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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Summer Swimming Spots

Would we be the only people in history to be kicked out of Lake Mark? We waited with bated breath.

The above photo is one of a few I pulled from a flikr site. They were taken in 2011, about 25(?) years after Lake Mark closed. If that figure is nearly accurate, my friends and I were one of the final groups to enjoy this party haven in West Stafford, CT. The last time I went there was in the summer of 1986. I had just received a job offer in Boston and it was time for one more hurrah. I brought along my camera, and the photos below were buried in a shoebox after all these years. Please excuse my obscuring of the faces—I know you’d like to see them, but . . . you know.

Lake Mark was always popular with us Springfield high schoolers because we could bop over the state line when the drinking age was 18 in Connecticut and hit this boozing and swimming spot. We continued to go there when we were in our early 20s, because, after all, how many beaches do you know of (not counting Cahoon Hollow in Wellfleet) where which you could drink alcohol openly? For some reason, beer on a beach has the best taste in the world. And as for vodka:

Oh, yeah!

But this time we were coming close to being bounced from the place. How did it go from tossing back a few, to a little Frisbee toss (below), to us being in danger of getting tossed?

Here’s how. One of the Frisbee participants, Mike Burns, had to go to the bathroom. Why, oh why, didn’t he (in the ultra-short 80s blue shorts) just head to the proper facilities: the yellow building behind us on the left?

No, that would have been too easy. He was at the bottom of a steep wooded hill and he decided to go for a little hike to take a piss behind the trees. On the way down he began to lose his footing on rocks and roots and started swearing:

“Jesus Christ!” Mike yelled. “What the fuck? Oh my fucking God!” There was an amphitheater effect to his remarks, not only from the hill, but also because the beach was essentially a levee that also sloped downward and bounced voices around the lake. The mini-avalanche of small stones he caused didn’t help things.

Did you have trouble spotting him in the above photo? There he is:

I just love the cockeyed angle I had when I took the picture. Doesn’t it add to the chaos and drama of the incident? I was laughing too hard to hold the camera straight. Maybe it was our laughter and my camera that compounded the spectacle. Maybe it was also the pot smoking. Maybe it was also the “chicken fights” before the game of Frisbee that started drawing undue attention to us:

We didn’t think anyone really cared. We were wrong. One of the members of the Molitoris family, which owned Lake Mark, didn’t have any problem spotting our mountain climber. The guy came out of his office and started yelling: “That hill isn’t a public toilet! Next time use the bathroom! If there IS a next time, ’cause I might have to ask you to pack up your shit—all your vodka and your dope—and leave if you don’t cut the crap now!”

“I was just trying to find our Frisbee!” Mike lied. “It went in the woods!”

“Bullshit!” the owner responded. “You guys keep it up and you’re outta here! I don’t need this shit!”

I wish one of us had a movie camera to film Mike once he got down from the hill. Oh, wait! Apparently, someone did! I just found some footage in my basement:

Jeez, it wasn’t like we were starting fights or blowing off M-80s or anything. No, we didn’t get the hook, but we chilled a little bit after that.

Lake Mark as it is now—very peaceful:

The Molitoris family closed the lake to beachgoers pretty soon after that summer because the liability insurance became too costly. Drunken swimmers, chicken fighters, joint tokers, and urinating mountaineers drove up insurance costs? Imagine that! 

A quarter-century later the guy on the flikr site did a little trespassing and took the above and below photos.

The old road heading up the picnic table area (to the left of the bathrooms below) is now overgrown:



The price for Lake Mark, the last time I looked, was about $1.5 million.  Just think: all 370 acres, including the lake, could be yours—with the help of a Powerball drawing.

Quarry Swimming

Okay, I’ve been moving away from The Acres a bit with this entry and the last two Springfield Indians posts (Part 1 and Part 2), but I thought I’d bring a little summer swimming fun to warm up my readers in January. One thing that struck me about my research into these swimming spots is how many of them are closed now, such as Redstone Lake on the East Longmeadow-Sixteen Acres line (above and below). What I also noticed, in retrospect, was the danger some of these places posed, especially the old quarries. Leave it to a bunch of youngsters not to consider the risks of unsupervised swimming!

