculate what his experiences were that night and the days and weeks that followed it.

Putting the place into perspective it should be remembered that over 400 people died here on this spot where now stand 2 small parking lots.
I think Stephanie Schorow well summed up the devestation to the city in her book,
'Boston on Fire':
"Few Bostonians were unaffected; if they didn't have a friend or a relative at the club, they knew someone who almost went there but left becasue it was too crowded. If they didn't have a firefighter in the family or a realative among ther city's medical staffs, they knew of a mother in labor who couldn't get a hospital room or of a funeral delayed because no coffins were available."
The bottom line pretty much being, this was the nightclub fire to end all nightclub fires. Laws were enacted nationally in hopes of preventing this sort of tragedy from ever happening again.
Then The Station nightclub fire happened and once again the collective public said, we need more laws, so this doesn't happen again.
It's my thinking that what we really need is the common sense to not patronise establishements where over crowding is the norm, and no matter where we are, to know how to get out of there in a hurry should we need to.
Otherwise, this is a lesson we are doomed to learn for the last time, over and over again...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Essex Street - Sinners and saints, then and now

It seems as we creep up on half way to St. Patrick's Day, we take a look at an incident very near St. Patrick's Day 1959.

Charles Joesph McIntyre, the officer in the above report, was my Grandfather. A couple of years ago, on a whim and a rare moment of absolute genological dumb luck, I requested his emploment records from the City of Boston.
There were several reports like this one detailing on the job incidents and my living so near to the places mentioned, I've often thought it would be really fun to go track the places down and see what they look like today.
I doubted "The Golden Nugget Cafe" was still in business but I wondered, has the building changed? Is it still being used as a bar? What is the street like now, what businesses occupy it, how do the area demographics compare to what they might have been in the past?

A few days ago I had a little time before work and I went and found 25 Essex Street:

I actually forget what sort of buisness was advertised in the windows but the building is most likely the one that was there in 1959 (most of it anyways), it looked like it could have been used as a bar room in the past and I noticed that the buisness in it now is most definately not of the night crawling, seemy side of the city variety. (I want to say it now houses a chinese tax agency or something very much like it. Kind of had a 'family run' business look to it, definately not a dive bar.)

As neat as it was to stand across the street looking at the very same spot where the above reported incident occured some 60 years prior, that wasn't the building that really grabbed my attention.

The lot next to 25 Essex seems to down for the count but I noticed the building next to that empty lot surely had some glory in it's past life somewhere along the way:

It doesn't look like much at street level but when you stop and look up, it's clear that this building was never built to be a dive bar. It looks kind of "churchy" to me but it's a skinny 4 story walk up, hard to figure out what it could have been if not a church or religious society of some type.

It's pretty clear that whatever it was, it hasn't been used for anything in quite some time. I love looking at old buildings like this and wondering what forgotten relics lay forgotten inside?

(A few years back I worked for Filene's Department Store in Downtown Crossing and one day I was waiting for a frieght elevator and a maintenance guy walked up to wait as well. In his arms he was holding out flat a couple of old newspapers from the 1950's. (The Boston Post, when did that stop publishing?)When I asked where he got them he said he found them on a shelf in a part of a sub basement that no one had opened in years. The papers had been left by some past worker who probably stashed them on a shelf before a break that he never came back from. That always makes me wonder about old buildings and lost or forgotten things)

I did find this one refrence to a church on Essex online (Thank you Library of Congress : ) but I don't think it's refering to this building. It's nice enough but it just doesn't seem the sort of building that a lot of fan fare would be made over the setting of a corner stone.

The area is littered with amazing churches, my guess is I was looking at one that's just not as documented as the rest. Maybe this little building was one of the big churches accountant's office? Who knows.

I do know for sure though that my Grandfather would have been horrified if he knew his Granddaughter was anywhere near "The Golden Nugget Cafe" at any point even in the advancing years of time. He just was that sort of guy, nice girls didn't go to those parts of town, period.

