About 10 years ago or so I worked as an Area Sales Manager at the Downtown Crossing Filene's location.
(If you bought a handbag at Filene's Downtown Crossing location anytime from 1997-ish to 2002-ish, you bought it from me and my crew, but I digress... : )
There are so many things I wish I had taken pictures of when I had the chance roaming around the back halls of the old Filene's building but the building is mostly gone now and life moves on. I have made it a bit of a life challenge to never miss another opportunity to take pictures of neat things, (especially neat vintage things, visit my vintage blog at www.grrlpickers.com ) and now have a camera stashed in my bag everywhere I go.
I first encountered this chair many years ago when I passed it in back hall storage area at Filene's. I was excited when I first saw it and asked my boss if this was an old Santa chair and if the store was going to have a Santa that year. (There were no department store Santa's at either Filene's or Jordan Marsh/Macy's across the street during my years working in the area)
My boss informed me that as red and ornate the chair was, it was not ever used as Santa's seat. This chair had been manufactured and delivered to the store as part of a product launch (fragrance?) and was originally designed to seat not Santa but, Fabio.
I thought for sure she was kidding but nope, "The King of Romance" Fabio.
At first glance it appears to be an awesome Santa throne but upon closer inspection, one can see that there are no holiday references carved into it, in fact even the red fabric seems a little off for a holiday celebration and more appropriate for a coronation. Cherubic angel face below the seat? Not quite a North Pole elf...
For a couple of years the Fabio throne sat in the back halls of Filene's as a monument to the absurd excess that are most department store product launches (especially fragrance launches...) until one day, Tommy Hillfiger was due to arrive at the store to launch one of his products.
Fragrance? Men's pants? Tennis shoes? Who knows?...
What I do know is that this cahir was brought out of storage and used to seat 'his royal highness of ready to wear' for an instore event sometime 2000-ish.
Which brings us up to today (or a couple of days ago to be more precise). I now work for another business in Downtown Crossing and was passing by Macy's the other day when I saw an old friend.
"Hello Fabio chair! It's nice to see you again!" thought I.
About 3 days a week now around lunch time a really great Santa sits here outside Macy's and passer by are encouraged to use their own camera's and take all the free pictures with Santa that their hearts desire. It's a really nice thing that appears to completely confuse consumers more used to getting the hustle to buy something when walking through Downtown Crossing.
I have contemplated approaching him and telling him the history of the chair as I know it but he would undoubtedly, believe me to be one of the many 'assorted nuts' that roam the area and the very last thing I want to do is irritate Santa.
Photos of my grandfather, Charles J. McIntyre's last day on the job as a Patrolman (assigned to Internal Affairs / Staff Inspections from 1969-1976) and badge presentation (with Comm. Robert J diGrazia) upon retirement.
I wish I knew who some of these other men were, sadly none of the pictures I have are labeled on the back.
This gentleman came froma flea market but at some point in his life he was sitting at either 145 Tremont Street or 203 Washington Street in Boston.
I'm not sure what a "Cabinet Portrait" means but he sure is interesting looking. Like he's thinking about something important while waiting for the shutter to finish it's business.
Whoever he may have been, he's worth remembering as he probably was somone with important things to think about having most likely been successful to some degree in his chosen field.
Now days we snap shots and seconds later those shots are on the internet and being viewed on the other side of the world. In this gentleman's day, a print like this would not have been an inexpensive thing to have made.
I picked up this old photo at a flea market, the back is penciled "Geo. Wood" so it's my thoughts that this man most likely was named George Wood but taken out of context of other family photos and/or memories is hard to say exactly what sort of man George Wood actually might have been.
The label on the front reads: "Glines 6 Winter Street cor. Washington, Boston, MA.
I work just a block or so from this address now and if I bring my camera to work tomorrow, I will snap a shot of what this location looks like now and add it to this post.
I took these early Sunday morning a week or so ago, it's kind of hard to see just how ginormous the Macy's tree is when it's up on the ledge and all decorated but at a street level view it really is quite massive.
It's interesting to me just how much production goes into what our jaded modern minds think of as a simple and sweet holiday tradition.
The amount of people involved in aquiring this tree, planning where it's going to go, how the lights will be powered, and how it's all going to happen without someone getting maimed or killed must be quite a number.
I haven't worked for Macy's in years (and never worked at the Downtown Crossing location, I worked at Filene's across the street) but for all the hub-ub that I don't miss (early bird sales, crazy hours, crazier customers...) I do think they do dress up the shop nice come holiday time.
