Notable Boston Meteorologists From Back In the Day

Boston television has turned out some outstanding meteorologists through the years with one of the best periods taking place in the 1970s and 80s...

Don Kent, of WBZ-TV Channel 4, led the way with his commanding presence and amazing skill at getting the forecast right. Pleasant  but serious and slightly monotone with an Underdog/Wally Cox kind of voice, Kent was born to be a weatherman. He knew the terminology like the back of his hand and seemed like one who could have taught the art and science of this profession at a college. He didn't like it at all when the anchors teased him about being wrong (didn't happen that much, though!). Because of his expertise, Kent quickly became a household name. When the subject was weather, it's almost like everyone in the Boston area said collectively, "What did Don Kent forecast?"

Kent died on March 2, 2010. We miss his gentlemanly presence and legendary forecasts.

Other favorites:
Bruce Schwoegler, Channel 4. Slightly hyper and ultra confident, he had good hair and a sense of humor --and was very entertaining.  He also had one of the all-time great laughs! Met him once at the former Ararat restaurant in Watertown, Mass., and he seemed like the nicest person in the world. Funny and full of personality, sort of like your favorite uncle.

Bob Copeland, WCVB-TV, Channel 5. A real gentleman who was clearly into his craft and every bit as accurate as Don Kent. He had a cool 1970s look with curly hair and a mustache. Bob had an understated delivery, but his message always came across just fine to us viewers that wanted the truth and nothing but the truth when it came to local weather.

Bill Hovey, Channel 5. He had a bit of a nerd look with a huge forehead and big glasses, but, wow, what a fantastic weatherman. I'd rather have Hovey on than any of the present day Hollywood movie star-like, Ken and Barbie doll meteorologists! Seemed like an incredibly nice man, too.

Two weathermen from back in the day still grace the airwaves to this very day: Harvey Leonard on Channel 5 (used to be on Channel 7) and Barry Burbank, still with Channel 4. Both are phenomenal meteorologists!

Who was your favorite Boston weatherman during the 1960s or 1970s?  Feel free to share your thoughts here!

Loving Lechmere in Cambridge, Mass.


Lechmere, a retail chain in New England, seemed destined to last forever. It didn't, going out of business in 1997.

But this amazing store will, at least, last forever in my mind.  How could a New England household name-caliber store with everything you could ever need or want under the sun at great prices go out of business? Very sad, indeed.

The original store at 88 First St. in the "Lechmere" section of Cambridge, Mass. (now known, as Lechmere Square), remains strongest in my mind.  With a no-frills, plain facade and a palace of high quality merchandise inside, I remember, most prominently, the audio and television department on the left near the front entrance and the conveyor belt to the right delivering merchandise to you from the second floor. As a kid, I always wanted to visit that second floor. Was it Santa's elves working up there, or some guy named Joe? Did they work in the dark up there while dodging spider webs, or was it posh with a game room and snack bar with pizza and ice cream? I once heard someone belch from up there, so perhaps it was the latter.

Further back in the store -- past the appliances and luggage -- near the lighting department was a terrific toy section with every board game, G.I. Joe, stuffed toy animal and stone age electronics game (compared to what is out there now) you could imagine -- why, to me it was like a kid walking into a toy store coming here!

Although the colorful holiday lights, beautiful artificial Christmas trees, and even-more-expanded toy section during the Christmas season brought incredible joy, I also loved the Washington's Birthday time when Lechmere offered full-size Table Talk cherry pies for, as I recall, 10 cents!

The help was dedicated and knowledgeable with some employees making it a career here. Our Arlington neighbor, Charlie Linskey, was a good guy who worked the Cambridge location for many years and reflected the hard-working presence of the Lechmere staff.  Additionally, the owners -- the Cohen family -- would often walk around the store interacting with customers. Don't you miss those days when the customer mattered most and the owners went out of their way to make you feel important and wanted?   I certainly do.

Seemed like a lot of straight-shooting, decent, working-class son-of-a-guns shopped and worked here. Maybe it's a sign of the times, but so many people today seem to walk around stores in a daze -- like they are the only ones in the store -- while glued to their cell phones or social media devices. Back then, customers came to Lechmere Sales with a brisk step and a purpose, spending wisely their hard-earned money and loving their local Lechmere store as if it was a close friend. This was real-life "social media" at its finest back!

