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September 29, 2007


Ron Newman

Peak Oil doesn't have anything to do with the Derby Desk Company fire. I don't understand your response.

Ron Newman's Homepage

Is that really you Ron?

The picture of you is exactly as I pictured you!

Until March 2002, I worked at Northern Light Technology, an Internet search engine based in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, that company ran out of money and its assets were bought by divine, inc. in January 2002. Many people, including me, were laid off as a result of this takeover.

I'm now looking for work again, after spending part of the summer studying Java and passing the Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP 1.2) exam with a 100% score. If you'd like to see what I've been doing in the computer industry for the past 23 years, take a look at my résumé.

Until mid-May of 1997, my online home was at another local Boston Internet provider, (also known as "Cyber Access"). But in an extraordinary display of unprofessional and unbusinesslike conduct, Cybercom deleted my account, my e-mail address, my Web pages, and all of my private files after I made a public complaint about their service quality. I had to hire a lawyer and sue them to get my files returned to me and my e-mail forwarded. Read the whole story on this page:

Cybercom.NOT, or Why I'm no longer a Cyber Access customer
I'm generally happy with my current Internet provider, Complete Internet Access.

The Good Net-Keeping Seal
The Good Net-Keeping Seal of Approval for Usenet Software (GNKSA) is a set of standards I once tried to promote for writing Usenet news readers that are friendly to the rest of the Usenet community. It's gotten a bit out of date; I last revised it in early 1995, at a time when graphical user interfaces for Usenet were still a novelty, and text-based Unix programs still dominated the Net. Despite this, it's still a widely cited document. In 1997, Jeroen Scheeder took it over and issued a new version, GNKSA 2.0.
The Church of Scientology vs. the Net
For a few years in the late 1990s, I was probably best known on the Internet for my large web site documenting the ongoing battle between the Church of Scientology and the Net. This battle has been going on since at least December of 1994. I largely stopped updating it in mid-1996, but there's still a lot of information here, even if it's gotten substantially out of date.




Derby desk apparently had a campus of adjoined buildings. The rendering that the folowing link will take you to shows the 5-story building (at the rear of the group of buildings, and the tallest) which was 36 Vernon St. Note that it says the building burned in 1968. Note also its orientation with the narrow frontage toward Vernon Street (view looks north).

I recollect that this particular building was owned--or used or had been used)--by a paper or cardboard company as a warehouse at the time. International Paper comes to mind due to their proximity.

What remained of the structure after the fire was razed.

Rogers Foam was, IIRC, operating in some of the other parts of the building at the time. My father-in-law worked there around that period, but I don't know if he remembers the fire. I wonder if maybe Frank Bucca remembers it? It was, by all accounts, pretty spectacular.



The funny thing is the SFD is about 1/2 of what it used to be. I know... I know... technology and education have cut down on the need a bit, but by almost half? At least the number of "parking enforcement officers" has tripled. That is sure to make us all safer.

Ron, that's quite the picture of you. I'm just lucky I hadn't taken a sip of my coffee yet or I would be busy with q-tips and isopropyl alcohol wiping down my keyboard.


To JAR : I just spoke to Dave Stef Monday.He has his own Web development Company ( David's Webs) He is in a Led Zeppelin tribute band called FOUR STIX. and he plays in a band called mama Kix. he is married and living in a log house in NH.


- Where, exactly, was the Friendly's on Highland?
- The Highland Lounge (is that what was later Vergie's?)
- Apollo Cake - I'll have to check and see if the bulding is still there. (It was a few years ago.)
- I'll add: The Ten Hills, on Mystic Ave. It's not a place I would ever have gone to, but my friend's parents would go there with their friends on a Saturday night there, and we'd stop in for a couple. It was just a nice, friendly atmosphere.

Al  K

You mean there are meetings that alcaholics can go to an drink annnomously ?? Where are these meetings ?? Do you have to BYOB ??