Kudos to them, come black friday this year tho, no early birds for me! I'm still in retail now but I sell online from home and with no crazy early bird/doorbuster sales to set, this year I'm sleeping in... : )
This card came from a collection of my Grandparents that had many pieces of mail addressed to this same woman, I'm not entirely sure who she was or if she was even related in anyway to my family. (My Grandparents loved collecting all kinds of vintage stuff and could ahve easily found these at a church sale, she could be a totally unrelated person but I've held onto the cards and letters none the less just in case I find out she was someone related to our family in some way).
I found this image of place and time very interesting and having once lived near "The Companion Building" I have always been interested in going back there to take a few photos of what the building looks like now (or even if it's still there). time being as fleeting as it is tho, I haven't seemed to have found enough of it to spare an afternoon jaunt just for curiositis sake.
It's a neat card tho and I figured even if I can't spare the time to go an take more updated photos for the place, it is still an interesting thing to share.
One of my side projects is selling vintage items both online and at flea markets around New England. This brings me in contact with many collectors and sellers of all sorts of vintage stuff and a couple of weeks ago I made a great connection at a local flea market; I purchaced some Playbills from right on the spot from this new friend and I met with him again today and made another great purchace of a lot of vintage Playbills and other ephemera.
This is one of the items I purchaced today and I absolutely LOVE the articles and advertising contained on it's pages:
Boston's Favorite Band Leader & Disk Jockey, Station WBMS, I can't wait to look up more about him and that station!
Barbara Lee, "Interprative Dancer", what on earth does that mean?
"Marie Cord, Boston's Pin Up Girl" sounded really interesting but I can't find anything about her on line:
What a fun piece of history!
I am going to enjoy the hours of looking up the performers and the places advertised within. It's not the super stars that make any city really interesting, it's who hides in the nooks and crannies of history that really define a place and time.
Eons ago in a galaxy far far away (Providence, RI to be exact),
a small group of friends ventured from thier home port of Boston to see Chris Trapper perform.
We had heard of his pervious band The Push Stars and enjoyed that music well enough but would never have traveled quite so far on a 'school night' (a night where one of us, me in fact, had to work early the next day) if not for the fact that another friend had happened to mention on the board for another band that she had at some point in space and time baked fresh cookies for The Push Stars.
Good music on CD is one thing but musicians so spectacular that they inspire a woman to bake fresh cookies?!? That's a musician you travel over state lines on a 'school night' to see.
So we get there and the place is familiar, (I forget the name of it but we had seen Black47 there before, another band well worth travelling to see but I digress...) we're comfortable enough, order drinks, order food and enjoy the opener imensely (Jim's Big Ego).
We enjoy ourselves enough that T shirts are purchaced. Good times indeed.
Eventually the main event comes on and he's just delightful in a charming "Aw shucks" kind of way, like he's just some guy playing songs he wrote in his spare time and not a world class songwriter far too skilled in his trade to be playing a Providence, RI basement to a weak crowd on a weeknight.
The songs are wonderful and the music is well executed but it's getting later and later and I know I still have quite a bit of driving to do and no matter how good the music is, I have to be up at 6am to work a whole state and at least 3 metropolitan areas away early the next day. I stay til the last possible minute that I can possibly stay and then inform my friends that it is time to go, now.
Good buddies that they are,
all rise and follow me out to the street where I am duely chastised for behaving in an incomprehensibly rude and down right dasterdly manner. The worst sting comes from my friend George who is a musician (yes, a drummer counts),
"I can't believe we did that! That was so rude! You do not just up and leave in the middle of a song!!!"
To which everyone else replied,
"Yeah, did you see how everyone else there glared at us?"
The answer being, no. Actually I did not.
But I have very easily imagined the horrified looks of indignation every time I have enjoyed a Push Stars and/or Chris Trapper tune and have felt wicked bad about it ever since.
So much so that when informed through facebook by Mr. Trapper himself (what a smart marketing/promoting cookie he is!) that he would be performing in Cambridge at Club Passim this week (5-31-12) I thought,
"Here's a great opportunity to wash my karma and hang it up to dry as well! I can go enjoy this show and clap myself silly to make up for my past indiscression!"
Probably make an *ss of myself in the process but who cares? Clean karma trumps all embarassment in my book!
I work far to much (having been told this by many, and having far to little time for the things I really like to do, I am now inclined to actually believe it) and am unable to make this awesome show (2 in fact on the same night, one at 7pm-ish and one at 9pm-ish) but I did buy the lastest album so singing along in the car on my way to work is a consolation prize that I look forward to.
