DISCLAIMER

Many of the names and some of the descriptions in this blog have been changed to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spitting to All Fields, Part 2

Snowbrawl 1979

The results of my informal poll from Spitting to All Fields, Part 1 are in: the consensus from two of my readers, responding to question about two Sixteen Acres Winter Olympics events, was that bumper sliding was more fun than throwing snowballs at cars. I will have to respectfully disagree. I mean, how can you beat nailing some car and getting chased through yards by the driver? There was no bigger thrill—or better cardiovascular exercise—than running through foot-deep snow and hopping fences with an angry man in pursuit.

And as for mob mentality, the only activity that beat the good old Splash-and-Dash was hanging out a handful of your friends after school at the corner of Maebeth Street and Wilbraham Road and snowballing buses, cars, and trucks. I put these vehicles in this particular order because we hit school buses first and foremost. They were the safest to bean because they were huge, the driver NEVER stopped, and we had fun basically giving a big FUCK YOU to the kids on the bus with no fear of repercussion.

Hitting cars was obviously a more serious matter, because the snowballing was so PERSONAL. Oh, make no mistake, we hit plenty of cars too. But there was always that tense post-splat moment. The driver had to make an immediate decision: slam on the brakes and make a big deal about it, or just keep on driving.




Trucks I listed last, because we learned from experience to avoid firing at certain trucks, especially tow trucks. Man, those tow truck drivers chased us EVERY time. They went plain psycho. These guys would drive by, see us on the corner, and give you the look that said, “Don’t even THINK about throwing at ME, motherfucker.

We were also hesitant to throw at other trucks, such as bread and oil trucks—the Punderson Oil truck driver, for example, was NOT a good sport and kept up the chase for three backyards before he tired.

And we certainly didn’t throw at any more Hood trucks after what happened to Dave O’Brien one day. It was then we discovered that sometimes our punky actions have consequences. I think that’s an important life lesson (so few of today’s Springfield youth understand this), and we learned it from the Hood truck driver.

Rick Riccardi, Rob Gostofsky, and I were recently in a bar in Hartford, watching the Kentucky Derby and discussing the Hood truck incident and other snowball-related matters. Yes, Rick and I recalled, we really slammed that truck well, all five of us finding our mark and hearing the rude metallic crash of our rapid-fire snowballing of the truck’s side. We didn’t expect the driver to come after us when he skidded to a stop and pulled over. Generally, even when someone got out of a vehicle, he rarely ever followed through with the chase.

But this guy did. And the nut just wouldn’t quit. This fucker wasn’t as old as my parents, but he was pretty old— “old” back then meant anyone over 30. He was old enough for us not to expect him to keep running, but there was Harry Hood, hot on our trail for 10 long minutes, huffing and puffing and threatening and swearing. We split up, running in different directions, which usually threw off a pursuer. But we didn’t account for the fact that there was a fresh snowfall on the ground and it was easy for him to follow footprints. Harry Hood singled out Dave’s tracks in the snow, and kept chugging away, over fences and all. Then he found Dave hiding behind someone’s doghouse, and kicked him in the head a few times. Damn!

Stan Janek, however, recalls the vehicle being a Dreikorn’s bread truck. Hood or Dreikorn’s? Driver, if you’re reading this, settle this mystery in the comments section. If he doesn’t come forward, guess I can live with this unresolved question. In retrospect, the name of the company isn’t that important, especially when you’re getting a boot to the noggin. I’m going with Hood, because isn’t it a lot more humorous picturing a homicidal Harry Hood on the loose? Check out those nasty iron-toed boots:

To this day, Stan feels bad about us not doing anything about the kicking, but I don't think we would have made a difference. Harry was hot and hell-bent on revenge. Here is video footage of Harry Hood kicking another unfortunate victim:




Snowbrawl 1978


Shortly after we watched the horse named Animal Kingdom crossed the finish line, winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby, I asked Rick Riccardi if he thought the hot bartendress in front of us would enjoy getting whipped with a jockey’s riding crop. Then I asked him the really important question: “Remember that fool bus driver who got out of his bus and got tough with us? The one who pushed Adam Ferry a couple of times? What was the bus company he worked for, Longeuil or Peter Pan? It’s important, because I’m putting it in the blog.”

