Thursday, October 12, 2017

Closed Circle: UPDATE

From Dave Brigham:

On my regular subway trips around Boston with my son, I regularly walk past the site of the former Circle Cinema in Cleveland Circle. Located on the border of Boston and Brookline, the movie house opened in 1965 and closed in 2008. The theater sat empty for a number of years while developers worked with both city governments and residents to hash out an acceptable redevelopment plan (see January 5, 2015, "Closed Circle").

National Development recently installed the old cinema sign -- round, 7-foot-tall letters -- on the top of one of the new buildings, a 92-apartment independent living community for seniors. A second building will be a 162-room hotel operated by Marriott. The site also contains underground parking and a few retail slots.

I like this project, although of course I haven't seen the inside yet because the new buildings aren't slated to open until next year. I like that the new buildings aren't just more high-priced condos (although I suspect the senior community ain't gonna be cheap). I think siting a hotel on this spot (where there once also stood a restaurant, most recently an Applebee's, before that a Ground Round and a Howard Johson's) is smart, as it sits next to not one, but two, branches of the MBTA's Green line trolley system, providing relatively quick and inexpensive access into Boston.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Thin Ice

From Dave Brigham:

By the time you read this, the quaint warming hut abutting Bullough's Pond in Newton, Mass., will be gone. I'm not sure how old the building is, but I'm guessing it dates to the 1920s or '30s, when ice skating was at its peak on the pond.

Situated close to the imaginary line separating Newtonville from Newton Centre, the pond is surrounded by lovely homes and has benefited greatly from the stewardship of the Bullough's Pond Association. According to the association's web site, "People have been ice skating and playing hockey on Bullough’s Pond since, at least, the early 1900’s." Digital Commonwealth, a priceless online archive that contains photos, manuscripts, books, audio recordings and more from Massachusetts, features a photo of what is called a bath house at Bullough's Pond circa 1925. I'm not positive, but I'm guessing this is the same structure.

The city of Newton discourages ice skating on the pond, due to the fact that the water doesn't freeze as easily as it once did. This is because of silt build-up, according to the association web site.

(This is where skaters would walk to get from the warming hut to the ice.)

More than 350 years ago, John Spring dammed the Smelt Brook and built a grist mill on what became known as Spring's Pond, according to the Bullough's Pond Association web site. Up through the 1850's, the pond, which became known as Pearl Lake before being named Bullough's Pond, was much larger. Due to an expanding population after the addition of a rail line nearby, Newtonville began to grow and Walnut Street was extended south and bisected the pond, per the association. Eventually the southern portion of the pond "would....be filled in and put into culverts, with remnants reappearing years later as the City Hall ponds and the library retention pools," according to the BPA web site.

One might look at the warming hut in the above photo and think, "That place looks great!" Well, I thought the same thing. Great minds....

But as you may be aware, the name of this blog is The Backside of America. So I needed to walk around the building....

(The first sign of trouble.)

(I would love to know what this place looked like in its heyday. Not sure why it looks so great on the outside but hasn't been maintained on the inside.)

Although no longer as large as it once was, the pond is still scenic enough to attract the attention of Hollywood. Per the association's web site, the pond has been used as a backdrop for TV shows and movies, including 2008's "The Women," directed by Diane English and starring Meg Ryan and Annette Bening, and featuring one of my favorite actresses, Debi Mazar.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No Yachts, No Mansions

From Dave Brigham:

What's the first thing you think of when I say Newport? Mansions built by 19th century robber barons that they referred to as summer cottages? The America's Cup yacht race? The International Tennis Hall of Fame? Loads of windburned preps with names like Muffy and Skip wearing Nantucket Reds and spilling white wine while howling with laughter over tales of cheating on exams at Hahvahd?

On a recent family mini-vacation to Rhode Island's toniest address, we managed to miss all of that. But we saw plenty, on both the front and back sides of this wonderful, historic city on Narragansett Bay.