I thought about maybe telling that to the colorful 'spandex-ipod clad pony tail swinging like a movie star' woman I saw jogging my way up the street past a gaggle of men of a certain lifestyle that allowed them to have no particular place else to be at 8am on a Monday morning but hanging on the street corner.
I think tho, from the wary look on her face as she passed them, she'll stick to jogging through the Public Garden from now on and leave the garden of good and evil to others and their own particular brand of ghosts...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A little mystery, a little history...

I got out of work a little earlier than expected yesterday and found myself with time on my hands before the next train out of South Station.
I took a little walk towards the harbor and thought I'd get a closer look at the giant milk bottle outside the Children's Museum and see if it has aged as well as I have.
I look every bit like I ma turning 40 this year however this look exactly the same as I remember it looking when I was a kid:

I have absolutely no idea what these are, I just happened to look down from the bridge on my walk and saw them floating along with the tide:

The closest I can come up with is perhaps fairies crash landed their space ship in the Boston Harbor and abandoned their landing gear.

I'm really mystified as to that these things could possibly be:

Fairy survival suits?

Poking around on the internet today I found this and I think it gives a great history of a largely forgotten Boston woman's literary adventure:

That is enough for today...

Friday, September 3, 2010

I can't recall any other time that I have ever seen the swans even remotely interested in their namesake boats.
As I walked across the bridge in the garden today they seemed a bit perplexed by the "naked" boats.
Hurricaine Earl was due to hit about midnight tonight and it's my guess that the swan part of these small but sturdy watercraft were taken into safe harbor for the duration of the storm.

Don't worry swans,
they'll be back....

The Boston Music Company Revisted

This lady standing outside The Boston Music Company was a friend of my Great Aunt Kay and I believe her name was/is Helen.

This is a picture I took of the same building located at 116 Boylston Street (that's me in the green shirt) about a week or 2 ago.
There are plenty of older buildings in Boston but what I find so fascinating about this one is that despite changing hands many times, it retains its original facade.
One could go scouring The Garment District for vintage clothes, dress up like Helen and recreate an almost identical photo 50 some odd years later on the very same spot.

Although if one did that in the evening they might be asked to leave the premesis as the old Boston Music Comapny is now an upscale cocktail bar and as the sign in the window notes:
"Proper dress is required"
I am dying to go one night just to see what it's like inside and if anything on the inside is as I remember seeing it when I was kid. My guess though, is that I would be disapointed. I recall the place packed ceiling to floor with drum kits, quitars, keyboards and sheet music as far as the eye could see.
As my favorite nights out now include a live crushing drum beat that greets you at the door and I see no stage inside The Gypsy Bar my guess is, (as if the dress code was not enough of a hint) it's just not the place for me...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The American League Baseball Club 1901

Every one has his or her "thing".
A specific subject of intrest that is interesting no matter where discussions about said, "thing" might be found.
For me, it's music, for my husband it's sports.
There may be 4 seasons where we live but there are only 2 seasons on his personal calendar, Hockey and Baseball.
He's come home with stuff like this before, he's got a signed 8x10 glossy of some late 60's ball player who retired from baseball to become a dentist and while shopping for groceries one day happened to cross paths with the only guy on the face of the planet that would recognise him for reasons unrelated to the practice of oral maintenence and hygine.
I forget the guy's name and after the excitement of tonight's Red Sox game (as seen on TV), Michael is snoozing on the couch and I haven't the heart to wake him just for the sake of my blog.
(Stay tuned tho,
If the slugger dentist played local, I will post more about him later.)


Much in the same way that I find myself with a growing collection of bootleg tapes, tshirts, and tips on good bands to check out, Michael finds conversations with total strangers that lead to him walking away with sports stuff of intrest to him.
Our neighbors are having some work done on their house and Michael was standing in the driveway chatting with the guys doing the work when it came up that Michael had dressed up
the back of our house to look like the original American League scoreboard.
He invited the guys working on our neighbors house into the back yard to check it out and go figure, one of them happend to have a copy of this neat little bit of history tucked into his pick up truck just in case he ran across someone who might find it as interesting as he did.
Kind of in the same way that someone who really likes an up and coming band will have a few extra copies of thier favorites latest or rarest to spread the word.