We, unfortunately, lost this close retail friend. But, as mentioned, you can never take away the special memories of a place like this and I plan to embrace this happy constituent of my childhood, forever.

Boston Area Steak Houses of Yesteryear

The trend today is the upscale steak house, but back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the family-friendly steak house reigned in our Boston area neighborhoods.

Most were chains, but were so integrated with the feel of our towns and cities that people didn't put on their snob hats and put down the corporate presence. Heck, we just wanted a good steak!

Some of those steak houses were:
Newbury Steak House, Boston
Rib Room, Hotel Sonesta, Cambridge
Valle's Steak House in Chestnut Hill and Saugus
JBs Steak House, Newton
Colorado Public Library, Brookline
Buddy's Sirloin Pit, Harvard Square, Cambridge
Bonanza Steak House, Burlington, Mass.
Green Ridge Steak House, Nashua, N.H. (right next to the landmark Green Ridge Turkey Farm, this expansion didn't last too long at all!)
York Steak House, various mall locations

By the way, nice to see locally-owned steak houses like Frank's Steak House in Cambridge, Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington and the Wildwood Steakhouse in Marlboro still thriving!

Boston Area Chinese Restaurants That Are No Longer There

I love all Chinese restaurants -- the fancy, the kitschy, the plain, the Americanized. When the food is great, it's great... and when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

Unfortunately, some of our most beloved Boston area Chinese restaurants are no longer with us. Here are some of them that I miss dearly (well, maybe about 50 percent of them):

Lanai Island, Waltham, Mass.
Royal Hawaiian, Burlington, Mass.
Sun Luck, Burlington
Pacific Hut, Burlington Mall, Burlington
Joyce Chen (the first one on Memorial Blvd.), Cambridge, Mass.
Bamboo Hut, Lexington, Mass.
Peking Gadren, Lexington
Weylu's, Saugus, Mass (the Disneyland of Chinese restaurants; what a scene!)
Aku Aku, Cambridge and Boston, Mass.
The Diamond Head, Saugus
Dave Wong's China Sails, various Boston area locations
Kon Tiki Ports, Sheraton Boston, Boston
Chin's Village, Wellesley, Mass.
Peking on the Mystic, Medford, Mass.
The Aloha, Hingham, Mass.

What are some of your favorite closed Boston Chinese restaurants? Share your memories with us!

Recollections of Bailey's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor

Ice cream is inherently cold, but Bailey's in Boston and Belmont, Mass., always made us feel warm inside The old-fashioned ice cream parlor look and the absolutely amazing hot fudge and butterscotch sundaes served in silver-plated dishes are the precious moments I remember most. Many of the indoor ice cream spots today seem too self-conscious, even pretentious -- and definitely overpriced. Bailey's, on the other hand, was as comfortable as an old shoe. No pun intended, but Bailey's had a soul (you know, shoe, soul...OK, let's move on...).  Bailey's probably had more to do with the ice cream places our moms and dads frequented in the 1930s and 1940s; it's nice this trip back in time lasted into the 60s, 70s and 80s during the prime of our childhood and young adult years. There was a certain innocence about Bailey's that just can't be duplicated. I miss it greatly.

If I had to choose one place that carries on the Bailey's tradition it would be Cabot's in Newton, Mass. I don't think the ice cream is as good as Bailey's, but I love the authentic ice cream parlor look.

WBZ AM 1030 Boston As An Adult Contemporary Music Station

WBZ AM radio 1030 in Boston, Mass., has a stellar reputation as a news and talk station today, but how many of you remember the legendary adult contemporary music format that livened the airwaves during the 1960s, 70s and 80s?

Yes, WBZ still had a good dose of news, weather and sports and nighttime talk shows, but the music format and its personalities were for the memories books, too.  What I remember: the day started out with Dave Maynard with his "Maynard in the Morning" show, followed by Carl DeSuze mid-mornings, and Larry Justice and the "Halls of Justice" in the afternoon. Each personality had a distinct delivery. Maynard was like your favorite uncle, able to connect with staff and audience. He wasn't loud like some of his contemporaries, and didn't need to be. He was clever without having to rely on a gimmick. It was almost like he was broadcasting from his living room. 

