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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Miscellaneous Shit, Part 5

Yet another Gaslight Lounge ad.

Five years ago I featured a hilarious cartoon from Renrut, an Acres guy from Birchland Avenue, about his misadventures in little league baseball.

I recently found another funny Renrut strip about his first brush with the law, after he and his friends score a six-pack of beer. They get pulled over, presumably in Wilbraham, because that’s where Terrence Reidy was a patrolman. Things did not go well.

He gets a citation and an appearance ticket for having beer in the car, so his father calls his friend, District Attorney Matty Ryan, who lived on nearby Plumtree Road. In court, Renrut testifies, “Your honor, on the advice of my lawyer, Matthew J. Ryan, District Attorney for Hampden County, I plead not guilty and ask that my case be continued…for six months. Please.”

But, as Renrut distinctly points out in the commentary, “How could the district attorney be my ‘lawyer’? Officially, he was prosecuting my case!”

The laughing judge, who Renrut misidentifies as Eileen Griffin, was actually Eileen Griffith, who presided at Palmer District Court, where Wilbraham cases were heard.

You know, come to think of it, whenever we went on a Wilbraham cruise as teenagers, down Boston road or up the mountain, it seemed like the Wilbraham Police always followed us, stopping only when we crossed back over the city line. I’m glad to see that this tradition of harassing Springfield youth was at least as old as the 1960s.

Time really does fly: all the law enforcement figures in this comic have since passed away: Reidy in 1997, Ryan in 2009, and Griffin in 2001. Renrut’s dad took the whole court hassle pretty well, celebrating the acquittal with ice cream.

Remember Village Pizzeria in what is now the Breckwood Shoppes? (Early-to-mid-1980s). Sophia’s Pizza and Sports Bar is there now.

I’m getting hungry now.

Remember the Orchard Pharmacy building on the corner of Main and Route 21 in Indian Orchard? It and the adjacent buildings, known as the “Green Monster,” were torn down in 2007 because they were an “eyesore.” What did they leave? An even worse eyesore! A shitbox on stilts:

So it took the city $78,000 to get rid of this monstrosity in 2014. 

What did all this demolition leave? A big dirt triangle:

Since then, neighbors have been hoping that a “park” will be built on the property. I’m not holding my breath.

Honk if you remember the Third National Bank clock!

So, how many strip clubs end up turning into colleges? I know of one: Salter College on Shawinigan Drive in Chicopee!

Investors were trying to open the Gold Club for years, and it might have even been in business as a tittie and juice bar for about 10 minutes before it was raided and people were found drinking alcohol during a private party.

Financed by mobsters, the place had been licensed in 1996 as an upscale strip club but red tape delayed its opening until 2004. It was shuttered soon after the bust. 

The weeds grew…

The sign was covered…

But alas, there was no pole dancing in Club Gold. A luxury pet hotel was considered for the building, but Salter College, a two-year school, opened there in 2010.

Remember Fitzsnuggy’s on Riverdale? All of the menu items, for some reason, were named after celebrities (Their tuna salad was called Ike and Tina Tuna. Their cream cheese and Olive Sandwich: Cream Abdul Jabbar.) Now it’s a CVS.

We recently marked the 75th anniversary of what prompted the United States to enter World War II. My father told me that it seemed every young person on December 7, 1941 enlisted in the armed forces, when he was 17. “Oh my God,” people exclaimed. “The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!” After the initial outrage, he told me, the follow-up question was often, “Where’s Pearl Harbor?” It’s true. Hardly anyone on the mainland knew were Pearl Harbor was. But they soon found out. 

My father enlisted in the Navy two years later and served aboard the destroyer escort USS Coffman, which received a battle star after it and two other ships sunk a German U-boat (U-548) with depth charges off Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 30, 1945, the same day as Hitler’s suicide.

 All 58 men on U-548 died in the last submarine action in the war in the Atlantic. Here is an account of the battle in the book Black Company: The Story of Subchaser 1264 by Eric Purdon:

“All night long the USS Thomas, USS Coffman, and USS Bostwick stalked the U-boat, employing every trick known to submarine warfare. And below the surface, the oberleutenant maneuvered his 750-ton U-548, and tried every trick to avoid his pursuers. He released pillenwerfers: chemical air bubbles that remain suspended at that depth and reflect sonar waves so the tracking ships mistake them for a submarine. He evaded by quick turns, doubling back, sudden dives, and releasing oil and debris to make the Americans think they’d sunk him.”

But oberleutnant Erich Kremple’s tricks didn’t work:

“He was an experienced submariner. In the past two weeks he had sunk three merchantmen, but now it was his turn. At 1:15 in the morning, an attack by USS Bostwick resulted in several underwater explosions, but it was not until 4:47 a.m. after an attack by Coffman, assisted by Thomas, that very heavy explosions, followed by breaking-up noises and the floating to the surface of large quantities of oil, that the death of U-548 could be established.”

Oberleutnant Erich Kremple

My father was an electrician’s mate first class, although being in the engine room triggered a claustrophobic panic attack when he was first on the ship, and he had to be sedated. No, he never told me about this—my uncle recently related that story. But he managed to work in the engine room anyway, which shows something about his ability to overcome adversity. How the hell do you get over claustrophobia when you have to spend a good deal of your day in a tiny room? I guess therein lies the answer. When you have no choice in the matter, you have to deal with it.

The only part of the war he ever talked about was a sailor from Ohio named Dennis Judge being swept overboard in a storm off the coast of Iceland. On overnight watch, the poor guy got a pot of coffee from the galley and never returned. Unbelievably, I found a picture of the Dennis Judge on the web (below). On March 1, 1945, when he was reported missing and presumed dead.

An ad for The Outlaws 1978 show in Springfield. When they returned to the Civic Center a year later, it was my first concert.

The abandoned Indian Motorcycle factory in 1986:

Much of the eastern side of the building on the left side of the photo below was torn down when the building was converted into the “Mason Square Apartments at Indian Motorcycle”:

A parking lot exists where the demolished portion was:

Here is an aerial view of the building now. A company from Hanover, MA is scheduled to build a 45-unit apartment complex on the vacant lower right part below…

…as well as 15 apartments in the old fire station, which was next to the demolished part:

I’ll leave you now with a nice cool drink of water from a water fountain at Forest Park, courtesy of the Facebook site Springfield, 413 Then and Now: