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Ran a 5K yesterday in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which I signed up for two or three days ahead of time.

I didn’t really care how I ran; I mainly went because the race began and ended at the Pawtucket Red Sox’s ballpark, and as a ballpark geek, I looked forward to a chance to bum around the place.

(The purpose of the race, supporting veterans’ organizations, was worthwhile too. But the ballpark was the primary lure. I may as well admit it.)

I realized I wouldn’t always have a chance to go behind the scenes there: The PawSox are moving to Worcester, Mass., for the 2021 season.

McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket is kinda frumpy and unimpressive. Beneath its updates — luxury suites and video boards — it shows its age.

But it is distinctive … unlike the stadium in Worcester, which has not yet been designed but will almost certainly include the exact same features as every other new minor-league ballpark — an asymmetrical field layout; two asymmetrical decks of seating in the infield; an outfield hill for general admission seating; kids’ play areas; and a standing bar somewhere in the outfield, just to rattle off a few.

Anyway, my travels at McCoy took me into the visitors’ clubhouse, both dugouts, the warning track, Rich Gedman‘s parking space, and one or two other places besides. Plenty of chance to indulge myself and see places I wouldn’t usually get into.

As for the race, it was poorly organized (no mile markers, guys?), but I ran a respectable time that, if you do the math and take fractions of years into account, was a few seconds less than half my age.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen most of these pix already. But not everyone does, so here they are again.



I think this was the visitors’ dugout, but it could have been the home dugout. No great difference. Both have the logo on the wall.


In the same dugout is a small tribute to Ben Mondor, the late businessman who kept the Sox in Pawtucket in the mid-’70s.


The visiting manager’s office isn’t all that fancy…


… a desk, a phone, a sleazy-looking couch.





Deep center.


A good year, ’73.



Today, meanwhile, I went out for a long Veterans Day walk. I had the time … the day was crisp but not uncomfortable … and as I’ve been eating like a P-I-G hog lately, every step is needed.

Along the way, I stopped in at the Little League complex of the town where I live. I’d passed by a number of times but never gone near. Today I had the time and the inclination.

The place felt thoroughly deserted — no, it was thoroughly deserted; what kind of clown goes to Little League fields in November?

(OK, don’t answer that.)

The cell-phone camera came out again as I walked around the field where the 12-year-olds play.

I left with a bunch of pix and a couple of baseballs. The weeds were full of them, thick like raspberries in July, as if the local Little League had a bottomless budget and nothing hit beyond the field of play need be retrieved.

Even the swampy woods beyond the outfield fence harbored a bunch of balls. If I were 11 or 12 years old and I put a ball over the fence, you damn well know I’d go out after the ball afterward. Dunno why that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Kids these days don’t value a dinger, I guess.

Anyhow, you get my Little League pix as well. Mood pieces, y’know. November. Stillness. Decay. Season of wither, and like that.

Just take the damn ride.










Omega men.

There’s a certain kind of group picture you sometimes see in 1970s college yearbooks that greatly appeals to me. Or did until recently.


The window of time for these kinds of shots, in my experience, is narrow. You start to see it emerge in fraternity and residence-hall photos around 1972. And by 1978 or so, its essence had already boiled off; dudes were moving back to sitting in orderly rows, dressing similarly, smiling, and looking at the camera when prompted.

No, these photos radiate a clannish chowder-and-marching-society freakiness, often marked by:

  • Avoidance of matching or formal outfits, with a preference instead for clashing, unusual or outlandish clothing
  • A refusal to pose formally, and in some cases, a refusal to so much as look at the camera
  • Open display of alcohol
  • The introduction of unusual props
  • And, in general, a single-minded devotion to Doing One’s Own Thing.


Not for them the suits-and-ties poses of their fathers and older brothers. The old rules are for the old guys, they seem to be saying. We may spit a lot, but we don’t polish.

