Thursday, November 15, 2007

It recently occurred to me that I have lived in the Boston area for over 25 years now, since I started as a freshman at Northeastern in the fall of 1982. Although I did spend some time at home in Rhode Island during my first couple of years at school, the lure of better co-op opportunities kept me in Boston after that. I have lived within the Route 495 belt ever since.

A lot of places have come and gone over the past quarter-century. As I was riding the train into town this morning, I was thinking about some places I particularly missed for one reason or another. Here's a list of seven Boston area establishments that I have a soft spot for.

Bailey's Ice Cream: When I was a kid, my family would occasionally make the hour drive from Pawtucket to Coolidge Corner in Brookline mostly to get a hot fudge sundae at Bailey's. A Boston institution for over a century, Bailey's made perhaps the greatest hot fudge sundae in the history of the universe. They served it in a silver bowl on a silver plate, and the bowl was so overflowing with ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream it would drip onto the plate where you could scoop it up. The hot fudge was the best I have ever tasted: smooth, chocolatey, sweet, but not too sweet. It was a little heaven on earth. The chain shut down about 20 years ago, but I'll never forget those sundaes.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace: Yeah, I know it's still there, but once upon a time the Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall area was home to dozens of locally owned, eclectic little shops. Rising rents pushed many of the small businesspeople out and the chains moved in. Honestly, if I want to go to the Sunglass Hut or Victoria's Secret, I can go to pretty much any mall in America. When I moved to Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace was a unique slice of Boston mixed with the historical site. Today, it's a mall with cobblestones.

Charlie's Cafeteria: Located in Kenmore Square, Charlie's fed this young Red Sox fan many a good, inexpensive meal prior to a game at Fenway Park. The double cheeseburger was the highlight, but there were many other good choices as well. If memory serves, Charlie's had a somewhat suspicious fire, was replaced by an IHOP, and then the entire block of buildings was knocked down to make way for the Hotel Commonwealth. I never really had as satisfying a pre-game meal until UBurger opened near the BU Bookstore.

Jordan's Furniture - Waltham: We have put plenty of money in Barry & Elliot's pockets over the years, but I always found the Natick store too darn big. The rows of furniture seemed to go on for miles, and it would become difficult to remember what we had seen. It was too much of a good thing.

The original Jordan's Furniture store on Moody St. in Waltham was probably 1/4 the size of the newer stores, but had a good selection of product and was much less overwhelming. The store was closed down a while back when the new Reading store opened. Whenever we talk about looking at furniture, I find myself wishing that the Waltham store was still an option.

Stuff-It's: This was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Harvard Square that made excellent wrap sandwiches. When I lived in Newton, I would often take the eight mile round trip bike ride along the Charles River bike path to Cambridge, grab a wrap for lunch or dinner and head back. Exercise and a reasonably healthy meal. What else could you want?

Shoppers World: I know this one is still around, too, but I'm talking about the original Shoppers World. It was one of the first outdoor shopping centers in the country, and was anchored by the flying-saucer shaped Jordan Marsh store. The center courtyard always seemed to have some activity going on and it made for a nice community gathering spot. The place had a great amount of uniqueness and charm to it.

The original shopping center closed in 1994 and was replaced with the current strip of big box stores. The new Shoppers World lacks any kind of character and would be just as at home in Houston or Boulder as it is in Framingham.

Eliot Lounge: The Eliot was a great bar at the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenues in Boston. Although it was probably best known as a post-Marathon destination for many of the runners, it was a fun place to hang out at any time of the year. Prior to the seventh game of the 1975 World Series, Sox starter Bill Lee famously said, "No matter what the outcome of the game, I'm going to the Eliot Lounge." It was replaced a few years back by an overpriced restaurant called Clio. This was a crime against humanity, as far as I'm concerned.


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