“What? Um, Longeuil, I think,” said Rick. I’m not sure if he gave me the right answer. He seemed distracted by the bartendress, who was now bending WAY down and opening a small refrigerator behind the bar. Rob Gostofsky was pointing out her every move, and as a result, Rick was at a loss for words, hopelessly slack-jawed. She was also leading my recollections astray, taking my thoughts from the past and plunging them into the present. Our communication hopelessly hindered, we simply shut up and drank some more.

Whichever the bus company, it wasn’t one of those shitty yellow school buses. This was a chartered bus—and shiny brand new. Adam fired at the silver side of the behemoth, and he connected with some velocity. But unlike school bus drivers, this guy came back. He took a right on Ashland and 20 seconds later he reappeared on the corner of Ashland, took a left on Wilbraham Road, and pulled over right in front of us. Where the hell did he turn that big-assed bus around? The Glickman school lot? Apparently so. He opened the door, rushed down the steps, and was instantly in our faces. We were too stunned to run. What the hell? A bus driver actually stopped? And got out? Yes, there he was, wearing a uniform and a cap—a pissed off Ralph Kramden.

“Which one of you bastards threw that?” he screamed. He hurled swears and epithets at us and we just stood there, puzzled. “What is this nut going to do now?” I wondered. He sized up all of us: me, Ray Vadnais, Dave O’Brien, Rick Riccardi, and Adam Ferry, and he apparently noticed that all of us were holding snowballs except Adam Ferry. So Ralph Kramden correctly deduced that Adam was the culprit, and he stepped forward and gave our friend a hard two-handed shove.

None of us knew what to do. “You fuckin’ punk!” he yelled at Adam and pushed him again. And again. “You wanna start somethin’?” he screamed. When it was clear that none of us were going to retaliate for the pushing, he barked, “Thought so!” and walked back to the bus.

Bang!

Unbelievably, Ray fired his snowball at the bus, just missing the driver’s head and splattering his uniform. Dave, Rick, and I instinctively threw our snowballs at the guy and one of them connected (I can’t remember whose) and the other two hit the bus. It was a case of spontaneous bomb-bus-tion. Then Adam joined us as we reloaded and fired five more. And then five more. His reaction was something like this:


Round 3: He takes five additional shots like a trouper.

Round 4: While youre still standing there, how about five more for flinching?

The driver put his arms up to protect his face, but he and his bus were getting tattooed. The blitzkrieg resembled the snowball bombardment scene from Elf:



Ralph Kramden kept his forearms in front of his head and took the punishment like a boxer on the ropes. We stopped throwing for a second to see what he’d do. Was he pulling a “rope-a-dope,” only to charge us in an angry assault once he got his bearings?

He considered it. He picked up his hat, put it on, took one step forward, then made a shooing motion with both hands, said “Aah!” and then stormed back to the bus, got inside, took off. Maybe we were too busy laughing our asses off to throw any more at the bus and he drove away. Maybe we realized we dodged a bullet and we were lucky Ralph didn’t come over and—Pow!—send one of us to the moon with a punch.

Good thing the guy was unarmed—unlike the snowballed undercover Washington, DC detective below—or we would have been literally dodging bullets. The cop, who wasn't a good sport about his Hummer getting nailed, was placed on desk duty during the investigation in 2009, but I’m not sure if he was ever disciplined.




So, have you had enough of the snowbrawl stories, or would you like to read Snowbrawl 1977, the wildest snowbrawl tale of them all? That’s this month’s poll. Of course, it’s a loaded question. Of course you want the final chapter of the Snowbrawl Trilogy next month…don’t you? Leave a comment!

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Boston Road Ramble

I know that Boston Road isn’t technically part of The Acres. Some of it is considered its own “Boston Road” neighborhood, and some of it is actually in Pine Point. But the thoroughfare’s proximity to the Acres—along with our frequenting of its fine establishments over the years—merits a little Hell’s Acres cruise. And, after all, I’m spitting to all fields.



In 1994, George and Ronald Abdow dropped the iconic Big Boy name, along with the fiberglas statue, and used that stupid rooster drawing because they wanted to change its image from a fast food place to a full-service sit-down restaurant. But it didn’t work and they sold them all to Bickford’s.