Redstone Lake is still owned by the Linder family, although it’s fenced off hasn’t been open to swimming since 1971. The town considered buying it in 2008, but backed off. I’m surprised to see an intact diving board and picnic table there in recent photos. Someone might be swimming there, but it’s not the public:

William Dusty’s website has some great photos of another old East Longmeadow quarry. Pine Quarry was mined for its red sandstone from 1864 to 1918. The stone was used to build the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, along with tenements in New York and Boston, before builders turned to concrete, which was cheaper and didn’t have to be blasted and dug from the ground.

The Norcross Brothers Company worked at Pine Quarry:

Nature has since reclaimed the place:

Pine Quarry was the scene of a tragedy on June 20, 1963:

Westfield Quarry was another destination when I was a teenager. We used to park on Route 20 and cut across railroad tracks to what was known to locals as the Lost Lake quarry. (We always called it Westfield Quarry.) The quarrying company that had a working site north of Lost Lake—John S. Lane and Son—tried to block access to the abandoned and water-filled quarry on their property by linking unused boxcars together on a railroad track spur, but we simply climbed under or over the train connectors. You can see one freight car at the bottom of the photo:

Anyone remember the two main cliff jumps at the Westfield Quarry? The shorter one was called “Bye-Bye” because someone had painted these words onto the rock. We thought it was about 35 feet high, but it was probably only about 25 feet. The really insane jump was called “Purple” because legend had it one’s feet turned purple from the impact of hitting the water. That cliff had to be at least 50 feet high, and the daredevil had to do a running jump to avoid hitting the rocks below.

Believe me, everybody stopped what they were doing whenever someone was jumping from Purple—it was that rare. And then came the jumper—usually wearing a pair of sneakers to get a better grip on the cliff and reduce the impact on his feet. The moment of truth: there was the inevitable instinctual flapping of his arms in midair—as if the bird motion would actually slow him down (not)—and then the applause when he surfaced on the water alive.

I remember Rick Riccardi grabbing his nose the first time he jumped off Bye-Bye—to avoid getting a painful snoot-ful of water. The problem was that he suddenly remembered to do this in midair, and the motion pushed him backward into a resounding back-flop. Don’t worry, he was okay. Did his back become purple? No. Let’s say it turned a pinker shade of pale.

On August 15, 1985, 16-year-old Jose Martinez of Springfield drowned in the quarry. The place had seen numerous incidents for decades, including a 22-year-old who ended up in intensive care when he fell off a ledge a week before the Martinez drowning, and an 18-year-old Hampden youth who drowned there on July 14, 1970. Does anybody still swim at this quarry? Inquiring minds want to know.

Loon Pond (above) off Pasco Road was once the site of Joyland, which featured exhibition high diving and a dance club. Way past its glory days when I was a kid, it was still a decent beach, but now it has been closed for years. The city bought the pond and “Jam’s Beach” from a private owner 2007 with the intention of cleaning it up and opening it to swimmers that summer, but not much has been going on there in the past few years except some illegal beachgoing and boating, as evidenced from July, 2011 photos of a fenced-off, weedy beach from Rusty Clark’s flikr page:

Lake Lorraine in Indian Orchard featured an anchored float that had both low and high diving boards. If we couldn’t con one of our parents to drive us there, we had to make the trek on our bikes. When we got to be of driving age, we would skirt the admission fee by parking on Lake Drive and take inner tubes out on the water. The eagle-eyed life guard at the main beach blew his whistle every time we paddled over to the diving board float, so then we would make our way over to the Knights of Columbus beach, where another life guard gave us a hard time because it was private property. We put up with the hassles because we swam for free.

Lake Lorraine is a state park now—and unstaffed and closed, which is too bad, because it still looks inviting.

The Knights of Columbus beach on Lake Lorraine was always a good place to go for a nighttime dip, although they’ve probably cracked down on this pastime ever since three people were shot there on the night of July 27, 2012. More than 20 rounds were fired at a group of youths from the North End. WTF?

