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...