Sunday, July 26, 2015

Larz Anderson

I haven't been home much this passed week. There were 3 days of work and though I officially retired 16 months ago when I work I work 3, 8 hour days. so for a bit of time it seems like nothing has changed except I'm making substantially less money. The less I work though, the less I want to work. Now I know I'm whining a bit, because all in all I'm fairly comfortable. There are many people in much worse shape than I. Still I haven't fully adjusted to the extra free time. I have been working fulltime for 46 years. 43 of those years with the same company though they have had many different owners. Now  it's been about 16 months since I went part time and I'm still adjusting to a slightly different lifestyle. I admit there are days when I don't mind just hanging around and amusing myself in various ways. One thing I haven't done is watch much television. I have been working on a little tune for our friend Beth but it's still not quite right yet. It's really simple and not very long but it is an expression of how much I miss this dear lady. When I'm done with it I will post it. Oh there's no singing. Just guitar. I'm still not sure which guitar I, going to play it on. Electric, nylon string classical or steel string acoustic.
So I knew Saturday was an off day for me. Arlene, who also retired and is just working part time had an evening shift. So I called my friend Dave and asked him if he would be interested in going to an auto museum in Maine. It is about an hour and a half drive from here. I was all set to go except we found out it's only opened one weekend a month and that weekend was last weekend. The closest one is in Brookline , a city that borders Boston on the southern side. It is a beautiful city and home to very well heeled citizens. I was driving or I would have snapped pictures especially as we drove home. All these beautiful homes set back from the road, blocked by walls or high wooden fences and long driveways up to the homes. We also ended up driving right by Fenway Park so the streets were packed with people walking to the park. These too would have made some nice shots as we drove by the ball park. I used to work very near there back in the 80's but things have changed. Boston and the surrounding area is full of construction. We went by the old rock club, The Tea Party where I saw many big name acts back in the late 60's and early 70's including Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, The Who, who did "Tommy", The Grateful Dead (not a favorite of mine) and several others.
But that was on the way home. We went to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. It's on 67 acres originally owned by the Weld Family who developed it as a farm. A descendant of that family was the governor here from 1991-97. It was sold to a Weld relative, socialite heiress Isabel Weld Perkins who later married Larz Anderson, a wealthy businessman. Larz Anderson was a diplomat serving in London, Rome, and finally being appointed to ambassador to Japan by the president.
 So old Larz liked to collect cars. The original mansion on the property burned down. The cars, and motorcycles, are on display in their former carriage house. The cars, all of which are not on display, range from 1899-1926. The grounds are beautifully maintained. When Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson died she gave the property to the city of Brookline. Below is a somewhat shake and brief video of the grounds. Not my best, as with some of the pictures, It's the camera I took. The button to take the picture is gone and I had to use the remote that came with the camera to shoot. Also on the property is a school house built in 1768 to educate the children of the local farmers.
 When we entered to buy our tickets, the lady asked Dave if he was a senior because instead of $10 it's $5. She never even asked for an ID. So I asked the lady how old you had to be to get a senior discount.
She asked me how old I was and I replied 63, to which Dave said, "63 and a half!" So we all had a little chuckle.     
You also weren't allowed to use a flash in the building. Of course I'm referring to a flash on a camera. Some pictures are a bit blurry but it is what is.
This is the carriage house.

An autographed picture of Evil Knevil.

Now here's an option you don't see anymore. Unfortunately the picture posted on it's side.

So thus ends a fairly busy week, granted a semi retired busy week.
The hot and humid weather returns Tuesday with temperatures in the 90's again. Thinking about the cooler temperatures come September and spending one more week on that lovely little island. Now it's time to play catch up with everybody.
I'm outta here. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hot town! Summer in the city...

In the 90's, hot and humid. I think I dislike this kind of weather more than any other including some of the weather this passed winter. It was 90 and humid on Sunday. 93 and humid on Monday. I stayed in both days and I must say they were two very unproductive days. It was pretty much the same for Arlene. Neither one of us could muster the energy or desire to walk next door.