Wouldn’t it be a great horror flick plot to have lightning strike some moldering Big Boy statue in Bondi’s Island, bringing him to life? The decaying zombie (above) emerges from the landfill and seeks his revenge on the Abdow brothers for abandoning him. But he can’t find George and Ronald, so he roams Springfield and bashes people on the head with his giant hamburger. Police corner him at City Hall, so he climbs to the top of the Campanile tower and jet fighters shoot him down.


To read more about the story of Big Boy, read House of Television and Other Signs of the Times, Part 1.


Before it was the strip club Henry VIII it was Castle. Now it’s some friggin’ Nail Salon:


In my blog entry The Garbage Gang, when I pressed readers on the location of the old Highland Bar on Boston Road, on reader asked, “Was The Highland near Henry VIII aka “the stripper convalescent home?” Ouch. That was brutal. My reply: “I think the Highland might have been near the Puppy Center, etc. but I’m not sure. I wandered into Henry VIII’s castle from time to time. We used to see the Henry VIII dancers and the working girls from the Ranch House buying their pink champale and other goodies at Handy Beer and Wine.” Honk if you remember big Patty! Actually, the Highland was next to Topps.

Speaking of the Ranch House, here it is, as it exists today:


The former Ranch House is listed as Royal Seasons Restaurant & Bar/Valley Inn Motel, even though the sign outside reads “Boston Road Bar and Grill.” Anyway, I’m not sure if it reopened after a fire last year. Police began targeting the Ranch House with prostitution arrests in the early 1980s, and the city really turned up the heat in 1988, calling it “a brothel in full operation” in a report (the hookers paid the owner $40 a night per room) and suspending its alcohol license for seven days. The owner changed its name to the Country Inn and remodeled it a year later, and then remodeled it again after a fire (yes, another one!) in 2002, but she got out of the business in 2003. There continued to be trouble at the place, including hammer attack and a purse snatching in 2003, a kidnapping in 2008, a drug arrest in 2009, and a murder outside the bar the same year. A guy was arrested for threatening the manager with a gun in 2010. This place no doubt needs another remodeling—and an exorcist.


Honk if you remember the Fox Theater, which became Big D Carpets in the early ’80s. The Fox was always very high class, and for some reason the theater used to close its massive red drapes in front of the screen at the end of the previews and reopen them, signifying that the main feature was to begin. Why? Why ask why?


How about giving us a 10-second road rage honk if you remember the Seven Gables motel and bar (above), now a Holiday Inn Express. Plenty of Acres folk drank at the Gables, but I never set foot in the dive.


Mr. Steak (next to Kappy’s Liquors) is now a Choi’s World Tae Kwon Do Training Center.


Below is Grand Master Chang H. Choi tenderizing a steak with a flying side kick.




Before it was Casa de Nana it was Pepe Taco, which opened in 1968 across from Five Mile Pond. (Wasn’t it also Nana's Cuchina once?) Mexican food was still a novelty, of course, when I was a kid, and Pepe Taco was one of the first such establishments in western Massachusetts. Can anyone say “Taco Tuesday?” Where is the nearby Burger King, my employer during my senior year in high school? It’s nowhere to be found.


Remember Topps, where Raymour and Flanigan is now? I couldn’t find a photo of the old Boston Road Topps, but below is another one from Addison, Illinois—they all looked the same.




“I got it at Zayre, compare, you can’t do better than Zayre.” Remember Harvey’s Giant Grinder across the street from Zayre? “How about the cast of characters that hung around Zayre’s parking lot?” commented Jim about my Garbage Gang entry. “I can still see the stolen car slamming into bingo royal with no driver in it.”

I remember Zayre, but I don’t recall Bingo Royal, or the gang that hung around Zayre Plaza between, roughly, 1974 and 1979, according to Jim. What was Bingo Royal? Anyone care to comment? Anyone have more stories about the Zayre parking lot crew?