I assume our collection of junior Zonker Harrises picked up this stylistic loosey-goosiness from looking at album covers and pictures in Rolling Stone. (Some of these photos look as if a festival’s worth of rock bands were all posing together backstage, with each cluster of five or six guys trying to out-cool the rest.)

Wherever the influence, they wore it wholeheartedly and without apology.



In my research — admittedly limited and fragmentary — I’ve yet to see a photo of a black fraternity or residence hall, or a sorority of any hue, cutting up this way. It seems to be pretty much a white-guy specialty.

And therein lies the rub.


I’m pretty good at ignoring social trends, but even I’m aware of the #MeToo movement. I’ve learned how easily white masculinity seems to topple over into toxicity, especially in the presence of alcohol.

I had no trouble believing the stories I read about Brett Kavanaugh and his high school classmates. The ones about drinking ’til they ralphed and then coming back the next night sounded kinda familiar, actually.

(I have never tried to sexually assault anybody, nor am I aware of it happening at the high school or college parties I attended, but I would not be stunned to learn that it had. My attention at the time was firmly on the alcohol.)


And so, even Out-Of-Touch Middle-Aged Me can no longer look at these kinds of photos without perceiving a dark side beneath the irreverence.

I don’t believe all these guys were pigs, or that none of them had a sense of decency. Many of them were, and probably still are, better human beings than I am.

But young white men plus alcohol plus old social attitudes no longer equals charming insouciance to me.

I can’t look at ’em without thinking of guys in basements, going farther with semi-comatose girls than they would have gone with sober ones, and then bragging about it later. Or leaving public digs at those young women in the barely coded messages that ran alongside the group photos. (Not to mention other irresponsible behavior that goes with youth and alcohol, like driving drunk. Certainly, nothing about these pictures suggests discipline.)

One of the yearbooks from which these photos are taken includes a picture of an on-campus building with a breathtakingly crude and misogynist banner referring to the school’s biggest football rivalry. Just from seeing that, you can tell the old days were in no way woke.


I guess the point of this is that you no longer get to dictate your own story (if you ever did), and the impression you aim to leave isn’t always the one that lingers.

Or maybe the point is that good taste is timeless. Rows of plain, understated neckties and obedient smiles maybe would have been a better idea after all, however confining it seemed back in the spring of ’75.

Or … maybe I’m on the wrong track and overthinking, and you still find these squads of determinedly ragtag young men wholly charming, and you’re willing to let their foibles pass with time, forgiveness being divine and all that.

Just a couple of years ago I probably would have agreed with you. I can’t manage it quite so well now.


13.1 miles; 13,100 calories.

Today I ran my first half-marathon in 15 years, and made my first hotdish ever.

Two wildly divergent accomplishments, perhaps; but hang around and I’ll tell you all about them.

# # # # #

I ran my first half-marathon in 2003. Seemed like a cool idea at the time.

We were expecting our second kid a few months later; and I knew if I didn’t go after the goal there and then, I wasn’t gonna have much free time for a couple years. So I trained up over the summer and signed up for a half-marathon in Philadelphia.

I didn’t train enough, as it turned out. Either that, or I went out too fast. Or maybe both. Whatever the reason, I walked large portions of the last four miles. I beat my stated goal of two hours in a hair’s breadth — 1:59.27 — but it wasn’t a particularly satisfying experience, and I knew I was capable of better.

This past year, as I lost weight, I began scaling up the length of my runs — the kids now being old enough to entertain themselves in my absence.

And when I became capable of doing 10 miles on a weekend again, I began thinking about that long-ago goal of doing a half the right way. I wanted to keep a sane, smart pace and run every step, even if I finished slower than I did in 2003.

I’d even signed up for one in Pennsylvania on Sept. 9. But then I got hired for a job in Massachusetts, starting Sept. 10. When half-marathon day came around, I was five-and-a-half hours away, in a mostly empty apartment, reviewing and rehearsing my steps for the next day.