As regular readers of this blog know, whenever I'm on vacation, I make time to find the backside of whatever city I'm in. I spent part of one early morning doing just that, but a lot of my discoveries were made while just walking through Newport's commercial and restaurant areas, as well as on a tour of a fort just a few miles from downtown.

(Fort Adams)

(View across the front yard of the fort, with housing in the background.)

Built between 1824 and 1857, the current Fort Adams replaced a predecessor established in 1799. It was an active Army post until 1950. We toured part of fort (there was a reenactment going on taking up a lot of the interior space), including some of the listening tunnels.

(Our tour guide took us on a short walk through some low listening tunnels, in which soldiers garrisoned at the fort could station themselves so they could hear attempts by the enemy to dig under the fort.)

We had lunch one day at Buskers Pub, a quiet respite from the overflow crowds at so many other eateries. Amid all the memorabilia, both real items and knockoff ones peddled by restaurant decor companies to give diners that oh-so-important cozy feeling of fake nostalgia, my wife spied this beaut.

Know what it is? I'll give you a hint: it's used in a game that few Americans have seen, and even fewer understand, a game that originated in the Basque region of Spain. Give up? It's a jai-alai cesta! Newport used to have a fronton -- what you call the enclosed court where jai-alai is played -- but it's been closed for years. Now the building holds a casino. My friends and I frequented the Hartford fronton back in the '80s.

There are loads of cool historic buildings along the main drags and in the neighborhoods of Newport.

(Now housing retail and office space, this circa-1894 music hall looks great, and surely must have been the cat's pajamas in the 20th century.)

(Home to the Newport Blues Cafe, the former Kinsley Building started life in 1892 as a Aquidneck National Bank, hence the "SAFE DEPOSIT" etched into its facade.)

(The Seamen's Church Institute provides "education, hospitality and a safe haven for those who work, live and play on or by the sea." This building was erected in 1930.)

Driving up to our hotel, I looked across the street and my heart skipped a beat.

The park had a similar feel to Doubleday Field at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which I had the pleasure of playing on a number of years ago. So I knew it was old.

Bernardo Cardines Memorial Field is indeed long in the tooth, and is considered one of the oldest baseball fields in the good ol' US of A. Home to the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a summer league sanctioned by the NCAA and Major League Baseball, the field isn't anything fancy, but I really wanted to get inside to watch a few innings.

Alas, there were no tickets to be had, as the season had ended earlier in August.

Meandering just a little ways from the hotel and ballpark, I came across The Point neighborhood (also known as Easton's Point), one of the oldest in Newport.

(The Callender School in The Point. Built in 1862, closed in 1974 and renovated into apartments in 1979-81, it was named for John Callender Jr., pastor of First Baptist Church in Newport, who lived from 1706 to 1748.)

(The Point is filled with so many amazing old houses that have been beautifully restored. The neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of Colonial homes in in the U.S., per Wikipedia.)

(The Sarah Kendall House in The Point dates to 1871, when it was built for the wife of a wealthy shipping merchant, according to the inn's web site.)

(On the outskirts of The Point sits Ten Speed Spokes, a bike store with a cool retro sign.)

Inevitably, I stumbled across some railroad tracks.

Once part of the Old Colony & Newport Railway that connected to Boston, these tracks have been abandoned for quite some time. But there's a small, restored station just up the railbed.

About 20 minutes out of town you can ride the rails. Not on a train, mind you, but on a rail cart. No, not a handcar like you've seen in old-timey movies. You pedal along for about six miles, hands-free, while you enjoy views of Narragansett Bay and the quaint surrounding towns. Here's some video of the trip my wife, kids and I took with Rail Explorers:

Pretty cool, eh?

Finally, while we didn't hit any mansions or board any yachts, we did check out one of Newport's major tourist attractions: the Cliff Walk. Sandwiched between the Newport shoreline and the backyards of Gilded Age mansions, the walk extends 3.5 miles, although we only walked a small portion of it because my kids are kinda lame.