DeSuze had a flawless veteran radio presence that combined a measured formality with, more prominently, a warm, unique, comforting broadcasting style of his own.  Everyone around here knew the name DeSuze and seemed to love his classic one-for-the-ages radio voice.  Justice had a twinkle in his voice, a great sense of humor, an innate sense of when to talk over the music and a mid-tempo delivery that was good enough to liven up the afternoon drive-time.  I remember him introducing a Carpenters song, "Close to You," as memorable as the Burt Bacharach song itself! 

I seem to remember a block of news before Guy Manilla took over the 6 p.m. hour with his thoughtful, almost intellectual sports radio show. The quality of callers was just amazing, no doubt encouraged by Manilla's knowledge of sports and command of the English language.  The live wire, unforgettable Jerry Williams had a nighttime talk show that entertained, educated and sometimes inflamed local listeners with his controversial subject matters. He was no doubt a precursor to many of the opinionated talk show hosts of today.  

The humorous Larry Glick held the graveyard shift and became a legend with his easygoing style and "Glick University" personal encyclopedic knowledge. I loved it when a caller asked Larry "How are you doing?" and he then tapped on the table and said, "Wait a minute, let me check!"

I know WBZ featured some other great personalities through the years like Norm Nathan (a personal favorite, a dear person and one I recall best from WHDH and WEEI), Bruce Bradley (often regarded as one of the best local radio personalities of all-time), Dick Summers, Jefferson Kaye and Paul Perry, but this is the lineup I remember best.  How about you?

Sweet Memories of Russo's Candy House in Saugus, Mass.

Many times in the 1960s and 1970s, we would stop at Russo's Candy House on Route 1 in Saugus, Mass., after visiting my grandmother at her apartment in Lynn and assisted living quarters apartment in Peabody.  Coming to this warm and inviting white colonial house -- with an incredible, beautifully displayed variety of sweets -- was sort of like going to another grandmother's house.  Sweet, little old ladies always greeted us with a big smile and friendly customer service while we chose amongst the ice blue candy mints, fruit slices, penny candy, boxes of chocolates and homemade ice cream. What a wonderful experience coming here as a child!  I can still recall those magical chocolate aromas.

One day, Russo's was no longer there. Eventually, the colonial-style house was torn down to make way for a bank.  Better this happened when I was an adult than as a kid -- that would have been so sad to have a childhood favorite place shut down during childhood.  Come to think of it, seeing that building coming down as a adult actually produced a tear in my eye and a knot in the stomach.

I understand Russo's opened at another location in Saugus, but the Route 1 landmark will forever be in my warmest memories and sweetest dreams.

Thinking About The Pewter Pot Restaurant...

For a chain, the Pewter Pot resonated with personality. With waitresses dressed in Revolution era dresses, colonial theme wallpaper, post and beam ceilings and the best muffins and New England clam chowder on earth, the Pewter Pot felt like a "townie place" for the George Washington set.  I loved the Arlington, Lexington and Burlington locations. The Franklin burgers were phenomenal!

When graduating journalism school with seemingly no future at all, I inquired about a job in the Pewter Pot management trainee program. Some slick, aggressive guy with a pencil-thin mustache told me that working at the Pewter Pot was my future. He stated the usual  pep rally stuff like it's hard work and you'll struggle at times, but, ultimately, that I would love working there 65 hours a week at an anemic salary.

It was then and there that I decided to stick with journalism and just be a customer at the Pewter Pot.  I soon secured a job at a local newspaper -- not only editing the paper at 10K a year with no benefits, but also delivering it in my Ford Escort to the local stores. Better career days eventually evolved, but sometimes I wonder what life would have been like working at the Pewter Pot. Ultimately, I often came to the conclusion that it was a nice to place to visit, but not to live there!

Child World Toy Store, Medford, Mass.

As a kid, I would have preferred a mom and pop toy store with the jolly, personality-filled owner, but the Child World retail toy chain, nevertheless, had a special place in my heart.

Truthfully, not much of an upgrade over the generic Kay Bee Toys and its often disinterested customer service ("Hey dude, it's a job..."), Child World did have more inventory and a convenient Wellington Circle Medford location. Here you could have it all: the Easy Bake Oven, Rockem Sockem Robots, Close 'N Play toy phonograph, LiteBrite, Spirograph, the Electroshot shooting gallery, etc. It was here I bought a magic set with such a strong smell of polyvinylchloride that I have to wonder if the powerful aroma affected my grades at the Parmenter Elementary School in Arlington.  Probably not, I am completely normbal now.

