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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bullshitting to All Fields

Okay. I’m still as superstitious as I was before. When I reached SPITTING to All Fields, Part 12, I changed it to SHITTING to avoid the number 13. And I’m still following the same idiotic plan. But I can’t find a good rhyme for “shit,” so what should I do? How about “Bullshitting”? Pretty lame? Come up with a better one. Hey! What a neat idea: a contest for Hell’s Acres readers.

Anyone remember the “little fountain,” as opposed to the “big fountain” in the Eastfield Mall? This photo was taken in 1986 after a mall-wide renovation (when the food court came in), which no doubt included removing the circular benches around it to discourage teenagers from hanging out there. How many of you reached over to block one or more of the water streams with your fingers? Or tossed in mulch chips from the nearby plants? In the background is Steiger’s, which was replaced by Filene’s, which was replaced by Macy’s:

On the other side of the fountain was the Flaming Pit, which eventually was replaced by American Eagle:

American Eagle just closed, as well as Radio Shack, and the clothing store Deb declared bankruptcy. Is Eastfield sliding back to its mid-1990s “dead mall” days, when it was 50 percent leased? The mall’s management plans a “makeover” and will soon approach the City Council with its future plans and to ask for “regulatory approvals,” leading some to speculate that it wants to demolish the old unleased J.C. Penney store and more, possibly making the mall more of a non-enclosed shopping center (strip mall). We’ll see. For more on the mall’s history, read The Trail of Swears.

Bernie’s House of Television, after it replaced the neon HOT sign. You can see some of the old Burns Package Store (later known as Super 1 Stop) on the right.

Damn you, Bernie’s! Damn you to hell!

Above, the construction of Springfield College’s “Pueblo of the Seven Fires” building in its East Campus woods in the early 1930s. It is so named because of its seven fireplaces.

Believe it or not, this building and the old Loveland Chapel (below), built in 1977, are technically in Sixteen Acres.

Since 1988 the chapel has been the home of the Springfield College Child Development Center: 

Indeed, if you look at Sixteen Acres’ west border, represented by the dotted line below, the college’s East Campus, surrounded by Watershops Pond (and including Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing) is within the neighborhood boundary. That means Sixteen Acres includes the pond all the way up to Alden Street and to the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge!

Speaking of Watershops, above are Springfield College students swimming in the pond at freshman camp in 1930. Yes, that guy is bare-assed. A couple of guys I know from Alden Street used to swim in that pond when they were kids in the 1970s, but they were certainly in the minority.

Check out that icicle on Wilbraham Road: it goes all the way to the mutha-fucking ground!

It’s been a tough winter, but we’re New Englanders and used to the snow. Check out the Vietnam protesters below in a February 1972 snowstorm that dumped a foot of the white stuff on Springfield:

There are several Springfield history pages on Facebook that I borrow photos from every so often. Definitely check out “You know you’re from Springfield, Ma if…” and “Springfield, 413, Then and Now.” I got the video below and several of the photos below that from these sources. Check out footage of Snowball the polar bear and a black bear at the Forest Park Zoo (along with the lion and the leopard from zoo’s monkey house) in 1961:

Always good to see another “old new” photo of Wilbraham’s Lakeside:

The Springfield Civic Center, when the Hartford Whalers played their NHL games in the building after the collapse of the Hartford Civic Center roof in 1978:

Here are some photos from the collapse:

Another old Forbes and Wallace photo. Remember those green city buses?

Forest Park’s stolen stone dog in 1961:

Springfield’s Union Station in 1908:

Carl Bartels at his Bartels Brothers gas station at the corner of Allen and Cooley:

Some Sixteen Acres Lions baseball uniforms over the years:

The 8-10 division in 1979


Around 1967?

Anyone remember the Rusty Nail in Sunderland? I believe I remember driving on a road through a tobacco field to get there. It burned down in 1985. Here are photos of some of the bands playing in the building:

Badfinger at the Rusty Nail in 1983

The Neighborhoods at the Rusty Nail in 1982

The Ramones at the Rusty Nail in 1979

Opening for the Ramones that night: David Johansen

Video footage of Echo and the Bunnymen playing at the Rusty Nail in 1981:

It’s been nearly 35 years since two Acres guys, Tim Smith (above) and Guy Bartish (below) were killed in a car crash on Dipping Hole Road in Wilbraham, not far from their homes on Parkerview Street and Flint Street, respectively. In the case of Bartish, he was the first person in our senior class at Cathedral to die prematurely and the accident reminded everyone that these things really do happen to teenagers.