(Mystery box located along the Cliff Walk, at Salve Regina University.)

We had a great time in Newport. There were so many great restaurants, shops and museums that we only strolled past, because again, our kids were with us. I'd love to get there with my wife and take advantage of more of what this great little city has to offer.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One-Stop Barnstorming Tour

From Dave Brigham:

I've never smoked, other than a few times experimenting with cigarettes and stogies as a teenager, but tobacco is a minor theme in my life. I grew up in a Connecticut River Valley town that was once known worldwide for growing shade tobacco for the cigar industry. When I was a kid in the 1970's, local teens would rise early during the summer to pick tobacco alongside migrant workers. There were tobacco barns at the edge of my neighborhood and scattered throughout the town and others in the area. Some of those barns are still standing, although I don't think any of them are in use.

On a recent trip to visit with family in Windsor, Connecticut, I stayed in a hotel right off the highway. I'd stayed there before, and had a vague feeling that there was something worth exploring in the immediate area. As often happens when I sleep in a hotel, I awoke early. I left my wife and kids sleeping in their cozy beds and struck out on foot along the busy road heading west. There were no sidewalks, and although there wasn't much traffic on this Saturday morning, I felt ill at ease. After just a few minutes, however, I veered onto a side road.

My hotel was on Day Hill Road, a busy thoroughfare with other hotels, business parks and office buildings, so when I saw the side road sign said "Old Day Hill Road," I knew I'd find something good.

This is one of three old tobacco barns on this farm. There were crops all around, but I couldn't tell you what the farmers are growing. Seemed to be mostly vegetables. I would've explored more, but there was an SUV a short distance away that I'm guessing belonged to someone charged with keeping folks like me away.

The sun was already hot at 8:00, and I didn't have a hat or sunscreen, so I didn't walk too far on Old Day Hill Road. After returning home I discovered that there are some old potato barns just up the road a piece from where I stopped. Bummer....

Upon my return to the hotel, once my family was awake, I opened the curtains in the room. And got this wonderful view.

I wrote about another tobacco barn and the former church that served the little community of agricultural workers in East Granby, CT, last year (see July 19, 2016, "Tobacco Road").

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hub Holdout

From Dave Brigham:

I think about the backside of America a lot. This doesn't surprise you. I try to snap photos of shuttered buildings as soon as I notice them, because in this strong Greater Boston economy those places get bulldozed and turned into gleaming glass monoliths faster than you can say "gleaming glass monoliths."

Thankfully, some places have been able to not only defy the wrecking ball, but also thrive by ignoring the ways of The New. On a recent subway trip into the Hub of the Universe with my two kids, I had plans to walk by the Mother Church of Christian Science, and perhaps dip our toes in the reflecting pool outside. Construction along Huntington Avenue, however, left us unable to easily access the church, and we found the pool empty.

But then I looked across the street, and pulled out my ulterior ulterior motive.

Looks like the setting for an episode of "Spenser: For Hire" doesn't it? The MidTown Hotel is certainly an anomaly amidst all the high-rise condos and skyscraper hotels in Boston. This place would fit in along Route 1 north of the city, although much of the midcentury charm of that roadway is gone (see this article about the old Hilltop Steak House, and this one about the famous Route 1 orange dinosaur).

Built in 1962, the hotel looks much better on the inside than the outside would leave one to believe. Located near Symphony Hall, the Prudential and Copley malls, Northeastern University, Copley Square and much more, the place shows no signs of fading away. For a nice ode to the MidTown, read Thomas Farragher's column in the Boston Globe from two years ago.

As if all the amenities, attractions and restaurants close at hand weren't enough, you can also get your hair styled.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Duck Duck House

From Dave Brigham:

The first time I saw this cute little place, I thought it was a dog house that somebody tossed overboard into Boston Harbor. "Fido! You've chewed your last slipper!" And you thought Mitt Romney had canine issues.