The Wonderful Aroma of Brewers Yeast at Arlington Health Foods

You have to wonder if the original Arlington Health Foods on Mass Ave. in Arlington Mass., was the basis for comedian Jackie Mason's famous quote: "Have you ever seen the people that work in health food stores who load themselves up with alfalfa sprouts and carrot juice? They all look sick and emaciated. None of them look healthy. In fact, the only healthy person in the entire health food store is the owner sitting in the back stuffing his face with a pastrami on rye."

I honestly don't know if the owner of Arlington Health Foods liked pastrami sandwiches, but I remember the hired help not looking healthy at all, and being occasionally snippy and quite preachy about what was  best to eat.  With the putrid aroma of Brewers Yeast and other cardboard-tasting delicacies, stopping by Arlington Health Foods was never pleasant to me. After buying a multivitamin with dessicated liver, I had then decided that going cross town to the Dairy Queen for a  Dilly Bar would be a far happier option!

Boston's 'Wish', WSSH, for Beautiful Music!

If you liked Mantovani, Percy Faith, Perry Como and Doris Day, it didn't get any better than WSSH-FM 99.5 FM  in Lowell Mass.

While WJIB 96.9 (now 96.9 "Boston Talks") reigned as the king of "muzak," WSSH outlasted other beautiful music stations like WCOZ 94.5 (now Jamn' 94.5!), WBOS 92.9, and WWEL 107.9 (now Kiss 108 FM!). The automated beautiful music station probably benefited most from a better mix of elevator music, good sounding announcers and a strong signal. For some reason, everything has sounded good on the 99.5 signal.

Most of the instrumental music faded in the early 1980s, giving way to more of an adult contemporary format, featuring familiar artists like John Denver, Neil Diamond, Anne Murray and the Carpenters. Delilah Rene had a radio show on WSSH before going syndicated with her famous nightly song request and dedication show. The 50,000 watt blowtorch of soothing sounds really came into its own, however, in the late 80s when WSSH moved to Woburn and featured some fantastic live local talent, especially Jordan Rich. Today Rich is well known as a talk show host on WBZ AM Boston.

Ratings eventually tanked and smooth jazz, country music (WKLB) and eventually classic music WCRB took over the airwaves at 99.5.  Those ensuing formats have all sounded good (actually I couldn't stand the cloying smooth jazz station), but I miss most...

WISSHHHHHH...99.5!

The Twangy Charm of the Blue Star Lounge, Saugus, Mass.

The Blue Star Lounge on Route 1 in Saugus, Mass., fit quite well into the "anything goes" presence of this Route 1 area.  Those familiar to Route 1 in Saugus and Lynnfield know there are many tacky, yet endearing unique destinations and attractions, including a huge orange dinosaur at Route 1 Mini Golf, plastic cows at the Hilltop Steak House, and a "Leaning Tower of Pizza," at the Prince Pizzeria.  The Blue Star had a down and out, dark look, and featured some truly talented local country and western music acts like the John Penny Band and the Bobby Shepard Band. The waitresses were friendly and the atmosphere really non-threatening, despite some ignorant people who had never been that stated otherwise. Although not much of a lounge person, I really miss the talent that came out of this place -- and not having to travel to, say, Oklahoma to hear live country music.

Anyone Remember Gilchrist's Department Store?

The former Filene's and Jordan Marsh department stores were retail landmarks at Downtown Crossing in Boston, Mass., but does anyone remember Gilchrist's? This Boston department store wasn't as high end as Filene's or Jordan Marsh, but it wasn't Woolworth's either.

Gilchrist's did become sort of a household name in the Boston area, probably finishing in third place behind Filene's and Jordan Marsh. I remember this big department store being of a very solid nature -- a place where you wouldn't leave disappointed. They sold clothing, furniture, jewelry, shoes, housewares and, I think, some electronics.  Gilchrist's success was so good that they eventually branched out into Massachusetts towns and cities like Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Medford, Quincy, Waltham, Stoneham, Cambridge, and Dorchester (actually part of Boston).  I surmise that all those shopping malls built in the 1970s must have played a factor in Gilchrist's eventual demise. Or perhaps it was too much retail expansion into the suburbs? Whatever the case, Gilchrist's suffered and went bankrupt in the late 1970s.

