Monday, January 31, 2011

Damn You Snow!

UPDATED 1/31 - Remembering the tragic saga of the 1961 US Figure Skating Team - many were from Boston

The New York Daily News also looked back at the crash and rebirth of figure skating in the US

end zone

Remembering the plane crash that rocked U.S. figure skating 50 years ago

Saturday, January 29th 2011, 5:47 PM

This morning John Powers of the Boston Globe looks back to February 15, 1961 when a plane crash outside of Brussels claimed the lives of the entire 1961 United States Figure Skating Team


Boston was devastated as 16 year old Laurence Rochon "Laurie" Owen from Winchester was being touted as a World Champion and possible gold medal winner in the Olympics that would be held in 1964. Laurie had enthralled viewers on watching her win the 1961 National Championship on CBS and the local media just couldn't get enough of her.

The Sports Illustrated on newsstands when the plane crashed had Laurie on the cover.

On Thursday February 17th, US FIGURE SKATING will host a nationwide event at over 500 movie theaters which will include a showing of the movie RISE which documents the crash and the rebirth of the US Figure Skating Team.

A One Night Only Event on February 17th, 2011 hosted by Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC’s TODAY.
A celebration of American figure skating featuring figure skating legends Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Michelle Kwan and 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek among others.
An unprecedented gathering of figure skating icons. Never seen before skating performances, the world premiere of RISE, and more….
Limited seats available for this one night event – tickets on sale now!

The tragedy hit The Skating Club of Boston hard as that is where Owen practiced. The club is located on Soldiers Field Road near WBZ. The club never recovered from the crash.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bus driver of the year!!!!

Everybody loves to complain about the T ( including me ) but you have to love this story.

Video from FOX25

The T has not had a good week dealing with the sub-zero temperatures early in the week and then the snow. 

Things are still not running smoothly

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Downtown Crossing is the busiest T station?

This afternoon I stumbled across the last published system wide MBTA ridership numbers (2009)

Ridership and Service Statistics Twelfth  Edition  2009

Included is a table that shows the number of average weekday boardings at each station in the system and I was a little surprised by the numbers.If you click on the above link and then go to page 18 you can access the full table.

The station in FY 2008 with the most boardings was Downtown Crossing with 22,695, followed by South Station with 22,157 and Harvard third with 20,373.

Now Downtown Crossing is a transfer point but since one doesn't tap their Charlie Card to transfer I have to assume these numbers are actual riders entering the system. Coming in dead last lime a broken down horse is Suffolk Downs with 803.

Some of the other numbers also make me scratch my head but since this table was created after the Charley Card system was introduced systemwide in 1997 I have to assume they are accurate. For example Shawmut recorded more boardings than Savin Hill - 1979 to 1,747 which given that Savin Hill is adjacent to Dorchester Ave. is a mild surprise and it has also has more boardings than Riverside which averaged 1,924.

The Bus ridership is also fascinating to read. The Silver Line between Dudley and Downtown is the busiest route with 14,709 boardings on an average weekday, followed by the #39 with 14,405 and the #1 with 12,325.

On the Commuter Rail I never would have guessed the suburban station with the most boardings each weekday would be Mansfield with 3,763. Way behind in the #2 position is Rte. 128 with 2,572 followed by Salem with 2,504.

It really is a fascinating document to look at and it tells you everything you could ever want to know about the MBTA.

I hope the T publishes a more recent version soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marc Savard out indefinitely

The news about Marc Savard is not good.

Canada's TSN reported that doctors in Boston have confirmed he has another concussion which happened Saturday in a game at Denver.

Savard was injured last March in Pittsburgh and he hasn't been the same since, and watching him the past few months I feared he would be injured again as he was just too slow to be out on the ice.

I hope this is not the end for him.

TIME MACHINE - Harvard Square when it was special (and even had a Mug and Muffin)

A wonderful book was published last year which is a picture history of Harvard Square from 1950 to the present. 
 The author Mo Lotman describes the book

The well-trod patch of Cambridge turf at the corner of the nation's most renowned university has long been a crossroads where poetry, politics, retailing, architecture, performance, design, and every other cultural endeavor intersect. Harvard Square is more than a beloved space, it is a state of mind. Inside the pages of this book, one is immediately transported there.