That was a few years ago, before the folks at the oddly named Waterboat Marina affixed a sign indicating this is a duck house.

Huey, Dewey and Louie have a pretty sweet set-up: gigantic pool; easy access to the ice machine; an abundance of mollusks, algae and beer spilled by those who overdo it at the nearby Tia's Restaurant; the cachet of owning a trendy tiny house....

For a write-up about a different kind of duck house, see January 14, 2017, "Beautiful Duckling."

Friday, September 1, 2017

For What the Bell Tolls

From Dave Brigham:

It's human nature, I suppose, to ignore the history in your backyard that folks travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to see. I've lived in the Boston area 27 years and have yet to set foot in the Bunker Hill Monument, for instance. Or Paul Revere's house. Or Old South Church. Or the liquor store where Whitey Bulger conducted his heinous affairs.

As regular readers know, I seek out the hidden history, the decrepit buildings, the rusting heaps in the woods. But recently my family spent just a small amount of time in nearby Lexington, Mass. ("The Birthplace of American Liberty") and checked out the American Revolution-related plaques and memorials around the famous Battle Green.

I won't lie to you: this was an outing taken as a result of the need to get out of the house, rather than an insatiable thirst for historical knowledge. My kids rejected a walk in the woods, said they wanted to do a "city walk." Well, we've spent a lot of time in Boston and Cambridge over the years, so I thought of Lexington, with its quaint shops and restaurants (most importantly, an ice cream parlor). I figured strolling through a few sights from the American Revolution would be gravy.

The historical markers around the Green -- related to meeting houses, the first casualties of the Revolution, and the iconic Minute Man -- were of some interest, as was the massive flagpole in the center of it all. But when I saw a sign for "The Belfry," I knew I had found my true destination.

Located just a musket-shot away from the Green, the belfry was built in 1762 in its current spot, and moved to the Green in 1768, per the Lexington Historical Society web site. The bell was used to summon folks to worship, and tolled upon the deaths of townspeople. But on April 19, 1775, the belfry realized its greatest glory: sounding the alarm calling the local militia men to the Common in advance of the approach of the British Redcoats.

Eventually the belfry was moved back to its original location. The original was destroyed in 1909 either by fire or by a strong gale, depending on which historical account you believe, and the town had a reproduction made in 1910. The bell tolls each year to signal the start of the Patriots' Day reenactment on the Green, according to the historical society.

As for that ice cream parlor, we ended up there after our less-than-stressful adventure. Rancatore's is pretty good, and is located in a nice old circa-1903 building known as the Hunt Block.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Love of Tunnels

From Dave Brigham:

What is it about a tunnel? A little bit mysterious, perhaps dangerous. A route under the hustle and bustle, a cool escape. A graffiti canvas. A place to chug a beer on the way to work.

(Yerxa Road Underpass, Cambridge, Mass.)

Reconstructed in 2006, the Yerxa Road Underpass connects neighborhoods in North Cambridge, ducking under the MBTA's Fitchburg commuter rail line. The tunnel is adorned with sculptures and tiles created by Randal Thurston. I don't know when the underpass was built, but the fact that it needed to be rebuilt 11 years ago leads me to believe it had become neglected -- probably dark, smelling of piss, covered in grammatically incorrect graffiti.

About a mile east the Fitchburg line crosses over the Sacramento Street Underpass in Somerville. This tunnel has obviously not been renovated recently as has its opposite number in Cambridge.

Still, there are some nice murals done by local school kids.

People who live in these neighborhoods likely don't think twice about walking through these tunnels to get from their apartments to the grocery store, or from work to a lunch place. But for a guy who lives in your standard suburban neighborhood with exactly zero underpasses, I find it exciting to drag my son along to check out these types of spots.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Roster Change In the Fenway

From Dave Brigham:

New and old Boston, captured in one off-center photo.*

Fenway Gulf is located a few short blocks from the home of the Red Sox, in a neighborhood that has changed drastically in the last decade. Pierce Boston rises behind the "Gulf" sign, one of several high rises recently completed or under construction. For a look at what the future apartment/condo site once looked like, read this article from the Boston Globe and check out the picture at the top of the page. A D'Angelo's sub shop once stood here, as did other businesses, including one that rented studio spaces for bands.

