Archive for the ‘JP’s Dedham’ category

I’m a Ramblin’ Guy

April 28, 2011

This Sunday will be my second James Joyce Ramble Road Race in old Shiretown. Oh, I won’t be running; my running days ended when I was struggling up a hill in a corporate “Fun Run'” in Boston and got passed by a guy dressed as a bag of Smart Food.

I will be pitching my tent on the lawn of the Endicott Estate and peddling my wares- copies of Dedham: Historic and Heroic Tales from Shiretown as well as some attractive Dedham notecards. So come on by and say “hi,” get your Mother’s Day shopping done, and find out about my latest book project!

Here’s a link to the Ramble website: www.ramble.org

The Blizzard of ’78- The Final Word

February 23, 2011

My sister got these for everyone in the family. It pretty much sums up the whole experience.

Blizzard of ’78 Part 3- A Haven in the Storm

February 19, 2011

Today it’s Joe’s American Bar and Grill. When I worked there for a month as a sophomore in high school in 1975 it was Boraschi’s Villa, and the decorative sign from that incarnation can still be seen in the main dining room of the Route 1 eatery. But in 1978 it was J.C. Hillary’s, and for several days during the Great Blizzard it became home to stranded motorists who trudged up from their abandoned cars on Route 128. Over 500 motorists stayed at both Hilary’s and the Showcase Cinema across the street, which became a Red Cross shelter for several days. Another 20 refugees from Route 128 made their way to the Caulfield home on Vincent Rd. where they were given shelter.


The lobby of the old Showcase Cinema with stranded motorists

Roads were closed by order of Governor Dukakis, and both state and local police were busy handing out citations to people who disobeyed the order.

School in Dedham was closed for 7 days, with Dukakis declaring that the days did not have to be made up, so Dedham students only went to school 176 days that year.

A portion of the roof of the Dedham Mall collapsed over Cummins, a women’s clothing store.

During the storm burglars broke into The House of Sports on Eastern Ave. and made off with $5000 worth of sporting goods, including the toboggans that they used to transport their plunder.

And I walked around with my little camera, taking fuzzy pictures of the Tower St. neighborhood.

Below: The house on Tower St. after the Blizzard of ’78. The bottom picture was taken after another memorable storm, the April Fool’s Day Blizzard of 1997.

Blizzard of ’78 Part 2

February 7, 2011

This Dedham eatery may be long gone, but it figures in my next tale of the Blizzard of ’78. Do you know where you can find this remnant of the past in present-day Dedham?

The Blizzard of ’78

February 6, 2011


Rte. 128 at East St.
Driving around the narrowed streets of Dedham and listening to the news stories of buildings collapsing under the weight of snow naturally causes one to think back to the Blizzard of ’78, which occurred 33 years ago this week. Now 33 years isn’t all that long ago, yet I find it hard to recall many specific details about the storm. Some of my recollections include: walking out to Rte. 128 near East St. to look at all the abandoned cars- people walking from Roche Bros. in Westwood pulling sleds with groceries-watching some guy in a tiny jeep try to plow Tower St. (he finally gave up and left the jeep there in front of the mountainous pile of snow he’d created).

I was working at Wrangler Wranch in the Mall at the time, and I remember some time after the blizzard getting a check from the state for the missed work days due to the state of emergency that kept the Mall closed. What are your Blizzard of ’78 memories?


Etna Rd. and Capen School
LATER THIS WEEK- Blizzard Tales from Dedham!

WELCOME BACK!

February 1, 2011

It’s been a long time since the last post, but now as Dedham celebrates 375 years as a town, it is time to share more tales from old Shiretown. If you are new to the blog, be sure to read all the old posts. Let me know what you think- suggest possible topics- send photos. Let’s celebrate Dedham’s birthday together!

Catching Air in Tower St. Backyard; February, 1971

We had a small hill in the backyard and would build jumps out of snow. Those plastic coasters were the newest thing at the time. In the background, my older sister is about to go down the hill with my year and a half year old brother in his plastic bathtub.
When I visited the old neighborhodd a few years ago, the family that bought the house on Tower St. from my parents told me they also sled down the hill, which they have named “Mt. Wilcox.” I love when traditions are carried on through the years.

The Community House will be rockin’ on Saturday!

June 2, 2010

Come on down this Saturday, June 5th from 10:00- 8:00 and enjoy the Dedham Square Music and Arts festival. I am pitching a tent and selling and signing my book, so be sure and stop by and say hi. Check out the festival’s website for the complete schedule: http://dedhamfestival.org/

While you’re there, take a look at the front door latch of the 1795 mansion. Some people believe the X shaped mark inscribed into the metal is a hexmark to keep witches out. What do you think?

More Mall!

May 20, 2010

These scans are ads from the Dedham Transcript’s 1986 supplement celebrating the town’s 350th anniversary. The first pic shows that odd little sunken garden where people could sit and relax. Also visible is one of my favorite stores- Paperback Booksmith. I would browse there while my father did the grocery shopping at Stop and Shop down the other end. I remember once spotting this creepy looking paperback with a silver reflective cover and being immediately drawn to it- Stephen King’s The Shining.

This ad lists all the stores that were still in business in September, 1986. Woolworth’s was still hanging in there in ’86, but. alas, looks like Wrangler Wranch had reached the end of the trail.

St. Mary’s May Procession

May 13, 2010

Each May, hundreds of kids from St. Mary’s School and parish would parade down High Street to honor Mary in the May Procession. The girls wore flowing, gauzy, pastel colored robes and the boys wore white shirts with satin capes, unless you were in second grade and wore your First Communion suit or dress. Eighth grade boys led the procession carrying a statue of Mary. A May Queen was chosen from the eighth grade girls, and she had the honor of crowning the Mary statue. A selection of Marian hymns was sung, including “Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today- Queen of the angels, Queen of the May.”
Here are two pics of me in the procession, the first taken in 1967 with me looking oh so reverent in my First Communion suit (far left smiling at the camera). and in 1971 as a less than reverent sixth grade altar boy. There’s a family story behind this photo, which may be related in an upcoming post. But probably not.

Working at the Mall

May 13, 2010

My first job at the Mall was as a stockboy at Woolworth’s during my junior year. A few of the neon letters in the outdoor sign were always broken, so we called it oolwo’s. They let me have a bookcase they were going to throw out, and I still have it in the classroom in which I teach in Framingham. And I still have this name tag for some reason.

Wrangler Wranch
Senior year I moved down the mall to Wrangler Wranch, across from Bradlee’s. This was one of the Mall’s first stores and was originally called Mr. Slacks. It was a fun job, even though I was a lousy salesman. I remember making a little boy cry when I told his mother that maybe a “husky” size would fit him better. I used to go into Pewter Pot and get a chocolate chip muffin heated up in the microwave smothered in butter. I think I worked here through my senior year in college, when my retail career at the Dedham Mall ended.

Note the Wrangler corduroy flares and groovy Earth shoes