From the Square's tweedy 1950s through the tumultuous ’60s, the colorful ’70s, and all the way up to the present, Mo Lotman gives a decade-by-decade account of Harvard Square's traditions, history, and lore. The bookstores, the billiard parlors, the barbershops, the booze and burger joints: they're all here. Compiling interviews with more than 100 of the Square's movers and shakers, a treasure-trove of archival and modern photographs, and texts by John Updike, Bill McKibben, Governor Bill Weld, and others, Harvard Square brings "the smartest urban space in America" to vivid life.

Many of these pictures are in the book and a few are others I have collected. It is a wonderful look back.

The subway construction was brutal

1970's - The Tasty can be seen to the right

snow looked the same in the 50's

mid 1960's

This was torn down in 1962 for Holyoke Center.

This would be late 70's as the BayBank name has appeared but the subway construction has yet to start,

The Mug and Muffin was my office back in the late 70's and you could meet anyone there from a Harvard professor to a homeless person and everything in between. It was a little fancier than the 'Tasty' but it had a gritty charm of its own.
The night manager Annie was an absolute sweetheart who had a heart of gold. Nobody seems to know what happened to her but she is fondly remembered by many. 

Thank you Mo.....

His website also has a detailed list of the stores that were in the Square.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

TIME MACHINE - More of Boston 1954-1959 - plenty of places to eat and drink back then

Taking a another look at the Boston of 50 plus years ago...

Pictures courtesy of the  Rotch Visual Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Steaming Kettle of Government Center in it's Scollay Square days.
Washington and Friend St - Downtown Boston
Looks like the South End had a Dairy Queen back in the day.
Cambridge had 'TOURIST PARKING'.
I rememember when Bunratty's occupied the spot that Wonder Bar does today on Harvard Ave in Allston, but apparently long before it became Bunratty's it was Wonder Bar.
Today at Boylston and Berkeley, we have a Starbucks where St Clairs' Fine Foods was located, and what is now Au Bon Pain was a Walton's.
Looking east down Boylston from Berkeley
IBM in 1955 - they would build a large office building a decade later
Boylston and Dartmouth - the baby Hancock towered over all then
Hayes Bickfords was all over the city, as was fierce rival Waldorfs
Back in the 50's, Highways inside Boston became C-1, C-9, C-28
The Copley Square newsstand didn't change for decades.
Chinatown was well -Chinatown
Long before FedEx we had Railroad Express
Boston didn't do J.P Licks in the 50's - HoJo's was king (Copley Square)
Mass Ave and Prospect St. (Cambridge) - there was a Wimpy Burger where Leader Bank is today
Checker Cab at Back Bay Station
The road signs leaving the Sumner Tunnel were impossible to read during the day.
Memorial Drive has many route numbers in the 50's
and that concludes this trip in the 'Time Machine' as we park it for the night....more to come

Friday, January 21, 2011

Never a good sign when Accuweather gurus are smiling in January - Weather Video - The Really Big One... Next Week???

The weather guus in State College look WAY too happy.....

1978 can't happen again...... or can it?

BTW I have now signed up for a service that allows you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Information on the right sidebar

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Red Sox could really help the hotel and restaurant industry in January - Why don't they do it???

The Boston Red Sox have never been known to leave any money on the table but for some reason they refuse to sponsor a major team event like many other MLB teams.

For example in Chicago, both the Cubs and White Sox have major weekend long events in January that are huge draws.

Cubs Convention Logo
2011 Chicago Cubs Convention 

SoxFest 2011
2011 Chicago White Sox SoxFest

Both of these events are wildly popular and brings thousands of fans into the Chicago Loop in the middle of winter. This should be a no-brainer for the Red Sox, but they seem to have no interest.

Does anybody doubt for a second that a Red Sox WinterFest ( an event they held in December of 1996 at the Hynes Convention Center) wouldn't be a huge attraction? January is one of the slowest months of the year for the Boston hotel and restaurant industry and a Sox sponsored event would provide a nice boost. The prefect weekend would be the last weekend of January as that is week before the Super Bowl and there is little else going on.

The Red Sox do sponsor some minor events...the invitation only Christmas at Fenway, usually the second Saturday of December, the 2011 Red Sox Road Trip and of course Truck Day (this year February 8th)

Again, back in December of 1996, the Red Sox DID sponsor an event.
Patriot Ledger Nov 30, 1996

The Red Sox will host WinterFest Saturday (9 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.-6 p.m.) at the Hynes Convention Center. The event is modeled after the FanFest events, which have become popular attractions at the Major League All-Star Game. It's the first time a large-scale fan event has been planned in conjunction with the Winter Meetings.