Friendly's was on Highland Avenue at the corner of Cedar Street. I haven't lived in Somerville for quite some time, but last I saw a bank was there. It's on the odd side, I guess on the southeast corner. I remember my sister squeezing and spelling out "No Tip" in ketchup. No wonder it closed.


JD - thank you! Yes it is a bank, now. I'm not sure which one, though.


Directly across the street was Cedar Pharmacy, and kitty-cornered from that was a gas station. If you went down Cedar Street toward Broadway, there was a Dairy Queen (which I believe is now a cleaner), and in the other direction, at the corner of Cedar and Summer was Cedar Market, where we used to steal beer. (It was usually Schlitz, so it probably doesn't technically qualify as stealing.)

Kate, I don't know how long you've been a resident, but in the '60s and early '70s there was a corner store on just about every other block. Just a block up on Summer Street from Cedar Market, for instance, was another store called Charlie's Spa, where we stole candy en route to church at St. Catherine's. (Yes, I'm going to hell.) And at that corner, Linden Avenue headed uphill where it met Cedar Avenue, forming a hilly L-shape, the apex of which we had a choice to sled right into Summer or Cedar Streets, both of which were busy with traffic. It's a wonder why dozens of us didn't get killed.

Living in a mysterious house at the top of the hill was a guy we knew only as Crazy Francis, who as I remember was slightly retarded and was always smiling. Anyone who dared venture onto his property was considered doomed. In this neck of the woods, there were two such characters: Crazy Francis and Butchie the Balleater. Butchie was a tall, retarded guy who got his name because he liked to take balls from kids -- usually the rubber types, but any type would do -- and knaw on them. He was also famous for removing kids' shoes. I'm sure he was harmless, but when you saw him you knew to scram; otherwise, you'd freeze from fright and he could do what he wanted. He was a big guy, and he was famous in West Somerville. One time he walked into my back yard, and the downstairs neighbor was hanging sheets out to dry on the clothesline. He scared her so much that the sheet fell onto her as she ran away, a frightened ghost in midday.

Frank Bucca

I go back a little further...born, raised, and still live in Somerville...going on 77 years.
SHS 1949---the Mrs., 1950.
Met her there in 1948. Married 55 years next week.

A few notes:

On Highland Avenue side of Davis Square...there was an appliance store called J.J. McCarthys.
When black & white T.V. first made the retail scene, late 40's, very few houses had them.
As kids we went down to McCarthy's to watch sports, boxing, etc., from the sidewalk, thru the display window. Only black & white of course.

They showed the event for people to view. with a audio hookup out to the sidewalk.

Also, on Elm street, east side of Davis Square, south side of Elm...where the auto store was located...there was a Buttrick's Ice-Parlor, complete with a juke-box. We hit that place at least once a week.

There was also a "Sweet Shoppe" at the southeast corner of Spring Hill Terrace and Highland Avenue; also with a self-standing Wurlitizer juke box; and space for some dancing by those kids who chose to.

The "clothing" store in Davis was probably Gorins; possibly Grants or Almys. They mwere Department stores....up and downststairs.

Johnny's Foodmaster was a First National Store before it was a Johnny's.

Friendly's...corner of Highland and Cedar was an Ecco Grocery Store....[the forerunner of the Stop & Shop Supers that we see today.]

In Davis, where Texaco, Dominos and Wings ensued, that building was an A&P Supermarket.

The Rosebud....been there done that well before the Surrey Room was added on.
They were our sponsors for our/my City Rec fast-pitch softball team.

The Davis Square railroad crossing.
No tower man dropping the tower.
The gates were dropped and raised by hand-crank operated by a 24/7 person who was stationed in a shack by the side of the crossing...same at Cedar Street, etc.

Remember when traffic control where Holland Street, College Avenue, Highland Ave, Elm Street, etc., fed in and out of Davis, was controlled by one policeman, with a whistle, standing in a elevated podium....just about in front of where the new CVS building now stands.
Which, in those days, was the Parke-Snow department store...also two levels.

