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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bullshitting to All Fields, Part 7

Alice Cooper at the Paramount Theater on March 15, 1990. In 1980, when Alice announced he was coming to the Springfield Civic Center on July 13, with The Babys as the opener, my friends and I were ecstatic. We headed over to Rocky’s Hardware (now Walgreens), the closest ticket outlet. But there was a problem: the cashier said the order wouldn’t go through.

 She tried again. “OK, this is why,” she said. “The show was canceled.”

The year 1980 marked Alice’s first attempt at rehab, and the tour was marred with many cancellations and postponements because of his health and flagging fan interest. And then, after an “asthma attack” forced Alice to bail out of a concert at the last minute, this is what happened on August 19, 1980:

Below is the Billboard ad for the tour, on the bottom listing Springfield right after Providence. He didn’t cancel in Providence, probably because his Boston fans were willing to make the trek down I-95. As for Springfield, possibly there weren’t enough Hartford folks willing to make the trek up I-91.

Maybe Alice’s followers didn’t dig his new clean-cut look. The Springfield cancellation was a shame—it was after his hit single “Clones,” one of his best tunes, in my opinion.

The following summer, the closest Alice came to Springfield was the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg on August 19. I couldn’t drum up enough interest among my friends, and frankly, I wasn’t sure where Fitchburg was! So I blew it off. Now I wish I went. He went to Providence the following night. But no Springfield. Here is the Fitchburg setlist:

Alas, I was too young to hit his “School’s Out” tour date at the Springfield Civic Center on October 29, 1972. He performed to a near-capacity crowd of 8,500. The openers: Wet Willie and the Edgar Winter Group. It’s hard to tell how many fans he would have drawn there in 1980. Certainly not 8,500, because he was a few years past his prime.

Judy Garland at Storrowton in 1967.

“New” old photos of Snowball the polar bear and Morganetta the elephant.

I haven’t seen Preacher Man at the corner of State and Oak. What’s the story?

Whoops—looks like he got busted back in April for a burglary. He might just be locked up in Ludlow as you read this.

Preacher Man’s day job is handing out religious literature that he had pilfered from churches, as well as lottery cards with the numbers he has already filled in—the idea being that you buy one because it’s a sure winner: it had been blessed. But it looks like his night job is breaking and entering.

Those brick apartments next to Napoli’s on Boston Road (across from the old Ranch House in Pine Point): they used to make up Trase’s Tourist Court:

But look what I found on the Springfield Preservation Trust’s website: late 1930s photos of 139 Boston Road (the Ranch House address) that show similar buildings to Trase’s—albeit smaller—called “Brick Tourist Rooms.” Were these built at the Ranch House site, and then this cabin complex expanded to across the street to become Trase’s?

Yes, I have a feeling that the older brick cabins, including the larger main house, were torn down and the Ranch House building replaced them, but the newer Trase’s cabins remain to this day as apartments. Can anyone verify this? The photo above might have been Anthony Trase’s home.

As for the hooker haven Ranch House, its last incarnation before it was boarded up was the Valley Inn Motel and the Royal Seasons Restaurant and Bar. According to Tom Devine’s Baystate Objectivist blog, Ray Mason’s Lonesome Brothers song Red House was inspired by the Ranch House:

Anyway, the photos of the brick cabins are from the Springfield Preservation Trust’s WPA Image Project. In 1938-1939, the Works Projects Administration commissioned the photographing of every single building in the city. The images are stored at the City of Springfield Building Department, but the Springfield Preservation Trust has taken on the effort to digitally scan these images. You’ve got to see this online collection. They just added Boston Road to their galleries, and it contains some interesting structures. Check out this gas station at 1264 Boston Road, next to what is now Kappy’s:

It’s no longer there. I’m willing to bet it was an old farm silo that was converted, much in the same way that this one, at Kuiper’s Family Farm in Maple Rock, IL, became a place to store shopping carts:

The odd-looking filling station on Boston Road became Red’s Gulf, which begat Abdow’s Big Boy, which begat Sambo’s. Then, with outrage over the Sambo’s name, because of the book below, it became No Place Like Sam’s.

