Many of the names and some of the descriptions in this blog have been changed to protect the guilty.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bullshitting to All Fields, Part 11

Yes! Finally a photo of Coliseum Charlie, our favorite Springfield Indians/Kings fan who took of his shirt every game. I wrote about him here, but I discovered a few things I discovered about Charles G. Thibault, thanks to this 1981 article:

Little did I know that he had been going to games since 1947, that he admitted drinking 12-15 beers a game (not counting pre- and post-game boozing at the Hob Nob), and that as a Conrail worker had the opportunity to root for the Indians at road games all over the northeast—especially Rochester, NY, where he was stationed in the early 1980s.

Oh, and the fact that there were once Coliseum Charlie T-shirts! I want one! (Nothing on ebay so far though.)

There are some great comments on Charlie on the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society Facebook page, including someone who remembers one night his “lady friend” taking off her shirt and swinging it around her head right along with him. And here’s a priceless story:  “One of the funniest Charlie episodes I saw had to be around 1966, and errant shot went over the glass and up into the section 8 area. Charlie must have had 3 beers going at once because the suds flew everywhere and over everyone. The coliseum erupted with a standing ovation. I miss those days indeed.”

Someone even remembers Charlie ending up on the ice one night. Can anybody verify this?

I do remember him getting married in a Civic Center ceremony on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983. I wasn’t there, but the date was November 26. The Indians pitched in to give the couple flowers, and coach Doug Sauter gave Charlie his Indians jacket. It’s unclear what became of the marriage. I believe his bride’s name was Melanie, but there was no wife listed in his 1995 obituary.

Also, from the same Facebook site: 

Goaltender Billy Smith is interviewed by Rollie Jacobs after the Kings won the 1971 Calder Cup.

Butch Goring holds the 1971 cup. Yes, that’s the late sportscaster Jack O’Neill in back.

Here is a shot from their stint as the Chicago Black Hawks farm team. Former Springfield Kings goaltender, Springfield Indians General Manager, and Springfield Falcons president Bruce Landon is on the right. (Former owner Peter Cooney is on the left.) Congratulations, Bruce, on being named to the American Hockey League Hall of Fame! Landon saved hockey in Springfield after the Indians moved to Worcester and became the Ice Cats in 1994. He secured the rights to a franchise here that same year and the Springfield Falcons were born. Now the Falcons are in last place in the Atlantic Division and dead last in the league in attendance. How much longer are they going to be around?

Here’s an update on Chicopee legend Bernard “Bunny” Murray (above), who I wrote about in “Shitting to All Fields, Part 10.” There is a movement afoot to erect a statue of Bunny so even after he dies, he will be waving to traffic in perpetuity. He was even featured on the WGGB news! Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos says he supports this movement. At last count, the online petition has almost 5,000 supporters. 

“New York, has the Statue of Liberty, Boston, has Fenway Park,” writes one supporter.  “Springfield has the Basketball Hall of Fame, Holyoke has the Volleyball Hall of fame, Agawam has Six Flags New England, us in Chicopee….We have BUNNY!!!”

One supporter wrote that when she worked at Westover Air Force Base he was on a cleaning crew that came in. That may have been his job at one time, but his real avocation is Chicopee’s goodwill ambassador.

Amazingly, petition signers include people from as far away as the Netherlands. “Your story has reached England!” announced one bloke. “Good luck with the statue!”

Two years ago I wrote about the North End gang wars of the 1980s and the “Swiss cheese” house that was in “Whops” territory on Donald Street and kept getting shot up by the Demon-Strators and the Spanish Lords. Remember Kirsten, the three-year old girl that almost got hit with a bullet that pierced her bedroom wall (above)? Here she is today, lucky to be alive:

Martin Luther King Jr. gave the commencement address at Springfield College in June of 1964. College President Glenn A. Olds (pictured on the upper right) was pressured by the FBI—and dozens of telephone threats against King—to rescind the invitation. Olds refused. On the day of the ceremony, a benefactor who was going to give a million-dollar check to the school at graduation summoned Olds to his home and tore up the check in the president’s face.

You can listen to Dr. King’s commencement address here.

David Bowie at the Civic Center in 1976. RIP, Ziggy. Ashes to Ashes, funk to funky, Stardust to Stardust.

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles at AIC in 1969

Steiger’s at Springfield Plaza

Speaking of Steiger’s…

Forbes and Wallace, and, at the X, Blake’s

Here is what that intersection looks like from roughly the same angle today, minus Blake’s, of course. That Gulf station on the right is now a Cumberland farms. Speaking of which, did you ever see that guy dancing outside the store? His name is Desmond Ashwell. At first I thought he was waiting for a bus or something, but no, he just likes to dance. Here he is downtown:

…and this is his story:

Another “new old” photo of Snowball the polar bear in 1967

Donkeys in the ravine at Forest Park

Fun on wheels. Yep, that’s the Rialto.

Check out the proprietor: yes, that’s none other than Ox McCarthy. Is there really a plaque and photo of him hanging in Donovan’s Pub in the Eastfield Mall? There is, according to the Diary of J. Wesley Miller, the late Sixteen Acres rabble rouser. Here’s a little Ox story, courtesy of Tommy Devine’s blog archives:

“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. 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. Some alcohol was sprinkled on her clothes, so that if she woke up and tried to tell the police that something had made her unconscious, she would be stinking of whiskey. Ox declared that the next time “that nigger” Ed Brooke sent somebody around he would send them back to Boston permanently unconscious. Eamon said that eventually Matty Ryan intervened and somehow got Brooke to back off and leave Ox alone.”

Okay, who misses The Acres’ Friendly’s? The Boston Road one is always swamped now and we were in there for an hour-and-a-half last time!

Here’s one from the original Acres’ Friendly on Parker Street:

The good old concerts at the Barney Amphitheater. The color one above is Diamondz in August of 1987.

And yes, it’s a good hill for sliding!

A 1984 Holyoke Community College production of Guys and Dolls at the Barney Amphitheater (above)

From the Facebook group “Springfield, 413 Then and Now,” the Barney Amphitheater being built in ’65:

Let's do lunch at the Gaslight!

I’ll leave you now with a special delivery (above). At our favorite University (then a college) in Sixteen Acres, this guy was a BBOC: a Big Boy on campus. Actually, this special delivery to The Quad, courtesy of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity, took place in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 10, 1979.