So, what's to become of the erstwhile gas station property? And why do I care?

I have a personal connection with this place. You see, I actually bought drinks and snacks there with my son -- one time! We were on a Pokemon Go walk in the area and got, you guessed it, thirsty and hungry. So this spot means a lot to me. Or rather it did. On one occasion.

Anyway...for the cool price of $16.9 million, the corporate parent of Star Market bought the site earlier this year. A Boston Globe article at the time indicated the company planned to bulldoze the gas station to expand a parking lot for the adjacent grocery store. But with so many high-priced condos rising all around the area, I have to believe something more than a parking lot will end up here. The Star parking lot has been too small for decades, it's true, but with car-averse/sharing millennials moving in and working in the area I doubt there's enough need for increased parking.

As always, stay tuned.

*I hoisted my phone over a fence, so cut me some slack.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

This Old House of Blues

From Dave Brigham:

The crazy guy sitting behind the drums and bashing the cymbals with his acoustic guitar could have spit on me. I was that close. My friend Jeff and I were transfixed as Hasil Adkins belted out insane songs like "The Hunch," "She Said" (more famously covered by The Cramps) and "We Got a Date," in which he yowls about cutting his girl's head off.

This was the one time I saw a show at the original House of Blues in world-famous Harvard Square. Opened in 1992, the Cambridge, Mass., club was intimate and got pretty sweaty the night that Adkins, a rockabilly cult favorite, played. The place served good food, and in addition to great blues music, was known for a gospel brunch on Sundays.

Anybody who's seen a band at any one of the 11 current House of Blues locations might be surprised that the building in the above photo was the original club. I went to the L.A. one nearly 20 years ago, and it was nothing like the cozy space in Hahvahd Squayah. The original spot was shuttered in 2003. The company opened a new franchise in Boston, near Fenway Park, several years ago.

A steakhouse named Brother Jimmy's moved into the spot, but closed in 2008. An outlet of the Tommy Doyle's restaurant chain moved there afterwards. In late 2013, the Hasty Pudding Club, a Harvard-affiliated theatrical society best-known for its Man & Woman of the Year parades and ceremonies, moved its clubhouse into what is officially known as the Hyde-Taylor House.

From BroadwayWorld.com, about the house:

"In 1846, the current house was built by Isaac Hyde in the Greek revival style. In 1900, George Mendell Taylor purchased the house where he both lived and gave piano lessons, beginning the performing arts tradition that has continued to this day. The building took on a new persona in 1950 when Geneviève MacMillan opened the first French restaurant in the Square. The restaurant, Club Henry IV, was frequented by the likes of William Faulkner, Thornton, Wilder, and Joan Miró. Geneviève had interests that lay far beyond her restaurant. She dedicated her life to collecting African art, promoting diversity and learning about one another's cultures, and establishing fellowships and grants to further these goals. She began a legacy of philanthropy and education that, like Taylor's, has been passed down through the building's history. In 1965, the area's first discotheque, La Discotheque Nicole, opened in the basement of Club Henry IV."

Pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Price of Gas: UPDATE

From Dave Brigham:

That right there is a damn shame. First of all, you should know that nobody was hurt when this massive apartment complex in Waltham, Mass., went up in flames in mid-July. Slated to open next year, the luxury development featured several buildings four or five stories tall. Constructed of wood apartments above a concrete ground floor, the buildings had yet to receive sprinkler systems, but had passed inspection the prior week, according to the Boston Globe.

