Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Revere Beach. A childhood memory.

True it was near the end of it's life but Revere Beach, was a wonderful place to go and have fun. In the late 50's and 60's every once and a while my parents or my aunt and uncle would take us to Revere Beach. The city of Revere is about five or six miles from here. I don't know this for a fact but I wouldn't be surprised if it was named after Paul Revere but I never researched it. By the 60's Revere Beach was in decline but it still was a fun place to go. It was the Coney Island of New England. There were ballrooms, hotels, a ton of food stands, all kinds of games and of course the amusements including one of the largest roller coasters in the world. After my friends and I got our drivers licenses in the late 60's it was often a destination to kill time, have fun, maybe take a date. It was near the end of it's life at the time. The roller coaster was pretty rickety looking by the late 60's, early 70's as it opened in 1896.

The dodgem cars, the wild mouse, the Himalaya were all pretty wild rides. It all came to an end in 1978 with the blizzard of '78. We got 27.1 inches of snow with hurricane winds in two days and that was the end of all the amusements. Sad but as George Harrison said "All things must pass." The beach, of course, is still there and it's nice to have an ocean beach so close but I do miss all the fun that we had there. This was Americas first public beach. Below is a clip from a PBS program from the 90's called Boston the way it was. Below that is slideshow that I made from pictures I found on Google. They are in no particular order. There are pictures and post cards from the early 1900's up till the 1970's. I think on the fun I had there, it was a blast!

I'm outta here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

So where was I...

... oh yeah Arlene's daughters went to visit their father in Palmyra Penn. It was not an uneventful trip. I haven't flown since 2006 and I had a stop somewhere in Texas. The flight back to Boston was similar one stop at a place more or less on the way. Who remembers? Pennsylvania is not all that far from Massachusetts but they did not have a direct flight. They went to Detroit first then to Pennsylvania. The weather was not the best, particularly on the return trip. It was the same scenario, Pennsylvania to Detroit, then Boston. Well the weather was sketchy in Detroit. There was the possibility that they may have to stay in Detroit for a time, possibly until the next morning. They became frantic.
"Are we going to have to sleep in the airport?!"
"Are there hotels in the airport?!".

Now I should point out Arlene's daughter are twins and they are in their mid thirties. Long story short, they waited a bit and made it home safely.

Sometimes I am unaware of what goes on around me. Last Sunday night Arlene and I were watching 60 Minutes. The were doing a piece on Michael Bloomberg the former mayor of New York City, who by the way is worth 47 billion dollars, (Yikes!) when Arlene informs me that he grew up around here in our very hometown. I was unaware of that. Then she tells me that his mother still lived here until she passed in 2012 at 102. Below is an article from the New York Times. You don't have to read it but is what I found on Google.


Couple that with finding out Fannie Farmer lived at the end of my street sometimes I wonder how these things got by me. 

Here's a picture of the house that Emilia Earhart lived in with her sister. She went to the same high school that I did.

Then a couple of days ago the Mayor of Salem Massachusetts snapped this picture of a streetlamp with this ghostly image.

And to finish up this disjointed mess I am happy to announce that Arlene and I will be heading back to Martha's Vineyard in June. We can't wait but of course we'll have to. So to finish up it's time to get off the couch and do some laundry and food shopping. The servants are never around when you need them and when is Donald Duck going to put some pants on?
I'm outta here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tasty ham, beautiful weather, laughs, the marathon...

As I begin this blog it's 2:15 Monday afternoon. It's called Patriots Day around here marking the first battles of the revolution at Lexington and Concord. I probably won't finish this at this sitting but I guess that really doesn't matter. At this point there are still runners crossing the finish line of the 121st running of the Boston Marathon. I remember in the 70's and 80's I worked at a store my former company has at the Prudential Center in Boston. Below is a picture of the rather bland Prudential building. On the ground floors were many retail stores.
Below is a picture of the exterior of the store on the right, behind the duckboat.

