Monday, December 16, 2013

Stay safe Harvard Community, Stay Safe Boston...

I saw my father pretty often on weekends and school vacations but it was very rare for him to show up anywhere in the comings and goings of my day to day life. With the possible exception of when I got in trouble for something really bad, that was kind of how I knew I was really in trouble, if it was something so bad that my mother got over her aversion for speaking to my father and actually called him, then I knew I was really in trouble. So it was a bit of a surprise to see him on the sidewalk outside Pierce School one afternoon in Brookline when the grammar school was vacated for what seemed to be a routine fire drill. The drill in and of itself was a little odd as were usually informed on days when there would be a drill and this one appeared to come as a surprise to the teachers as well as the pupils. I didn’t think too much about that at the time, I was just happy to be outside and out of class. The school could have burnt to the ground and I would have been thrilled at the time but that’s another story. I was pleasantly surprised to see my Dad and his presence was not completely out of place (he was dating a school employee at the time) but I was a bit perplexed as I had never seen him at the school before and a fire drill really didn’t seem to be an important enough reason to stop by. I had assumed he was just in the neighborhood and saw me out on the sidewalk but that was not the case. Standing on the sidewalk he very seriously and very quietly told me it wasn’t a real fire drill, someone had called in a bomb threat to the school. (later determined to be a hoax) I’m not sure how old I was at the time of that incident but I was most likely somewhere between the 6th and 8th grades, maybe somewhere between 11 and 13 years old. At the time it would have probably seemed improper to share such potentially frightening information with a young kid but these days kids even younger than I was at the time are quite familiar with active shooter drills in their schools. Bomb drills are probably just as common place as fire drills were back in my day. Whenever one of these scary incidents show up happening real time on my news feeds I can’t help but wonder, is this rash of threats really new or is it our age of lightning fast information sharing that makes it seem like there are more threatening incidents at educational facilities now more than ever before? Were the threats always there and we just didn’t know or talk about them (certainly not with children) or are we really actually living in more violent times? As we all wait minute by minute today to hear the latest about today’s reports of violence at Harvard University, I can’t help but wonder…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Irish Wife

I found this on The Library of Congress web site and I find it amusing that so many years later "the queen of France" (or at least a recent prime Minister's wife, Carla Bruni) is known to be a beauty of international reknown). Looking up around downtown Boston one can see many markers listing company names imbedded in the stone at about the second story on a lot of buildings. I am endlessly surprised at how many of those companies that built those buildings were music publishers.

   This was a company I hadn't seen on a building or heard of before so I thought it worth sharing. At some point I'll travel down Hanover Street and see if the original building is still there...

It was 20 years ago today...

I was sick and quite suffering this night but determined to go see Joe Satriani at this event, I got dressed up as cute as I could with a red runny nose and wandered over to the Garden with my friend Rebecca.

   It turned out to be one of those nights that I should have known better and just hunkered down with some extra blankets and stayed home.

   The bad vibe that began with my cold continued as some guy got up on stage and proposed to his girlfriend who declined his offer and shortly after the great fan fare with which she was brought up on stage the two of them were quickly hustled off and never heard from again.
  I'd be inclined to think, "Poor Dude!" but c'mon, who does that without being 100% sure the girl is going to say yes. Poor girl being thrust into that uncomfortable position, sheesh...

   We saw Mr. Satriani perform about 4 songs and then it was someone else's turn and with my feeling just awful and the main event over, Rebecca and I started to leave.

  Then I slipped in someone Else's spilled beer and went crashing down into the same wet puddle but not before trying to catch my fall. I missed the railing with my hand and caught my full body weight using just my little pinky finger. I bent it back so far that I could still feel some soreness years later and to this day I still cringe if that finger is bent back even a little.

But at least the worst of the night is over right?

 No such luck...

   We found ourselves slightly turned around on our way back to Jamaica Plain from the Garden and  wound up coming out of a one way street in the middle of the old combat zone. The neighborhood was on it's way to being cleaned up but not quite there yet when at approx midnight as I inched my car forward to see around parked cars, a cab going WAY TOO FAST clipped the front end of my car and dragged up a good block or so before depositing my car in the middle of an intersection.

   My mother's voice cropped up in my head at this time,

 "If you are in an accident, don't move the car until the police get there and take pictures!"

    Good advice I guess but my Mother never imagined that I would be in an accident in the middle of the combat zone at midnight on a friday night. A million (that's an estimate but I think it's about right) cars trying from all 4 angles to get past my car diagonalll in the middle of the intersection, people yelling, a not unmad best friend who had just been given quite a scare, and a cacophony of mayhem surrounded us.          

     I moved the car.

Which probably saved it from A.) being hit again or B.) myself being throttled by a crowd of angry strangers. Mother's advice not with standing still, I did the right thing.