I got Dwight Evans’ autograph at Two Guys after the historic 1978 Red Sox collapse. “Do you think Don Zimmer is a good manager?” I asked him as he signed his picture. “Yes,” he replied with an annoyed look, “I think he’s a good manager.” I’m surprised Dewey didn’t crumple up the photo and throw it at me. Boy, was I a wise-ass when I was 15. Below is a commercial for Two Guys, which was in the Walmart shopping center. Check out those ’70s fashions—and prices!




A little further East was Sveden House, which is now Pep Boys. No, there was no mobile home park over there back then.


I couldn’t find any photos of The Continental restaurant on the corner of Boston Road and Parker Street, which is now occupied by Walgreens. The Continental was known for good food and the constantly fighting sisters who owned the place. However, I DID find a postcard of a diner at this corner. Was this The Continental interior? I can’t for the life of me remember what it looked like inside.

Let’s drive down Parker and move on to Allen and Cooley:


Mmm. Bonanza. Below is a Bonanza commercial. Yes, that’s Bob Denver (Gillian) and Don Knotts.



Now let’s drag race down the Bicentennial Highway (old name: the Outer Belt) and have a nightcap at the Gaslight.


The former owner of the Gaslight, who shall remain nameless, also owned Dillon’s on Tapley Street and the Orange CafĂ© at The X. Which bar had more fights? It’s a tough call.

Now that we’re in the vicinity of the Outer Belt, let’s look at a little bit of history of the name. Randy, author of the excellent website Roadside Online and and an Acres native, pointed me to a website that details the ambitious plans of the Outer Belt Highway Project envisioned by planners before the Mass Pike, I-91, and I-291 were built. The “highway” wouldn’t have been as large as the Pike, but likely a divided road, like the Bicentennial Highway. The proposed project is the dotted line near the bottom of the map.


The Outer Belt Highway would have followed Sumner Avenue, then along a short stretch of Allen Street (Golden Pizza, McDonald’s, Wendy’s), and, instead of taking the path of today’s Bicentennial Highway, apparently it would have cut a swath to the south of Veterans Golf course (now the neighborhood of Clearbrook Drive, Fox Hill Road, Crystal Brook Drive, Wildwood Drive, etc.) before following South Branch Parkway to Parker Street all the way into Ludlow.

The project was abandoned, but its remnant is the Bicentennial Highway, a much-needed east-west route in the city.


The Ruins of South Branch Park(way), Part 4

Speaking about deserted dreams, this got me thinking about the South Branch Park and the South Branch Parkway again, specifically the bizarre “ghost stretch” of the road that used to connect East Forest Park and Sixteen Acres (the white dotted line below), but was reclaimed by nature. South Branch Parkway ends in East Forest Park, appears again at Burt Road in Sixteen Acres, crosses Bradley Road, splits Veterans Golf Course, crosses Parker Street, then meanders and ends in the neighborhood south of Mill Pond.


The lost portion of the South Branch Parkway was closed by the city when illegal drinking and dumping became a problem there. But when? Does anyone know? It was decades ago, but I don’t have a year. I decided that I had to ride my mountain bike on the phantom path. Below is where it ends in East Forest Park just after it crosses Plumtree Road. The boulder discourages the disposal of garbage and stolen cars there. To the left of the boulder is the path.


Yes, part of this used to be paved, but was all of it? I didn’t feel like digging, especially with people in backyards so close on the right. I did find some asphalt showing on the East Forest Park side:


Ah, the South Branch Dirtway, with a viable path:



It ends here, a little too close to someone’s house, near the intersection of Burt Road and the resumed South Branch Parkway:


I turn around and head back. To the right of the path is a steep ravine that leads to the South Branch of the Mill River. The younger undergrowth and trees on the left is where the road used to be:


I’m back where I came in. No ghosts of partiers past here, and no evidence of recent drinking. I’m sure the neighbors have a speed dial to 911 as an answer for teenagers who get loud in here.



Old Overgrown Evergreen Road

While I was on my bike, I also decided to follow the way of the long lost stretch of Evergreen Road in Sixteen Acres. I headed down Plumtree and stopped at Evergreen to take this pic. I tried to get the street sign right in front of an evergreen tree in the background for a cool photo effect of a pine “growing” out of the sign, but the sign was too dark for a great shot. Yes, I just had a shitty phone camera. I forgot to bring a better one.