It's funny how time makes something become more popular or just become forgotten. Sadly, Gilchrist's, for me, anyway, falls into that second category.

The Fantasia Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass.

As kids, we recognized Fantasia as a great Walt Disney movie, but also knew that there was nothing "goofy" about the Fantasia Restaurant at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Mass.

 Looking back, Fantasia might have been the epitome of an old school restaurant: large-sized, carpeted dining and functions rooms (the latter slightly tacky in a 60s/70s sort of way), beautiful music in the background, a personable "Hi honey" wait staff, and tasty chicken, steak and seafood dishes that never failed.

I remember my Dad would go here with his teacher and school administration friends; they found the setting perfect for good conversation and laughs. Although the Fantasia food was quite good, the service was even better. An established wait staff rarely slipped up and knew many of their customers. This paved the way for being confident that you could experience here a great ideal family dinner, graduation, wedding and reception, Bar Mitvah, birthday party, Communion, etc. It was always nice to have a near-retirement, kind waitress focused on the customer instead of some "I'll take-any-job" employee being totally fixated on, say, what Lovin' Spoonful album to buy at Music Land after work.

Interesting to note, too, that Fantasia was only minutes from the war protests and various counter culture elements in Harvard Square in the 1960s, but felt like a warm, safe placed a million miles away from a changing world. Fantasia really felt like the restaurant version of "Leave it to Beaver!"

Old-Time Boston Kids Television Shows


Once upon a time when we had only a few television stations to watch and an anemic antenna that sometimes brought us picture clarity, we enjoyed, immensely, some of the kids shows that graced the Boston television scene.

Willie Whistle hosted an afternoon kids television show on WSBK-TV Channel 38. Dressed as a clown, he had a high-pitched "whistle" voice that defied proper male voice development. Entertaining while also capable of being a major source of irritation, we couldn't get enough of Willie Whistle. He was one-of-a-kind:  how many clowns did you know that sounded like a whistle?  We always wondered who played Willie Whistle. Someone once told me it was former Ch. 38 Movie Loft Host Dana Hersey, but I don't believe that for a moment. Dana had one of the lowest voices of all-time and I personally don't think that he would have dressed up in a clown suit and show the octave range of Mariah Carey.

Rex Trailer hosted the wonderful Boomtown kids show on WBZ, Channel 4 Boston, that offered a western theme -- perfectly compatible with Boston, of course. Truth be told, Rex Trailer with that unforgettable smile, twinkle in his eye, the cowboy outfit and guitar-in-hand, created an absolutely fantastic kids show. Proof: if you were invited to be a guest on Boomtown, you were cool. Sgt. Billy came along later in the show to provide extra yuks. Always loved the opening when Rex would bellow, "Howdy Folks," and the kids would yell back, "Howdy Rex!"  The show's theme song was quite memorable, too:


Howdy there folks, we're glad to see you in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!


There's a lot of folks who'd like to greet you in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!


You can bet we'll have lots of western fun and excitement for you.
We'll ride and rope,do a square dance and shoot a gun
and we'll sing a song or two!


Come along folks 'cause we're about to start the fun in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!


From six to sixty there's something for everyone in
Boom, Boom, Boomtown!


So dosy-do and swing around,
grab your gal and promenade down to
Boom,.........BOOM,...............BOOMTOWN!

YEEHAH!!!!!!  


Major Mudd dressed up as an astronaut on this Channel 7 Boston kids show, perhaps riding the wave of the incredible advances in the NASA program during that time. The Major was pretty laid-back. came up with fun games for the kids, and showed some really cool cartoons, none of which I can remember. I just know they were cool.

Bunker Hill was a craggy old train conductor that hosted a kids show on Channel 56. He came across as the ultimate character actor -- and he certainly had the right "local" name for a Boston television show. He had pretty good interaction with the kids, but I remember his replacement Bob Glover was even better (no disrespect to Bunker Hill).

