The Jack Alessi Trio

I noticed an obituary in the paper today, for Jack Alessi. The name sounded familiar and when I looked him up, I recalled meeting him at the Monticello between sets when he opened for Jerry Vale, probably in 1972. Ralph Kelton and I would sometimes go to the Monticello after closing the Cinema and sit at the bar, still wearing our tuxes which were the uniform of the time. Here’s what was written about Jack.
“Originally from the Boston area, Jack began his musical career as a drummer in the early sixties working with his father, guitarist, Don Alessi. During the late sixties and early seventies Jack landed the coveted spot of M.C. at the Famous Monticello Night Club in Framingham, MA. Jack has performed with and opened for Tony Bennett, Vicki Carr, Jerry Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, The Mills Brothers and many others. He has been the featured vocalist and toured with such big bands as Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, and Stan Kenton. It was Jack Alessi’s concept of the “3 Swinging Tenors” that brought this trio together.”
The times have changed, and I don’t think we’ll ever again see the great shows that Framingham hosted for many year.

The Rollerena

Not much is known about this place, nor do many remember rollerskating as a recreational activity.

It was located in the Tropic Isle Plaza. You can see the curved roof when you drive by. I wonder why rollerskating didn’t catch on with kids the way skateboarding has.

Wyman Gardens

Across Route 9 from Shoppers World, at the Natick town line, approximately where Circuit City is today, was a giant nursery called Wyman Gardens. Here’s an aerial view of the place taken in the late ’50s.

Wyman Gardens had land all the way back to Hartford St.,  where the ranch homes called Westfield, were built in 1955. In 1948, Boston Edison was proud of their installation of neon and lighting for the new Wyman Gardens main store on Route 9.  Here’s a rare photo of the front of that store. 

Pagoda Luau on Rte 9

Westbound on Route 9 just past the junction of 126 is this house converted to a Chinese Restaurant. It’s still there, althought the name has changed, and the building has undergone extensive renovation. In the 1950′s lots of houses along this stretch of Rte 9 were converted to business use. I’ve listed this under the category of the Golden Mile, even though it’s not on that stretch, but since it’s on Rte 9, I thought it appropriate. This restaurant today is called Imperial China, and is one of the best Chinese restaurants in town.

Howard Johnsons

There was a Howard Johnsons on Route 9 across the street from the Meadows, and Kens Steak House. Here’s an ad I found in a business directory at the library.

And here’s a rare colorized print from the early 1940′s I believe. 

In the mid 1950′s when my family would go to HoJos for ice cream, we would park underneath a neon sign, which must have replaced the one in this picture. Here’s how the neon looked.

Inside the Meadows

St Stephens Church had a Golden Jubilee Banquet at the Meadows in 1948. It was held for the Reverend James McCafferty, on the Fourth of July. Here’s a rare panorama photo of that event, that I found at a local yard sale.
Now we all know what the place looked like inside. Imagine Vaughn Monroe on the stage doing “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.

Fashion Shows at Shoppers World

Fashion shows were held at the Shoppers World,  and this ad from 1955 shows what a family event it was.  There was probably a runway running down the middle with models doing a show a couple of times a day. I remember going to Jordan Marsh one night and seeing what looked like mannequins,  dressed in the latest ladies fashion.  People were stopped, watching, and then suddenly, the model would move! Everyone in the crowd was impressed with how still they had remained for such a long time. People today probably wouldn’t be so impressed. Here’s an ad from the Framingham News, advertising a gala week.