Old Ball Square

On April 21, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte 

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

I lived in Lenny and Louise Scott’s house on Pearson Ave. from 1956 to 1961. Ball Square was a short walk and we spent a lot of time there. As a matter of fact, former alderman and school committee member Lenny Scott gave me a 1882 silver dollar for my birthday one year. I went to Savel’s 5 and 10 and bought my mother an apron. My dad went down there shortly after that and got the silver dollar back (and gave him another one). I still have that coin. I also have many memories of those days long ago in Ball Square. To add to my own memories, I interviewed a very knowledgeable friend of mine with an excellent memory, who told me about Ball Square in the 1940’s and 50’s. She wishes to remain anonymous, but the interesting and historic information she gave me is here in this column for us to enjoy.

Ball Square was the place my friend and her classmates came to after classes were finished at St. Clement School. After a long day with Sisters Adele, Benedict, Ethelbert, Verecunda and Eulina, Steven’s Ice Cream was one of the places they hung out. They would walk to the old Lincoln Junior High School in Medford to perform in St. Clement’s March play. Sometimes they would have to go to Tufts Field in Medford to skate if they didn’t flood Trum Field.

At the corner of Josephine Ave. and Broadway was a First National store. During World War II you had to have ration coupons. Red coupons were for meat and blue ones were for groceries. There was the Ball Square Bakery, The Ball Square Grill, and, of course, the Fryers, with their fabulous pizza and fried shrimp. There was a men’s clothing store or haberdasher, called Margets. At 7 a.m., people stood in line at Lyndell’s ( which was at a different location back then) for savory baked beans and fresh brown bread.

Who could forget Ball Square Fish Market? Frankie and his family were so friendly, not to mention the unforgettable fish and chips. I can still see Frank’s smiling face. The staff at Crowley’s Liquor store were always pleasant and you’d never know who you would see in there. Let’s also not forget Harold’s Luncheonette. Todis Subs was a fun place to pop into also. His mom was in the back cutting veggies and no one could beat his pepper and eggs, and crab meat salad. Todi was quite a character. That brings us to the famous barbershop. I am happy to say that I got haircuts from Lionel, then Artie, and finally “fast” Phil Rotondo. But did you know there was another barbershop on the bridge? It was run by Mike Caliri and you could get your ears lowered for 60 cents! Now, my wonderful friend who I interviewed for this story told me the locations of these places but two things happened. One, I couldn’t write that fast, and two, I have trouble reading my hen-scratch note writing. Anyway, there was another market called Homsy’s ( I hope I spelled that right!) It was run by Charlie and his son, and his daughter Margie. There was O’Brien’s Bar and Grille, Linda’s Donuts, and Tomeo’s Meat Market where Tony and Maria hammered and tenderized the veal cutlets to perfection.

Mitchells was at the corner of Josephine for years. I remember watching those two brothers go from young men, to adults, and then finally retire and sell the place. Mitchell’s always reminded me of Hoodsies. Don’t forget Ray’s fruit, Bo Bo’s Chinese Restaurant, Victors’ Florist, McDonald Florist, Kennedy Butter and Egg, Ace Carpet, and Lepore’s pharmacy. I have a picture from around 1965 of the St Clement Boy Scout troop 71, singing Christmas carols in front of Johnnies Super market. We also must note the Willow Café, Hyde’s Lunch, and good old Dr Walsh the dentist. How many of you went to Dr Harry Goldenberg on Broadway across from Powder House Park? I did. He used to make house calls no matter what time of day and in all kinds of weather.

One of my favorite places in Ball Square was Surabian Drugs. I remember a fellow named Lud who always smiled as he greeted you in his grey pharmacists smock. Surabian’s also had a soda fountain run by a man named Ray.

I’d like to thank my friend for sitting down with me and sharing her precious memories. As we were talking I could picture her as a child going into the Ball Square Theatre, or the bowling alley, or getting some candy from one of the many stores back then. I could tell those days were very special to her by the way she smiled when she reminisced about those times years ago. Ball Square has certainly changed a lot over the years, but in a lot of people’s hearts it will always be a happy place, with great friends, and memories that will never go out of business.


Join us for a ROAST AND TOAST FOR ROBERT (Bobby) RACICOT on Tuesday, April 24 at Montvale Plaza at 7:00 pm. The cost is $50 a person or $500 a table. Enjoy Tony V, DJs, food, dancing, silent auction and raffle prizes. All proceeds to fund the Parkinson’s and Liver Cancer treatment. Anyone interested in tickets can contact Gary Gartland at gmgartland@gmail.com, Billy Murphy at the YMCA in Somerville (617-625-5050) or Roland or Yvonne Racicot at Roland’s Jewelers, 70 High St. in Medford Square, 781-391-9889. Also check out The Friends Of Robert Racicot page on Facebook.


1 Response » to “Old Ball Square”

  1. Chrsitine (Bonaccorso) Curtin says:

    We rented downstairs from the Meads at 77 Pearson from 72 to 81. I remember the Scotts. I could tell you the names of every family on the street. The Venturos, the Piccolos, the Cochrans, the Roomes, and the Crowleys stand out above all else. I remember summer nights listening to the parents porch-sitting, with gin and tonics and Kaluha sombreros. I was sent to Mitchell’s for milk million times to Crowley’s Liquors for cigarettes at least a thousand (it was the 70s). Harold’s charburger is still the best burger I could ever eat. St Clement lunches were Leo’s pizza, and Suburban’s was a morning pit stop. Thanks for the memories.

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