02-01-14 News

The Upper Falls News is an email newsletter about what's going on in our village.  The Upper Falls News is brought to you by the Upper Falls Area Council but it's intended to cover any and all news in the village. 

Upper Falls Trivia - What was an "Ebonite Curval" and what was it's connection to Upper Falls? (answer below)

Variety Store Historical Drama (continued) - The last issue of the Upper Falls News featured a story about Upper Falls Variety store owner Tom O'Shaughnessy' great grandfather.  Tom's grandpappy worked for the Boston Water Works and was the captain of a boat that took a poet on a ride inside the Sudbury aqueduct, from Echo Bridge to Chestnut Hill in the 1880's.  The poet's account of the trip was featured in the 1889 King's Handbook of Newton, and included a shout out to her "good-natured Irish cherub" of a captain Tom O'Shaughnessy. 

In this issue, the plot thickens ....
A few years back, Tom did a little research on his family's history.  He went to City Hall and looked up the death certificate of his great grandfather Tom.  When the clerk flipped through the book and found the record, she let out a gasp - "Oh my God, he died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen" said the clerk.  Tom had never heard any mention of this when growing up so he kept digging.  He eventually found this microfilm in the library of a 1919 edition of the Newton Graphic.  The front page story entitled "Instantly Killed" reported that his great grandfather was shot to death by his "demented" daughter Nora in the front yard of his house in Upper Falls.   Nora spent the rest of her life in an asylum in Worcester but was eventually buried in a grave next to her father.  Apparently the family realized that poor Nora was a victim of her mental illness and couldn't be held responsible for shooting her daddy.

Tom wants to make sure that none of you get the wrong idea about the O'Shaughnessy clan.  By and large the family did quite well and were respectable members of society.  Here's a letter of commendation from the Taft White House in 1909 thanking Tom's grandfather Edward (Nora's  brother).  Edward was the porter on a two month long railroad "whistle stop"  tour for Taft's presidential campaign.

Lots of History Lovers Out There - We've been selling plenty of reprints of the Kings Handbook of Newton these last few weeks and we'd like to sell plenty more....

In the 1800's, a company called Kings Publishing published a series of guide books about various cities around the country - Boston, Cincinnati, New York, Springfield, Providence ... and yes Newton.  The 340 page "Kings Handbook of Newton" describes the Newton of 1889 in great details, with a chapter for each village.  It's full of drawings, stories, poems, anecdotes of Newton of the day and it's written in a somewhat goofy, over-the-top style.   We've just republished the book as a paperback and are selling copies for $20 each.   All proceeds from the book sale will go to the rebuilding of the Emerson Playground.  So help build a playground by ordering a copy today.  Send us an email with your address, telephone number, and how many copies you would like.  We'll deliver them to your door.

Friends of the Upper Falls Greenway Kickoff - The official kickoff meeting of The Friends of The Upper Falls Greenway will be held on Tues Feb 11 at the Emerson Community Center at 7 PM.  The construction of the mile long Greenway path is scheduled to be completed this spring.   The Friends of the Greenway will be involved, on an ongoing basis over the coming years, in various efforts to improve our new park - plantings and landscaping, events, fund raising, special projects, etc.  We're looking for as many volunteers as possible to get involved.  Come on down to the Emerson Center and help plan and create our new neighborhood park.

Best Window In Upper Falls - Since Mike's Classic Barbershop opened a few years ago, Mike's done a great job with the decorations.  His display case of barber paraphernalia has been there from the start.  Every so often he's been redecorating the front window with different themes.  A particular favorite of mine was this past Halloween's display.  Since last week, he's begun featuring one of America's most well known artist's barber shop paintings.

Step 1 - The first step is to pick a date.  This year's Feast of the Falls will be held on Sun June 22 (rain date is 6/29). Last year's spectacular Feast of the Falls surpassed everyone's expectations.  This year's promised to be bigger, better, and even more delicious.  Put it on your calendar now.
Rockland Auxiliary Post Office Party - A torn up, mis-delivered Christmas card led to a party in the neighborhood last weekend.  When Margaret Alexander received a Christmas card intended for someone else, she turned to the Upper Falls News readers.  Many of you responded with the identity of the correct addressee - Geralyn Coticone.   Last weekend, Margaret and Mick Alexander invited everybody involved in the Christmas card delivery to come by their house for a little party.  About 15 neighbors turned up for a great Sunday afternoon get-together.  Everyone knew some of the other guests but nobody knew everyone - a good formula for a good party.  Many thanks to Margaret and Mick for hosting a fine time for everyone.

More Coyote Sightings - After last issue's report by Ray Boyce about seeing a coyote on Rockland Place, reader Melanie Stephenson said "There is obviously a large coyote hanging around.  This past Thursday I spotted a large coyote boldly wandering around Columbia Avenue, it was the middle of the morning and it didn’t immediately shy away when it saw me!  I reported it on the city’s page of coyote sightings."

Bowling at the Biltmore - We're putting together an event called "The Back Alleys of Newton" that will celebrate the hidden little bowling alleys all around the city - some still working, some not.   There were a few lanes in the basement of The Biltmore on Chestnut St. but not much remains of them today. We're trying to dig up as much info as we can about the history of the those lanes. If you know anything about bowling in the Biltmore basement, or if you ever bowled there yourself, please let us know,

Low Stress Bike Routes - Upper Falls neighbor Jim Lerner has put together this "crowd sourced" Google map, that shows low-traffic bike routes around the city.  Check it out to find alternative low stress bicycle riding routes and/or add you own favorite routes to the map.

Did You Know ... that Greece has the longest national anthem in the world and it's 158 verses long!  "Did you know ..." features an interesting and random fact every issue, collected by eleven-year-old Upper Falls resident Jayla Reilly.

Send Us Your News - If you have any upcoming events, activities, news, trivia, stories, anecdotes or jokes related to Upper Falls just send them to news@UpperFallsNews.org and we'll include them in the next newsletter.  For those who prefer living in the past, back issues of the Upper Falls News are archived at UpperFallsNews.org.

Upper Falls Trivia Answer - The Ebonite Curval was the flagship bowling ball manufactured by the Stowe Woodward company at the bowling ball factory on Oak St.  Their motto was "The Ball That Rolls Rite".  The factory was where the Village Falls condo complex is now on Oak St.  The factory shut down in the 1970's during a labor strike.  A few folks report that back when the factory was in operation you could tell what color bowling balls they were making by the color of the water downstream in the Charles River.