Evergreen dead-ends at the woods behind Western New England College:


But before the college was built the road extended all the way from Plumtree Road to Wilbraham Road. I entered the abandoned Evergreen Road:


I turned around an snapped a shot of the purgatory between Evergreen Road and Evergreen netherworld:


Believe it or not, we used to take cars on bumpy joyrides following these paths, entering the woods behind Glickman Elementary School and exiting on the side streets off Plumtree Road. There used to be some pretty sizable high school keg parties in these woods, but now there is much less forest than there used to be, and a lot more WNEC cops, so I don’t think it’s a party destination today. In fact, the woods behind Glickman don’t even connect with the WNEC woods anymore.

Below is an aerial photo of the woods from 1956, when the college, located in downtown Springfield, purchased 34 acres of land—the old Ingalls Farm— for $70,000. This is what the land looked like for years before Emerson Hall, the first building, was built in 1959. Across Wilbraham Road, on the left, is Gateway Village Apartments, which Western New England purchased in 1983 (29 acres). The white rectangle in the lower middle of the photo, at the corner of Wilbraham and Bradley Roads, is the electrical unit that is mostly (and fortunately) hidden by pine trees today.


The large white building across the street from the Western Mass Electric land (in what is now the Breckwood Shoppes) would become the Jumbo Supermarket. Old timers will remember when the building burned down in the late 1960s. A Gas Land station was then built on the site, which now houses the Sunoco station. Look across Breckwood Boulevard, on the corner where the Shell Station is now. That site, along with the parking lot behind it, including Winn Liquors, Paddy’s, etc. was all woods in the late 1950s!


But I digress. Back to Evergreen Road (click on the photo to enlarge it): it’s the fine line above the dotted line you see across from Gateway Village and bisecting the future campus (above), and this part of the road was a city street back then. In 1965, the city authorized the closing of the road, “which effectively increased the frontage of the College property on Wilbraham Road,” wrote President Beaumont Herman. It’s hard to imagine that Evergreen once went all the way to Wilbraham Road, but it did, and that’s how the campus version of “Evergreen Road,” stretching from the three round Plymouth “donut” dorms (at the top left of the photo below) past Evergreen Village, got its name.


On my recent biking sojourn, I rode on the Evergreen Road-turned-path (white dotted line above)—the same one we used to illegally drive cars on—and then pedaled out of the woods at the college’s baseball stadium to see the Golden Bears baseball team come from behind and beat Endicott College in the TCCC semifinal, 5-4. Below is a photo of the celebration. WNEC went on to win the conference double-elimination tournament later that day against the same team and same score.


But, once again, I digress. Evergreen Road: could the closed portion be dug up and re-tarred one day? The College is once again thinking about extending its Evergreen Road back down to Plumtree for a back entrance to the campus, but I just don’t see it connecting with the old Evergreen Road again: residents on that street complained enough about the construction vehicles entering and exiting Evergreen when Southwood Hall was built. Will WNEC build road parallel to Evergreen all the way to Plumtree? I hope not—enough of these woods have been lost.

For the time being, this is the only vehicle on the ever-abandoned Evergreen Road:



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Dissed Cars Discarded

Which brings me to another obsession of mine, one that rivals my fixation with abandoned roads. I love taking pictures of rusting stolen discarded cars I find in the woods. Here is another one, in the Tamarack Bog (now officially the Ester Heffner Bird Sanctuary) behind Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Sixteen Acres:


The jilted jeep below that has seen better days. Now it does its best imitation of a dead cockroach in “The Preserve,” also known as “Woodland Park” behind Hillcrest Park Cemetery on Parker Street. This is where the Circle Gang used to bring their stolen cars. Could this be one of them?



In The Circle, the James A. Coleman’s nonfiction book about the Circle Gang, the 15-year-old “narrator” notes that there were several entrances into these woods from city streets, but police keep putting up barricades to stop the gang from driving cars onto the paths. Regardless, they had an answer for this tactic:

“We just keep pulling up the posts and trees they use for this. There ain’t no two cops in one squad car anywhere that can keep a road blocked from us with fifteen of us guys bucking them. But we take the cars in through the cemetery way ’cause the cops don’t expect us to come in that way. Boy, old Sam, the guy at the cemetery gate, must think we’re real nice guys the way we go visiting the dead in the cemetery so often! He smiles at us so friendly like and we always say “Hi!” to him on the way in.”

