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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SHITTING to All Fields, Part 3

Many have bemoaned the fate of the stolen Stone Dog in Forest Park, pictured above in 1971, missing since 1987, and the subject of an earlier blog post. Well, he’s back—version 2.0 that is.

The Springfield Department of Parks and Recreation paid, through trust fund money, $4,300 for a new one to be made based on photos of the old one. Firefighter Kevin Welz, who inquired tirelessly about Stone Dog 1.0, is pictured above with his family around the new dog at the playground outside the zoo. “I always thought it was sad that someone would take something that was enjoyed by so many people for so long,” said his daughter, Caitlin. “It’s a small piece of history, but it was a big part of a lot of people’s memories of Forest Park. I’m glad the new one is near a playground, because I think kids will enjoy it, and maybe it can be the same kind of memory for new generations.”

Anyone try to teach the parrots in the Eastfield Mall to swear? We sure did.

Bring back the Wilbraham 10 Pin and its 7-10 Lounge!

Now accepting applications: Princess Parlor! Whoops, if you go to that site in The Acres now, you’ll be greeted by the shamrock sign of Johnny Mac’s Liquors. I always knew there was a Princess Parlor downtown too, but now my sources tell me there were franchises in East Longmeadow and Ludlow as well. Were there any more? Inquiring minds want to know.

Timothy Leary’s dead. No, no, no, no, he’s outside, looking into his next story as the new editor of the Classical Recorder. For his first order of business, he’ll fly his astral plane. Can you believe that the Classical girls voted the future LSD guru the “cutest boy” in 1938? His statement for the Class of ’38 under his yearbook photo: “Sigh no more ladies; sigh no more.”

Leary was born in a farmhouse at 277 Oak Street in Indian Orchard (above photo courtesy of Tommy Devine's old website) and lived for most of his childhood at 39 Terrence Street in the Old Hill section of Springfield. I could only find 41 Terrence Street (below) in Googlemaps and the City Assessor’s website. Was this his house? Probably.

His father’s drug of choice was alcohol. From the 2006 book Timothy Leary: A Biography by Robert Greenfield:

“Each week, the boy checks out and reads ten books from the public library, a big granite and marble building constructed with Carnegie money.... Flesh of the same flesh and blood of the same blood, the boy and his father, Timothy Francis Leary - called 'Tote' by all who knew him in this city where he was born and who now works as a dentist at 292 Worthington Street - share the same name. In speakeasies all over Springfield where people drink openly but not legally, Tote is well known. Late at night, after the speakeasies close, he can often be found buying liquor on the darkened front porches of nearby houses in Winchester Square, where bootleggers live. What began as a fondness for drink has become for Tote Leary in the past few years something darker and more self destructive.”

Tote left his mother and son when Timothy Jr. was 13. The boy inherited his father’s taste for alcohol, being forced to leave West Point in 1941 after getting drunk and failing to report for church services the next day. His first use of psychedelics was in 1960 while vacationing in Mexico, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The “Flashing Ho”

According to local lore, in 1995, shortly before the House of Television sign was dismantled, the T was burned out, so it just flashed “HO” for a while. Can anybody verify this? I was in Boston during this time, so I didn’t see the beloved neon beacon’s final days.

Thanks to HOT owner Moe Feldstein’s kids, I was able to obtain the only known photo of the sign:

His daughter knows of no pictures of the sign lit up at night. Anybody out there have one? And wouldn’t it be a great addition to YouTube to have film footage of the sign going through its hypnotic H-O-T. HOT. HOT routine? Although Moe was a Super 8 enthusiast, she can’t recall ever seeing any movie clips of the sign. She replied that she might have a projector, and could possibly take a look, even though going through all that film would be quite a task. I wonder if she ever found a working projector in her house…

The Littlefield family camps out at Venture Pond in a photo (above) taken around 1910.

Edwin King Jr. and his father Edwin King cut ice on Mill pond in the early part of the 20th century. Check out the grid lines on the ice.

Children and teachers from the first Sixteen Acres School around 1914. The two teachers in the back row are Inez Ingraham (third from the left) and Mary Coburn (second from the right). The teachers—the latter of whom had a road named after her in The Acres—started a world-famous bird hospital here that cared for thousands of injured birds until it closed in 1933. The sign reads “Green Meadow Club Bird Sanctuary.”

The school was housed in Citizens Hall, a two-room brick building that was built in 1861 and was also used as a community center (above), located next to the fire station at the corner of Old Acre Road and Parker Street. It was razed in 1960 despite residents’ opposition to demolition in the late 1950s, when it was still in use for meetings.

The next Sixteen Acres School on Wilbraham Road was wrecked in the Hurricane of 1938 (above). The present one wasn’t built until 1941, after angry parents complained about their kids getting bused all the way to Warner School. Land had been acquired for a Sixteen Acres school in 1929 between Marchioness and Princess Roads, but the Great Depression derailed building plans.

The honor roll above for Acres residents who fought in World War II. I have no idea where this was posted—probably Citizens Hall. Where is it now?

In February, 1928, the man above gets ready to deliver milk at Kingoke Farm, which was on the corner of South Branch Parkway and Parker Street, where Kingoke Street is now. The farm sold ice cream made from its Jersey cows’ milk.

The Windmill Lunch Room was built on the southwest corner of Stony Hill Road and Boston Road in 1932, closed in 1956, and was demolished in 1961. It was remembered for popular band concerts that were staged three times a week until World War II.