Anyway the reason I bring this up is at that time the finish line of the marathon was not too far up Boylston Street, very near the store front. It has since been moved about a half a mile up the street, No matter what your scheduled was you weren't going home for quite a while unless you traveled with public transportation. Still it was pretty neat to watch thousands of runners go by. This year there were over 30,000 runners. A bunch of us would go out to eat and have a few drinks. I know at times I have complained about what a pain it can be dealing with downtown Boston on any day. Still on days like today I have to say how proud I am to live here and how wonderful the City of Boston is. On top of the marathon, on the third Monday in April another tradition is an 11A.M. Red Sox game. The city was really humming today.
I was at my sisters on Easter Sunday. It was a lot of fun. The wine was flowing and all were cracking wise. The weather was very warm, 86 degrees. We all made fun of the way we talk around here. Not so much the Boston accent but the way we can contract a short sentence or phrase into one or two words.  Did you eat? can become, Jeet? 
Do you want to go down ... becomes Juwanna guhdown... You're supposed to... becomes yaspozetah. What are you doing... Whatcha doin?

My middle sister and I both read comic books at some point in our lives. There's a cliché  sound effect that is has been used in comic books for years. It could have been used in Archie or Spider-man. Most of the time it was used when someone was falling off a building, into a volcano, out of a plane without a parachute...
Ok you get the idea. So we're sitting on the back porch. There's an ant on the railing and my brother in law reaches out to flick it off. As the ant goes sailing off the railing I say, "Aieeeeee!"  My sister caught it and started laughing. I joined her in laughter. My other sister and brother in law looked at us like we had missed our medication. 
That's all I got for now.
I'm outta here.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

That was the week that was.

Right off the bat I want to get this out of the way. Several days ago my friend Dave and I went to see the construction site of the new casino they're building only about four or five miles from where I live. It is quite close to the rotary of death that I mentioned last blog though it is easier to use since it is the first exit off the rotary and it is much easier to get in position to take it. Well guess what? It's a construction site with trucks and cranes. It's not particularly exciting so there's just a picture. By the way this is supposed to be done in about a year. They are building a casino and a hotel.

The airport is not all that far away from here. About 5 to 7 miles east of here, so it is not unusual to have planes flying over. I was on the couch watching television or perhaps the television was watching me, when I was startled away by the roar of low flying jets. It was scary. You don't know what to think. It was two distinct planes low and loud. Were we under attack? It turns out it was opening day at Fenway Park and the Red Sox commissioned a fly over by the Blue Angels but it scared the hell out of  me.

The marathon is next week and they have established a Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund with a team of runners called Team Krystle who will be running and raising money for the scholarship. They ran through the neighborhood the other day but I had no idea who they were until Arlene gave me the lowdown.

Sunday was a beautiful day so Arlene and I went out for a bite to eat. Having a hotel built in town has brought four very nice restaurants to town. We've been to Salvatore's before and I have also mentioned before that the restaurants location used to be a bank. The Depositors Trust, the site of an infamous robbery that took place as the Memorial Day parade went by. The robbers, which included 3 cops, broke in the store next door and entered the bank through the ceiling. They left the hole in the ceiling in the restaurant. The take was 1.5 million in cash and an estimated 15-25 million in gold and jewelry. Anyway as you walk out the back of the restaurant to the parking lot you see one of the oldest brick houses in the country, the Jonathan Wade house built in 1683. I had my camera with me.

However there is one older brick house in the city, possibly the oldest brick house in the country. This city was settled the same year that Boston was, 1630. The Peter Tufts House which is almost around the corner from my house. It dates to 1677. This is not my picture. I got it from Google.
 So we took a right out the parking lot up Governors Ave and Arlene said let's take a ride. So off we went to the nicest part of the city to the next town over and circled back into our hometown. Here's the video. With all our chit chat we sound like we're on the zoning board.  

So that's it for this edition,
I'm outta here. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Computer dead. Wait! It LIVES!!!

I was going to go next door to Arlene's. It's Friday night. I was going to bring my laptop and we were going to view some videos of us driving around on the Island. It cheers us up. The weather has been particularly crappy so I bought a bottle of wine, gathered up my computer paraphernalia, shut down the computer and headed next door. Long story just a little bit longer, I set the computer up on her dinning room table, went to turn it on and it was dead. I changed plugs, took out the battery and it was still dead. Naturally I was upset, still it was ten years old and I got much use out of it and as George Harrison said, "All things must pass". I decided to check out some new laptops the next day. I went to Staples and Best Buy. I was not thrilled with Windows 10. I had to decide whether I should attempt to have it repaired and if it could be repaired would it be worth repairing a ten year old machine.

