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

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SHITTING to All Fields, Part 8

Another Dam(n) Mystery Solved!

Years ago I had asked about the fate of Mark Gilfoil, whose name is in the cement of the Putnam’s Puddle dam (bottom of photo), and a commenter answered, writing that his fellow Technical High School classmate from the Class of 1972 might have died in a motorcycle crash. A Springfield Union newspaper archive search verified this fact: On July 22, 1974, his motorcycle collided with the side of a car on Route 23 in Otis and he died instantly.

I also asked about the name above Mark’s: I wasn’t sure if it was “R.A. White” or “A.A. White.” And then, in 2012, an “Other Sider” (a guy from the other side of the pond) filled me in: the name in question was Mark’s best friend Ray White, another 1972 Tech grad who lived on the corner of Moss Road and Juniper Drive—just a few houses away from Mark.

Sure enough, if you look closely, you can see where the “Y” at the end of “Ray” has been corroded by the detritus of time:

The accident “was a very, very sad day for all of us in ‘Wing Park,’” wrote Garrett Smith, who graduated from Classical in 1973. Garret’s older brother Matt was a Tech High ’72 grad.

By “Wing Park,” he means the Acres streets in the North Brook Road area named after birds (Pidgeon, Sparrow, Partridge, Starling, Finch, Pheasant, and Meadowlark Lane) that were built by Raymond Pidgeon.

A lighter version of the photo above also apparently reveals the name PHIL (to the right of Gilfoil, White, and the peace sign) and an arrow pointing to what was undoubtedly his hand print—before age and moss obscured it. Anyone from “The Other Side” know who Phil is? Leave a comment or send an email!

I think it’s great that the Catholic Diocese announced it will rebuild tornado-damaged Cathedral High School after it received approximately $29 million in federal disaster aid. For more than three years the school’s home has been at the former Memorial School in Wilbraham, where I snapped these photos of a display case dedicated to Nick Buoniconti, the former Cathedral, Notre Dame, Dolphins, and Patriots star:

His nephews Mike and Vinny played on the 1998 Cathedral team Western Massachusetts-Central Massachusetts Division I Super Bowl Champion team.

Nick Buoniconti is pictured third from the right in his Cathedral playing days. Second from the left is Joe Scibelli, who played 15 seasons with the L.A. Rams.

I Know Why the Caged Monkey Spits

Check out the treasure trove of animal photos from the “old” Forest Park Zoo, including the chimpanzees Jiggs and Jiggsy and Morganetta the elephant. They were posted in the Facebook site “You Know You Grew Up at The X If…

Remember this monkey (above)? A real spitter!

Anybody remember Nathan’s Place on Route 20 in Monson? It operated under that name from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, although I hear this road house is much older than that. I saw Johnny Copeland there in 1984.

They tried to make a go of the building as a seafood place named Schooners, but it has been a long time since anyone has feasted on steamers there:

Speaking of old bars/restaurants, The Arbor was a gay bar on Worthington Street in Springfield in 1970s. Not that the kids at Technical High School cared when they bought 25-cent drafts there during “lunch.”

It closed its doors in the late 1970s and reopened as Ichabod’s in 1980. The building, which was a bar named Finnegan’s some time in the 1990s, looks like it’s being renovated. For what, I don’t know.

Yo, Adrian. Who wants to bring back dollar movies at the Bing?

Railroad Salvage was the precursor to close-out stores like Ocean State Lot. Ruby Vine, who died in 2011, was wounded and captured by Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. Seemingly born to be a salesman, the Army vet founded Railroad Salvage in New Haven in 1950. Below is the old Railroad Salvage in Turners Falls.

Honk if you remember Choo Choo Vine!

Say it ain’t so! Fortuna Auto Sales has finally covered up the funky-shaped Carol Cared Cars sign (below) on Bay Street.

A reader a while back asked for a photo of the old Belmont Avenue Friendly’s. Here it is:

Below is the old West Springfield Friendly’s:

Below, I believe, are the old interior and exterior (the sketch in the ad) of the Boston Road Friendly’s before it was redone. I think I remember the old horse and buggy mural:

While we’re contemplating the old waitress uniform, check it out. She works hard for the money:

In case you missed it, my semi-pornographic ode to the old waitress uniform can be found here

I found another photo of the one on Wilbraham Road in Sixteen Acres before it closed:

How many of you remember the “old old” Sixteen Acres Friendly’s, where Ginger Blossom restaurant is now?

In James A. Coleman’s book The Circle, the manager that the Circle Gang tormented mercilessly was referred to as Mr. Crepman, or “Crappy.” Coleman used pseudonyms in the book. Mr. Crepman was none other than Richard Kretzschmar, who put up with a lot.

In The Circle, the gang loots a beer truck during a delivery at Burns package store, but I hear it was actually an ice cream truck at Friendly’s. Which was it? Inquiring minds want to know!

When driving through Lee, MA, I was alarmed to see that they had replaced the old-school Friendly sign on Housatonic Street:

Fortunately, I was able to find a web image of the old one, so in a way it lives on forever:

Because I wrote about The Ditch teen hangout on Boston Road, it would be remiss of me not to post a photo of The Ditch off Peekskill Road (below), where rumor has it the East Sixteen Acres kids used to throw snowballs at cars.

Foster’s Field

Indeed, I will never give up my quest in asking readers to let me know about their hangouts. After all, you spent so much time there, and you might just revisit them every so often in your mind, especially if Hell’s Acres gives you a little reminder. So let’s pay a visit to Foster’s Field, next to Doc Foster’s house/office on Wilbraham Road. Much of the field, which was at the top of the photo next to Venture Pond (above), has filled in with trees and undergrowth over the years.