I also sent a long rambling note to Mr. Trapper who very graciously replied that even tho he had no idea just what on earth I was rambling on about, all was forgiven, so my karma is clean and when the new disk arrives at my house I can enjoy it with a clean concience.
The whole point of this ramble is that this super nice guy who happens to write absolutely amazing songs is totally worth getting out to see this coming Thurs night in Cambridge at Club Passim, if you possibly can.
If my driving to RI on the eve of a long work day and the fact that some chick somewhere was so moved by this mans music to bake him fresh cookies doesn't move ya, I don't know what will....
Perhaps a little hometown pride might be just the ticket :
On any given day you can find my sorry self slumped over and snoozing somewhere on the Red Line either coming or going to or from work at one of my 2 jobs. It is a vast understatement to say I am tired most of the time and a total truth to say, I really do not pay all that much attention to anything going on around me because of this simple fact. I'm not totally out of it when I snooze on the train, I have some small sense of self preservation and I tend to perk up when it's almost my stop or something/someone invades my personal space.
Like the couple that got on the Red Line at Broadway tonight and jumped up an down on my personal tranquility and then for good measure kicked it across the platform. They seemed at first quick glance to be a run of the mill couple high as kites on their way to who knows what kind of torrid downfall of an evening and I really didn't want to know any more, I just didn't want them to sit anywhere near me and my quiet ride home.
That's just not my kind of luck tho and of course, the woman plops her bone thin frame into the seat beside me and bids her parner to sit in a vacant seat across the way. Incidentally, a seat right next to a guy who is so seriously down for the count, he is not snoozing but full on sleeping, half laying across 2 seats. To all outward appearences this man showed no signs of waking anytime before spring. Next to slumped over guy, the gentleman of this charming duo sat.
As the train rumbled on, the couple talked very animatedly with the man kind of egging the woman on as she told a highly implausible tale of woe that befell her before she ran into him tonight. She was mugged and beaten and left for dead in an alley by some people of mumbled ethnicity and apparently a very nice little old lady she was friends with was murdered somewhere along the way. I lost track of the story as I tried to figure out how to get away from these people without drawing attention to myself. I imagined some kind of "What do you think? You're better than us?!?" scream following me down the car and was not in the mood for it at all, so I stayed put.
I thought about getting off at the next stop, and waiting for the next train but on the Red Line you have to wait for the time it takes 2 trains to come into the station because 2 lines run on the same track and they wind up at 2 very different places at the end of the line. I was tired and wanted to go home. I worked all day, it was so unfair that I should have to get off and wait for the next Braintree train just to escape these drugged out nut jobs so I tried to make the best of it and squished myself to the wall beside me. I snuggled my backpack close on my lap and tried to doze off and block them out.
After a stop or so, even with my eyes closed I realized, this woman next to me is now falling over, onto me.
I open my eyes and give her a little nudge with a friendly as I can muster comment "Hey, I think you're falling asleep..." She snaps up and looks at her "friend" who is now standing in front of her, as she tries to focus in on where she is and what is happening, he's on the phone and I look at him and realize, there is a major age discrepency between these two.
She's somewhere between 45 and 65 and he's about 23-25. Not totally unusual for folks on drugs I think, they tend to buddy up with other users no matter what thier ages, but this largish gap strikes me as a little odd.
The train rumbles on and she starts to nod off again but she's doing it upright so I'm not paying too much attention to her, he's got my attention now. He's talking on the phone as she slips away, calling a friend and asking if it's ok if he comes over to watch the end of the game with the rest of the fellas tonight. He's happy and tells his friend he'll call him when he gets to Ashmont but first he has to make sure his Mom gets home ok.
Then I get it, and it hits me. Hard.
The kid is completely clean, he's not on drugs and he's not 25 but about maybe about 20 and he's egging the woman on in her nutty paranoid ramble so he can keep her awake, he knows as bone thin as she is, he's not going to be able to get her home unless he keeps her awake. He's done this many times before.
I figured out that it really wouldn't matter if I got up and moved seats, neither of them were going to hassle me for clearly wanting to be away from them, they were paying attention to no one else and would probably not even notice me at all.
Probably, except the woman was leaning on me again and if I moved she would hit the floor like the ton of bricks that hit me when I realized what was actually going on.
I looked up at the young man and asked if he would like to sit in my seat. He was incredibly fresh faced with bright eyes and a smile that is almost genuine except I know this act, I've seen this play before. It's just a different touring cast this time.
