Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Grassy Goslings Go Greedy

May 11th, 2008

With one of my own offspring practicing cycling with me in the Forest Hills Cemetery, I shared the lake-like object with the most in-love geese. A pair (turned into a threesome) of Canada geese were out with their own trio of babies.

The rest of the many geese seem not to like each other or to be a bit reproductively slow.

I’m not a fan of Canada geese, but their babies are as cute as anything Steiff has ever produced, except maybe the hedgehogs.

Pic Click Trick: Click on a thumbnail for a larger image.

Strutting The goslings were all about eating, while the parents walked guard
First things first, bugs in this case First things first
Little details like cyclists, joggers and dogs didn’t distract the wee diners Reminds me of my teens at home
They leapt into the lake in unison Without sound, the goslings sprinted as best they could and plunged breast first into the lake with their parents
Finally, like a Navy convoy, they headed to open water convoy headed for safe water

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Drive-in JP Caves

August 20th, 2007

Woodbourne garage 2
Early auto artifacts speckle the cityscape in lower Jamaica Plain. Cave-like built-in garages remain in over a dozen homes in the Woodbourne section.

They were the first in the Boston area, maybe in New England. These narrow and short rooms nestle under the compact houses. When they were included in the houses in the 1920s, they were perfect for the reigning Model-T Fords. Yet quickly as Americans emerged out of the Great Depression, their passion for the long, wide muscle cars meant most of these garages became storage and junk rooms.

On a JP Historical Society tour of the section, we saw the original — 22 and 24 Eldridge Road, and subsequently walked just to see and consider these quaint relics. It’s our neighborhood, but mini-garage surveys had not been our thing.

More tours: The JPHS continues its tours in the pleasant months. There are several more of various JP areas this year, including one another of Woodbourne on September 29th. Check the society’s site. These are free and led by two or more members.

The society dates the original built-in garages: (Martin) Herbert is the first developer in the Boston Dwelling House Company property to plan his homes for the automobile age with built-in garages. The earliest documented houses in the district designed with built-in garages are numbers 22 and 26 Eldridge Road. Number 26 was designed by Max Kalman and completed on September 29, 1928. It is a two-family house set on a high robust foundation of red granite and brick. Many houses in Woodbourne had garages built at or shortly after construction of the main house in the second phase after 1922, but it was done almost as an afterthought and none has any detail to match the house. Only in Herbert’s small subdivision were the house and the garage planned and built as a unit. Numbers 9, 11, 12 and 15 each have garages below the first floor, as does number 50 Northbourne. All take advantage of the slope of the land by having the garage below the grade of the street.

An interesting change in use occurred in 1938, when John S. Goodway took a garage built in 1930 by Alexander Mc Donald at number one Meyer Street, directly below number 17 Goodway, and hired Albin Brodin to convert it into a three room house. The new house was completed on December 31, 1938.

A bit of irony with these garages is that the Woodbourne section was not about automobiles. Just below the Forest Hills station and end of the trolley line, it was a trolley commuters’ suburb. You didn’t need 0ne of those newly affordable cars to live there.

While this section was specifically to enable middle-class home ownership, the Boston Dwelling House Company used more than affordable price to attract residents. The small houses were carefully landscaped to give a rural flavor. Some touches reflected the increasing class differentiations of the emerging middle class, such as a block-long apartment building (now a retirement home) on Hyde Park Avenue to shield the houses from the clatter of the passing carriages. Let the workers take the noise while the managers slept in quiet!

The garages were another effort to enhance the houses. Amusingly, this illustrated more mundane nature of this development, in contrast to early adopters of automobiles. Before the inexpensive Model-T, automobiles such as Oldsmobiles and European models were toys of the very wealthy. These fragile vehicles had garages, often sharing elaborate carriage stables and later having separate luxurious buildings added to estates for them, a far cry from Woodbourne’s caves.

For example, in a wealthy Buffalo, New York, area, “As automobiles become part of the American scene, Parkside residents began to build garages. Many featured turntables that were used to conveniently turn the car around after arriving home so that the drivers did not have to back out in the morning.” Today, we think a remote starter is a big deal!

