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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spitting to All Fields, Part 4

Happy New Year! The hangover from a year that had a tornado, a microburst, and a destructive October snowstorm also included another slap in the face. Say it ain’t so! The end of an era has come—the Sixteen Acres Friendy’s has been closed and shuttered.

Below is the restaurant in better days. In the 1970s mobs of little leaguers descended on the take-out window after their games on Saturdays.

The take-out window was enclosed to better serve customers in the winter, and I heard it fared really well. Regardless, the establishment was lumped into one of 63 “underperforming” ones that closed in October as the corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

On January 9 another 37 Friendy’s stores experienced an unhappy ending, including the one at Allen and Cooley.

Of course, the first Sixteen Acres Friendly’s was in the site of today’s Ginger Blossom restaurant on Parker Street. That Friendly’s was open for business in 1956 next to A & P supermarket and moved to its Wilbraham Road digs in 1973.

The older Acres Friendly’s is immortalized in print in The Circle, James A. Coleman’s book about the Circle Gang of Sixteen Acres. The author uses pseudonyms to assure the anonymity of the people he was writing about, but let me be the first to tell you that the guy who drove his motorcycle through the front door and out the back door of that Friendly’s—one of the funniest references in the book—was none other than the late Earl “Skip” LaFleche. That stunt earned him a restraining order, according to his sister.

Taking Friendly’s place in that location was the Parker Lounge, which many called the “Parker House,” and some Acres booze hounds called “home.” That bar became Jilly’s in 1980 and closed some time in the 1980s. My memory begins to fade around this time: what else was in that space? A sporting goods store named Pro Sharp set up shop in 1996 and Ginger Blossom came in 2003. Can anyone fill in the blanks?

Below is the first Friendly’s in the country, which opened in 1935 at 161 Boston Road in Pine Point.

Now it’s a pizza shop (below). To take a peek at what the place looks like inside, check out Tommy Devine’s blog.

There was something about those Friendly’s waitresses in those figure-clinging polyester uniforms—sort of a tacky version of a French maid outfit, complete with the frilly neckline and apron. In Homer Simpson’s words:

No, the earliest Friendly’s executives couldn’t disguise their leers.

A friend of mine went out with a Friendly’s waitress and once insisted that she leave her work clothes on when they were about to bonk.

“No. I don’t think you want me to wear this,” she scoffed. “It’s disgusting. It’s got chili and ketchup on it. And ice cream all over the bottom. Ice cream stains everywhere. Gross.”

No. She didn’t understand. Food filth aside, he told her again with authority that he preferred her to leave it on, and then he whipped out his Big Beef. As planned, there was a happy ending.

“So,” I asked him, “what’s better—peeling that Friendly’s waitress uniform off slowly, or having her leave it on before you put the Jubilee Roll to her?”

The answer isn’t important. All that’s important at this point is my disturbing use of Friendly’s menu items to describe the penis. So it will stop. Now.

Still, I must inform you that when I Googled “Friendly’s waitress uniforms” and variations thereof to get a photo of a woman wearing the good old blue-and-white checker-patterned outfit, I couldn’t come up with much.


The uniform got a bit shorter in 1974…

…but the cleavage never seemed to plunge much below the 1950s standard:

Nonetheless, I maintain that these pictures still don’t do justice to a truly hot Friendly’s waitress with a skin-tight 1970s uniform. In my online searches I did find several interesting results: one of a porn film company on a quest to find said uniform to use in a movie. And then, as I scrolled down, I found the successful result of this mission: yes, folks, there is a porno out there featuring a chick in a Friendly’s waitress suit. No, I’m not posting the link, although I was tempted to check it out to satisfy my—I mean MY FRIEND’s—Friendly’s fox fetish. I’m willing to bet the movie begins with the waitress bending down to scoop up ice cream from the freezer, and then…(insert 1970s disco porno soundtrack HERE!)

Anyway, across the street from the old Friendly’s, in the parking lot of the old Princess Parlor (now Johnny Mac’s Liquors), after the warmest November on record, the snowbank from the October 29 storm was still there as of November 30.

