Tales From The Shovel Town

None of this is Good


There is that column in the Boston Herald; it is called, “Inside Track.”  It is written by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa.  It is sort of a gossip column. 

Occasionally, the column includes a segment titled, “Tales From The Naked City.”

It is fun reading – all tawdry and tightly packed and sexy and scintillating and relating all sorts of conduct in Boston, and by Boston area people, that is variously bad, amusing, and shocking.  Most of the players in the dramas are fairly well known and powerful.

Ms. Fee and Ms. Raposa don’t name names though.  

They keep the not so innocent anonymous. 

The columnists do, however, provide just enough of a description to get many thinking that they might have it figured out who is being described.  Just maybe. 

At the conclusion of each “Tales From The Naked City,” there is this line:  “And remember, no calls please. Because for once, our lips are sealed!”

So I was thinking about growing up in Easton and some bad behavior, and not so smart behavior, and ridiculous behavior – but really no hurtful behavior.  Just the type of behavior that when you reflect on it it is appropriate to shake your head and laugh.

Here, like in the “Naked City,” people will remain anonymous – or mostly anonymous. 

And unlike the “Naked City,” the people herein are citizens who live outside the spotlight. 

Okay, I run into a guy from the Class of 1984 the other night – and we got to talking about something that went down in Furnace Village in the early fall of 1975.  

Let’s gather here, and recognize that “The Furnace” has long been a bit wilder, tougher, rougher, and more “frontier” than other areas in town.   The gentleman with whom I was talking the other night grew up in Furnace Village. 

So, anyway, it was the ’75 World Series and our Boston Red Sox were playing the Cincinnati Reds.  

One of the young men in the Furnace – he was probably 14 or so – made the mistake of telling some of the other young men in the Furnace that he was rooting for the Reds. 

This turncoat was confronted and a demand was made of him to renounce his support and backing of the Cincinnati Reds.  He refused – repeatedly. 

Then it got bad.

A small gang of boys restrained the Reds fan with rope – against a tree. 

Then from a distance of 40 to 50 to feet from the tied up kid, they lobbed crabapples at him.

I have heard – though I did not confirm – that some sort of bucket was placed over the “Big Red” enthusiast, so as to make sure no serious damage was done – you know, eye or skull damage.

If so, how kind.

It seems that this kid, the one bound, was tough, and held out for a few minutes, before yelping that he no long supported the Cincinnati Reds. 

Not good.  None of this was good. 

I was thinking about the house party up at Mountain Road.  I’m thinking this was the spring of 1980. 

So, anyway, on his hands and knees in the back foyer of the house where the party was being held, was an OA student, a guy, slicing away at the carpet with a matte knife. 

When asked what he was doing, he looked up and responded that the carpet matched carpet with which he had outfitted the back of his car.   Apparently, he needed some replacement turf. 

You see, this is just wrong.  None of this is good. 

Senior night 1981.   Part of our late night revelry involved partying up at the “Lines” – on the stretch between Bay Road and Poquanticut Avenue. 

Anyway, during the night, one of my good buddies was not driving his car properly up at the Lines – and I’m thinking he had a Cutlass Supreme sedan – and the car starts ditching into a mini depression along the dirt road.    

So the car becomes ensnared in bushes and vines and all, and it is just sort of hanging there. 

My buddy manages to crawl out of the car – and not knowing what to do he just leaves his vehicle suspended over the tiny valley.  He goes home.

Next day, late morning, we are up there – and his father, a no nonsense guy, is up there as well.  My friend’s father is not happy.   He is looking at the car, looking at his son – and then with two hands he gives his son an offensive lineman push. 

Kind of tough to blame the dad for doing this. 

The car had to get towed. 

You see, none of this is good.  It is just not good. 

Okay, I have to relate again a story I told sometime back in this space. 

It needs retelling – and I’ll add a bit to it. 

We’re going back about 20 years ago now. It is during the winter – during a span of several days of bitter cold that had left the ponds of Easton frozen with thick ice. 

So a guy I know – he was driving a Volkswagen Scirocco – and it was late night, decides he wants to drive his VW chariot across Shovel Shop Pond. 

This can’t end up good.  

It didn’t. 

So, let’s say, two in the morning, he drive into the Ames Estate at the entrance on Oliver Street.   Past the entrance he drives on for about 30 yards – and off to his right is the bank of the pond. 

It is here from where he will embark to drive across water – in its frozen state. 

So he drives from the bank onto the ice – and pushes the gas and goes forward – but not for long. 

He is on the ice for, maybe, 15 yards, and the undercarriage of his VW gets caught on a big branch sticking out of the ice.  

I said this wouldn’t end up good. 

So he starts revving the car this way and that way – and none of it can disengage his ride from its perch. 

He does what anyone would do this situation – he leaves the car there (and takes his key) and walks home and goes to bed.

He gets up the next day and he walks down to Shovel Shop Pond to discover his car is no longer there – it has been towed.

You think? 

This story continues – and it gets stranger.   Well, actually, not stranger – just more entertaining. 

So the VW Scirocco owner knows where the car has been towed to.   It has been towed to a garage up at Five Corners – yes, in the wild and wooly Furnace Village section of Easton. 

He gets a ride up to Five Corners to retrieve his car – and he also brings with him his ignition/door key.  So when he gets to Five Corners and to the tow yard – he discovers that someone has left the door open to the yard in which is car is impounded.

He walks in and opens the driver’s side door and gets in and starts up the car and drives away. 

Not a smart move.  

He drives his Scirocco back to North Easton and parks the car in his driveway.

Never a good idea for North Easton to take on “The Furnace.” 

I am not sure if the Scirocco owner thinks he is in the clear – but he could not have been surprised when, maybe an hour after he parked his car in the driveway, he heard the cacophony of the gears and hydraulics of a tow truck outside his house. 

He runs outside – and, yes, there is a tow truck operator and his tow truck hoisting his car. 

There is the tow truck guy, swearing and emoting all sorts of rage and displeasure, “communicating” that in slimily and stealthily requisitioning his auto, the car owner had  messed with his – the tow truck driver’s – living. 

The guy I know shouts for the truck driver to stop what he is doing – and that he has the cash on him to pay and make things right – which he does. 

Nice.  Gotta love it. 

Then there  was the time – and this happened probably around 1980 – that a certain family in the North Easton Village District went on vacation.  

Well, it seems a teen girl in the family – and it is beyond me why she did this – gave her friend permission to have friends over to the family abode while the family was gone.

You know, have a party. 

Not sure if the girl who actually lived in the house gave her friend permission to take out the family’s Mercedes for a spin as well. 

No matter, while the family was on vacation – not known to the husband and wife of the family – their home was the site of some socializing. 

And the couple also didn't know their beautiful Mercedes was being used for a joy ride.

That was until the Mercedes ended up in an accident – and became fairly well dented and walloped. 


I did not hear of anyone getting hurt in the accident – which, in the broad scope of things, is a positive. 

Still, none of this is good.  

Just bad all around. 

By the way, if you see me around town, my lips might not necessarily be sealed concerning further information on the stories above. 





Frank Meninno June 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Hey Ross, nice column. Brings back fond memories of growing up in the Furnace. It was a great place to live even if we were the "tough" part of town. I can remember being told that a few of my friends from North Easton weren't allowed to visit us because of the reputation we had. Too bad, they would have loved it!
Dick Burrell March 26, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Frank contact me please. Dick Burrell dick-1@charter.net
Dick Burrell March 26, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Just great


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