Now last Thursday, one of two spectacular days in a row weather-wise, Arlene and I decided to go out for a late lunch at a brand new establishment at a brand new portion of what was once just a mall. The mall was finished around 2006, there was still a large empty lot next to it that once was the location of a Ford assembly plant. Thus the name Assembly Square Mall. In the last 9 years they have built up the land formally occupied by the Ford plant, into what they call Assembly Row. A movie complex, Many restaurants and high end stores and on top of those businesses, luxury apartments. I've heard stories of rents like $4,000.00 a month. There is also a hotel going in as this is just outside of Boston. I took pictures and a few video's after we ate. Where did we eat? A place called Tony C's. Tony C was Tony Congiliaro, a local boy who made it to big league baseball with his hometown Red Sox. He had a ton of talent. He was the youngest player in baseball history to hit 100 home runs. Things came to a stop in the middle of the locally mythic, 1967 season. The Red Sox hadn't done anything since 1946 when they lost the world series to St. Louis. The '67 team was in the thick of the fight that year.  

 On a warm August night in 1967, Tony Conigliaro was hit in the eye by a pitch. 
Tony was out the rest of the season and the next as well. The Red Sox went on to win the pennant and lose the world series to guess who? St. Louis. Tony made a pretty good comeback 1969-70. Then he was traded to California but he couldn't do it any more. He then worked a sports desk for a local Rhode Island then, San Francisco television station.

In his teens he was a local Pop Star.
Here he was as a sportscaster.

In 1990 he heard there was an opening on the Red Sox broadcasting team. He flew back for the audition, did well, then had a massive heart attack and stroke, went into a coma and died. 

Anyway, we went to his namesake restaurant/sports bar. I'm sure it's run by his family, including his brother who also played major league baseball. I had a turkey club and Arlene had a corned beef club. The sandwiches were quite large and a bit pricey at $12 and $13 respectively, but quite good. Then again when I think of the clientele who live above all the restaurants and stores, I suppose I understand.

This new development is right along the Mystic River where it flows into the harbor. They have reclaimed the land and made it quite nice compared to what it was. There's a Marina and it wouldn't surprise me that some of the tenants keep their boats there.
So I took pictures and some video. Well at this point I don't know what happened to the pictures. There was nothing special about the shots, still I either deleted them or left them on Arlene's computer or something. The videos survived. It too is nothing special. Some pans of the area, the river, with the geese and the ducks. And little snippets of our 8 or so minute ride home. It was about 8 minutes because it was around 3:30 p.m. In another hour this ride could take 30 to 40 minutes. 
So here's the rather uneventful trip to Assembly Place.

OK! Here's to the end of the hot sticky weather. That is supposed to happen in a couple of days. Until then...
I'm outta here.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

They're nuts! Old fart talk.

Traffic is awful. When I work I go through my city, through the next one into Cambridge. There almost isn't street I drive on that doesn't have some kind of roadwork going on. On some street the surface ahs been grated down so much that all the man, uh, I mean person holes are sticking up 2 to 3 inches above the surface. Sometimes you really can't drive in a straight line. If you did you could eventually blow out a tire and or ruin a rim. Rims aren't cheap. They can be around $400.00 each.
Any way while all this is going on, there are plans to put a casino in the next city east of here. It was the site of an old Monsanto factory. I think that's where they made Monsantos. Anyway, I don't know if the building is still there but that's the land. This a city that borders mine. This could draw people from all over Metro Boston. Some of the streets in my were city laid out over 350 years ago. Where are you going to put all those cars? The city of Boston is involved and there are lawsuit, threats back forth blahh blahh blahh. 

Then there are the Olympics. It's would happen in about 9 years. Business men are drooling over this. They are assuring us that there won't be any public money used. Uh huh. Oh sure, of course! It's  good to trust a handful of grinning business men saying that it won't cost the tax payer anything. This is more insane than the gambling casino next door. Where would you put all these people? Sometimes living here is not all that it's cracked up to be. It's never boring though. Arlene and I were talking about maybe someday we might like to live in a quieter place. 

