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

Sunday, February 1, 2015

SHITTING to All Fields, Part 12

Another “new old” photo of Forest Park Zoo’s Morganetta the elephant—this one from the Facebook page “You Know You Grew Up at the X if…

It has long been rumored that in the early 1900s the house above at 2197 Wilbraham Road was hoisted up by a tornado and turned around off its foundation—only to pushed back into position by people in the neighborhood after the storm.

An article from October 21, 1965 on the “tornado turnabout house,” posted on the Facebook group “Growing Up in East Sixteen Acres,” supports this theory with an eyewitness: John T. Devers, who was 73 in 1965, stated that in 1908, around 2:30 p.m., he lived near the house and sought shelter in his barn with his horse, his brother, and another who was walking along the road. The twister busted up the barn, but they were safe in its basement. Then he saw the tornado tear down some chicken coops, apple trees, and lift the house in question off its foundation.

Devers said three boys who were picking blueberries had run for cover in the vacant house and were inside when “the house was lifted up and twisted around,” he said. “Now, after the house landed again the front door was facing east. Before it was lifted off the foundation, it was facing north.” Later, people “twisted it back to the way it was before the storm.”

Seven days after this article was published, the account was confirmed in another story that featured an interview with a 69-year-old man named Tresch who was 12 at the time of the tornado—and he was one of the boys who was inside the house when was turned!

After the twister, he and another lad by the name Fournier helped a lad named Richard Rogers out of the cellar, where the boy had fallen. The storm left part of the cellar uncovered, but the house was later edged forward into place again.

Indeed, in a newspaper archive search, there is an account of such a tornado occurring on August 5, 1908.

This article claimed a house was taken completely off its foundation and “set down nearby,” which I guess was a bit of an exaggeration.

This storm front also caused damage in East Longmeadow…

…as well as on Mulberry and Meadow Streets in West Springfield, along with the West Side’s Mittineague section.

The only fatality due to the foul weather that day: a Chicopee man crushed by a tree.

Speaking of tornadoes, the 2011 western Massachusetts tornado is so ingrained in our psyche that for the Springfield Museums’ gingerbread house contest, a couple of Wilbraham kids depicted the event in their entry “Wizard of Oz Visits City of Homes.” The structure on the top of the photo is the Elias Brookings Elementary School (in case you can’t read the blurry sign), which was trashed when the twister came through Six Corners. The description underneath: “This display was dually inspired by the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz and the June 1st tornado that hit Springfield in 2011. This City of Homes was built with gingerbread, crushed graham crackers, shredded wheat, licorice, life savers, gumdrops, tootsie rolls, shredded coconut, and frosting.”

The real Brookings School after the tornado:

The school has since been replaced:

Gras graffiti: a photo taken in the bathroom stall at the Mardi Gras in Springfield (above). No, the photographer didn’t draw it, so don’t shoot the messenger. I don’t know what's more disturbing—the drawing, or the fact that my friend took a shit in the Mardi Gras men’s room.

While I’m stealing from Facebook pages, here’s the old neon Airline Drive-in sign in Chicopee, posted in “You Know You Grew Up in Springfield, Massachusetts if.”

Okay, goddamnit. That sign was posted on Facebook in error. It turns out that was from the Airline Drive-in in Metairie, Louisiana. Come to think of it, I remember that the one in Chicopee was airplane-shaped. Anyone have a picture of this sign?

Nope, that’s not it. This one’s from Houston, TX. Where is a picture of the Chicopee Airline sign? I know someone has one!

From the Facebook group “Growing Up in Sixteen Acres, Springfield, MA,” a concert poster from 1970. The Allman Brothers returned to Springfield a few more times, including the Capitol Theatre on April 22, 1972. They also performed at the Springfield Civic Center: December 1, 1975, April 26, 1979, December 28, 1979, December 30, 1980 (I was at this show—the Jack Bruce Band opened), and December 18, 1981 (Opening band: Molly Hatchett). On December 20, 1986, the regrouped band played the Paramount Theater again (But only for the third “reunion” set—it was billed as the Dickey Betts Band and the Gregg Allman Band in separate sets.) The Allman Brothers also played Symphony Hall on March 2, 1992.