Now I'll leap forward to Sunday morning. For old time sake I gave the old girl another shot and whaddya know? It turned on just like old times. It's amazing how much I depend on my computer for so many things and how I missed it even though it was only out of commission for a day and who knows how long it will hang in there.  Anyway I'm glad I didn't have to purchase a new machine and I think I should research some Apple machines.

Now as a subplot to all this, a trip to Staples is pretty much a straight shot from here. However getting to Best Buy is another thing. I don't know if you have rotary's where you live but here there are quite a few. They can be tricky but none are as notorious as Santilli Circle. Mileage wise Best Buy is not much farther than Staples but you have to negotiate practically the entire circle to get to the store. Well there's a lot of construction going on around here particularly in this area. They're building a casino about a mile from the Best Buy so there's roadwork and lane shifting, lane closures. If you're not in the right lane for your destination, guess what? You're going someplace else. Ya know we people from Massachusetts don't have a good reputation as drivers around the country. Maybe a bit aggressive? Well there are reasons.  Places like Santilli Circle are a very good reason why you become aggressive. And putting a Casino on Boston's doorstep seems like an insane idea. How are all these people going to get around? There are supposed to be a lot of smart people around here, but they weren't too smart when they laid out the road system.  I love/hate living in the Boston area. There are so many of us crammed in a small area. Below is an areal view of Santilli Circle. All the arrows are mine. Pay no attention the black line. The red ones are supposed to be my drive to the store. The blue ones are other cars entering the rotary and the yellow arrow is the direction I ended up taking because I couldn't get in the proper lane to take the exit to the store. And notice that as soon as you approached the exit for the store you had better hope nobody is entering the rotary as you try to exit it.    

 I had to drive almost two miles up the road to find an intersection where I could turn around and head back. There is also the possibility of getting stuck in the innermost lane of the circle, orbiting for an indeterminate time until you can make your break or die trying.  Oh do I feel bad for out of towners.

Well that ride from hell didn't result in a new computer and hopefully my old buddy here will keep kicking for a while yet. Now it's time to start thinking of supper, but then again I always think of supper.

I'm outta here.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sitting Around

It's been about 11 weeks since I said goodbye to my working life. As I have said a billion times it's an adjustment. I am officially a member of the senior set. As I have watched some daytime television I've noticed all the ads aimed at the senior set. Life insurance, final expenses (if you know what I mean and I think you do), all kinds of medications, lawyers for those who took medications with adverse effects and want to sue and of course everybody's favorite, incontinence. I found myself watching some shows from my youth. To Tell The Truth, What's My Line, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and so on. Arlene still works part time for the school system so day trips are out of the question until a few weeks into June when we plan a trip to you know where. We went two times a year until last year and I'm not sure we will be able to go twice this year but we are grateful that we have this lovely place close to home and that we can go at all.

I hope we can finally say goodbye to winter. It was pleasant yesterday and the same for today though tomorrow it will be cold again. I hope it's the last of scenes like this.

While I was at my sisters this passed summer I took some pictures of my fathers paintings she had hanging up. They were framed behind glass so there is some glare from the flash. She has a whole bunch that are not framed and some day I will take pictures of all of them.

So that's about it for now. All I have left to do a last load of laundry then I'm off to buy a bottle of wine for Arlene and I to share this evening. Cheers!
I'm outta here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

OK! So it snowed!

They have been talking about this storm for the last several days. And indeed it is snowing at this time, a little passed noon. One thing I am eternally grateful that I'm not working, particularly when there is a snow scare. Arlene went to the supermarket on Monday and mentioned how insane it was. She heard a women in the checkout line say that we were going to get 30 inches of snow! I first heard 8-12, then 12-18, then back to 8-12.  The wind is blowing and it's pretty nasty out. I remember people panic buying when I worked. Some people just picked up a couple of items others had a wagon train of shopping carts. Jammed parking lot, jammed store. Don't miss it at all.
I had gone shopping a couple of days prior to snowmageddon and I asked Arlene if she needed anything and she said no. Come  Monday I'll bet she had wished she had said yes.

