DISCLAIMER

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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

SHITTING to All Fields, Part 5


The Ruins of South Branch Park, Part 4:
Sayonara Siberia

This grainy photo is the only one I can find of “Siberia,” the outdoor rink that opened in South Branch Park in 1963. The facility was the subject of an earlier blog post, when I photographed its ruins (below). I had always wondered when it was abandoned. It’s interesting to see this moment “frozen” in time (yuk yuk!) and one can only guess who are the silhouettes in the photo: possibly one or more of Matty Ryan’s kids?




An improved version of the rink, with new lights, etc. reopened in 1969 and was dedicated to the late Earl P. Seibert, the former president of the Sixteen Acres Hockey Association. But alas, it was heavily vandalized in April of 1970. Eight sets of lights were smashed beyond repair, the insides of the warming huts were trashed, electric heaters were stolen, electrical wiring was dismantled, and shovels that were used to scrape the ice were broken. I don’t know if any attempt was made to fix the place, but I doubt it: the Springfield Union wrote that a small group of parents who fundraised for the structure—and volunteered their time and efforts for its upkeep—stood in front of the wreckage and “surveyed the end of a dream.”

Read The Ruins of South Branch Park, Parts 1, 23, and 5.


From time to time I have written about The Pothole (above), our old hangout in the woods next to the Sixteen Acres pond Putnam’s Puddle, as well as our “feud” with the kids on the other side of the pond. I use the term “feud” loosely, because the animosity was limited to yelling “fuck you” back and forth and the occasional lobbing of rocks. In a 2012 blog post, a guy from the North Brook Road side even commented on this phenomenon. He and a friend remembered hurling these epithets at us “for no real reason,” he wrote. “Man we laughed at that memory Sorry we yelled the F U @ you guys, some of you turned out all right!!! LOL.”

Another Other Sider weighed in when he read the original post: “I was the guy on the other side yelling back at you usually from the boat ramp at the end of Meadowlark Lane.”

We were never quite sure of The Pothole’s origin. No, it wasn’t a meteorite crater. We sure didn’t dig it, but we knew it took a good amount of effort from someone. We just took it over when it was apparent no laid claim to it. Now it has come to my attention that The Pothole was originally dug by Other Siders! Our arch-enemies! According to commenter nicknamed “Rabbit” who graduated from Cathedral in 1975, he and his friends shoveled the huge hole in the fall of 1970 or 1971 as a trap for police to fall in when they came to hassle the kids hanging around a campfire there:

“The best happened one night when the cops (they always traveled with partners back then) came along their usual routine to roust us out of there, but we were ready with the pit covered with branches and leaves. We hid off to the sides and waited ’til we heard the clanking of keys and some cuss words as one of the cops fell into the hole! We laughed about that one for a long time.”

Rabbit and company referred to themselves as “The Moochi” (pronounced “mooch-eye”) because they “were always mooching cigarettes, beer and whatever else we could off each other and even the other neighborhood younger kids.”

The Moochi then moved their hangout to the bottom of Sparrow Drive and “joined forces with some of the older guys on our side.” They abandoned their pit out of fear that the police, including a cop that “had it in” for them, would seek revenge.

As for the “friction between our side and your side of the pond,” he recalls one time when he and his crew “were anticipating you guys to come around to our side and start some trouble with us at our campfire spot.” So they decided to get medieval on the guys from the Sunrise Terrace side: 

Some of us grabbed about a 12 foot long log, maybe a foot or so in diameter, lashed some ropes to it and tied it up between two trees probably 15 feet up in the air like a big swinging medieval weapon ready to sweep lengthwise directly into the oncoming path in the woods—quite a project, really. Next thing you know someone yells ‘here they come!’ and down comes this big old honking log only to knock a mini bike out from underneath one of our guys’ younger brothers. Lucky he didn't get killed!”

For more of this Other Sider’s stories, including Skyball Scibelli’s Meadowlark Lane Fourth-of-July fireworks parties, read his comments at the end of the earlier post.



Remember Norman’s Pharmacy on Island Pond Road? Soda fountain and all? Norman is pictured in “The Pill Wagon.” On the front he had painted, “Here comes Norman.” On the back? What else? “There goes Norman.”





First it was Viking, and then it was…




Yes, Staind played there, as well as the late Clarence Clemons:




Infinity closed in 1996 for 16 months and made another go of it with new management before closing in 1999. It became Club Miami, Casablanca, and then The Atlantic.

Then, this past August: Infinity became finite:







The Ivanhoe closed in 2007 after being in operation on Elm Street in West Springfield for 40 years. It was the Abdow family’s last functioning restaurant.



Jaws and a rehash of M*A*S*H at The “Rundown” anyone?


Another vintage photo of Forest Park’s Stone Dog. Yes, that’s the Brown House in the background.



Thanks to the Facebook page Springfield, 413 Then and Now, we have several “new old” photos, including one of the Rose Tree Inn, which closed in 1949.



The Julia Sanderson wasn’t looking too good in this undated photo. Check out that Gran Torino!


Elvis gets together with an unwed mother at the Memorial.


I can hear Peter Cymmer in his heavy Polish accent now: “Come on in and browssse arrrround!”




I dug up another picture of the Stateline Potato Chips sign! This one and the one below are the only photos I know of.





Now that’s a banner banner.


It was a heartbreak when the Cinema X closed. The last movie to play there: Death Wish III on December 14, 1985. The theater, whose building also housed Big Daddy’s Gym, the Forest Park Lanes, Liberty Bakeries, and Frankel’s, stood vacant for 11 years before the entire structure was demolished to build a Walgreens.


Anyone buy a dog at the Puppy Center?



I came upon this old Casual Corner photo, but it doesn’t look like the Eastfield Mall. Could it have been the one in Enfield?


The pony rides at Forest Park


Silvano’s on Worthington is gone, but the sign was saved!



Remember the Hobnob?

Below is a picture of Michael Sarrazin’s car driving by the Hobnob in the 1975 film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud:



Peter proceeds to check out the wreckage of an unidentified building. You can see in the background Steiger’s and that colorful mural on the side of the old SIS building. The Main Street view of the mural is below. I always thought it was painted for the movie, but it turns out that it was done by STCC professor Edith Wiles (who was then Edith Mantyla) and a group of UMass students in June of 1973.



Peter continues his journey past Friendly’s at Baystate West…


…and then A. O. White. This clothing store was the downtown mall’s first tenant in 1971 before closing its doors in 1994. The closing came less than half a year after Steiger’s went out of business and Blake’s and Frankel’s gave up the ghost in The X. Explained Albert Oscar White on the retail apparel business: “You can't be little these days. There is intense competition from all directions.”

These photos are from a montage of Springfield scenes in the movie that someone assembled. Check it out:


One last “shitting.” This one from John Belushi. It has nothing to do with Springfield, but...