The vacated vehicle below, at Crane Hill Park in Wilbraham, bears the markings that one sometimes finds on these forgotten forlorn forest vehicles: bullet holes:


Aside Twelve Mile Brook in Crane Hill Park is another one:



Yes, whoever dumped this sucker down the steep embankment almost ran it into the water—but not quite. Its eternal parking space provides a nice view of Twelve Mile Brook, where the car rusts in peace.


It’s unnerving to come across one of these cars for the first time. First you see something large on—or off—the trail ahead. Your pace slows for a few seconds. You squint. What could it be? Aha, a forsaken Ford Fairlane. But you’re still leery: could someone be living in that thing? No, it’s empty, at peace, dreaming of the days it used burn up the highways and cruise Sumner Avenue. At first these cars spook you, then they become old friends—signposts when you think you’ve taken the wrong path. “Oh yeah. Here’s the car. NOW I know where I am.”

Below is the top of a car, with plants growing on it, in the McDonald Nature Preserve in Wilbraham. Did someone fashion a makeshift convertible, or is a whole car buried under this?


Below, in the same woods, is undoubtedly an abandoned farm apparatus. It’s the site of Alton McDonald’s old hay farm, so perhaps this is some sort of hay-baler or cart:


On another mountain bike excursion, I find a front-panel in the woods next to the North Branch Parkway. Excited, I look for the rest of the car, but find nothing. The part is no doubt a remnant from an accident and was chucked down the hill.


It’s not surprising to see rusting farm machinery at old farms, but you have to wonder how some of these other vehicles ended up in the woods, especially when you stumble upon some of the more remote ditchings. I’m not alone in my fascination of castaway cars. Here are some similar musings. Here are some more.

With apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., an abandoned car in the woods is a thing to look at, to think about, to study over, to dream upon. Below is a deserted wreck in the woods behind the DYS facility on Tinkham Road, a preserve called the Labelle Drive Conservation area:


So why do I take such shitty pictures of these things with a phone camera? How could I possibly capture all the colors and shadows effectively? No problem. Mick, one of my readers did me one better and took this shot of the same car with a Canon EOS REBEL T2i:


I don’t know what he did to the image, but it almost looks like a brown charcoal sketch. He also took one of the old Putnam’s Puddle dam below. Talk about mood and texture!



Here is the tree behind the Sixteen Acres Library where the Circle Gang hung out. It kind of reminds me of the beginning of that show Tales From the Dark Side. If only that tree could talk. What tales it could tell!



Here are Mick’s photos of the waterfall and bridge at South Branch Park:





He also hiked up the Rice Nature Preserve for the shot below. Check out more of his images. Where in Hell’s Acres will he go next? Only the shadow knows.



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The Missing Link of Sixteen Acres

Has anyone seen the bodybuilder guy I have nicknamed The Caveman walking on the sidewalk between The Center and the Breckwood Shoppes (formerly known as Breckwood Plaza) these days? This guy is a piece of work. The Neanderthal typically walks shirtless, even in 50-degree weather, although when it’s near freezing he might wear a wife-beater T-shirt. He likes to show off his pumped up upper body, and I get the sense that he works a little too hard on his lower body, because he walks with a John Wayne “swagger” that in reality is a bow-legged limp. And he may stride like The Duke, but he looks more like the Geico caveman:


I knew The Caveman had mental health issues when I heard him talking to himself an outdoor table at Fresh Acres. “Got a cigarette?” he asked me as I walked toward the door. I ignored him, prompting a string of obscenities that rivaled Ralph Kramden’s outburst. Who is this troglodyte? I have a theory: he’s the legendary Cobble Mountain Critter who moved from Granville to Sixteen Acres and now lives in the Putnam’s Puddle woods. (I might have found his toilet paper stash in a ziplock bag at Putnam’s Puddle in 2008, but I didn’t find any scat, so there was no DNA testing to determine the species.)