It is now Wednesday afternoon. It's cold but sunny. Last night I went out about 5pm to do some shoveling. At that time it was turning from snow to rain. Now I'm not sure how much snow we got. By the time I got out there it looked like 6-8 inches had fallen and it was heavy because the temperature was rising and the rain. It took me about an hour and 45 minutes.

You would have thought it was the end of the world. All four local network affiliates were on with continuing coverage of the storm from 4:30 am until 6:30 pm. Here are some of the clips I took straight off the television at various times during the day. I'll warn you in advance, this is no academy award winner.

So that about wraps it up here on the Wild Willy West Show. Until next time,
I'm outta here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tales from last century.

Who doesn't like junk mail? Ooo Ooo! I KNOW I KNOW! I don't! Back in 1971 I attended the Berklee School of Music. The year before I went to a community college which was really just an extension of high school. I always liked music. My father was a natural musician as well as a natural artist. I didn't inherit his artistic talent at least not to his extent. I could cartoon but I wasn't very good. I did inherit his musical talent at least to a degree. I learned the guitar by listening to records and figuring out the songs. Most of my friends played an instrument or thought they could and it was a lot of fun to get together in somebody's basement and make a lot of noise. So I made the big decision to go to music school. While I enjoyed the atmosphere of the school I was in over my head. There were people who were much better musicians than I was. They could play rings around me and there were people who barely hold their instruments. Clearly the school made a good chunk of their money from people who lasted a semester or a year or just never graduating with a degree. I don't say this as a knock on the school because business is business.

Reading music was not my strong suit. Actually a good skill to have when attending music school. It was easier for me to read for piano than it was for the guitar and that was my main instrument. Just me and a bazillion other guitar players.
 I had a class called ensemble. There were six or seven of us, all guitar players. The teacher handed out the music. We were to play a piece of music and we all had different parts of the arrangement. The teacher gave the downbeat and we started to play. It was awful! We all started to snicker because it sounded so bad. The teacher, who had a thick accent, from where I didn't know, listened for about a minute or so as our laughter grew louder. Suddenly threw his hands and shouted, "I CANNOT STAND IT ANYMORE!" and stormed out of the room.

Why do I bring this up? After 46 years and 6 or 7 moves, Berklee found me again.  I received mail from them and what do you think they want? Money. Well they ain't gettin' any from me.

The line up of people who attended and those who actually graduated is pretty impressive. Many write movie and television scores. Well known jazz musicians. Dianna Krall, Quincy Jones, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Mellissa Ethridge and Tony Bennet and so on. By the way I paid for it myself. Back then in 1971 it cost $1,000 a semester. Fortunately the company I just retired from had a store two blocks up the street in the ground floor of  the Prudential Tower in downtown Boston. After school I would walk to the store and work until 10 or 12pm. Those were long days.

Let's see, what else is going on? Oh yeah...I'S FRIKIN' COLD! It was 9 degrees when I woke up this morning. It's been cold for several days now. Coupled with the wind it's been below 0. Then we have our special guest star on Tuesday, a blizzard! It looks like we will get about 12 inches of snow. Last week the temperature hit 70 degrees. Hopefully this is winters last gasp.

So that about wraps up this entry. Arlene is going to make me linguini and meatballs this afternoon. Then in two days I see shoveling in my future. 

I'm outta here.   

Monday, March 6, 2017

Old favorite restaurant, old favorite place

The video below doesn't mean anything to anyone but me. Back in the 80's a friend of ours moved from here to Marblehead Ma. It's about a 28 mile drive from here. Going to visit her introduced us to a restaurant which we all instantly fell in love with. Over the years I went with friends, took dates to Rosalie's. It was always packed. Rosalie and her husband learned to recognize us as the contingent from just north of Boston just because we went so often. It was northern Italian cooking and to describe it in one word, OUTSTANDING!" The restaurant closed in 1995 though Rosalie is still around online, in magazines etc. Anyway it was neat to find this commercial for Visa that was shown during the Super Bowl in the mid 80's and it brought back a flood of memories of good times and just unmatched northern Italian cooking. My favorite dish was Vittelo Alla Giorgio which just means Veal by George. To this day I still use Rosalie's as the benchmark by which I measure all restaurants. Wonderful memories!      