This kind of reminder reared its ugly head again three months later when Harry Tighe (below), a Classical senior and captain of the Bulldogs hockey team, was killed in an accident on Tapley Street.

Remember Big Chief Food Center in Winchester Square? It’s now Mason Food Market in Mason Square. How many of you got annoyed at people double-parking on Wilbraham Road in front of Big Chief? How did the place get its name? It was right across the street from the Indian Motorcycle factory, and it was named after, well:

I remember playing against Big Chief’s basketball team a couple of times when I was a kid. It was a real motley crew.

The funny thing is after all these years, when you’re driving westbound on Wilbraham Road, you can still see the old name of the store on the side of the building. The lettering is faded on the white sign over the bricks (too faded to show up on Google Maps above), but trust me, it’s there. I’d get out of my car and get close and take a real picture, but you know.

Growing pot on Mount Tom? Say it ain’t so! That was apparently the case on September 22, 1969.

Photos of the demolition of tornado-ravaged Cathedral High School (the science wing is pictured above) bring back so many memories of the school. However, the funniest has to be from my friend Jeff (an Acres guy, but not his real name) of an incident that occurred in the mid-to-late 1990s. But first, some destruction photos:

No more minstrel shows in the auditorium.

The auditorium: going, going, gone!

The view from across Island Pond

Remember the (ahem) smoking area?

I remember being in one of the first-floor homerooms on the right. If my first class was in the science wing to the left, I would brave the walk outside on the coldest of days rather than deal with the crowd on the dreaded science wing staircase. Check out the desk in the middle that fell out of the classroom and into the snow.

The science wing is severed from the rest of the building.

The science wing's last stand

The gym: a basketball hoop on the right hangs on for dear life.

The gym looks like it was car-bombed.

The locker room is about to bite the dust.

Okay, back to Jeff’s story. Anyone who attended the school remembers the top storage lockers that were only supposed to open when the corresponding main lockers below were open. But anyone could come along and hit the knobs at an upward angle with a book and they would fly open. Consequently, no one put anything of value in the top lockers.

It’s important to note at this point that in the 1990s, no one was allowed to bring any food or beverage from the cafeteria into the halls. Reports Jeff: 

“Enjoying a chocolate milk I had snuck out of the lunch room— one of those small wax covered cardboard containers—I noticed the bell was about to ring for second lunch. Not wanting to get caught with it and frankly being too lazy throw it out I opened a top locker, noticed it empty, placed my half empty chocolate milk in, and closed it.”

Also important to the story is a strange phenomenon that occurred every day at Cathedral in the mid-1990s. If you happened to be in the hallway right before lunch, you had to be ready to hug the wall, because a stampede of students was about to occur. “That place was so anal retentive about shoes, clothes, hair, the Body of Christ, etc. that shockingly students were allowed to absolutely stampede the halls in a full race down to the lunch room,” says Jeff. “There are no words to describe it. Absolute running of the bulls. Girls, guys, jocks, stoners—all inclusive activity.” Fast-forward to spring, and again Jeff had a half-full carton of chocolate milk and was looking to discard it. He sought out the original top locker, and lo and behold, there was the original chocolate milk! I’ll let Jeff take it from here:

“I took it out in fascination. I was nice enough to at least close it before I left it so many months ago. I unfolded the original opening and remember seeing green dust followed by a stomach churning smell of putrid milk. My head turned in disgust. Rather than properly dispose of it (how would that be possible?) I unfolded the other end of the container, so now the entire top was open. I placed it in the middle of hall, and walked to my class, which was no more than 10 feet away. Why did I do this?  I figured someone else would have to pick it up and that would be funny.”

Oh, it ended up being cleaned up all right.

“I was safe inside Spanish 2 when the bell rang. The lead bull runner burst through the double metal door, and with a kick that would have made Coach Pantuosco proud, struck the milk container sending it flying down the hall. If you take a jam-packed corridor with inadequate ventilation and disperse months old curdled milk, what happens?  Within seconds there were multiple vomits. Now you had the smell of fresh vomit and rotten milk. More vomit. I shit you not. I could not have predicted a more awesome outcome. Had this happened today I am sure radical Islamists would have been blamed. You may think that was my original intent but I can assure you it was not. I remember laughing my ass off as the custodian came with his mop bucket and wood chips. I still get chuckles about this.”

I’ll leave you with a couple of oldies-but-goodies:

The Everly Brothers, Mountain Park in 1965. Yes, the term discotheque was used in 1965!

The Bar Association—the biggest fire trap in Springfield—in 1983. Here come da judge! Like his “gavel”?