During my High School years I was a Soda-Jerk at Egan's Drug Store, corner of Highland and Lowell streets. Also was working there when the Korean "Police Action" War broke out in June of 1950. That broke up that "old gang of mine." To a man, we all enlisted.

In those days there were drug stores with soda fountains at just about every main street corner, and some in-between.

Frank Bucca

Yes, I remember the 1968 fire at the corner of Vernon and Central streets.

After razing and some add-ons, and before Rogers Foam bought the building in 1973, it housed Narjos Shoe Company->[my sister worked there as a stitcher]- Rowse Vinegar Works, et al.

Derby Desk was bought out by another furniture company in 1931.

International Paper was never located there.
It was located, where the Max-Pac site is now located, immediately west of the Lowell Street bridge....then replaced by a plastics plant. Now the entire complex is owned by K.S.S. Realty....who plan to build 199 residential units there.
Long time-[5 years and counting]- between "we will and want to" and "breaking ground."

Meantime the old building is an eye-sore, "melting:....and an attractivre nuisance for kids up to say nothing of the animal critters who have taken up residence there.

Also that very same addition to the paper box company...Hires Root Beer had a plant just opposite the box company. When we were kids we found ways to "borrow" glass quarts of root beer in the summer; and "borrow" cardboard from the box company to slide down grassy hills in the winter-time.

The common name for the box company was The Agar Company.

Frank Bucca

The site where Roger Foam and many residences abound, was once a "slate quarry" before any permanent buildings were built there.

Sam Bucca

nice info Frank, its nice to remember back when Somerville was a nice family city. Too many moonbats these days.

Frank Bucca

I'm fairly certain Jimmy was referring to the bowling alley that was located behind the Woodbridge Hotel Actually, as I recall, attached to the hotel. When the hotel came down so went the alleys.
Me and my friends bowled a few strings there as teen-agers.

I was a pin-setter, 14 years old--[before automatics were invented]--at the Sacco alleys....paid us .03 cents a string.
Rarely escaped coming home with no bumps and bruises from flying pins.

Nobody, to my knowledge, has mentioned the first Bertucci's Restaurant; with the bocce court downstairs, on Elm Street--northside, just east of Davis.

Ron Newman

That first Bertucci's is now a Subway. I wonder if the bocce court is stlll there in the basement. When Bertucci's closed this location, they posted a notice promising that they would return to the Davis area with a full-service restaurant. They never did.

The Good Ole Days

On a hot summers night, our generation would be playing in the street, kick ball, whiffle ball, Outs, red rover or you name it our generation did it. Not too much to worry about traffic since only 1 household member drove. Then all of a sudden you could hear on the street of the musical sounds coming from the "WHIP".

The "WHIP" would come around almost every night and when we heard the sounds we would run home to get some money from our one parent that was home, the other was working two jobs. When the "WHIP" turned the corner to our street or came down from the other end of the street, everyone would try to be first in line and figure out where he was going to stop.

If you were home on a school day back in the "Good Ole Days" you would remember hearing a distinctive voice yell out, "FRESH FUIRTS AND VEGTABLES". It was Mr. Gorefind driving his three sided open green truck with crates of vegetables and fruits stacked up and down the both sides of the truck as well as the back. Mothers would come strolling out of their homes with their aprons on reaching in for a few dollars to buy the evenings vegetables. Mom would pick what she wanted and hand them over and they would be put on the scale, which swung from one corner of the truck.

Those were the "Good Ole Days".


When I tell kids about "The Whip," they can hardly believe that a truck delivered what was basically a tilt-a-whirl ride to your neighborhood, and competed with ice cream trucks for business. I suspect that liability laws put that out of business.

Frank Bucca

Someone mentioned the Moose at the corner of Highland and Central.