It is a bit arcane, but you can walk this small area to see which remains as is, which have modern garage doors, and which have been converted to rooms or entryways. Woodbourne garage 1

With the popularity of compact cars, some people do squeeze their cars into these built-ins. However, many who use them do this only in the winter. It’s a tight squeeze and a lot of care to keep from scraping the sides or knocking a mirror.

Maybe one day when a more enlightened Boston mayor leads to make bicycling easier and safer these cave owners will sell their cars and park two or more bikes in these units. Meanwhile, the early history of automobiles in Boston remains in the granite or cinderblock garages of Woodbourne.

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Migrating Harrumphs

March 20th, 2007

Like so many migrating camels, several harrumphing posts from Marry in Massachusetts and the Michael Ball (Only) Club will appear here — where they belong. Grumpiness and crankiness have their place, which is here.

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Confessions of the Habitual Harrumpher

March 19th, 2007

I have gone from amusement to reality, with the suddenness of a skydiving landing. Getting called out — albeit in below-the-fold level references — by local and national columnists, and then yesterday by my oldest son may mean it’s true.

I must actually harrumph.

My family has long included cranks of the get-it-done-right variety. I recall the humiliation my sister and I experienced together when our 5-foot 2-inch mother had the gigantic manager of the Sears store in a huge New Jersey mall literally hiding behind his desk. In her righteousness, she drove him to hunker and whisper to his secretary that he was not there.

We had moved from Virginia, which at that time meant a different Sears zone and a different color credit card. The only time our mother ever bought on credit was annually for school clothes. The new store would not take its siblings’ card and they told my mother to wait until the replacement came in the mail. She had asked for it two months before and, to put it gently, was not of a mind to wait.

My sister at 16 and I at 15 were not prairie dogs. We stayed low and avoided noise and embarrassment. Our mother, on the other hand, knew what was right and what had to be done. Our blushing was our problem at that point.

It may be of no surprise that she got that new card overnight from the company HQ. It may be no surprise that I have exhibited my crankiness more than once since, regardless of whom it embarrasses.

So, in April, when Kimberley Atkins over at the Herald had one of my posts here harrumphing, I should not have been surprised either. I was.

As she put it in BLOG BUZZ:

Last week’s SJC ruling banning most out-of-state gay couples from wedding in the Bay State has made same-sex marriage a hot political topic again online. And so far, bloggers have not been kind to Tom Reilly. “As anticipated, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly is AWOL,” harrumphed MassMarrier, a gay-marriage-friendly blogger.

That was a singleton and amusing. Several blogger chums in effect sought me out to say, “That’s about right.”

Now, I must assume that Melonyce McAfee of Today’s Blogs in Slate reads Atkins’. Last week, she also had me harrumphing. Or perhaps it’s just that obvious. I choose to believe she was copying.

As she put it:

Mass Marrier at Marry in Massachusetts regrets the court’s argument that gay marriage may be harmful for children and population growth. “The majority ruling in Washington State performed its sideshow trick. It took a key legal principle, stood it on its head and spun it until it was dizzy,” Marrier harrumphs. “In both the New York and Washington decisions, the judges perverted a legal touchstone, that of compelling interest. They wrote very clearly that their states had a compelling interest in legislation that promoted the continuation of humanity, in their cases by promoting heterosexual marriage, which often produced offspring. Yet as the dissents in the Washington case iterated and mirrored the New York dissents, that has squat to do with the question before them. … Forbidding SSM simply punishes gays and their children and in no way leads to the production of a single additional future citizen.”

Self-consciousness aside, do two, possibly coincidental, comments make for a judgment of harrumph? Am I thus branded with the huge, flaming H of harrumpher?

Perhaps I could have let it pass until last evening. At a large family dinner at Boston Beer Garden in Southie, my oldest son sealed the decision.

Speaking as a reader of this blog, he said, “Well, your posts do have an harrumphing tone.”

So, there you have it. I think I need a t-shirt to proclaim my acceptance of my nature. (Insert snort here.)


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