I wrote about this site in early 2015, before construction began, before, in fact, I even knew what was going to be built here (see February 7, 2015, "The Price of Gas"). The former site of the Waltham Gas Light Co., this spot between Cooper and Elm streets was vacant and polluted for quite a long time. The Edison on the Charles complex is being developed by Lincoln Cooper Street LLC. It was one of several new developments in or near downtown Waltham to rise in recent years.

It's unclear whether the developer will attempt to rebuild. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined. Stay tuned....

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Circling Buzzards Bay

From Dave Brigham:

The heat and humidity weighed heavily on me as I slogged along Main Street in Bourne, Mass. Overhead, vultures traced lazy arcs, awaiting my demise. But I was determined, damnit, to take pictures and live another day! Fans of the Backside of America demand dedication and excellence.

I was traipsing through Buzzards Bay, the village of Bourne that's on the mainland side of the Cape Cod Canal. Every year I spend a week in Pocasset, another Bourne village, with my family. Perhaps you read last year's vacation installment -- October 3, 2016, "Bourne Supremacy." For other Cape Cod-themed posts, see the bottom of this page.

Buzzards Bay was allegedly named by white guys a few centuries back who hadn't brushed up on their ornithology. Spying a large bird near the bay's shore, they assumed it was a buzzard and so called the large body of water after it. Turns out the creature was an osprey, according to Wikipedia. I can attest there are osprey aplenty in this area of the Cape, although evidently the birds were endangered for many years due to pesticide usage, again according to Lord Wiki.

Osprey Bay has a nice ring to it, but it sounds too much like a fancy lady's clothing store to me. Buzzards Bay sounds tough.

Speaking of tough, I bet there were more than a few hard-assed folks in leather jackets, chaps and "MOTHER" tattoos hanging out at the Port O' Call back in the day. And that was just the ladies! Bada bing, bada boom! I'll be here all week....

Seriously, though, this place was a biker bar back in the late '80s, according to this newspaper article from September 2015. The place had cleaned up its act leading up to its closing two years ago, thanks to a new owner. Speculation that the nearby Mass Maritime Academy might develop the site has yet to be realized.

Like many working class hangouts, the Port, as it was known, had its fans and its detractors. On TripAdvisor, which had listed the Port O' Call at one time as a "Must See Attraction in Buzzard's Bay," one commenter had this to say:

It's not even there Anymore. But when it was there it was disgustingly dirty. It's definently not an attraction. Far from it. The place is frequented by not the most up standing customers. Nothing was ever cleaned and it smelled horribly rotten.the back parking lot was a place for shady dealings. Wink wink.The interior was dank smelly and condemable to say the least. Yes the drinks were cheap but I'd rather not have to wear a hazmat suit to have a drink. Completely disgusting.

To be fair, one of the regulars quoted in the article above called the bar "the Cheers of Bourne."

Across the street from the bar, at the entrance to the maritime school, sits the Buzzards Bay train station. Built in 1912, the station is used by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (in collaboration with the Mass Bay Transportation Authority) for its Cape Flyer summer train from Boston to Hyannis. There is an old interlocking tower on the site as well. The building is used by the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce.

Adjacent to the train station is the beautiful Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, which is usually in the "up" position to let boats and ships pass, but which is lowered when the Cape Flyer and other trains pass through.

A short waddle away is the National Marine Life Center, which includes a hospital and education center. And some cool artwork on the outside.

On the opposite side of the street sits one of numerous empty storefronts.

I believe there was a pizza place next door up until early 2016. While there are several restaurants and bars along this stretch of Main Street, there are a lot of teeth knocked out of the Buzzards Bay smile. But why would this place be different than any other town?

This place sells golf carts and services vehicles of all types, I think. Looks like the kind of place where Ward Cleaver might have bought a Packard. 'Twas built in 1941.

Continuing east on Main Street, I saw this building.

Built in 1938, it's a small retail facility that seems as if it's been empty for quite some time. It's currently on the market for just under $400K if you're interested. It has town water and sewer. What are you waiting for?!?!