That was not the Moose, it was the a parking lot.
The Elks having relocated there from what is now the Greek Church on lower Central Street, opposite the CentraL Hospital.

The Moose Club was located at the Diamond Building, north side of Highland, going west from Cedar Street. Now gone from that site.

The huge Elk statue that adorned the Elk's grounds at lower Central Street was subsequently moved to their new abode at the corner of Highland and Central.

Since that site was demo'd the Elk statue now adorns the grounds of the Wakefield Elks, and can be seen from Route 128.
All the names cited in this post---Pal Joeys,El Sids etc., fail to mention the Lounge's original was called "The 318"....its address on Broadway. It was once also called "Crusher Casey's"....a pro wrestler who bought the place.

My friends and I were there the night Buddy MacLean was killed . However we left before the "deed" occurred. He and his bodyguards exited the premises where they were gunned down outside.

His death ended the 1960's gang-war with the Charlestown--[brothers]- McLaughlin gang. Over 60 men lost their lives, including a friend of mine who graduated SHS with me in 1949. A nicer guy you would never meet. He hooked up with the Winter Hill gang after high school. All over someone's girlfriend up at Salisbury Beach where a Charletown hood got part of his ear bitten off, by her Winter Hill friend, for "hitting on her."
Another big fire was the paper company where two of our finest firefighters lost their lives.
The Reilly-Brickley firehouse, lower Broadway, was named in their honor.
If memory serves, it was The Arrow Paper company. Stand to be corrected on the name.

Cott Bottling Company was another big one.
Somerville Theater has been mentioned on this thread. The poster remembers paying .75 cents admission.

AS kids, every Sunday matinee, our admission cost was .11 cents.
A double feature...cartoon....previews of coming attractions, etc.

Adults went "dish" night to collect free piece at a time to complete a set.
As for the Aerosmith studio.....corner of Lowell and Albion Streets.

Actually the "studio" if it could be called that... was an empty garage st 129 Lowell Street; it fronted on to Woodbine Street around the northeast corner of the building.
About 100 yards, as the crow flies, from my house.

Frank Bucca

Not 129 Lowell Street....229 Lowell.
BTW----the "good old days" in Somerville were not so good during the 1930's "Great Depression."

Not just Somerville of course, but the whole country......and not so much for us kids, we didn't know any better....but, for our parents trying to provide the basic necessities of life.

Food, clothing, etc.


Don't forget about Sparks where the social security office is now. and speedy pizza which is now cristo's pizza. doesn't taste the same to me. Oh well I'll always have the memories of sparks , speedy's pizza and Aldo's bakery on the corner of Lowell and Highland. 5o cents for a loaf of Italian scali and A slice of Pizza. Nothing like it!!!


It's the East Cambridge Savings Bank!

Speedy's special

2 slices and a medium coke...$0.99...

Frank Bucca

When I was a youngster Aldo's Bakery was a Chinese Laundry.
The Chinese family lived in the back of the store.
Then, same building as you approached Lowell Street, different street numbers for different entrances to the building came Mobilia's Grocery, entrance to the apartments upstairs, and Egan's Drug Store at the corner.
Fred Egan bought that drug store from the Fermoyles.
Mike Bruno's Barber Shop was next on the opposite corner from Egan's.

Who can remember when the Somerville Hospital was just a grey clapboard building at the top of the hill.... before they bought up and demo'd all the houses down the hill to Highland Avenue.....and expanded their complex to the Avenue.

I was three years old, 1933, in the children's ward with a broken leg in that old building.

Those were the days, and beyond, when signs were posted outside..."HOSPITAL ZONE--QUIET."


Butchie's girlfriends name was Peg. She live on the 3rd floor o a three decker across from Buster's Store.



I remember well the grey clapboard structure(s) that constituted the original (1893) Somerville Hospital. I also remember--quite vividly actually, considering that I was only 3 at the time--the houses on the odd side of Tower Street being torn down. The one closest to the hospital (nearest to the top of the hill) had stained glass windows along its side facade which must have allowed light in where the staircase was. What a shame those windows were not saved.