Highlights will include autograph sessions, video batting and pitching cages, baseball card trading and memorabilia as well as merchandise from major- and minor-league teams for purchase. Ballpark-style food will be available. The event will also coincide with the lighting of the Prudential Center Christmas tree Saturday evening.
Tickets, available at the door, are $6 for adults, $4 for children 5-12. Children younger than 5 will be admitted free.

Come on Messrs Henry, Werner and Lucchino. This is a no brainer and would be a win for everybody.

Let's do it for 2012.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A fascinating look at how a Sports Illustrated writer looked at Boston in 1970

Frank Deford back in July of 1970 tried to explain Boston to the rest of the country to the then vast readership of Sports Illustrated.
Who Are The Hub Men?

Sports, politics and tradition all have equal status in Boston, which has again refused to build a municipal stadium. Is Boston trailing the rest of the country? Maybe it's so far ahead it just seems behind

Boston still celebrates the shot heard round the world with Patriots Day and the Boston Marathon, and it honors as Evacuation Day the date when the British army left town. The Redcoats pulled out sometime after the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought some distance away on Breed's Hill, and which, legend and whites of their eyes notwithstanding, the British won in a rout. Then, on Evacuation Day itself, 1,000 Bostonians—a substantial part of the 1776 population—chose, of their own volition, to depart their homes and the Cradle of Liberty and escape with the tyrants. This particular slant on Evacuation Day is not widely promulgated.

But, as Ted Williams would testify, it helps to have a good press in Boston. For instance, it was not Paul Revere who got through to Concord to alert the Minute Men. A British patrol captured Paul Revere. Dr. Samuel Prescott was the rider who warned Concord. Unfortunately, Prescott does not rhyme at all well with "you shall hear," so Revere got the ink. This would be no problem nowadays. Prescott or Revere, the papers would just headline it: HUB MAN WARNS CONCORD. If Neil Armstrong had come from Dorchester or Charlestown, it would have been: HUB MAN ON MOON. If a Pope ever comes out of Southie (South Boston), it will be: TAB HUB MAN PONTIFF

Boston is ambivalent, ironic, at odds with itself. "The place was still a cow pasture till John L. Sullivan put it on the map," says Sam Silverman, the fight promoter, offering yet another theory of Boston history. The Hub Men lionized that barroom bully, but they busted Mencken for peddling his American Mercury on the Common. Banned in Boston is still not passé. They arrested anyone who showed I Am Curious (Yellow), and the whole state supreme court went off to examine Hair. One of the most prominent black athletes in Boston recently bought a house in a white neighborhood. The man who sold him the house was immediately thrashed by a next-door neighbor. Bill Russell dismisses Boston as the hole in a sugared liberal doughnut. Yet nowhere is there a more liberal thrust. Boston is capital of the first state that passed a law challenging the President's authority to order soldiers to Vietnam.

Boston is the town that sold Babe Ruth to New York, saluted the cab driver that ran down Casey Stengel and greeted its own Celtics, the greatest basketball team ever, with ennui. It took 50 years for major league baseball to move a team, and as soon as it made up its mind it hustled a club out of Boston over a weekend. The Hub Men yawned when the Redskins went to Washington and stirred even less when the football Yanks left. Fewer than 5% of the Patriot stockholders even bother to buy season tickets. Boston locked Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston out of town long before Clay's draft troubles. Rocky Marciano came from just down the road at Brockton, but he could never get into Boston because there was always a guy with a warrant out to grab him and hang some obscure suit on him. "I've been scuffling for 40 years—since I was 16," says Bill Veeck, now the head of Suffolk Downs. "Before I got to Boston I was sued just once—and it was thrown right out of court. I've been here only 18 months and have been involved in eight suits." They threw fines and everything else at Ted Williams. Who are these Hub Men?

Now I have lived here all my life and I never knew Boston had the first major indoor arena that could hold 50,000 that was built in 1869!!!!!
Walking down the street one day in 1867, a Hub Man by the name of Patrick S. Gilmore saw a vision of "a vast structure" in his home town. Gilmore turned the dream into reality and had a gigantic Temple of Peace constructed in only three months in 1869 at a cost of $120,750.68. The monster temple measured 500 feet by 300 feet, with the ceiling 100 feet high. It had a capacity of 50,000, and as such was the last structure erected in Boston that would satisfy the seating requirements of the National Football League. Sadly for Billy Sullivan, the Temple of Peace was blown down in a storm.

The arena was located where Trinity Church and the Copley Plaza now stand. It was HUGE.

