Jimmy Del Ponte
On The Silly Side
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)
Here is a little Somerville history for you newcomers - some of it is a review from former columns and supplemented with reader comments. It concentrates mostly on the Davis Square, Powder House Park and Ball Square area - because that's where I have lived for the last 54 years.
There used to be three Junior High Schools in Somerville - the Western on Holland Street (now owned by Tufts University), the Southern on Summer Street (now a dog park), and the Northeastern on Marshall Street (now townhouses).
Somerville also had a Trade High School in East Somerville - "Muzzy" was the principal. The Apollo Cake Company was also in that area of the city. Ball Square used to have a roast beef place called Lambros - across from where Harold's Luncheonette was (now Kelly's).
My band (The Tool) had a 45 titled "Spark'em Up" - and it was in their jukebox. Savel's five and dime store was also in Ball Square, as was Mitchell's Variety at the corner of Josephine and Broadway. The Willow Jazz Club thrived for a while, but cool jazz riffs weren't all that was being blown in there - the Feds shut it down.
BoBo's Chinese Restaurant was also in Ball Square. There was a little store (I've heard) near Harold's that was one of two places in Ball Square you could book some action.
There used to be a variety store we called "Oscars" at the bottom of Liberty Road. The Royal White Cleaners on Cedar Street used to be a Dairy Queen.
It used to be dangerous to walk through Powder House Park when the tough guys took it over in the 70s. Beltram and Son Locksmiths used to be where Nellie's Wildflowers is on Holland Street.
Some of the stores in Davis Square were: Parke Snow, Gorin's, The Children's Shop, Grants, Woolworths, Fanny Farmer, Thom McCann, Highland Shoe, Speedy Pizza, and Kay and Chips Restaurant. You could go to Kay and Chips after the bars closed for breakfast and a brawl.
Goff's Auto Store, The Bargain Center and Ming Toy Chinese Restaurant once graced the Rosebud end of Davis Square. The police officer that everyone loved in Davis Square, who always had beaming smile, was Al Collins. Pasik's Furniture Store in the square did not sell tiny beds - they were shortened versions just for the window display.
One of those huge beautiful houses near Powder House Park on Broadway was where a real family doctor lived. His name was Harry Goldenberg MD, and he made house calls (complete with black bag), and gave shots in the butt. When he wasn't holding a needle, he was a very nice man. Another house on Powder House Boulevard next to Doherty's was moved all the way over to Highland Avenue near the Hospital - it's actually on videotape someplace.
Some of our Mayors were: S. Lester Ralph, James Brennan, William Donovan, Larry Bretta, Mike Capuano, Dot Gay and Gene Brune. Mary Sogliero ran for mayor but never made it. Joe's last name is pronounced Curta-tony, not Curta-tone.
That big house on the hill, that has it's own driveway between Morrison Avenue and Hall Avenue was once owned by Burton Faulkner, of Faulkner Brothers Oil - they used to have a watch dog name Gretchen.
Before they did away with the "blue laws" you either had to drive to New Hampshire to get beer on Sunday or go to a few choice stores and bars for an illegal six-pack. These establishments also sold booze after the liquor stores closed at 11 pm. The proprietor of one of these joints in East Somerville also kept a shotgun in plain sight.
Country and Western music could, at one time, be enjoyed at Johnny D's and at Khoury's State Spa. Yee- ha John Penny!
This next point is very important - Somerville has only two "L"s in it - do not, under any circumstances, add an another "L" after the S, even in jest (hopefully you catch my drift). If someone from another town does this, be offended, become belligerent and defend your city - in a civil manner of course.
Somerville's official colors are blue and red, as in the song "Somerville Leads the Way." Also, don't forget to feed the meters - and if anyone asks you, marshmallow Fluff was invented in Somerville.
Please e-mail your comments to Jimmy at: firstname.lastname@example.org