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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Miscellaneous Shit, Part 4

The Parkway Drive-in’s grand opening in 1948 featured “Song of the South.” It closed in 1987.

The Manchester Drive-in in Bolton, CT opened in 1953 and closed in 1984. Nature took over:

Anybody brave enough to climb that ladder?

One of the old Airline Drive-in signs is on display somewhere in Chicopee. It looks like it’s in some kind of banquet hall (there is a coat room on the right). Anybody have any idea where this is? More on the old drive-in theaters in one of my old posts.

While we’re on the subject of Chicopee, here is the “new” Foggie’s. The old one opened in the Fairfield Mall in 1975—under the mall’s first liquor license. Fairfield opened in 1974, closed in 2001, and was demolished in 2004. We used to make the trek there to spend all my money on old baseball cards at the Sunday flea markets. Here are some photos of the place, which was anchored by Caldor and Bradlee’s.

The above photo is from 1990.

One of the original anchors:

Here is a tour of the old Fairfield Mall. The soundtrack seems to be a little off, but what the hell:

Once, when I was 16 (barely after I had gotten my driver’s license), my friends and I were playing video games in an arcade in Fairfield Mall when I decided that I wasn’t buzzed enough and was going back to my car to chug another couple of beers. I opened the car door after beer number two to put the empty next to the car when I saw a police cruiser go by, so I closed the door and waited until the coast was clear. The coast wasn’t clear. After I put the bottle down and started walking toward the mall the cruiser swung by again and a cop rolled down his window. 

“What were you doing in that car?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I replied and kept walking.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked the driver, who got out with his partner and bent my arm behind my back. “You broke into that car, didn’t you?’

“That’s my car!” I said. “Ow!”

“Prove it,” he said. He let go of my arm. We walked back to the car.

“These are my keys,” I said, unlocking it. I noticed the case of beer in the back seat. Rut-roh.

“License and registration,” he replied.

I didn't have a picture license yet, just a thin slip of paper. My memory escapes me as to what color it was. I remember that the learner's permits were pink, so this one might have been green. The cops studied the paper and the registration under a flashlight and then looked at each other. Amazingly, they didn't shine the flashlight in the back seat and see our Michelob box.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” the driver said. “We saw you open the door, and start to get out, and then you sat back down and closed it when you saw us. Why did you do that?”

“OK. We thought you were acting suspiciously. Good night.”

Inside the arcade, I told my friends what happened. They didn’t believe me. Why should they? Then again, why should I make up a story like that? Because I was a dumb teenager? Guilty. But not guilty of breaking into a car, or making up a story. Well, I didn’t care if they didn’t believe me. The problem was that I had lost my buzz in the adrenaline rush of the incident, but at least I didn’t get busted for the beer. It was time to play Asteroids and forget about the while thing until it popped into my brain 36 years later when I was writing a blog post and thinking about the Fairfield Mall. 

Ah, good old Asteroids:

Who remembers the puke machine at Riverside Park?

You could actually see the racetrack from the top of The Rotor. For those who don’t remember, The Rotor spun at 33 revolutions per minute, creating a centrifugal effect and making riders stick to the wall when the floor was lowered. There were plenty of injuries on the ride. When I was home from college, my father, a lawyer, told me that a couple of guys I knew from Kensington Avenue were suing Riverside after they got drunk and hurt goofing around on The Rotor. (I believe they tried to stick to the wall upside down and fell.) My dad defended Riverside’s insurance company in the case. I can’t remember the outcome.

Anyway, most parks got rid of The Rotor (also named the Hell Hole) after similar incidents piled up. Riverside got its version of the ride in 1958 and dismantled it after the 1998 season. Six Flags got rid of The Rotor at most of its locations in 2002 after a girl lost most of her big toe when the floor came back up at the park in Gurnee, Ill.

Unbelievably, I hear The Rotor making a comeback, and there are a few out there. Here is one at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT, which was removed after the 2010 season:

Also at Riverside, who remembers the “Lost River” ride? You can see the rhino on wheels on the left. Other animations included the not-so-politically-correct cannibal cooking white explorers in a couple of pots. I guess this attraction at some point was called “Jungle Land.” It opened in 1962 and closed some time in the late 1970s. I had totally forgotten until I read this article that there was a “water curtain” that used to threaten to soak riders until it shut off right before the boat went through it:

Good old Laff in the Dark. We were the punky kids who used to get out of the rolling carts and run around in the dark scaring people. What the hell were we thinking?

I never knew that 11 members of the Springfield Boys club drowned one July afternoon in an East Otis pond in 1919. Eleven!

In 1982, NRBQ and David Johansen (pre-Buster Poindexter) played at our favorite university (then college) in Sixteen Acres. I didn’t even hear about this show because I was away at college.

Some might not get the delicious irony in the above photo. Despite the billboard, mobster “Big Nose” Sam Cufari used Ciro’s restaurant as a headquarters.

Bowling in The Orchard anyone?

A fight at a Sixteen Acres School dance in 1971? Say it ain’t so! Actually, this incident of March of that year might have been part of a series of fights between kids from Sixteen Acres and teenagers who hung around the old Friendly’s at Sumner and Allen. The two youths named in the above article lived on streets near that Friendly’s, and the following October, the Acres guys were in a fight at that Friendly’s, which led to the Friendly’s guys coming up to the Acres:

I’ll leave you now with a top 20 list from the spring of 1980. The funny thing is, WHYN was strictly a pop station and I don’t think it ever played “Another Brick in the Wall” or any other Pink Floyd, for that matter. We thought WAQY was bad back then, but WHYN was much, much worse.


peterunderdog said...

best Parkway Drive-In marquee sign ever: someone changed CLASH OF THE TITANS to CLASH OF THE TITS

Hell's Acres said...

Hey Peter I remember that! Love your blog by the way.

Doug B said...

I have to respectfully disagree, I remember one morning riding on the school bus on my way to junior high on Stoney hill rd (1976?) and someone had changed the Parkview marquee from "invasion of the body snatchers" to " Invasion of the bloody snatches"!

Agawamian said...

Peterunderdog: that made me cackle!

What were the radio stations in WMass in the 70s & 80s? WMAS? I couldn't stand WAQY, even though I tried to like it. By the time I came along, WHYN was "lite hits."

I remember that we listened religiously to WTIC. Much to my disdain my parents wouldn't put a bumper sticker on their cars so there was no possibility of being pulled over by the "Prize Patrol."

Hell's Acres said...

I remember listening to Bob Steele on WTIC.