So my friend Dave and I sat in his living room talking about some of the things that went on 40 plus years ago. The circle of friends would gather in groups of 5 to about 9 and hang around in one of two places. Lenny's cellar or Richie's! Lenny's parents let us hang around there and never bothered us. Though they had plenty of opportunities to question some of the shenanigans going on. The crazy foam party. All I can say is, it quite resembled a Three Stooges pie fight. The silly string party. Fun. but a huge mess to clean. Neither idea was ever given much thought.

Then several houses down there was Richie's cellar. He lived there with his mother. They were tenants. Richie's landlord didn't much care for us hanging around the basement. It was what it was, a cellar. One night a group of about 6 of us were sitting around playing records, having a beer or two and whatever. Richie sat in a chair who's back was to the stairs that led upstairs. We really weren't doing anything but talking and listening to records. Suddenly we here a door open and someone starts coming down the stairs. You could see his legs when he was halfway down the stairs. It's the landlord. He yells at Richie and the rest of us. Then turns to Richie, still sitting, back to the stairs, and say's, "I TOLD YOU RICHIE, THAT I DON'T WANT YOU GUYS HANGING AROUND THE CELLAR!"
In retrospect he was entirely wise in his reasoning.

All is silent. The Landlord turns to go back up the stairs. 

At this point I would like to say that I will use the exact word that was said by Richie. So pardon my French.

The landlord begins climbing up the stairs. 3 steps up, legs still visible, the silence was broken by Richie.
"What an asshole!"
The landlord screams, "WHAT DID YOU SAY!" 
We were all stunned! Richie begins to stammer, " didn't mean it the way that it sounded!"

As we all looked at each other it was obvious that we were all ready to burst in hysterics. The landlord comes back down and says, DIDN'T MEAN IT THE WAY IT SOUNDED! What am I, one of the NICE ASSHOLES!" 
The landlord stomps up the stairs. You hear a snort, a snicker. The door slams! And we all erupted with laughter.

We all took note of Richie's hamburger recipe. High flame, put the burger in the pan. When it's black on top, it's done.

I won't go into another Richie's cellar incident except to say it involved a very late evening game of hide and seek and the pipe that led to the oil tank.

We weren't a bad bunch of guys and gals. We had fun and at times did not act our age. Dave and I go back over 40 years and there are other stories that we had a good laugh about. I came of age during a rapidly changing times. Many things have happened in my lifetime. The war, nuclear arms race with Russia who vowed, "We will bury you!". 
The assassination of a President. The other assassinations, Martin, Luther King, Robert Kennedy. The Beatles and all that came of that musically. Watching a man walking on the moon in my living room. Inflation in the 70's. Gas suddenly tripling in price in no time. Rationed gas. Buying gas on odd or even days. Being limited to $2.00 worth a visit, to John Lennon being shot and killed. 911 and so on.

As we get talking about past events one of finally says, "Ok, now it's just old fart talk." I guess an old fart is better than a dead fart. I think Shakespeare said that except he would probably say, "Fartith."
I'm outta here.   

Saturday, July 11, 2015

We do speak a little differently

Some people around the country think we are a little different up around here. We certainly speak a little differently. A local supermarket chain is called Star Market. Around here you will probably here it pronounced Stah Mahket. Yes sometimes r's are just non existent. Probably old English influence. Some of the cities and towns names get mangled by out of towners and that's perfectly understandable. Gloucester, and English city name as well, is pronounced glawster. Worcester is pronounced wusster. You don't drive a car. you drive a cah. There are times when I don't understand it myself and I was born and raised here. Once my sisters friend said, "Do you want to go down to the connahbah?"
We all looked at each other and asked, "What's a connahbah?" It of course was, the corner bar. Not that we all hang around in bars. There are no bars in my particular city but you can get drinks in the restaurants of which we have quite a few since they put up a hotel about 10 years ago. It's convenient for out of towners who are headed to Boston but don't want to pay Boston prices. Boston is a wonderful city but it is the 3rd or 4th most expensive city in the country. But I digress.