I told my friend Craig Stewart about The Caveman and recalled the last time I saw the Paleolithic creature in March, when he was shirtless, swearing, and swigging from a 40-ounce Haffenreffer as he walked by Foster Memorial Church. But, lo and behold, I was on the phone with Craig on May 19 and whom do I see but the one and only Caveman! I was tempted to stalk him and snap a photo, but if he saw me doing this, he’d know what I look like, along with the make and model of my car. He’d definitely figure out my less-than-honorable intentions. It doesn’t take a genius. Even a caveman can do it.

The Caveman reminded me that there was a cast of interesting Wilbraham Road characters when I was growing up, including the guy whose mind was blown by LSD who walked the same route as The Caveman, several times a day. How about Larry the jogger who listed to one side when he ran holding a radio to his ear in the 1970s? I heard he was a schoolteacher. Larry calls to mind the guy who runs with a strange gait on Wilbraham Road today—you know, the dude with the baseball cap who jogs WAY out in the road, forcing cars to swerve by him, EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE SIDEWALKS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ROAD. (Yes, many of you Acres expatriates might not know that a mile-long sidewalk was built on the south side of Wilbraham Road.) Memo to road hog: USE A SIDEWALK!

MAY 21 UPDATE: There I was, driving down Wilbraham Road, when I had another Sasquatch sighting! (I know I’m blending the concepts of a stone-age cave-dweller with Bigfoot, but just go with it, okay?) I had the courage (actually, this stunt was rather cowardly) to pull into the WNEC parking lot and take some phone photos as he loped by Gateway Village. Click on the photos to enlarge them:




MAY 29 UPDATE: I was finally able to take a close-up a picture of The Caveman. Here he is. Does anybody recognize this guy?



That’s it for Spitting to All Fields, Part 2. Wait, here’s one more Acres expatriate expectoration:

13 comments:

Parker House said...

I have to apologize becuase I could not read the beginning of your post. Reading it reminded me of that hot bartender and the fact that I didn't pay attention to your conversation then so I can't read about it now. Look! She's bending over again!

Moving right along...

I have to provide an update to your "Boston Road Ramble" and I would be remiss if I didn't. The old Mr. Steak had another life as John Joe's. I don't know what was there in between Mr. Steak and John Joe's but they were nice enough to sponsor our softball team when The Limelight went belly up. They did not serve any food but they served the next best thing - cold beer. It was a cool place but lacked the convenient picnic table that got so much use outside of The Limelight. The building was empty for some time and then the Tae Kwon Do place opened.

I don't remember Pepe Taco opening but I do remember it's replacement. We called it Nana's Kitchen but I don't recall if it actually had a sign up as Nana's Cuchina or if we just translated it. It obviously means the same. We all had a good laugh when they hired my brother to be a cook there when it was Nana's Kitchen. Some Mexican food, eh? Cooked with pride by a Polish boy!

It was also interesting to read your update on the Ruins of South Branch Parkway and the Old Overgrown Evergreen Road areas. One day I'm reading about this in your blog and the next all of the trees are blown down in that tornado. An update to the update might be in order!

That's all I got for now - keep up the good work and I'll watch out for the Acre's Missing Link. I'll keep some bananas in my car to lure him into a close up picture for your blog.

Anonymous said...

before Henry VIII & the Castle, that location was Tarozzi's Restaurant.

Anonymous said...

You mention the abandoned car in Tamarack Bog (Ester Hefner Bird Sanctuary) behind the Gate of Heaven Cemetary. I have seen this as well. But do you have any info. or background on the mysterious tower somewhere in these woods? A Google Maps search of "Tamarack Bog" in Springfield brings up some interesting pictures.

Hell's Acres said...

Where is the tower? I've seen power lines running through the woods but no really tall tower.

Anonymous said...