Bozo the Clown had national origins, but Frank Avruch played the local role on WHDH-TV Channel 5 in Boston. Frank was a marvelously talented broadcaster  and the show became nationally syndicated in the late 1960s. Frank was best known as Channel 5's "Man About Town" representing the station at cultural and community events. As a nine-year-old I remember meeting him at a party hosted by Boston radio great Norm Nathan. After spotting him at the party, I looked at my dad and said "Look, there's Bozo the Clown." He was not pleased!

Fowl Memories of Fontaine's in West Roxbury, Mass.

Fontaine's, on the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury, Mass., brought in crowds of locals that absolutely fell in love with the home style and hearty chicken dishes as well as the flashing spastic chicken neon sign outside. The last few years weren't good at all, but what can never be taken away is the family-friendly atmosphere, wonderful old-time waitresses and that magical chicken. Good news: Cheryl Sullivan, who is about to open Cruisers on Main Street restaurant in Walpole, Mass., has obtained the fried chicken recipe from Fontaine's, and will feature it on the comfort food menu. We'll keep you posted on when Crusiers opens!

Old-Time Boston/New England Radio and Television Ad Jingles and Slogans

I love jingles. To be specific, I especially have an affinity for the old-time radio and television jingles that could be heard during the 1960s and 1970s.  The sometimes cheesy singers, the memorable hooks and a lack of the in-your-face, bombastic ad jingles of today made for some very effective advertising. I know most of these ads brought us to the given businesses, including restaurants, amusement parks, department and furniture stores and even car dealerships.  Here are some warm Boston memories of local television and radio ad jingles and slogans from yesteryear:

Do you remember...
Bradlee's department store with the ad singers stating that chipper, know-it-all inventory manager "Mrs. B is Buying?"

The 1960s-style "In Crowd" swing-like jingle of Dave Dinger Ford in Braintree, Mass., asking "How does Dinger do it?"

The Thompson's Clam Bar (Harwichport, Mass.) jingle, "We're going to Thompson's Clam Bar 'cause that's where the very best clams are!"

The faint and anemic-sounding,  semi-muted tropical-like jingle for the Island Queen (the ferry from Falmouth to Martha's Vineyard)?

Whalom Park (now-closed amusement park in Lunenberg, Mass.) for "A whale of a time?"

The Filene's department store jingle that spelled out "F-I-L-E-N-E-S?"

Barbo's Furniture (Burlington, Mass.), a classic car radio ad jingle, with the memorable easy-listening sung line, "Barbo's, Barbo's.. the furniture you can live with happily ever after?"

Christo's Greek-American restaurant in Brockton, Mass., with its "Home of the Greek salad king" slogan (still is, to this very day!)?

And, of course, the over-the-top "There's a Lot to Like About Lowell" jingle, extolling the incredible virtues of that Massachusetts city?

Please feel free to share your memories of Boston/New England ad jingles by posting a comment here!

Memories of the Cottage Crest Restaurant in Waltham, Mass.

"Hey, Larry is resigning from our company because he's sick of this place. Let's give him a going away party at the Cottage Crest!"

"Wow, Tammy just got promoted to director of our nuts and bolts division. She'll be leaving Boston to work at our plant in the remote Island of Rumboogie.  Let's give her a going away party at the Cottage Crest!"

Great news, little Billy raised his grades from an "F" to a "D"! Let's celebrate with family and friends at the Cottage Crest!"

The Cottage Crest in Waltham, Mass., was best known for its functions.  The Cottage Crest upstairs dining room was a classic with friendly waitresses, nice wall-to-wall rugs, easy-on-the-eyes decor in a dimly-lit setting, appealingly bland music playing in the background, and a knack to prepare mass-produced chicken, steak and seafood that actually tasted good (until the last few years). Everything seemed so old-fashioned. If they had sofas here, they probably would have been covered with protective vinyl.  Some of the waitresses were here forever, and the management was always so gracious.

I wish we were able to give the Cottage Crest a going away party for all they did for us in suburban Boston!

Remembering Don Gillis, of WCVB Channel 5 Boston

Don Gillis had that sort of personal touch that made his Channel 5 Boston sports reports sound like he was having a conversation with you in your living room.  From 1962 to 1983 as sports reporter, anchor and director, Gillis came across as a kind person, a true broadcasting professional who read with the best of them, and one that loved sports of all kinds. Whether it was Boston Red Sox baseball or local high school football, you could tell Gillis enjoyed reporting the sports of the day. He also had wonderful interaction with all on-air staff and never had to resort to low-brow humor or excessive ego to make a name for himself. He died a few years ago, leaving behind some wonderful memories for those of us that had the honor of watching him on television.