The building was 550 feet long by 350 feet wide, covering about 4-1/2 acres. The main walls were 40 feet high, resting upon a substantial foundation of piles, and the height of the central point of the roof was 120 feet.

The parquet was 235 feet long by 200 in width, surrounded upon three sides by promenades 25 feet wide under the galleries. These galleries were 75 feet deep, being 10 feet from the parquet in front and rising backwards to the wall. Entrance was had by 12 doorways, each 25 feet wide, and access to the galleries was via 12 broad stairways leading directly from the outside doors.
The Organ was built by J.H. Wilcox & Co. and was purportedly the most powerful instrument ever constructed until then. It was without a case and fills a space 30 feet wide by 20 feet deep. It contains 1786 pipes, the larges being 43 feet high. It was supplied by wind from 8 pumps worked by a gas engine. The Chorus numbered about 20,000, from all parts of the Union.

I highly recommend this article from 40 years ago.

Yesterday was not the Pats worse loss to the Jets - December 17, 1966 was much worse

VIDEO DECEMBER 17th, 1966 

Boston Patriots 28 at New York Jets 38

Boston and New England is suffering a major hangover today as we try to digest what happened yesterday in Foxborough as the Patriots were eliminated by the New York Jets.

However this was not the worst loss the Patriots have ever experienced against the J-E-T-S. 44 years ago at Shea Stadium the then Boston Patriots lost to Joe Namath  and the Jets 38-28 in a game that almost killed the franchise forever.

Back in 1966 the Boston Patriots were members of the upstart American Football League which was formed in 1960. But the team was considered just a minor league team at the start as Boston fans preferred the older National Football League and as hard as this is to believe the team they adored were the NEW YORK GIANTS. The Patriots for their first few seasons would not play at home on Sunday afternoon but instead played on Friday nights simply because they knew they could not compete with the Giants being on free TV every Sunday. The old Boston Herald Traveler in fact had a beat reporter assigned to all Giants games but only covered Patriots home games, mainly because they owned the former WHDH-TV Channel 5 which was the station the Giants aired on in Boston. The Globe did cover the Patriots and assigned a young reporter Will McDonough to follow the team and it was the Globe's Phil Bissell who created the 'Pat Patriot' logo that the team used on the helmets until the mid 1990's.

Boston fans actually ignored the NFL until the late 1950's when television started to carry the games. 2 existing NFL clubs started in Boston but moved - The Redskins to Washington, and the Boston Yanks who first moved to Dallas and then wound up in Baltimore as the Colts, who now play in Indianapolis. The NFL before television just could not compete with all the college football teams in Boston.

But because of television the American Football League quickly became a huge problem for the NFL and when NBC gave the league a huge television contract in 1965, the NFL decided to merge to keep player salaries in check. While the merger would not fully take effect until 1970 because of the existing television deals, the two league champions starting with the 1966 season would meet in a winner take all game. That is how the Super Bowl came to be.

The Patriots in 1966 played their home games at Fenway Park which they called home from 1963-68, after 3 years at BU Field (now Nickerson) which was the former Braves Field. Now that the NFL had merged with the AFL, Boston fans started watching the Patriots and the 1966 team was a good one. The team was in a season long struggle with AFL East rival Buffalo. It seemed the season would come down to one game on December 4th at Fenway. Before 40,000 freezing fans the Patriots beat Buffalo 14-3 to take control with only 2 games left in the season at Houston and at Shea Stadium. The game is noteworthy as it was the first time Sports Illustrated ever made an AFL game the cover story and even used a rare black and white cover.

December 12, 1966

Fire From The Ashes

At first no one took Boston's Patriots seriously, but with Coach Mike Holovak fanning embers of pride and toughness and big Jim Nance running strong, the Pats whipped Buffalo to lead the AFL Eastern race

Read more:

The Pats destroyed the Oilers 38-14 and then all they needed to host the AFL Championship on New Year's Day at Fenway was to beat the Jets in New York. The Jets and Pats had tied earlier in the season at Fenway and Namath had yet to show that he could play the pro game. On that Saturday afternoon he showed a national TV audience on NBC he was worth every penny of the then unheard of salary of $400,000 the Jets had paid him out of college.


It was the first time in my life I had experienced a major sports heartbreak. The Red Sox were still one year away from their rebirth, the Celtics NEVER lost and the Bruins while beloved were also the worst team in the NHL, but that year had a young 18 year old player who showed promise, Bobby Orr.