I focus a lot on the decrepit, abandoned and rusting on this blog, but not everything on the backside is falling apart. I showcased a nice mural above, and now want to share a military memorial.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Pucino was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. This clock is a beautiful monument to his service, and that of others in the armed forces.

As regular Backside readers know, I have a little bit of a thing for churches. For an atheist like me, this is a strange attraction. I rarely go into churches, but often find myself drawn to the simple and sometimes elegant architecture of houses of worship. If you tack a sailor in a boat over the front door, I melt into a puddle of swoon.

And what a cool history this church has! Formed in 1938, St. Peter's (named for St. Peter the Fisherman) was without its own building until 1947, when the minister procured an abandoned church and had it shipped by barge from Hull, Mass., to Buzzards Bay. To read the whole story, check out this article.

I also got a squishy feeling inside when I saw this place.

The Bay Motor Inn was built in 1920 and looks great for being nearly 100 years old. I imagine this place has gone through some ups and downs and probably seen its share of oddball tourists and maybe the occasional serial murderer. But it gets good reviews online.

The penultimate stop on this part of my Buzzards Bay/Bourne tour was this sign.

ABB Moonwalks, thankfully, is still in business. Just not at this location. As you might suspect, the company rents bouncy houses, obstacle courses, water slides and more. I'm waiting for them to strike a partnership with The Paddy Wagon Inflatable Pub.

Speaking of booze....

I love the look of Bourne Bridge Liquors. Built in 1962, it has that Midcentury Modern look that the kids love today. And check out the hanging lamps and cool map on the inside, courtesy of Retro Roadmap.

After loading up on beer, wine and Goldschlager, why not head to church?

Here I go with my church thang again. I love how humble this Christadelphian Chapel appears. Who knows, maybe the inside is filled with funhouse mirrors, a meth lab and a shooting range. The building is listed at one real estate web site as having been built in 1900, and on the Town of Bourne site as 1940. I'm guessing the building is 117 years old, and perhaps the Christadelphians took it over 77 year ago.

I wrapped up my latest Bourne sojourn along Route 28, just south of the infamous traffic circle that greets visitors to the Cape.

When I first visited Pocasset probably close to two decades ago, this driving range was active. Been a while since any budding Jordan Spieths or John Dalys have aimed for the ball-scoop cart at this place.

Guessing this is the Buzzards Bay Garage guys' chop shop for boosted golf carts.

Just a chip shot away sits the former Cartwheels II amusement emporium.

Inside these hallowed halls my wife, kids and I once played video games and ate cheesy, salty foods. And on the track below, we raced go-karts until the treads flew off into the safety netting that separated us from the thousands of cheering fans.

And lastly, we donned our knickers and competed fiercely on the miniature golf course that is slowly beginning to look like, well, an actual golf course. The British kind, with high grass, windswept vistas and royalty lolling all about.

I am joking, but it comes from a place of sadness. With so many retail and entertainment options fading away into the digisphere, what will become of brick-and-mortar anything? What jobs will students, foreign workers on visas, -- hell anybody! -- do if all that's left is to pack dry goods onto delivery drones or consult via Skype every time someone's phone gets overheated from too much Snap-Face-Tinder-texting?

You know who's never online? The Honey Dew bear.

Started in 1973 with a single shop in Mansfield, Mass., Honey Dew Donuts has grown to 145 shops in New England. The company competes with hometown heavyweight Dunkin' Donuts and that fancy-schmancy Seattle coffee junta, so obviously once in a while a joint shuts down. This place has been vacant for at least a baker's dozen years. Funny I never noticed it before.

A place called Bruno's Burgers was supposed to open on this site a few years ago, but I guess the grass-fed beef was greener in some other location. The temporary sign for the burger joint is still there.

Here are some other Cape Cod posts:

July 26, 2015, "Cavalier Attitude About Motels."

August 5, 2010, "Dark Side of the Motel." The motel was torn down recently; only the sign remains.

July 28, 2010, "Two Hearts Beat As One."