Some other time, I figured. I’d accomplished other things this year, and maybe a half-marathon would have to be pushed aside.

Then I ate brunch in Massachusetts with an old friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years. I mentioned my half-marathon dreams. Turned out she runs three of them a year, and she suggested I join her for her next one on Nov. 4.

That race was closed for registration by the time I got to the website. But I found two others still open on the same day, and picked the one closer to my house.

And that was how I found myself toeing the line this morning at the prestigious Colt State Park Half Marathon in Bristol, R.I.


# # # # #

To cut to the chase al-damn-ready: I ran every step, left my 2003 performance in the dust, and ran a totally unexpected 1:42.32.

According to the finishing slip I got from the timer, this was good for 37th place — an astonishing result given that 350 people signed up. I’m still not gonna believe that until the results are posted online and I can see them. (I know the time is legit — I saw the clock when I crossed the line — but not the place.)


Basically, I set a mildly aggressive but sustainable pace, and told myself repeatedly it was sustainable … and I turned out to be right. (I do a much, much better job of not psyching myself out during races than I did when I was 17.)

It helped that the race had pacers — runners who ran 1:40, 1:50, etc., and whom you could tail if you wanted to run the same speed. Nice for those of us who don’t constantly look at watches to check our pace. I ran the first two miles with the 1:50 pacer before deciding I had a little more in the tank and pushing off ahead.

The course was beautiful, mostly flat (and mercifully low on sea breezes), with stretches along Narragansett Bay and Bristol Harbor as well as wooded areas.

My opinion on Rhode Island, based on various dashes in and out over 25 years or so, is that the cities are nothing to write home about unless you want good Italian food … but the smaller towns, countryside, and beaches/waterfront can be really nice, and you (and I) oughta check ’em out before the sea takes them back.


Bristol Harbor. The race passed along the bike path in the foreground; the blue flag is a course marker.


I think this is Narragansett Bay. (I wasn’t snapping while running, obviously.)

To top it all off, Narragansett Brewing just released a seasonal brew this past week that I think it only distributes in its home state, Autocrat being a name of limited regional renown.

A quick stop on my way home — not even out of the way — and I could check that off my list, too.


# # # # #

Musical interlude: I had Yes’s 90125 album with me in the car, and in a mood of quiet jubilation I put this song on repeat for most of the drive home through Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I remember when it cracked hit radio in ’83 and I’ve always liked it, even though the ‘roided-up guitars and drums haven’t aged that well.

I had the thought in the car that this kind of tune — lightweight but hugely hooky, with great vocal effects — maybe suggests the kind of music Brian Wilson could have been making in the early ’80s, had he been able. Feel free to run me through with a stick in the comments if you think that’s a stupid observation.

# # # # #

I’ve always been a sucker for regional foods.

I’ve put cinnamon and chocolate into chili (many times) to make it Cincinnati-style. I’ve mixed coconut, sugar and mashed potato to make state-of-Maine chocolate needhams. I’ve even piled raw ground beef and onion onto rye bread to make Midwestern-style wildcat sandwiches, known in some jurisdictions as cannibal sandwiches.

So the notion of making hotdish, Minnesota’s beloved church-supper staple, has lingered in my head for a while. And I had the brainstorm that, if there were any day when I could justify the calories, a day when I ran 13.1 miles as fast as I could would most likely be that day.

And so it was.

Now, hotdish recipes admit infinite variety, but they’re always based on four pillars. Since you’ve read this far, I’ll tell you which ones I used.

First, there’s meat. Ground beef is a frequent go-to. Personally, I opted for chicken breast, which I poached in boiling water until cooked through. (In addition to being a wicked easy way to cook a chicken breast, this method also leaves the finished product juicier and less strongly flavored than some other methods.)

Then there’s vegetables. Canned green beans are a standard in Minnesota, but the door is open to other options.

I chose frozen peas and carrots. Why? Because they were good enough for my grandma; they were good enough for your grandma; and they were good enough for your grandma’s pen pal, Ida (Mrs. James) Sternberg of Minnetonka.

