Sunday, July 27, 2008

***Desperately seeking..., For John D., Class Of 1964

Desperately seeking... idea. I will keep this short and sweet. I have to admit to failure, abject failure, in my efforts to keep up a steady drumbeat of commentaries about the old days at North Quincy High (many of which, mercifully, have been relegated to the Recycle Bin). I believed that my commentaries would act as a catalyst and draw 1964 classmates, and other former students at North, out. At some point I figured out that this was not to be the case and I resolved to push on anyway at the whim of whatever demons were driving me on. Now, frankly, I have run out of ideas. A recent re-reading of some of my commentaries has rubbed my face in that hard fact. Two themes in various guises have emerged from the work- the 'tragic' effects of my growing up poor in the land of plenty and the usual teenage longing for companionship and romance. Gee, those ideas have never been the subject of literary efforts before, right?

Okay, okay nobody asked me to volunteer to be the unpaid, self-appointed voice of the Class of 1964 and so I have only myself to blame. I swear I will get into a twelve-step program for the nostalgically-challenged just the minute I get out of the rehab program for political junkies. But in the meantime-help, or else. And what might that or else threat mean? I am desperate enough to steal someone Else's thunder from the general North Quincy High Message Board. Do you really want to hear me on the subject of Squaw Rock? Or how nasty so of our teachers were? Or the dark side of the North Quincy High School Band? Or ........go into back into that dreaded Recycle Bin? Think about it. Send an idea-quick.


Someone has suggested a comparison or contrast between Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis along the lines of the Rolling Stones/Beatles (Class of 1964-Stones or Beatles) or Brenda Lee/Patsy Cline (Battle of The Sexes-Round 235) commentaries that I had done earlier this year. This does not count as a new idea for me because I have already written a commentary for a blog that I belong to reviewing Jerry Lee Lewis's 2006 documentary- Last Man Standing.

Of course, Jerry Lee was better than Elvis-that's a no-brainer. But it is an idea that will find its way into these pages soon. Meanwhile how about some North Quincy idea? I am ready to start writing about President John Adams if nothing better comes along. You have been forewarned.

Originally posted on Jul 27 2008 on Classmates

Thursday, July 17, 2008

***White socks.....and white shorts- For James And John C., Class Of 1964

Click on the headline to link to a site that sells "real" gym shorts for comparison with our old white shorts and socks. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Al Johnson, Class Of 1964, comment:

Originally posted in July 2008 on Classmates

Okay, let us take stock. Over the past months in this space I have written a solemn tribute to my father. A heartfelt tribute to my senior English teacher Miss Enos, as well. I have inquired about gas prices in 1964. I have asked where you were on March 17th. I have been a "flak" on more than one occasion for my old classmate the great runner, Bill Cadger, in his quest for North Quincy Sports Hall of Fame immortality. I have taken more trips down memory lane that I can shake a stick at-from the steps of old North Quincy High to the Germantown projects. I have investigated school organizations high and low, including my prize scoop on the mysterious doings of Tri-Hi-Y. Logically then, the next subject that cries out for attention should be......white socks.

Well, that follows naturally, right? Okay, before you call up to have me placed in restraints for my own good, hold up! Let me explain. For those still in possession of their treasured "Manet" from 1964 please open to any page in the sports section. I will give you a hint. Look at the feet of virtually every boy in any group photo. White socks, right? Now we are getting somewhere. And what, pray tell, is the meaning of this sartorial display. I am, moreover, sure that it extended beyond athletics. I know, as a creature of habit at the time and one who desperately wanted to be 'in', that I too wore my 'whites'. But what kind of fashion statement were we trying to make at the time? I do not know about you but at some point 'white socks' meant only one thing- dweeb, nerd, outcast and not cool. I distinctly remember that term in reference to scientific and engineer-types. And we know they were not cool. As cool as we tried to be were we really all dweebs who did not get the message fast enough out in the 'sticks' of North Quincy?

Now I know that if I keep going on about white socks I will voluntarily go into those restraints mentioned above. Frankly, stretching the subject to a paragraph was a chore. So in order to add bulk to this little entry let us look at its companion subject. White shorts, naturally. On old gym days those sacred white socks were accompanied by mandatory white gym shorts and white tee shirts, as least for boys, or all hell would break loose. Rickson's law, you know.