While we’re on the subject of long-gone eateries, how about these 1970s specials at the Eastfield Mall’s Flaming Pit? If you look at the fine print at the first ad below, there was also a Flaming Pit in South Hadley (!?)

Oh, yes, the Flaming Pit. I can just feel those stucco walls now. How about those 1960s red globule candles wrapped in white fishnet at every table? One night my family took a neighbor to the Flaming Armpit and he proceeded to get crocked. After I remarked how cool the candle was, he kept bugging the waitress, asking her if he could buy it for me, and she kept telling him they weren’t for sale.

The next day I found it on our kitchen counter—he stole the dang thing! My mother banished the candle to our basement bookshelf, where it radiated funky coolness in front of our cellar’s knotty pine paneling for almost 15 years. When I came home from college on a break, I noticed it was gone. How could my parents have tossed it? I should have brought it with me to school. I couldn’t find a photo of one of these babies on the web, but, believe it or not, someone is indeed selling them:

The seller is All About Props, which provides d├ęcor for movies and plays. Hmm, I wonder how much the company would charge for just one of those suckers.

So, the candles are still out there, but where, oh where, is the Flaming Pit? I went to the mall, found the void where the little fountain was, and looked in the corner for the Flaming Spit, and found only American Eagle:

Supposedly, the Pit was the first restaurant in the area to have a salad bar, but Bonanza might have a valid claim to that distinction.

Then again, Burger Chef, which was the first fast food chain in the country to have a salad bar, was on Boston Road even before the Pit.

Hey, folks! Speaking of Boston Road yet again, I uncovered another photo of Russell’s on the web.

You can read Russell’s story in Spitting to All Fields, Part 1.

Let’s head down the road to the Ranch House. Hey, there’s Napoli’s parking lot on the right. Can you still pick up your pizza at Napoli’s through that window in the back? I doubt it.) So we continue to the RAUNCH House. In Spitting to All Fields, Part 2 you can read about the demise of this sketchy place, where at one time you could enjoy some “lodging,” seafood, country music, and hookers.

How about THANKSGIVING at the Ranch House?

All right, back to the Acres. How about that old geezer that turned the old Breckwood Big Y into a drive-thru market in October?

His truck started burning and then set fire to some furniture that was left over when the place was a Showcase Cinemas.

Because the accident weakened a support beam, the city’s code inspector had to check out the building, and there was speculation that the structure might have to be torn down. So far it’s still standing, remaining an eyesore to the neighborhood. This place has been vacant for years, and it looks like shit. Hey, I know what would liven things up at that shopping center: a casino!

Speaking of defunct supermarkets, where did you do your shopping in The Acres? A & P, Big Y, Jumbo or Popular Market?

How many people remember when Jumbo burned down? It’s amazing when you quiz people—some don’t even remember the supermarket, which was in the Females in Training area (whoops, F.I.T. is now gone) in the Gateway Shopping Center (now the Breckwood Shoppes). The explosion and fire occurred on Christmas Eve in 1967. I was a wee lad of four at the time, but for many reasons I remember it so well: I had always liked the elephant on the sign; it’s obviously shocking as a toddler to see my first charred building; and I can readily associate the memory with Christmas that year.

Memory is a tricky thing. For example, I vaguely recall a “shooting” on our street: when I was nine years old a guy supposedly whacked a bullet with a stone and it shot him. Neighbors talked about it at the time, and maybe I read about it in the paper—maybe not. Over time, the story evolved into sort of an urban myth, as in, “This guy’s so dumb he shot himself with a rock.” Was it true? I began to have my doubts. The act would have been so moronic it HAD to be fiction, I reasoned. But lo and behold, I found the incident during an archive search (below). I whited-out his last name and street number to protect his identity. Did his parents eventually find a way to protect this guy from himself? Next time, point the bullet the other way, dipshit.

Honk if you remember Warehouse One!

How about a 10-second road rage honk if you remember the Matador?

Zit Blemish and the Hot Rods has to be my favorite name for a band. But “proper attire” to see Zit Blemish?