    In the end, the cops did come and help me and the cab driver share insurance info which was nice as I was ranting like a loon and probably looked far less than a fine upstanding citizen with my rage, red eyes, runny nose and askew formerly cute club dress.

Far from looking like a damsel in distress, I am quite sure in hindsight that I looked all for the world like I belonged there smack dab in the middle of the old combat zone...

   All ended well enough I guess as my car had only a chunk of cosmetic damage to the side where as the cab had to be towed away. People over the years have frequently spoken to me about the benefits of heavy ALL AMERICAN cars and how they are so much "safer" than any of the light weight little foreign cars I have had over the years but all I can think about is that night and how we were perfectly safe and just kind of bounced along and then off of the heavy car that clipped us. If we had been in a heavier car the damage would have undoubtedly been far worse. As is was, we were completely unscathed, except for our state of mind of course, and got back home without further fanfare to a well deserved (and probably should have had right from the start) good night sleep.

  Then the next day I had to confess to my Mother what had happened and had to endure the lecture on how I should not have moved the car...

    A couple of months later my friends and I were parked at a fast food joint somewhere in Brighton I think and we spotted a cab with some side damage in the parking lot.

   "Wouldn't it be funny if that was the same cab?" someone said.

Just for giggles we pulled the info from my glove box and sure enough, it was the same cab. No longer as amusing as the coincidence first seemed in theory, we skeedaddled out of there as fast as we could without getting into another accident...

     A lot of  adventure for only a couple of songs which I probably didn't enjoy as much as I could have had I been well but even if it was only briefly, I got to see Joe Satriani play.

   All's well that ends well....


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hotel Humboldt Hotel Holborn Roxbury, MA

This is an old photo I found online showing The Humboldt Theatre which was once located at 147 Humboldt Ave in Roxbury.

    I found this photo while I was searching for information about an old Hotel Humboldt and/or Hotel Holborn also located in Roxbury.

    A few days ago I was in the breakroom at work talking about random stuff whiole eating lunch  when one of my coworkers meantioned that his grandfather used to own or possibly manage a place called Hotel Humboldt in Roxbury. He mentioned that his grandfather was now a minister but in his youth was quite the "gangsta" and it was possibly during this 'wild youth' that the man had been attached to Hotel Humboldt. 

   I absolutely LOVE digging into Boston history and love it even more when the lead I get turns out to be hidden/forgotten history, I can't find ANYTHING at all online in regards to Hotel Humboldt and as close as I've gotten is this snapshot of an old theater on Humboldt Ave.

     I will keep digging and can't wait to learn more about this elusive establishment...


Monday, May 20, 2013

Activity at the big hole in the ground. (Former Filene's Building)

After years of hearing,
    "Construction is going to begin soon!" 
   businesses surrounding the giant hole in the ground in Downtown Crossing had all but given up  that anything EVER was going to happen to the giant hole. It has been a long standing neighborhood belief that eventually the gaping maw in the ground left by the merger of Filene's with Macy's was going to grow big enough to suck the dwindling profits of all surrounding businesses right into it. 

We (I used to work for Filene's and I now work for another business in the area) wanted to believe otherwise but the fact of the matter was, the facade of the old building loomed over all surrounding businesses like the grim reaper. 
We all watched while politely averting our eyes, as business after busniness failed along the surrounding streets and hoped and prayed that the next would not be the one who paid our own bi-weekly pittances. 
(The gold shop that went under due to an international police investigation that uncovered the business was a front for identity fraud doesn't count. Filene's did not put them out of business, their own massive greed and stupidity did)   

 But lo!

My boss informed me a week or so ago that construction was starting at "The Giant Hole In The Ground" and when I clearly did not believe her she said,
 "No, really! Go look for yourself! It's actually happening!"

And, go figure. There really is stuff happening at Boston's little brother to 'The Big Dig'.

  The sun shines through onto Winter Street:


Walls opened up, lights are on and things seem to be moving along.

   Cautiously optimistic but even a little optimisim is something new for Downtown Crossing, we're all hopefull the glass really is half full this time...

Monday, April 15, 2013

A sad senseless day...

 It is difficult to know what to say on  a day like today.

   So many people woke before dawn with such hope and anticipation.

      So many people trained for this day to be the one day this year where they were able to test the endurance of thier bodies, to achieve and to feel elation at completion of a task,
and to bask in the glory of a goal accomplished.

     So many friends, family and well wishing strangers gathered to watch the human spirit triumph over physical stress and strain, and then this had to happen.

     Although anything I have to say about today's events is pretty pointless,
   and it seems rather selfish of me to say I am glad I had planned a vaction day today and was nestled safe in my suburban home instead of in downtown crossing with all it's now terrifying public trash cans still, I am very glad I was here and not there.

     I am sure there are many who were there who wish they could say the same.

 Even for the physically uninjured, there are somethings that once they are seen, they can not be unseen and must be carried for the rest of days.