(I also figured I could use the frozen veggie-baggie as an icepack if I came back from the race beaten up. We don’t waste nothin’ ’round here.)

A liquid binder is the third must-have. Canned cream of mushroom soup is legendary in this role, with cream of chicken a solid second choice for those who are trying to give their hotdish the flavor of pot pie filling.

I couldn’t quite go the canned-soup route. Just couldn’t. So I melted a tablespoon of butter and added two tablespoons of flour, mixing my faux roux around to darken it a little. Then in went a cup-and-a-half of low-sodium chicken broth, boiled until it thickened a little. (This turned out to be not enough liquid for my taste, so I ended up adding some more straight broth.)

Into the broth, also, went great whacks of garlic powder and black pepper, and lesser whacks of (kinky) paprika and cayenne pepper. Authentic Minnesota hotdish has a reputation for blandness, but I wanted mine to be hot-spicy, not just hot-warm.

(Some people use hot sauce to that end. But what good is using low-sodium chicken broth if you’re just gonna douse the finished product in Frank’s Red Hot? Eh, reader?)

The fourth and final pillar is starch. Tater Tots are popular in this role. Wild rice, pasta, and frozen hash browns are common as well.

I opted for Tater Tots. I figured at least one of my pillars ought to be faithful to tradition. And anyway, I just wanted some damn Tater Tots.

Knowing that the ghosts of a million farm-wives were watching critically over my shoulder, I took care to line them up neatly in rows.


In Joe Kapp’s day, Minnesotans buzzed about 40 for 60. But in my kitchen, the numbers to live by were 375 for 35.

After that baking period, out came the hotdish, ready to eat.



And how is it?

Well, dear reader, it’s good. Fill-the-belly, take-the-edge-off-cold-weather good.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gassed long enough. I’m gonna go get my hotdish on. And drink some more beer.

And maybe ice my legs.

I hope to study further, a few more years or so.

I visited my older son at college for Parents’ Weekend this past weekend. The trip felt strongly of shiny things, new things and unfamiliar things, as dealings with college-age kids always seem to do.

I came across one improbable detail, though, that made me think the kids at Northeastern University don’t inhabit an entirely different world from mine.

At the student union, I picked up a copy of a glossy student-run music mag called Tastemakers. It’s apparently been around a while — this was issue no. 52 — and it was full of one- to two-page essays about everything from “mumble rap” to the history of fangirl culture. Donald Glover, in his Gambino posture, was on the cover.

(How was it? The more ambitious stuff was interesting, but needed more space or research to be really good. And of course there was the inevitable clinker interview with a local singer-songwriter who didn’t seem interested in verbally presenting himself. The music speaks for him, maaaaaaaan.)

Anyway, some undergrad submitted a one-pager about horns in pop music — singing their praises as a musical element, and listing a few artists who use them. (I didn’t really think the use of horns needed an argument, but apparently samplers and/or guitars have so firmly seized center stage that horns need support.)

The writer gave four examples of groups that use horns. Three of ’em were names I recognized as being fairly hip and current.

The fourth? Chicago.

I was gobsmacked. Sure, Chicago is pretty much the example of a pop group that uses horns, but I never would have guessed anybody 20 years old knew they existed. I didn’t even think most of my fellow fortysomethings listened to them any more.

Their best work is more than 40 years behind them, and even their late-career purple patch of Diane Warren tunes is 25 years past. But here they were, being held up alongside Sufjan Stevens in by-collegians-for-collegians rockcrit.

The author even mentioned “Free,” which for my money is the great semi-forgotten Chicago single, and a song whose sharp edges just might make a first-time listener’s ears perk up a little bit.

In a world full of sounds, movies, images, ideas, listicles, podcasts, videos and sheer unending entertainment options, I doubt one long paragraph in one article in one music magazine at one college actually inspired anybody to go discover Chicago.