Perhaps you cooled off in the pools at the long gone Camp Husky on Grayson Drive (above). “We welcome you to Camp Husky; We’re mighty glad you're here; We’ll welcome you to Camp Husky—with a mighty cheer! Rah! Rah! Rah!”

The Pine Knoll Swim School, on Allen Street on the Sixteen Acres-East Longmeadow line, operated from 1958 to 1994:

The Pine Knoll pool was closed during the entire summer of 1995, but the town purchased the property the following year and the good news is that there has been swimming offered there since 1996 in what is now the Pine Knoll Recreation Area. A new pool will soon be built to replacing the leaking old one.

Swimming—and getting kicked out of—Bass Pond at night is, of course, a Sixteen Acres tradition. The police were so sick rousting illegal swimmers that one night they shined flashlights on us in the water and threatened to take away our clothes that were on the beach!

In The Circle, James A. Coleman’s nonfiction book about the Circle Gang, he details the youths’ drunken exploits one night in “Bear Pond” (Bass Pond) in which a few of them break into the “Bear” Pond Club building, rob the Coke machine, and swim back across the pond with their mouths filled with coins because they don’t have clothes on and therefore no pockets to fill.

Coleman went on to write about Frank “Archie” Archidiacono’s drowning that night at Bass Pond, and the story was distorted enough over the years that, according to Acres legend, the coins either weighted him down to the bottom or he choked on them. The reality is, however, that Coleman changed the circumstances of his death, as he did with some events in the book:

The reality is that Frank Archidiacono died in a presumably accidental shooting in 1968 on an overnight camping trip with his friends in Sturbridge:

Anyone slide down this slope waterfall in Forest Park? I didn’t, but I heard people used to do it:

I remember in the late 1960s and early 1970s seeing kids swimming under the waterfall at the Duck Pond in Forest Park (below). Was the water that clean? Probably not.

Another great jumping/diving spot: Granville Gorge in Southwick (above). The water was cleaner that it was at the Westfield Quarry, but a lot colder. Unfortunately, the only photo I could find online of the main gorge swimming area is the blurry one below.

One word of advice I always had for people about that high rope swing: release your grip at the precise moment of the furthest sweep of the rope! If you chicken out and delay letting go, you will swing back and hit either the tree or the rocks! A 36-year-old woman seriously hurt her back on the swing this summer (below), and the rope actually broke when a boy used it in 2007, sending him to the hospital with head injuries.

How many of you remember the now-defunct Cedarhust Pool in Southampton? I remember my family somehow stumbling upon signs pointing to this place after I had worked up quite a sweat throwing a football around with my brother at Look Park. We followed the signs and found this incredible oasis: a pool/pond with diving boards and slides!

The Lakeside restaurant in Wilbraham had a good beach on Nine Mile Pond. We always called it “Root Beer Beach” because the tannins dissolved from the leaves turned the water brown. Abruzzo Restaurant is there today, but I’m almost positive there isn’t any swimming on the beach.

Apparently there used to be a beach and a concessionaire at what is now the boating/fishing ramp of Nine Mile Pond. The above photo was taken during the 1955 flood.

Congamond Lakes

Which was YOUR favorite summer swimming spot? Babb’s Beach at Congamond Lakes?

There is an effort underway to restore the roller rink at Babb’s Beach, which closed in 1996. If they ever reopen it, Gooky McGoo will not be welcome there, droopy drawers and all. Who is Gooky? He was in the following ad in the Westfield News on April 16, 1959:

Maybe you went to the Hampton Ponds:

Possibly you swam at the Blunt Park or the St. Catherine of Siena pools, or you Splashed and Dashed, or maybe you had a pool in your backyard:

Where did YOU swim? Five Mile Pond? The wading pool at Van Horn Park? The pool at Forest Park or Look Park? Did you jump off the train trestle at Watershops? Hell’s Acres wants to know! Leave a comment! Did you go in the water, or did you just hang out and cause trouble like us at Lake Mark and Gooky McGoo at Babb’s Beach?


JP said...