That makes his sincere seeming smile a little creepy but I'm over my own feelings now. No, he doesn't want to inconvienince me, he has clearly been raised a gentleman and would never do something so horridly ill mannered as request the seat where a lady was already sitting.
It's his "Everything is just fine" act and he brightly tells me that his mother has had a long day. She's nodding over again and he nudges her.
"Hey Mom, we gotta get off at the next stop, we got on the wrong train." She wakes and stares at him once again as if she's at home in bed, been asleep for hours and was just woken up by some strange happenstance beyond her comprehension.
"Where is your Father?!?"
He's very patient with her, "He's home Ma, I'm gonna take you home."
To me, he's very polite,
"Um, if you would be more comfortable over there..."
he gestures across the car to the now empty seat next to the slumped over guy.
"Um yeah, thanks..." I smile gratefully and slip across the way. As he sits next to his Mother and I sit across the way he leans forward again to say, his mother has had a long day and he starts to say more but I stop him.
He looks at me, I look at him and I say it again, "It's ok." He doesn't have to explain anything, I'm not judging him or his Mother, I know what the situation is and "It's ok."
I don't know why I also told him, "You have a good night now, ok?" It seems in hindsight a very odd thing to say except I think he understood, I hope he understood, I was really telling him,
"You're a good son and I hope the rest of your life doesn't totally suck."
I sincerely hope this one night doesn't toally suck for him, I hope he gets to watch the game with his friends. I hope he meets a nice girl at the gathering and gets to forget about his burdens for a while.
It's all hope until they get off at the next station, the car pulls away and I watch the way he moves helping his mother to the stairs.
He's not 23-25, he's maybe 17 and he's being such a good son.
By the time I pull into my stop, I'm no longer hoping for him, I'm praying.
Slumped over guy stays on the train at Braintree, he hasn't moved the whole trip. He's not going anywhere having clearly already hit the end of the line.
I wonder if he isn't the luckiest dude on the whole train...
A book published as part of the Images of America series "Franklin Park" also contains some great images of this old zoo when it was actually a functioning city attraction.
Some other great pictures (including architectural drawings for zoo buildings) can also be found by searching Franklin Park on the Library of Congress' American Memory web site.
It's also interesting to note that parts of the old zoo were used in the film Mystic River based on Dennis Lehane's best selling novel. I remember watching that movie and thinking, "Wait a minute, they just jumped from a generic street in South Boston to JP?!?" A bit of film making magic, I guess but the way the old zoo has over grown does lend itself to the sort of place a villian would perform eveil deeds.
There is a walk of approx 1/4 to 1/2 mile that spans the old cages with the sounds of heavy traffic on Blue Hill Ave right behind on the other side. There are many deep pits along that walk that used to house smaller animals. Those pits are now full of old tires, growling trees and other brambles and human junk. (I even found an old torn apart heavy duty safe in a revine in that area. It's a beautiful park but those pits really lent themselves to being a great place for folks over the decades to dump unwanted stuff of all sorts.
From the mid 1990's to about 2000 I lived just down the street from this location and frequenyly walked my dogs in the large sprawling park and around the zoo ruins. I took these pictures on one of those walks and wrote the poem beneath them around the same time.
I'm not sure with all the activity of the latest Kevin James movie shooting at the new Zoo a block or so away that these old cages are still in the same condition that I last saw them around summer 2000 but I kind of like to think they are.
Looking at these ruins reminds us just how far public zoos have come in their care and housing of wild animals since the old bear cage was opened 100 years ago. Having both the old and the new Franklin Park Zoo so close in location to each other is a great physical illustration on just how far we have come.
I wonder what the next 100 year will bring for Franklin Park, I wonder what the next 100 years will bring for public zoos everywhere, Hmmm....
Leave a scent on the soil
pound through the night
with the heavy footfalls of full grown deer,
the pull of wet dog,
or the pressure of the migrating sun.
Midnight pulse points
dripping slowly to the floor,
in the heat.
I am having trouble sleeping tonight.
The city skin is breeched,
it's weather weary boards
and left in pieces on the ground.
Someone else has been here,
on the stone cage.
A soft weak man
marks his territory
with the carelessness of an afterthought,
with as much effort
as it takes to pull the trigger
of a tranquilizer.
The night moves with plentiful noise,
the wounded cries of lonely beasts
with the flow of traffic not far away.
These cages no longer have doors.
The entire wild night
is free to roam
past the protection
and the hinderance
of heavy iron bars.