Roll out the (root beer) barrel

On August 16, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

del_ponte_4_webLife in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte

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

I don’t know about everyone, but a lot of people, including myself, have artifacts or mementos from a place they once worked in or frequented. I have a book of matches from BoBo’s Chinese Restaurant that used to be in Ball Square. When WR Grace (Dewey and Almy) on Alewife Brook Parkway tore down the buildings that housed the boiler room that my dad worked in for 38 years, he kept two of his favorite steam gauges. Those really neat looking gauges are still in my cellar. I have a plastic hatcheck from the Jumbo Lounge formerly in Teele Square. Two of the original booths from The Coronet restaurant and lounge (last week’s story) were on the front porch of the house across the street for over 25 years. They finally succumbed to weather and old age.

Here are some other items friends told me they have: A beer mug from The Blarney Stone Pub that was beneath The Woodbridge Hotel. The booking calendar from Jasper’s Music Club (which went on to become Choices). I certainly do not advocate thievery in any way shape or form, but a fellow I know has had a pair of bowling shoes and a bowling bowl from an alley in the Ville for the past 37 years. A young lady I know has a neon Budweiser sign from Deco’s Lounge that used to be in Ball Square (it was given to her by the owners when it closed). I saw a photo of a shoehorn with the Zayre Department Store logo on it. A wise guy pal of mine says one of the souvenirs from the places he hung around in Davis Square was his beer belly.

dp_8_13_14_webLet’s go back to the 60’s when my friends’ family owned The Coronet, which is now Redbones. My pal Danny (Dapper Dan Kallis) worked at the bar and everyday he would go over to WT Grants five and dime, also in Davis Square, to get himself a frosty mug of Hires Root Beer for 15 cents. (Hires had a plant right here in Somerville for years.) The huge barrel standing about four feet high, full of delicious root beer sat on the counter hooked up to a compressor to run the two taps. It was a refreshing tradition that my friend looked forward to everyday. When Grant’s was about to close its doors for good, it seems the manager of Grants had accumulated a bar tab at The Coronet of about twenty-five bucks. Danny made a deal with the manager to take the root beer barrel in exchange for the bar tab. That huge root beer barrel has been in Dan’s house all these years. He says he is going to get it working again someday, but even if he doesn’t, it’s a pretty cool thing to have anyway.

It’s great to have things that remind of us of days gone by. They are kind of like a song that we hear that takes us back to a certain era in our lives. It’s funny how you can merely glance at one of these old items and immediately feel warm inside. There’s really not too much of the old Davis Square left, aside from Johnny D’s and The Rosebud but one thing that’s still there that brings me back is the big old clock that’s just past Mikes Restaurant. If you want one more visual blast from the past, go check out the sign above Crowley’s Liquors in Ball Square. It will probably make you want a delicious Todi’s sub to go along with a nice frosty Hires root beer!


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