Plastics Park in Springfield which I think the City now owns and tore out the dam.
Chicopee State park the far side with the tree swing.
Robinson State Park.
Pot Rocks in Granville nice hike too.
I don't remember what we called it but it was a dammed up area on the south side of the mass Pike. There is an electric substation near it now. Lots of leeches.
There was always the occasional trip to Misquamicut (sp?).

Hell's Acres said...

Ah yes, Plastics Park, right near that hill on Page Boulevard we used to drive over and see the junkyard. My father tried to take us into Plastics Park once, but someone there told us it was private. I had no idea there was a pond in the place!

In what neighborhood was the pond next to the Mass Pike?

And how could I forget Spec Pond?

Classical '75 X guy said...

Wow, lots of good memories there. For me it was Forest Park Pools. I had both yellow and red tags so I could swim every day... I recall a young girl drowned in the diving pool around '67 or so, they found her on the bottom of the pool at the end of the day. We would also ride our bikes to Lake Lorraine (cutting through St. Micheals cemetery). I used to light up a smoke and flip it back in my mouth, swim out to the raft and smoke a butt out there... Used to love to go under the raft too. The Westfield Quarry - There was lore about a 'sunken crane' that a kid got tangled up in a drowned...

Hell's Acres said...

I had always heard about that Forest Park pool drowning too: it happened on July 19, 1970--a seven-year-old girl from New York state.

At the Westfield Quarry there was always talk about the crane and rumors of a few drug dealers that were tossed in there.

Regarding the train trestle at Watershops: rumors that there was a sunken train next to it, and some poor kid did a cannonball and got skewered "where the sun don't shine" on a pipe sticking out of the train. He supposedly was stuck and drowned. Unlikely, but it adds to the lore.

jp said...

It was off of Shawinigan Dr and it came back to me we called it long tunnel it was on the south side of the pike it was Chicopee. Plastics Park was owned my Monsanto hence the name. The Springfield Fire Dept used to have picnics there. The beach was on the far side. You can still see the remenants from Page Blvd. If I remember correctly someone from my class at Cathedral offed themselves near the bridge at watershops.

Marilyn V. said...

My late brother, David Vennell was friends with Frank Archidiacono at the time of the shooting. He also was friends with the two boys involved as well. They all had gone to Duggan together.

At one time I could named names, but they have long been forgotten.

Hell's Acres said...

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks for commenting. I always assumed the two youths involved were Circle kids because they stole guns in that housebreak and they went camping a lot with that...ahem...priest, but maybe not.

Marilyn V. said...

I don't think so. Nobody remotely cool hung out with anyone from my family, with the exception of Tom Devine, who was friends with my other brother.

I do know that David never got over this.

Hell's Acres said...

Such a tragedy is tough to take for a friend, especially something so senseless. I lost my roommate -- my best friend -- in college when he was hit by a car going much too fast.

Anonymous said...

My sister knew Frank Archie. Went to Classical w/ him. (We knew his uncle Harvey, also.)
Sad fate, that's for sure.
RE: swimming holes: funny that I grew up near Redstone Lake, but never went in it. But I do remember swimming @ 5 mi pond, Crystal Lake and in the Scantic River (both in Sommers, CT), Haviland Pond in Ludlow, MA (surprised that one's not mentioned, or maybe I overlooked it?), as well as Bass Pond. Grew up swimmin' @ Coach Silvia's Pine Knoll, cuz we lived w/i spittin' distance of there.
Re: more swimmin' holes: anyone ever go white watah swimmin' in Chesterfield Gorge (branch of the Westfield River), or in the Oxbow @ near Holyoke Range? I went there in the early 70's a couple of times...BEFORE they started cleaning up the CT River (which at that time was probably only marginally better than the Charles River)! Both rivers are swimmable now, I believe. You could probably even swim in the Chicopee, @ Indian Leap, if you wanted to. I'm sure back in the day it'd have been nasty, particularly w/ Monsanto plant nearby. Does anybody remember a little place called Shady Lake in Wilbraham or Hampden, MA?

Hell's Acres said...


I didn't mention Haviland Pond because I wasn't aware of its existence until I moved back in the area.

Apparently, my family never drove past the Pike entrance on Center Street in Ludlow!