No Place Like Sam’s begat Pizza Hut, which begat Denny’s, which begat:

Recognize this iconic Acres house? Of course you do: 1590 Wilbraham Road, one of the oldest homes in the neighborhood. I used to walk by this place all the time and wondered about its history.

It’s incredibly close to the road, as many old homes are. How old is this one? The house was built in 1802, but it has had many updates. We always knew it as the “Johnson House,” and heard it was an old post office, candy store, and, in the 1950s, a lawnmower sharpener’s shop.

John Sulikowski bought it in 1984 and remodeled the home—pretty much saving it by jacking it up (its original beams were bowed) and pouring concrete to correct the sag. The second floor was added in the mid-1800s.

It has had several owners since he sold it in 1999, and it still looks good from the outside. Love that octagonal window!

Beth Carroll is Still Hot

One of the best things about the 1989 newscasts of Springfield’s Fiscal Crisis posted last month on Tom Devine’s Baystate Objectivist blog is seeing former WWLP and WGGB new anchor Beth Carroll. My friend Rick Riccardi and I always had a thing for her, and she looks good in this footage, even with the 1980s hair:

This discovery prompted me to do a search, and, sure enough, Beth Carroll has still got it.

I had to share this news with Rick, and he mentioned something about her appeal I had forgotten: a great voice. True, but that’s not what I was thinking of when I saw this: Beth Carroll is still a fox!

She’s now president of Carroll Productions, an independent media production company. Beth had left Channel 22 in 1989 for WTIC in Hartford before coming back to the 413 as an executive producer/anchor for Channel 40 in 1995. Seven years later she left for New Hampshire, where she has worked in communications since. In terms of multi-media production, she can pretty much do it all, but let’s hope she gets IN FRONT of the camera once in a while as opposed to being behind the scenes.

This reminds me of another local broadcaster at the time, Cora-Ann Mihlalik, whom many of my friends had the hots for. This is understandable. She was also attractive. But she was no Beth Carroll. In my senior year of high school, Cora-Ann came to Cathedral High School with a news crew to publicize our Toys for Tots efforts holiday volunteer efforts, but she made the editorial mistake of trying to do a film shot in our cafeteria during lunch. Really?

She might have known about Cathedral students’ propensity for throwing food, but she ignored all warning signs. The yelling. The wolf whistles. The guys grabbing their crotches. Still, she plodded along, and, with the videotape rolling, a cupcake sailed by her as she did her intro in front of the camera. Cut! They stopped the filming. She looked around the cafeteria nervously, composed herself, and tried again. Take two! Action!

Thwack! This second thrown cupcake hit her.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little in the bad Photoshop job above. The cupcake didn’t hit her in the shoulder, but it clipped the bottom of her dress, and that was enough for her. Her camera crew packed their stuff and hightailed it out of there in a huff. They ended up doing a Toys for Tots shoot at a local hospital, I believe.

I didn’t witness this firsthand—it happened during the first lunch wave and I was in the third lunch wave. Sr. Mildred Marengo (pictured below) was on lunch duty and she looked like she was a little down in the dumps.

“What’s wrong, Sister?” I asked. “Is everything OK?”

“Well,” she said with a sigh, “It’s been a long day.”

She proceeded to tell me about the incident. I did the only thing an immature 18-year-old could do: I broke out laughing, which prompted her to reach down and grab some hair on the back of my neck and lift, forcing me to stand: the oldest nun trick in the book! Some students from other tables pointed and laughed.

“You think it was funny?” she asked. “That was one of the most shameful, embarrassing things that ever happened at this school.”

“Ow! Hey! I was only laughing because it’s so…unbelievable,” I said unconvincingly.

“You laughed because you thought it was funny. Very disappointing. Now sit down and shut up.”

Sister Millie: a slight woman, but a tough nun who grew up in the Flats neighborhood in Holyoke. She took no shit. Here’s to you, Sister Millie.

And here’s what’s left of the Cathedral High School building on Surrey Road: the site of the future Pope Francis High School.

That’s all folks. Have a great Rocktober, rockers. Dress up like a clown for Halloween!