No matter what your "thing" may be, I find it endlessly interesting to talk to people who are passionate about any subject no matter how boring I may personally find it.
I have really tried to understand baseball, I'm just an abysmal failure at grasping the excitement that others seem to find in it.
No matter tho,
I am crazy for history and in that,
Michael and I can both get equally as excited for this new addition to the photos in our basement sports bar:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Frog Pond Blues

Walked past the frog pond one evening last week and was surprised to find it littered with signs alerting all that the pond was closed.
I guess I can kind of understand where the city is coming from on this but the uncomplicated simplicity of the pond was/is a key element in my memories of it from growing up.
Sure, when I was a kid I was told I had to look out for shards of glass while "swimming" in it and maybe most days it wasn't as sparkling clean as it seems to be now but one didn't need to wear a bathing cap to keep one's hair out of the pool filter like at most other public pools and heck, you didn't even need any proper bathing attire at all if you only happened to have what you had on on hand...
My friends and I enjoyed many fun afternoons and evenings in our teens roaming through the park and frolicking in the pond.
(A particularly memorable time being in the middle of one of a great late night summer rainstorm, and before any one chastises me on the dangers of lightening and standing in a body of water during a storm, if you had been there for the loveliness of the whole evening, you would have done the same thing. There were other little gaggles of friends of the same mindset there as well so, I know the night, and the pond, tempted other normally more rational people as well.)


I was surprised to find the pond still closed the following morning:

I guess the city really is, at heart, trying to beautify the area and make it more touristly hospitable as this new addition clearly attests (note the signs in the pond) :

Can't say I don't miss the simple pleasures tho, back when fun ruled the day and regards for personal safety came in a distant second.

I'm quite a bit older and unfortunately a lot more sensible than I used to be but whose looking out for the teenagers? The ones on their way home from Rocky Horror in Harvard Square in the middle of a refreshing summer rain storm? Or the ones simply to broke to have other stuff to do on a sunny afternoon?

Let's hope for thier sake, that they temporarily forget how to read the signs....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Her Boston Experiences

This is the book that gave me the inspiration for this blog. I knew I wanted to write a blog that would be interesting to a larger public than my own circle of friends and family but I'm not really an expert in much of anything.

I love Linda Purl's Crazy Cat Lady who drinks and knits blog:

I'd use her great idea as a starting off point but I knit a only a little, (mostly things that are square or rectangle in shape) and don't own even one cat. I do like my wine but my idea of a good wine is the big jug of Gallo "Paisano" that retails for a whopping $10.99 at my local emporium and it's best year is usually this year for maximum freshness. If I started a wine blog the most interesting things it would have on it would be where locally to get the cheapest price on a good box o'wine.
Limited audience for that kind of info and not really the mass market sort of blog I had in mind.

There are people who write about anything and everything on thier blogs and some of them are highly informative and entertaining. My friend Pilar turned me on to The Bloggess and I like her site enough to revisit it on a fairly regular basis:

I would use her success at writing about everything and nothting as an inspiration but as pleasant as it is overall, my life just isn't all that funny.

Back to square one....

I was having a really hard time finding a place to start til I thought of this book that I've been carrying around since it was given to my Father in 1981.

I would have been 10 years old when this was given to me and I am pretty sure it was my Father who actually passed it on to me and not the woman who wrote the inscription although he had no memory at all of ever doing so.
No matter, the item for what it was/is was the reason I held onto it as long as I did.
I grew up in Brookline, MA ( a suburb of Boston) and lived in Brighton and Jamaica Plain for the bulk of my life up until the past 10 years which I have spent on the south shore of MA.
I have a large volume of Boston related memories and boxes upon boxes, upon boxes of various photos and ephemara from the generations of my family that came before me.
I know I can't be the only one....

In my 20's, I worked for the Filene's department store in Downtown crossing. I found that old building with all it's history to be a really fascinating place to work and even though it's mostly gone now (only the outer shell of the building remains), the downtown Boston area never ceases to offer up some little snippet of wonder every time I walk those streets.