Some of our phraseology can be a bit strange. If something is really great it can be described as "wicked awesome". Wicked is a very popular adverb. If somebody says they are going to Cape Cod you know they aren't from around here. We just say "the Cape". We don't drink water from a drinking fountain, we drink it from a "bubbler"

We have two kinds of bowling. Regular ten pin with the large bowling balls the we have candle pin where the ball is about the size of a soft ball. It is more difficult as both the ball and the pins are smaller and you get an extra roll of the ball. Why? I don't know.
If you want sprinkles on your ice cream you have to ask for "jimmies". there are many theories as to why they are called such so there really isn't a definitive answer. Some say it dates back to some company in New York, our mortal enemies in sports, some say Pennsylvania. In any event we still call them such and nobody really knows why.

If you want a milkshake, in every place else, you will ice cream and milk whipped into a froth. Here if you order a milkshake you'll get milk and some kind of flavored syrup. If you want ice cream and milk you have to order a frappe. The "e" is silent. That's a French word meaning to strike, slap or hit. How that became to mean milk and ice cream whipped into a froth I don't know. I have yet to find the real reason we call it that either. 

If you are driving and have to take a sharp left, you don't say, "Take a sharp left." you say, "Bang a left." Similarly if you are making a u-turn you say, "Bang a Uee (you-ee)." Why? I don't know. Ever since I went to Florida in 1976, I became aware of how different we sound compared to everybody else in the country. Up until then I had been to Italy twice, but they speak Italian, as if you didn't know, so our English meant nothing over there. I went to the hotel desk clerk and said a few words and he said, "You're from Boston, right?" How did he know?

I have spent the rest of the years trying to rid myself of the accent but every once in a while I find myself saying things like, "Oh, I left that in the cah.". We apparently have different uses for the letter "r". We stick them on the ends of words that end with an "A", as President Kennedy used to say "Cuber" when referring to Cuba.

One more thing, if you are thirsty and go into a store looking for a soda, you will be looking for a tonic. I'm sure there is a reason for this but I haven't researched it.

People around the country can laugh at the way we speak, though not everybody talks that way. It is unique but then again they instantly know where you came from. Massachusetts and Boston can be a punching bag for a lot of people in the country for our extremely liberal views on things. I don't agree with all of them but there is no denying all the things that started here. From the seeds of revolution, medical anesthesia, the industrial revolution, education and so on. It's quite a resume and few states can match it. So despite all the things wrong, and there are many, from the antiquated street layout of downtown, "Big Dig" or not, to our odd way of speaking, this is my home and I love it.

Below is a link to a National Geographic program on the "Big Dig". It's a bit over an hour long with unfortunately, commercials. I don't expect many of you to watch it, on the other hand it is really fascinating to see all the problems they faced digging a tunnel under the harbor and the city  and another one from the airport to the city. Tearing down the old elevated highway that cut the city in half and was a real eyesore. And then constructing the Zakim Bridge. There's still a ton of traffic and it still gets bogged down for Boston is a small, densely populated big city but what went on for approximately 20 years period really changed the look of the city. Our friend Beth always commented to me, either on a blog or email, how she was fascinated by all this and how she loved the new bridge. I know she would watch this. When Arlene and I travel to go to Martha's Vineyard we use much of this new construction as we go over the bridge then into the tunnel under the city emerging on the other side of Boston on our way south to where we catch the ferry. We are heading down once again in September, our favorite time of the year to go. The weather is quite nice and most of the tourists are gone.

So I thank you for reading this rather long winded, top of the head blog entry. I sometimes start a blog never knowing what I will say. 

I'm outta here.   


Monday, July 6, 2015

Post holiday...

First of all, I know I've been absent from these here parts for about a week. I have been having problems staying on line. It has been frustrating. I tried a few days ago to catch up on some blog entries and suddenly I would lose the connection to the web. However here I am, hopefully until I finish this.