The old East-West divide. Do you support adding a seventh New England State? Western Massachusetts’ lack of political clout and its distrust for Eastern Massachusetts goes back more than 300 years, to Shays' Rebellion. Now you can voice your passion for secession with a t-shirt. We could claim the Quabbin Reservoir as our own!

One last “spitting image,” and I might as well end this post the way I began it: with a grave. I remember seeing this awful movie at the now defunct Holyoke Mall Cinemas in high school. Did they actually do a remake of it in 2010? You gotta be kidding. Below is the original trailer:


Classical '75 X Guy said...

A few memories you provoked:

My Friendly’s was on the corner of Belmont Avenue and Beaumont Street. It has been gone for several years now, having been replaced by a Vietnamese joint that I’ve never been to. It was the first Friendly’s with a drive up window. Most of my Friendly’s memories are the same as everyone else’s I guess, from going there with the team after a game, to hanging around there after leaving Forest Park Junior High School, to looking for girls there in High School, to taking my your own kid’s team there after a game that I coached. My good friend lived directly across the street from Friendly’s so we knew it very well and it was only 1 fence and 75 yards from my own house on Dickinson St. I remember walking home from Forest Park Junior High School one afternoon when one of our bad guys grabbed a leather jacket out of a car that had an open window. We ran down Beaumont toward Dickinson and when he reached in the pocket he pulled out the biggest switchblade I have ever seen, even to this day. It must have been a 10 inch doubled edged blade. That scared the crap out of me, because if the guy he stole it from had a knife that big then who was he and what was he capable of? I decided then that my association with this specific bad guy would be reduced over the coming years. It was. He ended up in jail with his brother for an armed robbery. When he was released, I guess he straightened out a bit, but his brother went back, convicted of a rape in a wooded area on Alderman St after a night of boozing at the Orange. He was also found guilty of mayhem because apparently he bit the victim’s ear off. He left his belt at the scene and when the police asked him if the recovered belt was his, he said “yes”. Good bye….. He was prosecuted by Matty Ryan himself. Adios…….

But I digress, you didn’t mention that Friendly’s was named FRIENDLY ICE CREAM until 1989 when they changed their name because no one called it FRIENDLY, everyone called it FRIENDLY’S. Interesting and forward thinking corporate attitude really. Today, a company would enter into a gazillion dollar marketing campaign to get us to say it to their standard – I mean it is a brand after all, and it must be said properly to avoid confusion (STCC -marketing 101). Friendly’s took the easy (and smart) way, they just changed their name, and no one even noticed. But we all say it correctly now……

Here’s something else that ties back to not only this one blog entry, but also Lost in Forest Park part 1. I know a guy too, that shot himself banging .22 caliber rounds with a rock. He only grazed himself, but just the same he did it. Even I knew to get the hell out of there when he was doing that – dumb ass. It happened on Sumner Terrace, roughly on the spot where Frankie laid down to die. That’s right; my friend lived in the house right behind the medical office building at the time Frankie’s death. I remember that time, and even though I was younger than those guys, I was in touch with was going on and your research and retelling of the story is very accurate. I used to cut through the alley way on my way to the Forest Park Swimming pool. I remember walking around the murder scene which still had chalk marks from the night before, just like you see in the movies… I also remember a young girl drowning in the Forest Park diving pool around then. She was found at the bottom of the pool at the end of the day, after everyone had been swimming in it all day long.

Classical '75 X guy said...

A few more memories (since comments are limited to 4096 characters:

I went down into my old hood Friday night to grab some pasta at Typical Sicilian. I was around 11 years old when they were constructing that building. It started out as a KFC. The first KFC I had ever been to. We used to go onto the construction site at night, and do what pre-teens do – vandalize and steal what wasn’t locked down. My initials are carved or engraved all over the guts of that building…. It became a plant store/florist later– The Root Cellar. Then Typical Sicilian moved in from their small store front on Belmont which had housed the UFO back in my day (followed by CHANGES)….

THE CIRCLE was required reading at Classical, I think in junior year.

My Aunt worked at GROWERS OUTLET in the early sixties. It was THE grocery store in the Acres. It was in that little shopping center right at the corner of Breckwood and Wilbraham where Fred’s’ is/was, probably a predecessor of JUMBO (which I don’t remember).