So here I find myself, kind of getting comfortable, a few posts into my new blog about a subject that I don't need to be an expert on but know enough about to know that it will continue to be interesting to me as we grow together.

With this post I invite everyone along for the ride, I sincerely hope you all find this site seeing journey around Boston past and present as interesting a trip as I do.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Boston Globe June 4, 1976 David Farrell

The Boston Globe - Tuesday, June 4 1974 - By David Farrell

Supt. Sullivan retiring as police rift flares

"Boston Police Supt. Jeremiah P. Sullivan will retire from the department on July 16. Sullivan is the second top superior officer to announce his retirement since the hassle last March between the commissioner and some of the top members of his staff.
A month ago Supt.-in-charge William J. Taylor advised diGrazia that he was getting out in September.
Sullivan told diGrazia that his wife's illness and a desire to spend more time with her and other members of his family were factors in his decision to retire.
He also said that he and one of his sons, Jeremiah Jr. an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, were planning to to work together in the establishment and development of a school for policemen seeking promotional advancement.
The superintendent, who has been one of the outstanding superior officers in the department during the past two decades, made no mention of the difficulties between diGrazia and some of the high ranking members of his staff.
But it is no secret at 154 Berkley st. that relations between the commissioner and Sullivan, Taylor, and other staff officers have been severely strained.
The inability or unwillingness of diGrazia to communicate and level with these officers is the real reason for the retirements of Taylor and Sullivan.
Another high ranking officer who was busted from superintendent's rank by the commisioner several months ago is expected to follow suit and submit his retirement papers.
Capt. James L. Buchanan, who was offered the commissioner's post by Mayor White two years ago, has been shelved by diGrazia in a humiliating manner totally unbecoming his long years of dedication and integrity. He is now confined to an upstairs office in traffic with nothing to do.
The loss of these men, who have the respect and admiration of the non-white as well as white community, will be a severe blow to the police department's efforts to hurdle the forthcoming crises anticipated with the busing of school children.
Supts. Sullivan and Taylor have been upset at the manner in which diGrazia's so-called whiz kids have walked all over the superior officers, a point not overlooked by Mayor White.
The mayor reportedly has had his fill of one of them and his days as a member of the commissioners civilian staff are numbered.
The Taylor retirement announcement in May disturbed the mayor, but the decision by Sullivan to leave is expected to upset the mayor even nore because if it's implications to the public.
Sullivan is so highly regarded by the community and by the patrolmen that his departure will affect adversely the already low morale on the PD.
The brush which triggered the final collapse of relations between diGrazia and the superior officers occured three months ago at a staff meeting at headquarters. The meeting was rocked by some vigorous comments by Sullivan and others on some moves being proposed by the civilian staff and bought by diGrazia. The superior officers felt that thier long years of experience were being scrapped and tossed aside.
After the confrontation became public , Mayor White called in the commissioner and told him to cool it and lower his public profile.
The mayor also was upset at a statement diGrazia made at a Harvard Law Enforcement session at which he said he hoped the city's 2500 policemen would go on strike so that he could get rid of most of them and begin anew with a neucleus of the 125 good men.
As for Supt. Sullivan, he departs with the knowledge that he left a legacy of impeccable integrity and a record of accomplishmentwith under privilaged groups that even the whiz kids -elated as they must be in that another obstacle in their path has been removed-will have to concede.

-David Farrell is a Globe political columnist. "

I found this article folded up with some others in my Grandfather's belongings. My Grandfather Charles McIntyre retired from the Boston Police in 1976 and although he never discussed his job with his 5 year old grand daughter , he was surely right in the middle of one of the more troubled times in Boston history.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Old Boston Public Library

This is a shot I snapped on a whim out one of the windows of the old Boston Public Library building, probably sometime in the summer of 1989.
I think I recall liking the way the sun glinted off the church. I have since swapped my 110 instamatic for an even more "instant" digital camera but I still like this snapshot and the moment in time it captures.