I have seen, and I know you have too, many students pass through many portals of learning since our North days and I am here to say that I have never seen another pair of white shorts like the ones we were required to wear. In fact, I believe that today one would be hard pressed to find two students wearing the same kind of gym shorts of any description. And who would argue with the logic of that? Now here is the question I want to ponder. Did I, and maybe you, miss two revolutions? The one away from white socks as a fashion statement and the other away from mandatory white gym shorts. Damn, and I was ready to go to the barricades too.

Friday, July 4, 2008

***An Atlantic Fourth Of July- For Arlene, Class Of 1965

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for Fourth of July (Independence Day) celebrations.

Al Johnson, Class of 1964, comment:

Originally posted on "Classmates" June 24, 2008

No, today I will not mention the tattoo of marching drums. Nor will I go on and on about the finale of the Overture of 1812. And I will most assuredly not describe the seemingly supersonic fireworks that boom over the nighttime skyline of Boston. Today I want to go back the quieter streets around Welcome Young Field in the Atlantic section of North Quincy on the Independence Days of my youth in the 1950's.

Probably, like in your neighborhood in the old days, the local older guys and fathers would put together a kitty, collect contributions and seek donations from local merchants to put together a little 'time' for the kids on the 4th of July. The details of the organization of this extravaganza are beyond my knowledge but I can surely speak to the results. As these things go it was pretty straight forward, you know; foot races of varying lengths for various age groups, baby contests, beauty contest, some sort of parade, pony rides and so forth. But that is only the frame. Here is the real story of the day. Here is what any self-respecting kid lived and died for that day.

Tonic (you know, soda, pop) and ice cream. And not just one tonic or one ice cream but as much as you could hoard. Twice during the day (I think maybe about 10AM and 1PM) there would be what one can only describe as a free-for-all as we all scrambled to get as many bottles of tonic (you know, soda) and cups of ice cream as we could handle. But here is the secret to the success of my brothers and me in grabbing much more than our fair share of the bounty. Grandma lived right on the corner of Welcome Young Field on Young Street. So, we would sprint with one load of goods over to her house and then go back for more until we filled up the back refrigerator.

Boy, that was work as we panted away, bottles clanking in our pockets. But then, work completed, we could savor our one tonic and one ice cream cup that we showed for public consumption. There were other sounds of the day beyond the cheering, the panting and the hee-haws of the ponies. As the sun went day it went down to the strains of some local pick-up band of the era in the tennis court as the dancing started. But that was adult time. Our time was to think about our day 's work, our hoard and the next day's tonic (you know, soda) and ice cream. Ah....


Below is the traffic from "Classmates", unedited, giving other information about Atlantic Fourth of July celebrations.

(2) Welcome young 4th of July

Richard Maffie 1966 (view profile)

Posted: Jun 24 2008 03:17pm PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964

It was organized by the guys at the Sagamore grill. They had a truck with a loud speaker that would go uo and down the streets and had some of the older kid (15 or 15 years old ) going door to door for donations. The day started at around 8:00 am and ended with the talent show in the tennis court. I think Mr Burke won everyyear that I can remember for his "crasylegs dancing. Joe Gill, who worked at Estrella"s market on Newbury Ave was part of the group that set the whole celebration up. The last one I remember was around 1975, because I had my oldest son there. I ran into Frankie Belloti, who was running for some school committee office and I realized that he had not gone to Quincy Public School. I don't know about now, but Quincy Public education was one of the best in the nation in the 50's and 60's.

(4) An Atlantic 4th

Alfred Johnson 1964

Posted: Jul 23 2008 09:19am PST
In reply to Richard Maffie 1966

This note was originally placed on the North Quincy Alumni site.

According to Richard Maffie, Class of 1966, in a reply message on the Classmates site (he is also on this site) this Welcome Young Field celebration was organized by the guys at the bar called The Sagamore Grille. They had a truck with a loud speaker that would go up and down the streets (I remember that-Al) and had some of the older kids (15 or 16 year olds) going door to door for donations. Richard further stated that the day started about 8 AM (that sounds right- Al) and ended with the Talent Show in the tennis court (not the same ones as the ones that are located there today-Al). He said that Mr. Burke (Does anyone know who that is?) won every year with his 'crazy legs' dancing (?). Joe Gill, who worked at Estrella’s Market on Newbury Avenue, was part of the group who set the whole celebration up. Finally, Richard said that the last one that he remembered attending was around 1975 because he had his oldest son there. Thanks for the information Richard. Anyone else have anything to add? Al.

