This investment firm on King Street used to be a big old rambling yellow dump of an apartment complex that was one of the most notorious party houses in Hamp around 1980. Oh if those walls could talk! They would tell of the building's less elegant but more fun filled days when Northampton used to be known as a rowdy, stoney, bohemia. It still is if you know where to look. That was before the bankers, the yuppies and the rich New Yorker's took over.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
The Shelburne Falls coffee joint next door used to be the Jim Dandy chicken shack. Does the Jim Dandy chain even still exist? I don't think so. It was an unsuccessful offshoot of Friendly's and at one time there were outlets in Hamp, Westfield, Springfield and perhaps elsewhere.
My main memory of the Jim Dandy chicken franchise is during a particularly druggy period when I was living in Mason Square, which is the black ghetto in Springfield. One time I recall I was sitting and waiting to do a deal in the Jim Dandy located in the Square because my nearby apartment was under surveillance. With me was my partner in the transaction, a junkie with a five year old daughter. The girl was the cutest little thing and smart too, as she kept stealing the fried clams I was eating. She had never tried fried clams before but instantly loved them from her first bite, distracting me with her clever patter and cute smile and all the while swiping the clams. I remember thinking at the time, "Kid, you deserve better role models than us," and I felt sorry for her and let her eat all the clams. That was a few decades ago, and I wonder where that girl that charmed me out of my Jim Dandy fried clams is now?
Hope you're okay kid, wherever you are.
In the 1980's and 90's there were repeated scandals in Springfield over unproven claims that the Springfield Redevelopment Authority was allegedly burning down their own properties for the insurance money. It was nothing compared to the earlier scandals about unproven allegations over the allegedly set fires that leveled whole sections of Holyoke, but still bad enough for Valley Advocate reporter Al Giordano to rephrase Springfield's motto as "The City of Arsoned Homes." Of course when discussing political corruption in Western Mass the terms "unproven" and "alleged" are employed purely for legal reasons, not because anyone really wonders whether they are true.
When I got home Eamon called and said the Advocate article has his phone ringing off the hook. I mentioned seeing the Ox McCarthy plaque and photo at Donovan's Pub and he laughed. Eamon said that Ox McCarthy was "a treacherous bastard" who was rumored to have been a hit man for the Irish mafia in his youth. Attorney General Edward Brooke (later senator) once sent an agent named Lucille Hutton to investigate Ox and when she attempted to interrogate him in his bar he offered her a free drink with a Mickey Finn slipped in it, and a half hour later she had to be carried out of the bar and dumped in the back seat of her car to sleep it off. Ox declared that the next time Ed Brooke sent somebody around they would leave permanently unconscious. Eamon said that eventually Matty Ryan intervened and somehow got Brooke to back off and leave Ox alone. - from The Diary of J. Wesley Miller.