I worked in the kitchen of the old wooden building from October 1975 until we moved into the new building in November 1976, and have a number of photos of the wooden building. I actually moved many of the utensils and other items from the old kitchen to the new one so the morning cook could get things going at 0430.

From our sunporch, you could look directly across into the Ward. I still recall seeing nurses taking temperatures of patients, etc. All of this was before the new North Building was opened.

The South Building (top of the hill) was built in 1931 and was all patient rooms until 1977 when the new Center Building was completed.

One memory which stands out was us going up the long fire escape staircase to the walk along the top of the connecting hallway between the two parts of the wooden building from which you got a great view of the Mystic Valley. I recall vividly watching the Chelsea Fire from there in October 1973 (incidentally, the last time a "Conflagration" was declared in Massachusetts).

BTW, the slate quarry you refered to down by Vernon Street was, I believe, Adams Ledge.



What do you think the first Somerville Police Journal dated back in the 1870's would be worth????


I have no idea. Put it on eBay with a high reserve (say $1000) and see where the bidding goes. Worst case scenario, someone meets the reserve price. If not, you aren't obligated to sell it.

As with anything else, it's never what the first bidder is willing to pay, but rather whatever amount the second bidder is.


Frank Bucca

Right,JAR....Adam's Ledge....extended all the way to the Evergreen Street area.

Talking about ledges.
Doubt if any poster here remembers McCarthy's Ledge--[not sure how it got its name]

It was a huge rocky chasm with ledge walls that rose on high--[at least in our young eyes] to form a "canyon" rim.

It was located where the Mystic Housing Projects now stand.

It had a natural spring coming out of a vertical wall. As kids we use to go there to catch snakes and frogs....and, drink from that spring.

Come every 4th of July, the city, or maybe the county...not sure which...built a huge bonfire of old railroad ties, in the center of that chasm.

A neighbor who owned a big open truck, would pile us kids and our parents into that truck to view the bonfire. That was the 1930's.
BTW--Anyone remember the Bal-A-Roue-(sp?)-- roller skating rink on Mystic Avenue, where the Century Bank now stands?

Or Johnson's Donuts where the Mystic Housing Activity Center now stands?

My wife still has her roller skates stored up in our attic.

Ken Krause

Speaking of the Bal-A-Roue, check out this vintage video of skaters there:

Al "Statue of Limitations" Chiozzi

This site is a trip. Haven't lived in Somerville in 30 years but feel like I'm back there. I recently (at 55 years old) got a "Ball Square" tattoo on my ankle. I live in Wisconsin, so that imprimatur usually requires some explanation. When I state some of the realities of Ball Squre, they think I'm making stuff up. I remember drinking in the Willow one day (I think I was 17 but Franna was the bouncer - and he's younger than me). My drinking partner (who sha'll remain nameless - think Brown Schoolyard) ran out of money. He did what any "right" thinking Somervillian would do at the time, he went across the street, burgularized Mitchell's and sold the goods. He was back in about 20 minutes. I chastized him becaused I loved Mitch and George, and he left them money later. Somerville was a school of higher education. Small pleaures, like getting cigs and the Record-American at LePores for my mother, rest easy on the mind. Getting shot at while disconnecting cable at an East Somerville residence, well ... less so. Other places: The Greeks, The Arcade (on the tracks), Lambro's, Herb's (needs no further), Johnnies FoodMart, the Bike Shop. Lastly, who stole the Ball Square Ball(atop the Willow)? Me, Harry, Kevin, Mark, Artie, Jeff, Jack and others. The "girls" were at a bachelorette party and we had nothing to do. I was supposed to kick it off it's mount and down to Jeff in the "getaway" car. We didn't know it was made of plastic, so my foot went through it and we only got half of the ball.

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