Still, just seeing them there, and thinking that they haven’t been completely covered over by the sands of time, was good enough for a 45-year-old raised on Robert Lamm.

What’s your sign?

One of my past posts about the old yearbooks available through the Internet Archive got a little unexpected traction today, which led me to ignore my laundry and go back onto that jag for an hour or two tonight. (More on this will probably be coming at some later point.)

For now, I’ll check in with a quick hit to do justice to a truly Seventies idea. It’s not something that deserves reams of copy written about it, just something that merits a quick acknowledgement for its spark of genius.

It’s a high school yearbook in which the graduating seniors are arranged not in alphabetical order … not in reverse alphabetical order (as my high school once did, about five years before I graduated) … but by sign of the zodiac.

A fanfare, then, to the Leicester, Mass., High School Class of 1974 and their annual, The Maroon.

May their aspects always be right.


Five for the Record: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

A recurring feature in which I take something I enjoy but have not thought deeply about, and force myself to state five reasons why I like it.

Today’s subject: The third in the lengthy series of Peanuts TV specials, and one of the Big Three that still get shown every year. (I wrote about another one of the Big Three a few years ago, so why not this one too?) Originally aired Oct. 27, 1966.

And here’s why I like it:

1. The silence. In the writeup linked above, I gave mad points to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for the way it uses silence at the end. (Or, to be perfectly accurate, the way it goes without speech. Vince Guaraldi’s music is happening all the while, of course.)

Likewise, we get almost two musical minutes into Great Pumpkin before anybody says anything. And it works fine. You just, y’know, watch the damn TV, and everything you need to know explains itself — including the relationship between Linus and Lucy.

If they made this special tomorrow, I bet those two minutes would be crammed down into 30 seconds, and I bet those 30 seconds would be full of  unnecessary explanatory dialogue. (“Gee, Lucy, it’s almost Halloween! What a beautiful day!” “Quiet, Linus! We’re going to find the world’s best pumpkin.”)

2. The fussbudget’s redemption. The scene in which Lucy gets up at 4 a.m., leads her brother back indoors, and tucks him in is among the most heartwarming in the Peanuts universe — rivaling even Linus’s “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown” speech in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

In fact, it’s maybe even more touching because it comes from someone who’s usually grumpy and fussy. (She’s visibly angry about having to do this errand, but she goes out in the cold and does it anyway. Probably not for the first time.)

While my memory of Peanuts strips is not what it used to be, I can’t remember ever seeing this event happen in one of the newspaper strips. Its presence in the show defeats the perception, which can sometimes settle on a veteran Peanuts fan, that the TV specials are just stitched-together animations of the strips. (If anyone knows of a strip in which Lucy guides a groggy Linus in from the pumpkin patch, let me know; I’d love to (re-)read it.)

The sight of Linus in his sparsely decorated little boy’s room is affecting too. The surroundings suggest to us that either the Van Pelt family doesn’t have enough money to buy stuff, or that Linus is a monastic old soul who, unlike most little kids, hasn’t packed his room full of posters, banners, stuffed toys, books, baseball cards, beanbags, goldfish bowls, dirty laundry, etc.

(The sparseness of Linus’s room might not have been intended to be a telling detail. Maybe the graphic artists drew it that way just to make life simpler for themselves. I choose to read into it.)


3. Drawing on Charlie Brown’s head. This is not my favorite moment, I guess. But it represents Peak Peanuts Cruelty, which is quite a statement for a franchise built in part on kids’ inhumanity to kids. Not getting a valentine, or having people invite themselves to your house for turkey on Thanksgiving, is one thing; getting your body violated in humiliating fashion is kind of another thing entirely.

(The scene also raises a canonical wrinkle, since — as per Charles Schulz — Charlie Brown was not originally intended to be bald, but towheaded blond. I guess Schulz waved the scene through, so who am I to argue?)