Pj said...

In the late 80's & 90's we used to camp out in the woods off Tinkham and get up at 4AM, ride our bikes through the Center and over to Bass Pond.

We'd hide everything in the brush and blow up rafts to fish with, then fish till about 8 when the first employee would show up and kick us out, usually screaming at us.
So we would pack up and ride home, unless we didn't get kicked out till later and then we'd swing into Bruno's for lunch.
As always, thanks for the memories and triggering some of mine!

Hell's Acres said...

Thanks for commenting PJ.

I do believe getting kicked out of Bass Pond is a rite of passage in The Acres.

Anonymous said...

Growing up I used to walk around Venture Pond all the time with my dad (right across from Donbray Rd.), but I can't say I ever swam there. I still sneak a swim now and then at Bass Pond, just park at the Montessori School. Orange Dam in Leeds is also a blast, outside of the Acres but still fun for some illicit jumping/swimming! Thanks for the post and the blog, I'm in my 20s and grew up in the area before moving back recently and I love learning about the history!

Hell's Acres said...


I don't remember anyone swimming in Venture Pond, but possibly at one time people did, just like at Putnam's Puddle in the 1950s before it got polluted.

jp said...

Well I've been to the drive-ins and swimming holes with you now I'm waiting for movie theaters or did I miss that one. Your blog really stirs up some old memories which are now old enough to say are good ones.

Hell's Acres said...

Hey JP,

I haven't done any posts exclusively on indoor theaters, but I cover The Bing and Cinema X in "House of Television and Other Signs of the Times" parts 3 and 4, respectively. The latter also has a picture of The Palace on Riverdale after Showcase took it over. Part 3 also has the Allen and Cooley.

There are some theater photos and ads sprinkled throughout the blog: The Grand, The Fox, the old Eastfield Mall cinema, The Paramount, The Poli, Holyoke Mall, etc.

If you Google the name of the theater you're looking for and "Hell's Acres," you'll find it.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

I remember Shady Lake. It was on rt 83 in Somers Conn. We went there often when I was a kid. Its a housing development now.

pete f said...

i remember going to the bing theater i also remember putting apenny on the railroad tracks that used to run by the old diamond match buiding the trakc ran by abes kosher market on sumner

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing back memories of my 21st birthday spent at Lake Mark! After that bottle of vodka things got more than a little fuzzy...

Anonymous said...

Lake Mark stayed open for a few more years after 1986. Was there for Memorial Day '87 and '89 brouhahas, carving out a watermelon and filling it with Sprite and vodka. Funny that the only booze that *wasn't* allowed was keg-beer; yet the buoys that marked the far boundary of the swimming area were these small floating metal kegs. Which is a pretty deep thought when you're swimming out there after drinking and smoking for a good 4 hours. I was 18 in 1985 and showed up with a litre of Smirnoff buried in my duffle bag with my towel and suntan lotion. I tried casually walking past the guy at the gate and he says "Hey - STOP!". I'm about to shit my pants right there and then - before I can tell him "it's cool - don't call the cops", he says to me - "you didn't pay your admission fee! - $2 please". Yeah, that's what Lake Mark was like back then. My last memory of the place was in the summer of 1990 - some buddies were headed to Lake Compounce that evening to see Stevie Ray and Double Trouble. I opted out of the festivities to score some.. uh.. good oregano; and Stevie Ray died in that helicopter crash almost two months later. Who would have guessed?

Hell's Acres said...

I didn't think it stayed open for that long. SRV and DT at Lake Compounce? Now that must have been quite a show you missed. I saw SRV several times: at Hartwick College in 1984, at Springfield Symphony Hall in '85, and at Great Woods in Mansfield in '86.

How much do I love writing this stuff? The vodka girl in the post, who I had forgotten had celebrated her birthday that day, let me know in a comment --and I didn't know she was even aware of Hell's Acres lol. Happy belated 21st B-Day!

Anonymous: keep on commenting on the posts! You can fill in the gaps. I needed verification on Lake Mark's lax rules, and you provided it! And who would have known that Lake Mark would have stayed open until 1990? I surely didn't.