I should note that the Joe Gill mentioned above lived, with his mother, directly across the street from my grandparents, Daniel and Anna Radley, on Young Street. That is the place where we stashed our loot (the tonic and ice cream). Joe, when he worked for Estrella's, would also take my grandfather, disabled from a stroke and a retired Quincy fireman, riding around with him when he delivered orders. My grandfather was a, to be kind, difficult man to deal with so Joe must have had some charm. My grandmother, house-bound as she got older due to having been crippled in an accident, was a saint. When things got tough at my family house over on Walnut Street (near the old Duggan Brothers Garage) I could always go over there, especially after my grandfather went into a nursing home, for a meal or just for refuge. Thanks- Grandma.

(5) Atlantic 4th . . .

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 30 2008 11:07am PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964

Alfred 'n' others;

The earliest recollection I have of the July 4th festivities at Young Field was when I returned to Atlantic in July 1945 after being away for a couple years. I seem to remember that they had foot races and other activities. I remember running one of the races which was close between me and another kid. They declared the other kid the winner, but I threw a fit. I guess I hadn't yet learned to take a loss gracefully. Later, in the 50's maybe, I remember hearing a girl who sang like Theresa "Tessie" Brewer at the Young Field tennis courts. I think somebody said she was the sister of one Jim Baldwin (NQHS 1958) who later became one of North's best all-round athletes. That's all I remember of the Atlantic 4th celebrations, and I'm not totally sure of the accuracy of those memories. The years continue to cloud some memories.

Craig S. Warren NQHS 1957

(6) Re: Welcome young 4th of July

Arlene Devine 1965 (view profile)

Posted: Oct 08 2008 07:31pm PST
In reply to Richard Maffie 1966


I am one of the guilty one's out there that have read messages for a couple of years and not responded until this really sparked my interest. Back in the 50's the first 9 1/2 years of my life was on the top floor of a three decker on Sagamore St., and Welcome Young was were we spent every day. We all waited for the fourth. Richard is right about the truck My Grandfather George Kelley and my uncles would ride on the back of the flatbed truck going up and down the streets playing their musical instruments while others collected donations. We would throw change to the people collecting. On the big day we would line up early in the morning with our costumes on. Bud Chase and Elliot Thomas had a lot to do with getting everything together along with a lot of the guys from the Sagamore Grill. On our way down Sagamore Street from Newbury Ave heading to Welcome Young everyone would get a shiny quarter for marching. I do remember going to Wheaton's Varity Store (later owned by my Uncle Harold Kelley) for free ice cream and "tonic."
The rest of the day would be filled with games and shows, and yes the tennis court would be converted to a stage for the day and night.
My parents Joe and Hazel Devine owned the old Stenzel's Market for a couple of years back in the middle 50's. My Mother later went on to work at the Wheelhouse Diner for years, does anyone remember the "Wheelhouse?"

We later moved to Wollaston/Montclair but the best days were Sagamore St. I often wonder what happened to Chuckie Chase, Peter Thomas, Dick Guest, and Rhett Johnson. I was the tom boy of the group.

I remember nights at Ho Jo's, and 7 E's and Bucky the cop. Wollaston Beach between the Yacht Clubs was the place to be.
Tri-Hi-Y and the YMCA. "Up the Downs," between the "Neighborhhood and Bono's Drug Stores." Tony's for Subs. Joyce's Card Shop, The 5 & 10, Walsh's for special dinners, and WMEX's radio station. Gym Class with Ms. McCoy. Four years of Homeroom with Ms Savage. Walking home in the cold with everyone on Hancock Street when North won the Thanksgiving games.

We still go to Dr Yacubian as our Dentist, the model for the "Yakoo," (class of "58"). He knows more about North Quincy High School than anyone else and has been their biggest supporter.

Richard, didn't you live on the second floor of the Parker's house?

I am lucky that I have kept a lot of my friends from childhood but do miss my years growing up in Quincy.

(7) Re: Welcome young 4th of July

Christine Engrassia 1981 (view profile)

Posted: Oct 09 2008 12:04pm PST
In reply to Arlene Devine 1965

I am a little younger then those who have posted on this subject but I can remember all of these things occuring in the 60's to maybe mid 70's.....the great dress-up parade at the beginning of the day, the doll carriage and bike decorating contests, pie eating contests......what great good old fashion fun it was !!!

(8) Re: Welcome young 4th of July

Michael Meleedy 1986

Posted: Oct 20 2008 07:23pm PST
In reply to Christine Engrassia 1981

I remember winning the blueberry pie eating contest for my age group as a 7 year old (1975) and running full speed to by Grandmother's house on E Squantum St.

Good times...