 I would not wish the memories some of those survivors now carry on anyone.

     I was very relieved to hear that friends and family who were there made it home safe and my thoughts are with those who can not say the same.

     Some tears and a lot of anger, not really sure I've got the words in me to cover that adequately...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

World Championship Rodeo Boston Garden 1956 Personal Appearance by Rin Tin Tin

I picked this great item up today at Little Ritchie's Antiques in Braintree, MA.
 (50 Hancock Street, Braintree, MA 781-380-8165) 

Promo photo featuring the cast of Rin Tin Tin.

    (Interesting to note that that 'Apache Joe' appears more northern european than native north american. A sign of the times I guess...)   

SPUD cigarettes? I wonder why that brand didn't catch on...

    More fun vintage ads:

International Chewing Gum Co. Cambridge, MA (Warning: Disturbing Image)

My husband aquired this card with an assorted lot collection he purchaced years ago so we have no way of knowing where it originally came from but I tried a web search for 'International Chewing Gum Co.' and came up with nothing.

  According to the back of this card it was produced by The International Chewing Gum Co. Cambridge, MA 1938.

Since I can't find any info about this company I am not sure what type of product this card was distributed with but I certainly hope it was not a chewing gum product sold to kids.

This image distrubs me but I felt it was worth posting as it is a small piece of vintage americana and the only piece of history I can find documenting that this Cambridge, MA company ever existed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Milk of Amnesia - Donna Lethal

I just posted this review on Amazon and it seemed silly to write a whole new one just for this blog, I really don;t have any new insights froma few minutes ago til now so I'm just going to cut and paste and hope no one is offended by my laziness... 

I had a bit of a hard time determining if this book is a memoir or if it is a fictional novel (different places in the book label it as either) but after reading it I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter either way. What it is, is a marvelous stand alone piece that illustrates time and place with the authors brilliant sparse use of words.
   Much like the old saying about music, the words left out of this book are just as important to the whole of the story as the words used to write it.  
  In a market full of memoirs (let's assume it's a memoir for now) written from a male point of view, this is one of the very best growning up in/near Boston memoirs that I have read, not only becasue it stands apart from the pack for it's female point of view but it's written with such a unique style that makes it a book you just can't put down til the ride is through.
    Touching, heart breaking and side splittingly funny, anyone with even the slightest family disfunction will find something to relate to in this book.
     I absolutely loved it and can't wait to read more from this brilliant voice.

      Seriously, go buy this book, it's awesome.

                       Milk-Amnesia - Donna-Lethal (Link to Amazon)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Galway House, 710 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA

Sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name, but they're still always glad you came.

Or something to that effect...

The first apartment my husband and I rented was near Franklin Park and we had dinner at 'The Galway' at least (at the very least) about once a week for a good solid 5 years or so before we moved south into our own house. 

In the dozen or so years since our days as semi-regulars, we have occasionally thought, "Hey, let's go back the Galway for dinner!" and off we've gone. 

Before tonight it had probably been at least 6 months since we went and as I was getting dressed today I put on a vintage Galway House shirt and told my husband, "I'm feeling rather retro today."
To which he replied,
 "How long has it been since we've been to the Galway???"

 So, of course, off we went! 

Much has changed but much is just the same, thankfully the chicken fingers and hot wings are still quite pub-a-licious and our favorite waitress is still there (25 years! we asked her tonight) and although the wall decor and the booths have changed the nice, easy, go ahead and spread the Sunday paper across the booth atmosphere is exactly the same as it's always been. 

There was however one, most spectacular change that goes to show,
 even if things change at the places you love,
 if the people behind the scenes stay the same then the wonderul feel of a place that attracted you in the first place will never change.   

I forgot to ask the name of the local artist who painted the door (the owner found the great light and installed it in the center of the door) but I have a feeling that there is time enough for getting the details later, of course we will be back. 

And when we do go back to ask, we'll have to also find a discreet way to get the name of our favorite waitress (whose name I'm sure we've asked a million times through the years, Pam? I'm not sure, we always ask after a pint or 4 and then, well, we forget...) and perhaps pass on our own. 
Not that we have any problem being known as "Wings, Hot" and his wife "Chicken Fingers" as long as we continue to be greeted with a big smile and "Hey! Haven't seen you in a while! How've ya been?"

 I wouldn't trade a night at the Galway for all the 5 Star joints in town.

 Good times, great art, full belly.

Who could ask for more?
 : )

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rogers Archive - Great Old Boston Photos for Sale on Ebay

  I sell assorted collectibles on eBay as a part time job and while investigating Jordan Marsh items I have to sell, I found this shop that is more of a museum than an eBay shop:

Rogers Archive Boston, MA eBay store

    I absolutely love this collection of great images from old Boston, well worth checking out even if you aren't in the market to buy. It's a unique collection and really fun and informative to browse.