Magoun Square memories

On May 5, 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.)

They recently removed the “Lil Vinny’s” sign on the closed business and underneath you could see the outline of the old “Danny’s” sign. It is a reminder of the years gone by and all the changes that have occurred in Magoun Square. Since I wrote about Ball Square a few weeks back, I figured we would give Magoun Square equal time. Many of my friends have chimed in are and these are some of their memories. Please note that people have tried to remember names and places and we have all done our best to dig deep in our minds.

When I think of Magoun Square I think of that little shop on Medford Street that sold musical instruments. There was a friendly looking old man inside and it was there for years. Then one day I noticed it was gone. A friend remembers 3D’s Sub shop being in Magoun Square along with and Kerner’s pharmacy where he enjoyed a cold root beer float. Bobby and Richie sold subs in 3D’s for 25 cents! And the memories just keep on coming.

Friends recalled Smalls Variety, Sunnyhurst, LaTony’s Pizza, Canty’s Café, Odea’s (maybe OD’s?) Janar’s Pharmacy (formerly Austin Drug), Maria’s Ravioli, Sordillos Pharmacy, Roses Hardware and Frank’s Cleaners. There was a meat market near Sunnyhurst but we couldn’t remember the name (maybe it was Mitchell’s as noted further on). Some think it was Sam’s (like on The Brady Bunch).

Someone tells us, “My Dad had a little fish and chips place in Magoun and my uncle Frank had a barber shop at the other end of the square.”

My friends Ed and Mike recall shining shoes in Magoun Square on weekends at every bar, then eating at Frenchy’s Restaurant.

Who doesn’t remember Frenchy’s Breakfast? A friend notes, “The best thing about Magoun Sq. was Frenchy’s’ restaurant. Frenchy was a legend in the square. She was open every day of the year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. What a character she was! For $1.25 you got two eggs, two strips of bacon, two slices of toast, and a glass of OJ and all the coffee you could drink. Frenchy’s boyfriend was called Baldie and Twiggy was her daughter.” We remember Peter Piro being in there and sometimes buying coffee for everyone. Cara Donna bakery was next door. Can you still taste the great éclairs you got there?

There were two jewelry stores in the square, one on the corner of Lowell and Medford Streets, and one across from Sunnyhurst. The one near Lowell St. had a cat clock in the window for years.

On the Hill Tavern was formerly Mahoney’s, Sam Maguire’s, and China Moon.

Someone passed this tid-bit along: “We used to play street hockey in the parking lot of Sunnyhurst Farms. I remember walking into a “bakery” one time, but it really wasn’t one, and there was a bunch of suits at a small table playing cards. They didn’t like it that I walked in on them!”

Another friend tells us: “There was a great breakfast place called Christies’ owned by the Treskas. There was a pub called Sherlock Holmes where lots of Somerville people hung out. Mitchells Meat Market was a great store too.” How about these memories from my friend’s 82 year old dad: “Shawmut and Rose Hardware, Zeidel’s Shoes, Sloane’s Furniture, Somerville Kosher Market, Nash auto dealership, Harold Wells Jeweler, M Winer before it was Elm Farm.”

On September 18,1970, just after 2 a.m., the block of stores at 506-508 Medford Street were engulfed in a fire. An explosion and resulting fire heavily damaged the block. It started in the Renaldo Rene Hair Salon and spread to Sav-Mor Furniture, and 3D Sub shop. Thanks go out to Charlie Breen from Engine Seven.

I appreciate everyone who shared their thoughts and memories about Magoun Square. Not all the Magoun Square memories are pleasant and we will never forget the special people from there who are no longer with us.


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