Roughly 20 regulars hung out at Foster’s field in the 1970s. “We didn’t consider ourselves a gang,” reports a reader. “It was merely a place to hang around and drink the likes of Haffenreffer (you probably remember this one) and another beer called Maximus Super brewed by the Utica Brewing Company.”

Oh, yes, I’m familiar with the Green Death. But the latter? Anybody out there drink this stuff?

Mmm. Now those are MAXIMI.

I’ll leave you now with another hangout: The Logs behind the Greenleaf Park fields. They were meant to prevent cars from going on the grass, but they took on a life of their own! Who out there spent some time at The Logs? Leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

I grew up in Monson not too far from Nathan's Place but I'm too young to remember it as anything but Schooner's (never ate there though). I have fond memories of my dad taking me to movies at the Bing and then getting ice cream at Friendly's afterwards - not sure which one, I think there were 13 Friendly's in Springfield at one point (remember counting them on a store list once). My friend from upstate New York always says derisively "What's with you people from Massachusetts and Friendly's" - Dana

Hell's Acres said...


Since you were going back to Monson after the Bing it was probably the East Forest Park Friendly's, or possibly the one in The Acres or even Boston Road, since you were probably at Route 20 by then.

I almost forgot there was a small Friendly's on State Street downtown--on the other side of Main Street. It was on the left if you were facing West.

Anonymous said...

Before it was Nathan's Place, the roadhouse in Monson until about 1982 was called "The Highwayman." There used to be a really old neon sign out front from the 1940s or '50s that got taken down when the "Nathan's Place" sign went up.

Hell's Acres said...

Thanks! I can always count on readers to fill in the gaps. I wonder what happened to The Highwayman sign.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it could have been any of those. I remember that one on Main Street - there was also one in the Eastfield Mall, which I always thought was interesting when there was one right by on Boston road. Have you ever done anything on Jim Dandy? I still remember at the Springfield Indians games "When the Indiands get brave, you get chicken!" and then everyone would shout "forget the roll" after they said the free meal you would get - I'm not sure why they said that, the roll at Jim Dandy was pretty good. - Dana

Hell's Acres said...

"...and a roll!" See my Springfield Indians posts: I have a Jim Dandy ad in there lol. I should do something more on Jim Dandy. They were all over the place, including right next to Friendly's on Boston Road. I think Friendly's owned the franchise and sold it--not sure.

Anonymous said...

Friendly's started the Jim Dandy chain around 1969, but it never took off, as I never saw a Jim Dandy outlet outside the immediate Springfield area.

I think they did well locally because they did not have a lot of competition. There were only 4 or 5 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in the area, the Chicken Coop at State and Oak St. and the hole-in-the-wall place in Chicopee behind Admiral DW'S.

The most memorable thing about Jim Dandy was not the food, but the round yellow sign on the gable that said "FRIED CHICKEN" in psychedelic-style red lettering.

Hell's Acres said...

I vaguely remember the Jim Dandy sign. There was also one at State and Colonial and at Sumner and Abbbott, across the street from the East Forest Park Friendly's.

Kind of weird they'd name it after their signature sundae. Marketing probably thought there would be brand recognition?

Randylou said...

Ginger Blossom moving into the old Friendly building has some irony. Didn't the original Ginger Blossom space previously serve as the 16 Acres Friendly's?

I believe Nathan's is the same place where my parents had their wedding reception in 1952. I have several photos of the inside and out from that event. Would love to share.

Hell's Acres said...

Hey Randylou,

Sorry for the confusion. Ginger Blossom remains at the "old old" Friendly's location at 1200 Parker Street.

The Friendly's successor on Wilbraham Road was torn down and United Bank built a building at the site.

Yes, feel free to share those pix of Nathan's/The Highwayman! You can email them to hellsacres@gmail.com!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for directing me to the Indians posts - great reads. I went to a couple games a year from the mid-80's to early 90's. I was at that clinching Calder Cup game in '91, one of the first things I drove to by myself after getting my licence. I still have an Indians puck that I bought at that game. - Dana

Hell's Acres said...

That game must have been quite the occasion. I was living in Boston at the time, although when they won it in 1990 my friend's family taped the third period (I guess it was broadcast on local TV) and he brought it for us to view a few days later.

Leona is a spy said...

Don't forget that TJ Hourihan's was a bar after or next door to Finnegan's back in the 90's. I believe Ten Year's After was there in that era too.

Lea said...

Love your blog! I grew up in West Springfield, hung out at the WS Friendly's. I had a close relative who worked at the Arbor Lounge on Worthington St. before and during its gay days. I love the old photos! Great job.

Hell's Acres said...

Hi Lea,

Thanks for commenting. Many people forget about the Arbor's past.

Anonymous said...

I remember Nathan's Place. Back in the late 1970's, the Davis and Greene Band used to play there. We were traveling from RI so they'd put us up for the night upstairs so we didn't have to go back and forth. Where exactly was it located? Would love to see pictures of the inside if anyone has them.

Hell's Acres said...

Nathan's was on Route 20 in Monson. I don't have any photos of the interior, but RandyLou, a commenter, says he has 1952 inside photos, when it was no doubt called The Highwayman. I believe he can be reached at randy@randygarbin.com.

Anonymous said...

I knew Mark and the Gilfoil family mostly Gregory we were closer in age. Very sad about Mark, I don't remember Phil and vaguely remember Ray White.

Hell's Acres said...

Yeah, so many Acres guys died on motorcycles.

Kaseraaa said...

Didn't a band called Bear Mountain play ther alot and they would advertise on the radio " in Muuuunson Massachusetts"

Hell's Acres said...

An archives check reveals that Bear Mountain did play at Nathan's 1978-1980.