The Lakeside Inn (above) in Wilbraham is now known as Abruzzo Restaurant (below) and I hear it will soon be called “The Anchor” to reflect its proximity to Nine Mile Pond. The signs in the photo above read (L-R) “Lakeside Restaurant,” “Quality Foods” (on the “kettle”), and “a good place to eat.”

The present restaurant includes pondview porch dining and a nice gazebo (below), but we’d love to have the beach back. For more photos of the old Lakeside, visit an earlier blog post.

What ever happened to the old Putts Bridge replica that you saw as soon as you crossed the “new” Putts Bridge into Ludlow?

The Springfield Indians hoist—and drink from—the Calder Cup in 1990.

Kevin Collins: The Bambino of Catalpa Terrace

As kids, we knew that Kevin Collins was playing minor and major league baseball, bouncing back and forth from AAA ball to The Show, but for some reason we never had the guts to visit his home at 136 Catalpa Terrace (below) and get his autograph.

Maybe we had reasoned that he was away from his home much of his time in The Bigs. But even when his career ended we never got around to darkening his family’s doorstep.

Shortstop Kevin Collins was born in Forest Park, not The Acres, but his family moved to Catalpa in the late 1950s and he starred for OLSH before having to choose a high school to play for. His mother wanted him to attend Cathedral, and he could have been the pride of the Panthers, but Gene Ryzewicz (who later excelled for Dartmouth’s baseball and football squads) was slated to start at that position, so he decided on Tech, where he kicked ass on the diamond.

Collins signed with the Mets in 1964 and was scheduled to make his Major League debut in April of 1965, but he was sidelined with the first of several freak injuries that would befall him. During warmup tosses he felt sharp pain in his shoulder—it turned out to be a ruptured latissimus muscle and he underwent surgery. He finally played for the Mets six months later.

His instructional league action was cut short that year when he was hit in the head with a thrown ball and suffered a concussion. Collins toiled in AA ball in 1966, and AAA ball in 1967, when he was called up by the Mets as a utility infielder. He impressed manager Gil Hodges enough to make the team in 1968 when another bizarre injury set him back. Playing third base against Houston, he awaited the throw as Doug Rader tried to stretch a double into a triple, and Rader arrived with an extended elbow. “He came in with a pop-up slide and a forearm right in my face that broke my jaw,” Collins recalled. “All I remember then was looking up and seeing the roof of the Astrodome. I’m not sure if I was knocked out, but I was dazed. I was like, ‘Wow.’”

Mets Pitcher Don Cardwell punched Rader in the face, the benches emptied, and a brawl erupted. “The funny thing is, while all this is going on, here’s the Irishman, the kind of guy who would get into anything, and he can’t get off the ground,” Collins said. “I might not win the fight, but I will be there with you. And I can’t even get off the ground. And I remember everybody Cardwell, [Tommie] Agee, Joe Pignatano…everybody just going at it. Unfortunately I couldn’t participate because I was on my back, staring up the roof of the Astrodome.”

In 1969, he made the opening day roster, but struggled and was sent down to Tidewater in May. The next month, a few hours after burying his father, who had died suddenly at 57, the red-hot Mets traded him to the last place Montreal Expos. He found out about the deal not from a call from the Mets, but from Springfield Union sportswriter Garry Brown.

Dubbed “The Amazing Mets” and “The Miracle Mets,” they went on to win the World Series that year. “I saw those guys (on the Mets) the next year at spring training and I told them, ‘I did more work for you guys than anybody on the Mets. I was the one who got traded for Donn Clendenon, and he was the MVP of the World Series’,” he joked. “We had many laughs about that.”

Batting .240 with 96 at-bats for the Expos, he was sold to the Detroit Tigers in 1970 and batted .208 in 24 at-bats for the Tigers that season. In 1971 played 25 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter, batting .208 in 41 at-bats and was traded to the Cleveland, who sent him down to Oklahoma City. His career ended in 1974 in the minors without playing another major league game.

After baseball, he worked for 20 years at an automotive supply business and suffered another freak injury—this one the most serious. A forklift backed over his right foot, severing it and leaving only his heel and ankle. He was told by doctors he would never again be able to participate in his favorite hobby—golf—but two years and 17 operations later he was back on the golf course.

It was that kind of determination and talent that got him to the major leagues.  “I was a guy who played the game the right way,” said Collins. “I didn’t have a lot of power but I could hit the fastball, and left-handed pitching didn’t bother me too much. I could field my position and I had a good arm. I could run a little. Nobody ever had to tell me how to compete. I was the kind of guy who gave you all I had, whether or not that was enough.”

Another Catalpa Terrace saga: remember my old friend’s former home with an overgrown yard going to hell (above)?

Now it’s for sale! Who is going to buy this proud old house? Hopefully not some slob who has no problem growing a jungle in the front lawn.

Thanks to a great new Facebook site, “Springfield 413, Then and Now,” we have a photo of Allen and Cooley from 1924 (above). Also from the same site: Loon Pond’s old Joyland Beach on Boston Road, as well as and a Friendly’s at the Big E.

I don’t remember Friendly’s at the Big E in the 1970s. Does anyone remember when this ceased to exist? I’ll leave you with another Friendly’s mystery: the one below was in a supermarket. Where?

Answer: in the Food Mart in the Fairview section of Chicopee!