From:PIDGEON DR. GUY:
Some friends & I worked at Mr.Steak for an angry paranoid Greek guy,Mr.Athenias.(true).
He was always pissed off, acted like he would kill us if we stole anything, we did anyway, had great partys with his food & beer, people had sex in the walk-in coolers where food was kept, & some of the cooks were as high on pot & coke as any people I've come across!!!
Henry the vlll...now I've got some stories for you,but I'll give u one good one.The year is 1983(fact).My friend comes home from the marines on leave, 2pm in the afternoon he says "let's go to th eighth". We walk in , its dark,musty, no ones in the place, WE the ONLY customers.We walk around the semi-circular bar/ stage all the way to what was known as PERVS PIT.( don't say u don't know about it).
A glance at the dancer ,sitting not quite Indian style due to her girth,revealed much.She was a large red head , stretch marks like road maps up & down her sides & mid section.Bad make up couldn't hide her identity, this beauty was a 16 acres gal ,one year older than myself ,from kathleen st. We called out to her by name ...
" ******" !!! she leaned over like anyone might hear her secret..." Call me Colleen,its my stage name."
We already were bombed that early afternoon, & I rudely responded " where the fuck do u think you are LAS VEGAS?!!" She immediately yelled at us in a cigarette stained voice "%$#* you assholes!"We laughed uncontrollably at our exposing ,no pun intended, of our neighborhoods gift to exotic entertainment.
Then an employee came from behind a door leading to a backroom, lager than life ,ex con for sure ,told us to "get the #%*$ out of here" We did so ,stumbling out the door into a blinding day light. Ahhhh....Boston rd. What great times....don't forget Bobby & Clydes ,a bar below Kappys liquors, there's still some decaying bones in the woods just behind it, it reminded me of the Afro- American bar the white guys in ANIMAL HOUSE. went to see OTIS DAY & the Nights."Can we dants wit yo dates?"

Hell's Acres said...

Thanks, Pigeon Dr. Guy!

I love people's stories and comments. It makes this blog more interactive, and I know there are some great tales to tell out there. Keep 'em coming! That goes for the rest of you!

I had forgotten to mention that Henry VIII became Anthony's 2, which also featured dancers, but I don't know when the lovely Boston Road follies came to an end.

Another update: Bingo Royal was indeed a bingo hall.

More news: the Evergreen Road area of the woods off Plumtree Road (Between Old Farm Road and Evergreen) were wrecked by the tornado and the remaining trees were bulldozed over in the aftermath. The whole place is now pretty much a field.

And the Missing Link marches on--although I haven't seen him in two months.

Anonymous said...

From:PIDGEON DR. GUY
Sorry about the mis spelling, it was Bonnie & Clydes below Kappys

unn said...

What about the guy who is forever running in the street of Parket St, Sunrise Ter., Wilbraham Rd type loop.
ALwasy wear blue shorts and hat. Hand hel radio with a huge antenna..look to be from early 90's. It could be 2am and he's stopped running.. -10 degrees, and he keeps going...

Hell's Acres said...

Oh yes, that is "Larry the Jogger," whom I reference in in this entry. We can credit the father of my friend, Craig Stewart, for suggesting to him that get a radio to make the runs less boring. But evidently, he hasn't heard of headphones.

He is none other than Larry Saex, a Forest Park Middle School math teacher and an Acres guy. He used to run around 15 miles a day, but he might have slowed down a bit since he's 61 now.

I'll write more about this character soon!

Anonymous said...

FYI Topps was not next to Matties, it was across the street where Raymour and Flangan is now and The Highlander was right next to it

Hell's Acres said...

Thanks, just made the correction.

mopardude426@ymail.com said...

man ur story or i mean blog really stirred up alot of emotions for me for ilived in the heart of hells acres for over 55 yrs and was in the same woods our fav car to steal then were 61 64 chevys the ign on those allowed u 2 take out the key without shutting the car off and alot of people would shut them off but notlock the ign there was like a little nipple you put the key this allowed you tu turn it with ur fingers and start car remember walter at phaneaufs aka lewis and clark we stole his 64 like that he ratted me 2 my dad when i took acouple of bazooka joes they were a penney then but we hit a tree rt around corner speaking of hittin tree my friend worked the gas station as mechanic an drove 64 olds demo car from far end of lot fast rt into large tree cor of wilb rd and alden i flew from back seat and split my head open on metal dash next time well discuss triangle auto sales and the MOPARS i could pop pre1970 ign by the time u got in pass seat id hav the car runnnig rem my 68 rt superbee4sp whenfrenidly was in hells acres where the parker was

Hell's Acres said...

Wow mopardude. Keep those stories coming! Lol