4. The kids make their own costumes. I assume this was true to reality in 1966 — or, since the creative genius behind the show was a 40-something man, it may have been more based in Schulz’s childhood as the son of a barber in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Either way, there are no plastic-garbed Beatles or James Bonds or astronauts in the group (and no Green Berets either) … just witches and ghosts in (largely) home-cooked costumes. I have no idea how accurate that still was in 1966, but I find that to be an appealingly retro touch.

As a child of the late ’70s and early ’80s, I remember my own costumes being roughly evenly split between homemade getups — a water pistol and a jacket and I was James Bond — and those flammable, cheaply made boxed thingies everyone associates with that time period.


1978. I’m the phantom; he’s the spaceman.

5. An ending that breaks the mold. A Charlie Brown Christmas ends happily. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ends happily. Lesser-known Peanuts specials from the same time period, like He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown and You’re In Love, Charlie Brown, end on high notes too.

But this special ends with Charlie Brown pissing off Linus, and Linus stopping just short of going upside Charlie Brown’s head as he argues for the continued existence of the Great Pumpkin.

This is good because:
(a) it shows that these specials weren’t completely formulaic, or at least not yet;
(b) Schulz and company didn’t force a happy ending as a sop to Dolly Madison Zingers and your local Coca-Cola bottlers, who probably would have liked one;
(c) it gives us a view into Linus’s psyche — the aspiring martyr, battered but unbent — and he’s an interesting enough character that he deserves that look.

(Walk, believer, walk; your work ain’t never done.)


The rascal king.

Yeah, here we go again.

Another lovely fall Saturday with no specific plans. Another train trip into the city. Another stroll to the Boston Public Library to dwell on the details and as-you-weres of a historic Boston moment.

I’ve long been interested in James Michael Curley — four-term mayor of Boston, two-term U.S. Congressman, one-term governor of Massachusetts, and twice a convict — especially after reading The Rascal King, Jack Beatty’s retelling of Curley’s life and times. The book does a masterful job of capturing Curley’s colorful personal and political lives without descending too far into political minutiae.

In a common biographical trick, The Rascal King starts at the end, with a description of Curley laying in state at the Massachusetts State House in November 1958. More than 100,000 people came to his extended public wake, and a million were said to have lined the streets on the day of his funeral, making those days one of the largest mourning periods the city has ever seen.

I decided to look at the funeral coverage in Boston’s five daily newspapers of the time. (Curley outlived the Boston Post by roughly two years, but was survived by the Globe, Herald, Record, American and Traveler.)

I didn’t have a point to make or a theory to chase. I just wanted to see how the different papers, with their different personalities, described the passing of an era to their readers. And as always, I wanted to see what other curious tidbits jumped out of the margins, Curley or otherwise.


Nov. 12, 1958. The American breaks news while still managing to get one of its beloved crime stories on 1A.

Curley’s passing was preceded by a deathwatch. He was known to be ill, and through early November, the newspapers checked on him regularly. The Nov. 11 Globe reported that Curley might be home for his 84th birthday on Nov. 20, while the Nov. 11 Record had the former mayor walking the floors of Boston City Hospital.

Instead, Curley’s end came abruptly on the morning of Nov. 12. All the city’s papers — whether they’d been running Curley front-page updates, or respectful briefs on Page Seven — snapped to attention and brought out the big black type.




I’d already perceived the tabloid American as the scrappy little-guy’s paper, laden with crime and cheesecake.

Its Curley coverage did nothing to change my mind. The American seemed determined not to let anyone else outdo it in memorializing the “Mayor of the Poor,” offering plenty of copy in a generally reverent tone.

(Reverence is a difficult thing to make happen when your funeral coverage is surrounded by booze ads and true-crime headlines like “I’d Kill Him Again” and “Wine-Crazed Pair Riots in Vt. Jail,” but the American took its best shot.)

The American, for instance, was first to interview scrubwomen — an image-burnishing interview Curley himself would probably have suggested to the paper, had he been around to do so.