Wollaston Beach Quincy, MA 7-13-10

Monday, July 5, 2010

Downtown Crossing / Park Street Station

I found this photo in my Grandparents belongings.
The actual photo itself is about the size of 2 postage stamps. It's a very small actual photo and I think it may have been a photographers proof of some sort.
At that tiny size it appeared to me that the man in the forground might have been my Grandfather Charles J. McIntyre but after taking the image and blowing it up on my computer I am no longer sure that it looks like him.
I know that intersection though, the photographer must be standing right in front of Park Street Station in Downtown Boston looking toward the street that leads to the Downtown Crossing shopping area.

Vintage Post Cards

I don't own any of these postcards but I found the images on line and I think they are really neat older images worth sharing.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Boston Music Company, my Great Aunt and Ted Kennedy.

My great aunt worked as a secretary for the Boston Music Company for years though she really wasn't much of a music fan herself. Catherine "Kay" McIntyre loved going to Symphony Hall, she loved seeing popular Broadway musicals but at heart, it wasn't the music so much that moved her as the social experience of going to a concert or seeing a play and being seen while doing either.

That said, for a person who wasn't all that interested in music she left behind an amazing collection of records and music related ephemara. I am going to try and post as much as I can in up coming posts but this was one of the more unique pieces and I thought posting this first was as good a place to start as any.

This is a link to a video I made of a record produced for the 1962 Edward M. Kennedy senate campaign:

(I am having some trouble adding a link to this page so I will post the url and it can be copied and pasted if you can't see the link while reading this)

I knew Kay must have had the record stashed away in the attic from her Boston Music Company days but more details about the recording itself were harder to find.
I currently work in a bookstore and we had some of the authors of a Ted Kennedy biography (Last Lion) in for a book signing and I asked them about it but they had never heard of it. I searched the internet and came up blank. I asked the guys at the record shop who generously lent my thier turntable to make the video and though they agreed it was a neat bit of history, they didn't know any more about it than I did.
Since the record seemed pretty rare at this point, I wrote to the currator of the Kennedy Library and offered it to them. I got a very nice letter back stating that they already had a copy of it and thus were not interested but that it was public domain so if I wanted to sell it, they had no objection to my doing so.
I didn't really want to sell it as much as know more about it so I kept asking around. Finally a co-worker at the bookstore took on the task and he found that it was a tune "borrowed" from a popular musical of the time and was re-written for the 1962 campaign.
We'll as peppy and hopeful this song is, we all now know how that campain turned out, which is probaly why finding info about this song was so hard to find.
I had my local record shop guys make a CD copy for me and then I did wind up selling the record itself to a collector who was very happy to have it.
All I could think was this thing survived so long in the attic in Roslindale that it would be a shame for it to wind up broken while residing at my house. (Which it surely would have knowing me as well I do...)
Far better that it be housed in a well cared for collection.

The photos in this post are prints that once belonged to my great aunt. She did not take the photos however, the back of each print is marked:
Vouge inc.
Commercial Photography
296 Columbus Ave.
Boston, Mass

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I figure the best place to start a blog is with introductions.

("Hi!" seems as good a place to start as any....)

My name is Laura, I am 39 years old and I have lived in the Boston area for most my life thus far. Experience bought with extensive US travel in my youth has taught me that as much as I enjoy new experinces and would love to have more of them, I get awfully cranky when I am away from home for more than a couple of weeks at a stretch.

(Home sickness, I think, is the medical term.)

I have come to terms with my homebody tendancies and the more I learn about my own history writing geneology blogs, the more interested I have become in the travelling tendencies of the ancestors that came before and thus collectively brought me here.

But this is not a geneology blog written for a limited audience of people with Pearson, Ricker, McIntyre, or Cummings genes, this is going to be a blog about Boston and my point of view of it.

The best place to start I think may be where it all began,
I took this out the attic window of a house in Roslindale originally purchaced by my Great Grandparents.
After all,
isn't the attic always where the greatest treasures are found?