By Rosalie Tirella
Yesterday, as I was driving through Kelley Square and dealing with THE TRUCK IN REVERSE, and taking pics of THE TRUCK IN REVERSE, I realized, later on, as I looked at my photos: THERE IS A HUGE TRENDY BAR JUTTING RIGHT INTO KELLEY SQUARE!! And across the street there is another BAR/BBQ feeding into Kelley Square. And up Green Street and on Water Street there are more BARS/GLORIFIED PUBS where patrons can guzzle alcohol – get drunk, whoozy, booze-buzzed – and then DRIVE THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE. Get into their cars and DRIVE RIGHT INTO KELLEY SQUARE TRAFFIC! The rats’ maze that it is now – or the new multi-laned Peanut Mess which will have cars driving thru at a FASTER speed because it will be multi-laned and laid out straight by Mass DOT.
WOW. Think about it – all up and down Green and Water streets: 20 to 25 bars/pubs where you can drink beer, wine, mimosas, martinis … AND THEN DRIVE THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE.
So different from my childhood WHEN KELLEY SQUARE WAS REALLY ABOUT WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, THEIR BUSINESSES AND THEIR KIDS. I grew up on Lafayette Street and felt: Kelley Square was a serious/fun biz district that accommodated my mom and us kids. We had:
Jack and Jill children’s clothing store on Green Street – great for First Holy Communion dresses and pocketbooks and Easter dresses
Atlas Fabric Store on Green Street – millions of yards of all kinds of fabric for our moms and grandmas – or anyone who liked to sew skirts, dresses, coats, etc.
Molly the hairdresser for those brillo pad shaped curly perms for moms and grannies – and cheap haircuts for us kids. Cheap and basic.
Then the Automotive Parts Distributors biz on Kelley Sq…and next to it, the blue collar/working class King of Kelley Square, where Allen Fletcher’s building now sits and houses the Wachusett brewery mega bar that juts into Kelley Square: Edward’s Paint. BIG, MAJESTIC, A GIGANTIC NEON SIGN EDWARDS PAINT SIGN. Pink I think. At Edwards: thousands of gallons of paint, paint brushes, rollers, painters pants, paint trays, heavy canvas drop cloths, infinite paint colors … ALL MEANT for Worcester’s contractors, handymen, house painters, do-it-your-selfers. The worker bees of Worcester.🐝🐝🐝🐝
Then Water Street: strictly for families and fun. Not a barroom in sight. A special place for fsmilies overflowing with rootbeer floats, homemade pastrami on rye sandwiches, french fries, apple struddel, blueberry pies, birthday cakes!, Babka Bread, brownies, bismarks, BULKIES!!!!!♥️♥️♥️:
Charlies Surplus Sports Store♥️ – kids and adults basketball shorts and jerseys, sweat pants, basketball socks and more! And the gregarious Charlie!♥️
The Broadway Ice Cream Shoppe and restaurant! With its inimitable proprietor, Sam♥️!!! Always Sam looking so natty in his beige sports coat, standing, every Sunday morning, at the Broadway’s front door … to shake hands/greet every man woman and child who walked in! Usually after church – for a hot fudge sundae – icecream made at the Broadway – or a burger and fries or a plate of scrambled eggs, homefries, bagel with cream cheese. Sam made my mom, a single working mom, a counter girl at the dry cleaners on Millbury Street … Sam made Ma feel like a million bucks when she walked in! The warm smile, the handshake, the Hello, girls to us! He made everbody feel special – factory workers, shirt pressers, brick layers, mechanics and short order cooks.
Water Street was great! No bars. No pubs. No booze. … ABSOLUTELY BUILT FOR workers, then KIDS AND PARENTS – AND FUN AND SUGAR HIGHS! You could spend your day on Water and Green streets AND DRIVE HOME THROUGH KELLEY SQUARE unscathed. Or you could walk across it, like Ma, me and my kid sisters did. Holding hands. Looking two, three, four ways … serious but feeling safe.
Crossing Kelley Square with a grin because we just had icecream cones at the Broadway or bought a dozen bulkies for home at Widoffs. All affordable – all made for the working families of the neighborhood, Green Island and Vernon Hill – and any other Worcester guy or gal with a few bucks in his or her pocket.
My uncle’s gold Electra sailed effortlessly through Kelley Square – with all of us kids and grownups in it – to the 290 on ramp…He had just bought two dozen bulkies at Widoffs. For sandwiches my mother and aunt would make at the beach…We were going to Hampton Beach and sailing through our beloved Kelley Square to get there …