I hope my U.S. friends had a fun 4th. Mine was fairly quiet. A cookout gathering next door at Arlene's. Driving around was a combination of spooky and nice. Spooky because normally there's a lot of traffic and there was hardly any when I went to the store. Yes I went to buy some beer. Nice, because this suburb of Boston suddenly looked like Mayberry. There is much road work going on in the area, not just my city but the whole metropolitan area. I'm sure the awful winter had something to do with it. The 9' of snow is still very fresh in our memories. The 4th turned out beautiful. I tried to convince Arlene to take a ride down to the river where there is a clear view of the Boston skyline.
This would be a good spot to view the fireworks downtown but she wanted to stay put. I didn't eat much except for a piece of a 3 layer cake. It was tasty. I had nary a hot dog or hamburger. The last time I had a hot dog was 3 years ago on the very same day. At that point I hadn't had one since 2007. I am very sodium conscious. I am in good health but I do need to watch my sodium. I haven't used a salt shaker since 2007. That was a wake up year for me. I went to the doctor for a check up for the first time in probably 20 years. The main reason for that was, one day, back then I had a problem with my waist size. Suddenly the waist size I had had since high school was expanding. I knew I was out of control. Long story short, I dropped 30 pounds.

When I do work, on a part time basis, in a deli in a supermarket, I see people ordering the reduced salt items thinking that they are eating healthy. They will ask about salt content. I am pretty familiar with most of the items. What people don't seem to grasp is the number of milligrams of sodium in a cold cut is broken down to a 2 ounce servings. on some items that could be about a slice and a half to 2 slices. Imported ham is amongst the worst with 700 to 800 milligrams per 2 ounce serving. American cheese is about the worst cheese when it comes to sodium. A serving size for cheese is 1 ounce and American cheese can range from 350 to 400 milligrams per 1 ounce serving, depending on the brand. You could have a ham and cheese sandwich and consume up to 30 to 40 percent of your daily sodium intake. And American cheese is not really cheese. It's proper name is "American cheese food product". Doesn't that sound tasty. Swiss on the other hand is naturally low in sodium. About 60 to 70 milligrams per one ounce serving. Fat content on the other hand is a different story but I don't feel like getting into that at the moment, All I'm saying is that if you are watching your intake of sodium or fat you have to be aware how the numbers are broken down. Foods are marked, "low sodium", "lower sodium", "reduced sodium", "less salt" and so on in an effort to get you to buy their product. All I'm saying is be aware of the serving size when reading the break down of ingredients.

Ok. I don't know how I got on that kick. Sometimes these things just happen. Within a couple of weeks I will be making plans for our next trip to the island in September. I heard this morning that the President will be going back in late August. I would love to be there when he and his family arrive but we are going in September. While working one day last week I saw one of my regular customers wearing a "Black Dog" t-shirt. That's a store on the Vineyard sort of made famous by James Taylor back in the early '70s. We started talking about different places on the island. She told me she was there the last time the President went. Her daughter was in Nancy's Restaurant...
...when the secret service came in and told everyone that the President was coming. They could all stay but nobody else was being let in. Arlene and I have eaten there twice. It was very good but very pricey. Now you could almost say that of every place on the island but this was the most expensive place we ever ate at. I'm sure there even more expensive places, especially in Edgartown. That's where very well heeled people live. We tried to get into the place next to Nancy's, behind the flag pole, but it was full. So we gave Nancy's a shot. We ended up on the outside deck. I know I've posted these pics before, but they are such nice memories that I like to relive them. It was wonderful to be one the deck overlooking Oak Bluffs harbor and watching the sun go down as we ate, and yes drank.

So we will miss the President again by about 3 weeks. As the French say, "C'est la vie". If that's how it's written. We are lucky to be able to do this in the first place. This will be our 11th trip since 2010.

Getting back to the 4th, there was an emergency at the gathering at Arlene's house. The whole shebang was thrown by Arlene's brother and his wife, who live in the second floor. The emergency? They ran out of toilet paper, now of course referred to as bathroom tissue. Arlene came to me and asked if I could spare a roll of toilet, bathroom tissue. Now even though I live conveniently next door and am well stocked in said item, as I left my place and walked down the sidewalk I wondered how I could explain walking down the sidewalk with a roll of toilet paper if asked? Of course I could just say the truth and maybe share a chuckle with someone or the police, it still was a little weird.

Ok so far so good. I have not been thrown off line. It's time to get on with some of many domestic chores. So far all I've done today is eat, take the trash out and write this.
I'm outta here.