Editor's note: Mike Lynch has been a terrific successor -- following the tenets of what made Gillis special -- and Channel 5 is to be commended for letting him grow into the position to become one of the best.

Zayre, a Former New England-Based Department Store


Does anyone remember the New England-based department store chain, Zayre? Sort of like an earlier-day Walmart, Zayre sold virtually everything under one roof. Local comedian Norm Crosby was a Zayre spokesperson (his beloved schtick was using big words incorrectly) on local radio and television commercials. I always loved riding the motorized horse in front of the store at Fresh Pond in Cambridge (for the record, I was a kid then, not an adult). "Sports Huddle" Boston radio legend Eddie Andelman had a great spoof in the 70s on Zayre called Zaire ( a region in Africa!).  Great memories of this place, would love to hear your experiences at Zayre!

Grover Cronin's Department Store, Waltham, Mass.

As a kid, I couldn't stand Grover Cronin’s Department Store in Waltham, Mass. I would have rather been at the Child World toy store in Medford.  It just stunk having to shop for underwear (perhaps that sentence should be rephrased).

In retrospect, I wish we had Grover Cronin's back. To have a locally-owned, large-sized department store that was every bit was good as the national chains was truly impressive. The look of Grover Cronin's wasn't cheap-looking like Woolworth's, and the merchandise was always top-notch. Add a staff that was  generally proud to work there, and you can understand why stores like this are so badly needed today. Pride of ownership is a timeless quality that sometimes seems so far away in today's world.

The First Shattuck's Hardware Store in Downtown Arlington, Mass.

Shattuck's Hardware in Arlington, Mass., remains a thriving local hardware store to this very day, but does anyone remember the original location in downtown Arlington?  The first store was a trip back in time with old wooden floors sprinkled with sawdust, a big head counter, lousy fans, heavy smoking employees and the wonderful smell of poisonous chemicals within what seemed like 15 square feet. One of its employees, Ed, knew everything about hardware supplies and beyond, and would frequently make free house calls to help "the neighbor." Ed's voice was lower than Lou Rawl's resonant tones and his likability in Arlington was about as high as could be -- a beloved local who everyone knew.

More Memories of Closed Boston, New England Restaurants

City-Data, one of our favorite sites to find out more information about towns and cities in the United States, has a thread on closed Boston area and New England restaurants. Yes, I started it, but the best part is the reader feedback.  Some of these restaurants struck an emotional chord like the Bel Canto pizza chain, and Elsie's and the Averof in Cambridge, Mass. But wait, that's not all!  There's another City-Data thread entitled "Favorite restaurants that are no longer there." Some of these include memories of the Magic Pan in Burlington, Mass., Eddie's Diner in Quincy, Mass., the Pewter Pot chain, Buttrick's Ice Cream in Arlington, Mass., and of course, the immortal York Steak House. Enjoy these fun threads!

New England Restaurants That Are No Longer With Us

Thought you'd like to know that our flagship site, VisitingNewEngland.com, features two pages of restaurants in the New England area that are no longer with us. The list has grown quite a bit through the years, including some wonderful feedback from readers. From Schrafft's Tea Room in Boston to the Green Ridge Turkey Farm in Nashua, we've covered quite a bit of ground!

You can log onto our first page of New England restaurant memories here and the second page of restaurants no longer with us here. As always feel free to contribute!

The Famous Jim Sands and His Saturday Night Oldies Show!

The "Famous Jim Sands" was born to be on radio. Best known for his time on WHDH 850 AM, Sands had one of those made-for-radio voices -- resonant and driving, but personable. Next to the legendary Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg, Sands had the best terrific local oldies show I had ever heard (on Saturday night for several years in the 1970s and 1980s). Sands was also a fill-in weekday announcer who sounded better than many of the regular radio show hosts. Having met Sands once at an on-location Arlington, Mass., broadcast of his oldies show, I remember him being a humorous sort, but quite humble and with an innate ability to connect with his audience.  Does anyone else remember Sands that way?

Popular Posts