In one of his best-known gestures, Curley as newly elected mayor got the City Hall scrubwomen off their knees by giving them mops; his own mother had been a scrubwoman who wore her knees and hands raw. “It was crucifixion, scrubbing on your hands and knees,” one woman told the American. “Your knees would split open and bleed. But he fought for you.”


The American also showed a particular willingness, more than the other papers, to run photos showing Curley’s mortal remains. I’d been wondering how much of that I would see; some papers (the Globe and Herald) went relatively light, while the American and Record seemed to delight in close-up bier-shots.

The Last Hurrah, the movie based on Edwin O’Connor’s thinly fictionalized depiction of Curley, was playing in Boston theaters at the time of Curley’s death. The American managed to score a picture of a somewhat queasy-looking O’Connor passing Curley’s bier. Of course it ran on Page One.


The Traveler at least went for creative, eye-catching composition in its corpse-shot: Watchful state trooper to the left, watchful state trooper to the right, watchful Jesus in the middle, and Curley at rest beneath. Nobody else got that pic.

All the papers ran the long string of obligatory tributes from public officials. They included Mayor John Hynes, who’d ended Curley’s career in office; former President Harry Truman, who’d pardoned Curley for both of his criminal convictions; and U.S. Sen. Leverett Saltonstall, who shows up in this damn blog more than the Bay City Rollers nowadays.

Massachusetts’ other senator kept his official statement brief. He had reasons: For one thing, Curley had used dirty tricks to sideline his grandfather, former Boston mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, and Boston Irish politicians didn’t make a habit of forgetting grudges.

For another thing, the senator was out of town — in Alaska, of all places — in the early days of a campaign that would climax two years later to the month.


A new generation of Boston Irish politician emerges. I think this pic is the Record, but you’ll also see a tease to “Campaigning in Alaska” on the Globe front page above.

I don’t know whether the Traveler and the Herald were usually upper-class papers, but their coverage seemed more even-handed, with headlines such as “Curley’s Oratory Great, but Often Boomeranged,” “Political Acts Often Made Enemies of Warm Friends” and “Curley Eloquent, Sometimes with Fists.”

With Boston awash in Curley anecdotes — there was never any shortage of those — the Traveler tried an interesting angle: “Send Us YOUR Curley Story!” Good stories, with names attached, would be used in the paper.

Basically, the Traveler was crowdsourcing content 50 years before that was a thing, while also maybe getting some fresh material. (I didn’t read deeply enough to find out how it worked out for the paper.)

The Herald checked in with a particularly eloquent editorial, too, bringing to life the essence of Curley’s appeal:

“In his elevation, every little person was elevated. … They could look at a State Street banker with level eye and enjoy the agony of the Brahmins. … The mighty had been humbled and the yoke of inferiority lifted from the downtrodden, and what a sensation that is! … His triumph was their triumph, and you do not vote against yourself.

We can not say that he left a heritage of sound financial practices in city or state. But he did serve a part of humanity that needed desperately the lift he gave it.”


When you look through old papers, the stuff you weren’t looking for is often as interesting as the stuff you were. So, we’ll close with a look at other news of interest from those few days in November 1958:

-In several papers, Curley updates ran side-by-side with dispatches from the trial of Caril Fugate, girlfriend of mass murderer Charles Starkweather. Fugate and Starkweather inspired the movie Badlands and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, among other things.

-Pioneering rock n’ roll DJ Alan Freed was preparing to stand trial in Boston, facing charges related to a riot at a package show he put on at the old Boston Arena. (It’s now Matthews Arena, Northeastern University’s hockey rink. I’ve never been in, but I will be a week from now.)


-In its first front page after Curley’s funeral subsided, the Traveler announced the promotion of another famous Bostonian, a man whose renown would become still greater in the decade to come.


-The Reaper takes no holidays; and right as the Curley story was winding down, the indefatigable American flung itself into the next shocking bit of news as if nothing had happened.