In my last blog my old friend Carole had mentioned how we had both thought about Beth recently. She also brought up how I had shown pictures of The Mt. Auburn Cemetery back in the Spaces days. I worked at that particular store from 2000-2011. I had never gone into the cemetery until 2006. It took a guy I worked with from Wisconsin to get me to cross the street. This place was established in 1831 and set the standard and is credited with starting the American public parks and gardens movement. It's rolling landscape with trees from around the world is peaceful (duh) and particularly beautiful in the Fall. I shown some of these before and I'm going to show 'em again. These were taken between 2006 and 2014.



 Views from the top of the tower.

Looking towards Boston.

As I write this it is around 30 degrees which is downright balmy compared the last several days. The sun is shining and it looks lovely outside but aside from going next door to Arlene's tonight and possibly enjoying a glass or two of wine I'm not going anywhere except possibly to sleep.
I'm outta here. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

So where have I been?

So where have I been? Right here! The one thing, among others, that I have noticed is that I have a lot more time on my hands to do a lot less. One thing I do more of is go to the supermarket. I noticed that you have to if you want to keep eating. Apart from occasionally accompanying a friend or a family member to do some food shopping, I never went food shopping because for 46 years I worked in a supermarket. Below is the view from the parking lot of my favorite store and the store that I worked in the longest. I still have many friends there. I worked there a total 18 years including 2000-2011. I also remember seeing Julia Child in there a couple of times as she lived in the area. She was tall! She always drew a crowd. I never personally never had to deal with her. I just couldn't see her coming to the deli counter and asking for "a half pound of baloney and a quarter pound of American cheese."
Across the street is the wonderful Mt. Auburn Cemetery. This place draws tourists from around the world. 170 or so beautifully landscaped, rolling acres. It is stunning particularly in the Fall. If any of you ever make it to Boston this is a must see.  It's the first cemetery of it's kind in the country.

I know I've mentioned the store and the cemetery before and I've already mentioned before that the above store used to be another chain before Star moved in the 1950's. Back in 1860 this building was a carriage house and stable for public transportation (horse and carriage) and later as a maintenance, storage and turn a round facility for electric trollies. Electric busses still travel up and down the street.
Now back to our story...

I do have much more time on my hands and about the most strenuous thing I've done is grow a beard. I only grew one because I couldn't while working with food though that's not completely truthful. I could grow one but I would have to wear a snood. A snood is basically a hairnet for your chin. No thanks.
I don't mind getting older, especially considering the alternative, I just don't want to get "old". 

The weather has been typical New England. Last Saturday it was nearly 70 degrees, this Saturday (tomorrow as I write this) it will be single digits at least early on. We could even get some snow. It does amuse me how some people act when they hear it's going to snow. Like it never happened before. This spring I would like to explore my hometown. It's a old as Boston, whose border is only about 4 miles from here. There are 4 roads here that date back to 1630, one originally called "the highway to Boston".

Arlene has recovered well from the procedures she had about 2 months ago. We have talked about future vacations more than likely to you know where, though New Hampshire is a possibility as the state line is only 20 something miles from here. Arlene is more familiar with New Hampshire than I am.

It's been a while since I've been here. I started a couple of blogs but they went nowhere. I even thought about shutting it down but I can't do it because it's been part of my life for about 9 years. I do miss some friends from the days of Spaces. There are only a couple left and of course I miss Beth. I still have the last few emails she sent me and the birthday cards. She told me about the fascination she had with the Zakim Bridge that was built during the notorious "big dig' here in the Boston area. I miss that dear lady.
At least Arlene and I can laugh at ourselves and we have been doing that. We caught ourselves going out dinner earlier and earlier. I then realized that I used to make fun of the older folks going out to dinner on the early side and now we do it. Mostly because of parking. For me it has nothing to do with getting to bed early. I still am and always have been a night owl. And due to all those years of working, I am still an early riser. If I make it to 7 a.m. I've slept late though that may change in the coming months.

So all in all I'm doing fine. Arlene is doing fine as well and to contradict what I wrote in the above paragraph we are going out to dinner this evening but it won't be until around 7p.m. Hmmm...I'm leaning towards Italian.

