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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bob Feller and Howard Johnson's in Kenmore Square

The Herald on Saturday carried a piece by Akron, Ohio baseball writer Sheldon Ocker about the death of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller.

In the article is a look back at forgotten Boston.

"There was a hotel a couple of blocks from Fenway," Bob said. "Howard Johnson’s was down the street, and Howard would dish out the ice cream."

"Do you mean the actual Howard Johnson?" I said.

A little irritated by the dumb question, Bob answered, "Of course, Howard Johnson. It was his store."

Indeed the store in Kenmore Square was the flagship of HoJo's growing empire and my older brother worked there in the 50's and Mr. Johnson was always there.


In this picture you can see HoJo's in the background where today Uno's Chicago Grille is located at Commonwealth and Brookline, 2 blocks from Fenway. I wonder if Feller knew that HoJo's back in 1919 was the bar of the Hotel Buckminster where the Chicago White Sox were approached to throw the 1919 World Series. The photo also has one of the best images of the iconic White Fuel sign that was in Kenmore for decades and was more famous than the Cities Service (Citgo) sign because of the flowing neon.


I am wondering if Leonardi's would become the infamous Rat a decade later.



The hotel Feller refers to would have been the Hotel Kenmore on Commonwealth where most teams stayed until the Sheraton Boston was built in the 60's.


These pictures from the Rotch Visual Collections: libraries.mit.edu/rvc/index.html were taken sometime between 1954 and !959.


My how our city has changed.










27 comments:

MarkB said...

One of my grandmothers knew Howard Johnson from his Wollaston store - I believe it was the first. My other grandmother was a telephone operator at the Hotel Kenmore. She was there when Honey Fitz told Joe Kennedy to leave the bimbo and go home to his wife.

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William McNeil said...

The Kenmore Square location of Uno's Chicago Grille is now the second one I know of that was once a Howard Johnson's.
The other is the one next to South Shore Plaza in Braintree, MA.
Did the Uno's company buy all or most of the old Howard Johnson's locations, or is this just coincidence?

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