Anonymous said...

Ok, maybe I should use the moniker "Non-Anonymous" ;)

I googled the SRV show and it was on 7/4/90. Also remember finding out in fall of '91 about how Lake Mark had been closed for insurance reasons.

Getting to the lake, we'd make the trek thru Monson and then south on MA 32 because that was always a great road to toke up on as you crossed into CT. When you turn right onto Diamond Ledge there is this railroad bridge that you have to go under and make another right to get to the lake. Back in the day I seem to recall the bridge was painted blue with all sorts of bright/dayglo graffiti on it - does anyone recall this? There was also another railroad bridge in the area (maybe in MA, not CT) where someone painted Looney Tunes characters on it - like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Michigan J Frog... I forget where that one was located as well.

Another memory from '87 at the lake must have been in late July after the Dead had blown thru the area - some friends had seen them at the Meadowlands and Philly. They came back with a sheet of clown-headed-paper. I remember sitting there on the grass at Lake Mark, tearing the clown's head in half, because I didn't feel like taking the full hit as I was the designated driver (lol).

Hell's Acres said...

It's amazing what I remember with HD clarity and what I totally forget, like the painted bridges.

How responsible of you to reduce your intake to half a hit!

As for your moniker--you're still anonymous to me. I have no idea who you are. From The Acres?

Parker House said...

I think this is a record for Comments! Any other post hit this many?

I had a very long (too long) set of comments that the blog wouldn't take so bits and pieces:

Only went to Lake Mark once and my memories are more so of shenanigans in the parking lot than down by the beach.

Parker House said...

Growing up in the Acres, we had a pool so only some splash and dashing and we definitely didn't jump into Venture Pond. Don't think anyone has intentionally swum in it in 40+ years.

Me and my brother took lessons at that old pool at St. Catherines so we got an early start on being fish.

We went to most of the ponds in Springfield:

A bunch of times to Loon Pond and even put a gash in my foot from stepping on a broken beer bottle there when I was young. I made up for it later in life by being invited to stripper volleyball at Jams beach when that opened. Now that was a surreal event...

Parker House said...

We took family trips as well to Lake Lorraine, 5 Mile Pond, and the Paddle Club at Bass Pond, plus had some of my own late night adventures later on. I don't remember exactly why I went but also swam a few times in Quarry Pond - maybe a camp outing? But, did you know that there's an old horse-drawn type wagon at the bottom of that pond? The water was clear enough to see it easily.

We'd also take trips to 9 Mile Pond in Wilbraham and to Havilland Pond in Ludlow as well. I guess swimming was in our genes because my maternal grandmother's extended family used to have a little shack on the island in the middle of Havilland. This was in the '20's or '30's and stories of it collapsing during the hurricane of '38 stir in my brain. Needless to say, that part of the family was in/out/and on that pond a lot from boating, lifeguarding to swimming...

Parker House said...

Once me and my friends could drive, we hit Granville Gorge and the rope swings. Congamong as well.

Turned some of this knowledge into lifeguarding jobs with the City at Emily Bill pool down on Franklin Street and Camp Seco then later at Blunt Park and Hampton Ponds for the State Parks. Best summer jobs ever. Except for the fights. One especially tough day was met with a chocolate cruller in the deep end followed by terrified shouts of "doodie".

I even got the chance to live right on Watershops and had the great convenience of canoing on the pond and skating in the winter. But that ain't no pond to be swimming in.

Thanks again for stirring up the cobwebs and getting the memories going. Oh yeah. There was that trip to Look Park too and that nature walk...

Anonymous said...

@Hell's Acres - re "non-Anonymous": just silly that I chose that. I'm not really from the acres.. I don't think you'd know me. I grew up in the Nathan Bill area of East Forest Park. I think I graduated Cathedral a few years after you did.. my peers were the younger brothers and sisters of the "Nam" kids. Ended up befriending a bunch of acres kids at Cathedral and learned all about crashing Bass Pond and where to drink on the back 9 @ Veterans (incl. the old rink off of South Branch). Worked at the Edwards for a while and would make my way over to the Gables for "lunch" with some of the senior staff every now and then. I'm sure the statute of limitations has expired on all this!