I remember the Matador. We called the band “The Castlelights” not “Castlelight”, I guess we were wrong all that time…. Warehouse one sure sounds familiar but I don’t think I was ever there. And of course the Flaming Pit, with the Sip and Bull lounge. I would grab some holiday cheer in there on Christmas Eve’s when I was, in typical guy fashion, doing my Christmas shopping. I spent more time in the Sip and Bull though. I loved it there around the holidays because I knew I would run into some blast from the past. The Pit closed in 1985 and the liquor license was transferred to the Pizzaria Uno across the street.

I’ll be thinking of Springfield, The X and The Acres from the Caribbean for the next two weeks. NOT…..

Hell's Acres said...

The Orange was a classic, despite its reputation. I remember the place going bananas when Gerald Henderson stole the ball from James Worthy in Game 2 of the '84 finals.

Regarding the Albano killing, I had left out a few things, such as the fact that he was a peacemaker and pretty much calmed things down between the two gangs that night, but when he walked across Sumner with the Brown House Gang after he talked with them, the Appleseed guys were in the medical center parking lot. According to the newspaper, they didn't see their own friend and know that the "problems" were ironed out, and they jumped a Brown House guy, which led to the stabbing.

It's hardly an excuse to knife a guy, and from what I hear, the Brown House guys always used weapons when they fought.

Anonymous said...

That motorcycle ride thru at friendly's wasent the first time.
Just ask Jim Henry who did it,in East Longmeadow.

Hell's Acres said...

Wow, I bet Mr. Henry didn't realize his feat would be duplicated. In what year did he do that deed?

Paul Farrell said...

Skip LaFleche was a very close friend of mine growing up. I only learned of his death a few years ago. Sadly I know none of the details of how he died. When I returned from the Army, Skip, was one of the many things about the Acres that had changed forever.
He had plans to be a teacher, and as a star Hockey player for Tech high school, he was offered a scholarship to any State College. Unfortunately a motorcycle accident ( the same one he rode through Friendlys) took him down a much more destructive path. The friend I knew, I greatly miss.

Hell's Acres said...

Hey Paul,

That's too bad about Skip. I assume you're referring to a head injury?

Ladylipstick said...

My grandmother rented some of her furniture to the production of Peter Proud. The book is pretty good.

Hell's Acres said...

Hi Ladylipstick,

I remember reading the book after the movie came out, and then again in 1983 when the author, Max Ehrlich, died, and yes, it was good.

Anyone know the status of the remake of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud? It seems to be in limbo.

Anonymous said...

Warehouse One was a hopping place it its day. You could always get in with a fake ID and the bands were usually descent. Sacco started free drink night, it may have been on Sundays, I don't remember, but his idea of free drinks was him getting up on stage with a bottle of Ouzo and a shot glass and if you wanted a free drink you have to go up and have a shot of ouzo "Free Drink Night".
There was also the Shed?? next to Zayres under what is now a packie they used to have Irish Music.

Hell's Acres said...

I had never heard of The Shed, but a quick check reveals indeed there was a bar by that name at 639 Boston Road in 1973, between Topps and Shop-Rite. It was formerly known as Don Ashe's Shed (1970).

Anonymous said...

My grandmother ran the counter for breakfast and lunch at the Belmont Ave Friendly's for the better part of her 25 year+ tenure with the restaurant chain after she closed down the Court Square Spa... the "guys" made it their favorite place for breakfast, particularly on Saturdays. They used to bring squash from their gardens to fry into their eggs... and, yes, she'd keep a can of olive oil behind the counter just for them.

Sandi said...

I remember going to the flaming Pit & for an extra .50 they would double your drink. The Shed, the bar near Tops I think that was another place I could get into & drink before I was of age. I still remember Boston Rd with just about nothing on it. El Ranchos, Town & Country (a nicer family place to eat), Al Torozi's. And when the first MacDonalds opened we would walk there & get a burger, fired & a milkshake for under $1. I worked at Hardees in 1972