The question is: how the hell did I miss the 1981, 1986, and 1992 shows? Oh, yeah, I wasn’t in Springfield at the time. In 1981 I was away at college, and for the final two, I was living in Boston. I know. That’s no excuse. I should have been there. I saw them in late 1980s and 1990s outdoor amphitheater shows in the Boston area, but I would have loved to experience them in the intimate Symphony Hall atmosphere.

The year 1980 was a strange one in which to see the reunited Allman Brothers Band. The Springfield show was by far the best show I had seen in my short concert-going career (And I saved the stub!), but the mood at the Civic Center was bizarre, to say the least. The band had hired what seemed to be a motorcycle club as security, which took pleasure at bullying fans outside, herding them like sheep and berating them for simply hanging out in the lobby or outside and not quickly getting in line. (This was at a venue that had a long history of concertgoers loitering around and taking their time getting in, so things started to get ugly.)

It was not exactly a strategic tactic to adopt for a band that was seen as passé by the music industry and at that time could use all the loyal (and new) fans it could get. Spectators filled only about 4,000 seats, but we were treated to a stupendous show. The band had just released two great albums, Enlightened Rogues (1979) and Reach for the Sky (1980). Soon after that tour, the band fell apart. Brothers of the Road (1981) sucked, and they parted ways in 1982, getting together only once in a while (including 1986 in Springfield), before reuniting again in 1989. They went on to have a 25-year run, even though they had been without Betts since 2000.

Here’s a clip from the ’92 show in Springfield. To me, they simply weren’t the Allman Brothers after Gregg kicked Dickey Betts out of the band:

Betts and Warren Haynes were both on this tour. Haynes effectively replaced Betts in the Allman Brothers’ later years, thanks to Gregg and his ego. Haynes sure can play, but it’s beyond me why they couldn’t keep both guitarists. I always thought Gregg Allman was threatened by Betts’ vocal abilities, which you can hear in the above “Blue Sky.”

But, rivalries aside, back to Symphony Hall: fuck yeah, Whippin’ Post!

The Allman Brothers Band’s Springfield concerts recently came to mind because they performed their final shows in 2014 in New York before calling it quits. I wish Gregg could have reconciled with Dickey, but that wasn’t going to happen. Dickey’s drinking was getting out of control. At Great Woods in Mansfield, MA, I was mortified to see Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde fill in for Dickey after the latter punched his wife and went into rehab in 1993. 

Too “heavy metal” for the Allmans? You be da judge. Zakk sufficed for a while. But he just wasn’t Dickey:

I’ll always take Gregg’s line on his feud with Dickey with a grain of salt. I know that Gregg went clean and sober in 2000—one of 18 fucking rehab stints for the douche—and it will be my belief to this day that he fired Betts that year because at the time Dickey was the only one in the band left who did any partying. This simply wasn’t good for His Majesty’s recovery efforts. So fuck him.

Here is a link to a bootleg of the ’79 Springfield show. The New Riders of the Purple Sage opened. 

Here’s the set list:

Don’t Want You No More
It’s Not My Cross to Bear
Can’t Take it With You
Can’t Lose What You Never Had
Need Your Love So Bad
Blind Love
Blue Sky
Just Ain’t Easy
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
Statesboro Blues
Try It One More Time
One Way Out
Whipping Post
Rambling Man
Midnight Rider
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Mountain Jam

On sale recently on ebay:

Hey, I remember when Springfield street signs were made the “classic” way."

Honk if you remember the Steak Inferno on Riverdale.

Now it’s Cal’s.

“No harm at the Charm.”

There was a murder at The Charm in 1991 and the bar’s license was finally revoked in 2004. The bar reopened under new management in 2006 as the Hideaway Lounge. Check out the ruins of the Hideaway, courtesy of blogger Tommy Devine

Yes, they never bothered to take down the sign on the top that read “A neighborhood Café with charm.”

It was later known as Duck’s place, and there was another murder there in 2013.

Now it’s the State Street café.

One last establishment: Guess that dive!

It was known as the Edgemont Spa in the 1930s.

It’s latest incarnation: Brownstone banquet hall. But what was the name of this place we all knew and loved back in the day? Give up? If you worked at Springfield Municipal Hospital, chances are you had a few liquid lunches there:

Until next month, folks...don’t take any wooden nickels.