Hell's Acres said...

Ah, the Nam kids: Mendes brothers, Duncan, D. Fitzgerald, etc. Not a group to cross! A few years older than you are. One of them (guess which one) climbed into the smokestack on Holy Name's roof and got stuck!

Anonymous said...

@HellsAcres - Ha! I don't have to guess; but are you sure it wasn't Holy Cross School and not Holy Name? I graduated Holy Cross in 1980, but that spring (or maybe fall 79) - the fire dept came and pulled this kid out of the furnace smokestack. Seriously, I was in the classroom closest to the vent where he was heard. One of my friends comes back from the bathroom saying the "the wall is talking". About 5-6 of us went over there and we could hear a voice calling "help me.. help me..." - it was freaky. One classmate recognized who it was - at that point our teacher started to take action. God's honest truth. The story goes he had got onto the roof with some friends (possibly cutting class at cathedral?) but details are sketchy now about how he got caught in there. Probably one of the craziest things to ever happen at that school, simply amazing that you bring that story up! Did it make the papers, could the story be verified?

Hell's Acres said...

D. Fitz told me about it around '80. (?) Maybe it was Holy Cross. Don't recall it making the papers, but you can bet your ass I'm going to investigate! I might even email chimney boy's brother lol. Seriously.

Hell's Acres said...

@Parker House: yes, thanks to your multiple comments, this is a record post for comments with 32 (now 33 with my comment). This beats the Laughing Brook outrage, which recorded 29 comments.

Anonymous said...

Gots to be careful at some of these swimming areas. I forget the name of the pond that was near Two Guys, but my brother had a friend he went to school with from Kennedy that drowned back in the mid-seventies. Real Sad story.

Hell's Acres said...

You mean Five Mile Pond? There have been a couple of drownings, including one a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto this blog and its like taking a trip in the way back machine! When I saw the first part about Lake Mark it brought a flood of great memories... Grew up in Wilbraham and that was the destination of choice to skip school, get a case of beer and party all day... good times and yes I remember the painted bridges even from late 70's early 80's. Also fav spots back then, Quabbin Reservoir (had to hike a ways to swim unseen), Hamilton reservoir in Holland, Pulpit Rock pond in Monson. A favorite with my crew, Tubing down the Chicopee River from Red Bridge Dam to my buddies place at Rt20 bend. If you put in when they opened the gates at the generator plant it was a good ride, and there was a huge rock about halfway down where we could tie off and hang out... ahhh those were the days...

Hell's Acres said...

Wow, I've been on shore downstream of the Red Bridge Dam. That is a wicked current. You guys were nuts!

Abner Kravitz said...

Researching "Coliseum Charlie" and found this site - pretty interesting. I grew up in the Acres, moved away long ago. It was a great place to grow up in the 60s and 70s, don't know about today. Anyhow, here is my contribution - I can't recall anyone ever swimming in Venture Pond, though it was pretty big for ice skating.

Hell's Acres said...

Hey Abner,

I've done plenty of skating on Venture. Like Putnam's Puddle, however, I think any swimming there ceased by the early 1960s and possibly earlier.

Cricket said...

Looks like all the swimming spots have been mentioned. Haviland Pond was great fun growing up for my family...I still remember the texture of the sand, and the color...a dirt/sand mixture, that kept our skin camouflaged until bathing. Not suited for the best of sand castles either, but hey, when you were a kid, who cared?! All you wanted to do was to swim and have fun. Although I never swam in Quabbin Reservoir, my dad used to take two of my brothers and I fishing. We caught the BEST trout. That's when I learned to gut and scale fish. Not bad for a young female!
We were fortunate to have the only swimming pool in our neighborhood, so everyone came to our house.
But the best memories were taking open-roofed jeep rides to Misquamicut, RI.
Sorry I can't add to your history, but definitely can confirm some of it!
Keep writing :)

Hell's Acres said...

Oh yes, the old road trips to Misquamicut!

Anonymous said...

First time commenter. I've been reading your blog for about a year or so. I'm very interested in Springfield history and you always show up in a lot of Google searches I make.