Will McDonough was convinced the Patriots would have beaten Kansas City at Fenway Park and go to Super Bowl I and he thought that Patriots team might have given Green Bay a better game than Kansas City wound up doing.

Had the Patriots won that game in New York the sports landscape in Boston may have been altered forever. The Patriots and Red Sox were working with Beacon Hill to build a retractable domed stadium at South Station with a new arena for the Celtics and possibly the Bruins. In 1966, Tom Yawkey wanted out of Fenway Park badly and hinted he may well move the team if somebody did not build him a stadium. He was willing to go in with the Patriots so he could sell Fenway to Boston University. The Celtics wanted out of the Garden badly as the Bruins were the landlord of the Garden, but the Bruins were also tenants as the Garden was actually built on top of North Station which was still owned by the Boston & Maine Railroad and they did everything in their power to stop the project. The stadium would have been built by a 'Stadium Authority' and the bonds would be funded by DOG RACING in the arena on nights there were no games.


Of course the stadium-arena was never built and the Olde Towne Team shocked the baseball world by winning the American League pennant in 1967 and suddenly Yawkey no longer saw a reason to move as the team was drawing fans again. ( Younger members of Red Sox Nation will never believe this, but Opening Day at Fenway Park in 1967 against the Chicago White Sox drew only 8,324.) The Bruins with Orr were selling out every game and the Celtics didn't have the money to build a new arena so the Garden would live until 1995.

The AFL-NFL however put Billy Sullivan the owner of the Patriots in a tight spot. The merger agreement stated that ALL teams must play their home games in a stadium with no less than 50,000 seats. He asked asked for a waiver but Pete Rozelle just laughed at him and pointed out that the Chicago Bears were forced to move out of Wrigley Field for the same reason and the Bears certainly had more clout than the Patriots.

The Red Sox told the Patriots that they could no longer play at Fenway after the 1968 season and Sullivan went to Cardinal Cushing to allow the Pats to play at Boston College in 1969. BC wasn't happy to have the Patriots and when concession workers hired by the Patriots almost burnt the stadium down BC said to look elsewhere.

That left Harvard as the only short term option but they wanted no part of the Pats either. They then said the Pats could play at Harvard only if a new stadium was actually being built.

Enter Bill Veeck.

Veeck was running Suffolk Downs and he hatched a scheme that would have built a new stadium for the Patriots in the Neponset

Frank Deford wrote in Sports Illustrated in July of 1970
Sullivan wanted to get his team into the Harvard Stadium, but he annoyed the Harvards by doing all his negotiating in the newspapers. By the time last December that Sullivan finally got around to officially approaching the college, he had apparently lost any chance.

Harvard formally turned the Patriots down on Jan. 26, and then a couple of months later the City Council voted 7-2 to reject yet another proposal that had been suggested by Bill Veeck. This called for construction of a stadium in the Neponset section of Dorchester with moneys derived from extra racing days that would go to Suffolk.

"I never figured I would get involved," Veeck says. "I thought Harvard would surely take them in. How could the pitty-pat of professional feet seven times a year manage to desecrate Fair Harvard?" With Harvard and the City Council both turning the Patriots away in quick succession, though, they were forced to go begging further afield. Various cities in other parts of the country were anxious to receive them, as was New Hampshire. The lucky suitor, however, was Foxboro, a town of 14,000 in southern Massachusetts near Providence.

Foxboro is 35 miles from Boston, the home of a state mental hospital and a trotting track. The latter, it is said, attracted the Patriots and encouraged the citizens to vote approval for a 60,000-seat stadium to be built on the track parking lot. It will not be ready until 1971, but last week Harvard finally relented and agreed to permit the Patriots the use of their stadium this coming season.

The location in Neponset was located on land being used by the city as a dump but it was right next to the new Red Line extension that was being built to Quincy. The plan was foolproof but one person was against it - Louise Day Hicks - and we all knew where she stood on issues.

So the owner of Bay State Raceway, E. M. Lowe, took Veeck's idea and modified it. he would give the Patriots the land free of charge to build what would become Schaefer -Sullivan- Foxbough Stadium and all he wanted in return was the parking money. Billy Sullivan then renamed the team the Bay State Patriots which lasted about a week as Tim Horgan wrote a column in the Herald-Traveler welcoming the new 'BS PATRIOTS'. Sullivan quickly renamed them New England. Bob Kraft years later wound up with the ownership of those parking lots and set in motion his getting ownership of the team.

So that is a nutshell is why while yesterday was a bitter loss for the Pats, the loss in 1966 almost cost us the team completly.