I'm outta here.    


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Worn out guitar, Boston Accent Trailer - Late Night with Seth Meyers, hanging around

Then there was the one legged ballerina named Eileen. (rim shot) 

So I finally decided to take out my guitar out, Apart from a couple of times while I was living sat my sister's house, I haven't played in about a year and it showed. Then I turned my amplifier on. I noodled around. I began to play on the upper register, or I should say high up on the neck, I noticed that the fret had been worn down and did not produce a sound. It was dead. Not long after the amplifier began cutting out. Now none of this stuff is anywhere near new. I've owned this stuff since the early 80's and like me it's beginning to wear out. Now this is not the end of the world but my toys are getting old just like I am. This whining is all part of readjusting to my new lifestyle. In truth it's not so bad and my toys can be repaired especially my beloved Les Paul guitar. I'm looking forward eventually fixing my toys and buying another recorder and putting down some of the musical ideas that I have floating around in my head.

Alright. As I write this, about 11:15 on Tuesday and I am watching the Patriots victory parade through Boston. It's snowing at the moment and it is supposed to change to rain. The Patriots' are the most hated team in football and in general Boston is the most hated sports city because of the success of all the pro sports teams championships since 2001. Ten in sixteen years. And the Patriots amazing win on Sunday night was such a stunner! This win streak won't last forever so I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

So today I plan to do not much of anything. I'm not going to shovel or clean off my car because tomorrow it will hit about 56 degrees. As I was messing about YouTube I found this clip from Late Night with Seth Myers. It's a spoof on the movies made in Boston and the Boston area. Seth Myers is from New Hampshire which is not too far from here. He is quite familiar with our unique and somewhat unfortunate accent. Not everybody around here speaks like this but if you're elsewhere in the country they do know where you're from. I found it quite amusing.   

So that's it for now. I'm going to retire to the couch and watch the rest of the parade.
I'm outta here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Food, snow, retirement,

Ever since they built a hotel in this city to take advantage of the proximity to Boston for out of town travelers, restaurants, cafe's, hair facilities, fast food places etc. have popped up all over the relatively small central square. Three of the restaurants are really quite good in fact they rival some of the much more expensive places in downtown Boston. 

There's a local television restaurant show called The Phantom Gourmet and they visited my personal favorite, Raso's. It's located about a mile or so from here. The ambiance is a bit plain though it is comfortable with a great staff. We've been there many times and though there is an emphasis on Italian food it's also a bar and grill. The food? Top shelf! The location is a street that's not particular picturesque though there is a nice shot of part of the Boston skyline in the distance. It's full of auto repair places, auto dealerships, shipping companies and various other businesses. It is quite old though dating back to the founding of Boston (1630) as it was known as the highway to Boston. It's one of the four oldest roads in my city which also dates back to 1630.     

We had a bit of snow last night, about an inch. No big deal but still a nuisance. It's been a fairly mild winter so far. Nothing like two years ago. As bad as it was then (2014) it was small potatoes compared to the legendary blizzard of '78. The entire northeast including New York city and New Jersey was hit hard. Locally we had just had a storm about a week before, late January, that dropped 21 inches of snow on the area. Then early in February we got hit with 33 hours of snowfall, 70 mph winds. Rhode Island got hit worse with 40 inches. There were 99 deaths and 500 injuries. The coastline was hit hard with 17 foot waves. Highways became large parking lots. These are not my pictures.

It's almost been a month since my complete retirement and I have to admit it's been an adjustment. Apart from housework and laundry, I've had to find other things to do. Hanging around and falling asleep on the couch is only good for so long. Apart from going back to you know where, Arlene and I have talked about making more day trips like we used to do until 2010. We've talked about day trips to New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. I've never been to Vermont. We have no desire to go to Connecticut though I'm sure it's a lovely place. And then there are plenty of places to see right around here. Until about 10 years ago I never really appreciated where I live. To be sure this is an expensive place to live and I hope I can afford it in the future. If not, there's always New Hampshire about 25 miles away.

Well there is laundry in the dryer. The sun is out and there may be a trip to Raso's tonight. Perhaps some linguini Julia.
I'm outta here.