I never really swam that much outside of school but I do remember when I was in camp seco as someone mentioned earlier, they would take us to this beach in chicopee in a wooded area that wasn't half bad. I recall me and another boy being put on "time out" by the lifeguard for scooping up wads of wet sand and chucking them at people. There was also a playground that had the rocking animal spring rides. I remember that being the only time I've ever seen that outside a cartoon.

I was also the reason blunt park pool had to be shutdown for the day once. A friend dunked me under water and I swallowed a bunch of water which of course led to an instant projectile vomiting. Lots of dirty looks while exiting. I think that place has been closed for some time now.

Keep up the good work with your blog. While I'm well under your target audience's age and do not currently nor have I ever resided in sixteen acres, I do enjoy the stories and history.

Hell's Acres said...

Thanks for commenting.

I think it's great that people from outside Sixteen Acres read this blog. I'd like to think there are experiences in my formative years that are common to all, and there is enough Springfield and beyond stuff in it to keep people from other neighborhoods and towns interested and amused.

My friend lifeguarded at Blunt Park. I'll have to ask if he remembers a vomit incident lol.

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever go floatin' in the Scantic? Nice river, though sorta small...near Hampden, MA and Somers, CT border. Great place to fish, too!

Hell's Acres said...

As far as I can remember, my only experience in the Scantic was canoeing in the small Wilbraham portion when I was at the Stony Brook Acres day camp as a five-year-old lol. I might have been even younger, because all I did was complain and fake sick, hoping my parents would pick me up.

Whoops, just looked on a map. That is the North Branch of the Mill River. Not even close to the Scantic. Duh!

Anonymous said...

Shady Lake was in Somers CT. It was For residents only, or friends often. It is now an over 55 private condo community, across from Dunkin donuts in Somers. Was a great swimming-activity area! Too bad town never kept up.

Daniel said...

I can't believe a poster used to put pennies on the train track near the old Diamond Match factory in the East Forest Park section of Springfield. I used to ride my bike over to the tracks from Harkness Avenue back in the late 50's. We would also go to the top of East Allen Ridge Road (highest point in Springfield)and cut through the woods into East Longmeadow and Redstone Lake.We were told a hermit (named McCarthy) lived in those woods and would shoot if he caught us. Hey, we were 11 years old,lol

Dale said...

Wow! So many Great Lake Mark memories! Party til ya puke there, no rules. We used to go to a place we called Bull Rock in Westfield. It was about 10 past Stanley Park up the mountain. Long walk to get to after u parked but worth it. Crystal clean cold water with some rocks to jump off and a rope swing. We also drove to Shelburne Falls a lot back when they let you swim and bring coolers of beer. Too many injuries forced the town to close it down to swimmers although I still manage to make it down to water even to this day! Also, I lived near Watershops and jumped off trestle dozens of times. Aaaah, the good old days! Thx

Hell's Acres said...

Never heard of Bull Rock. Wish we knew about it!

That Watershops water: how dirty was that? It didn't bother you lol.

John said...

There's a quarry in wilbraham off soule road that was our primary skating and fishing area growing up in the late 70's. My parents still live in WIlbraham and when I visit them I often wonder if there's any public access to that property. Looking at Google maps I can't see any. I don't even know the official name of it. It was always just called the Quarry and it drained across soule road to an area that was known as the Jewish day camp. We used to ride bikes and mini bikes (illegal) and use it as a place to skip school.

kendra edmonds said...

Thank you so much for this lovely dip into the past, it went swimmingly! Hubby and I were out and about looking for quarries in our ‘hood/areas around Spfld. + stumbled upon this awesome blog.

Kathy said...

Thanks for your story on Lake Mark. I am organizing photos of the past and I went there with some friends in 1985. I had written on the back of the photos "Lake Mark", so I looked it up now. Like most things from the past, they are no longer there but it was nice to find your blog about it. My four photos have a mostly trees and water background, but one photo shows like a boat dock and a building in the background.

Hell’s Acres said...

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for your comment. Lake Mark was awesome. I wonder if anyone bought it,