Saturday, October 25, 2008

Westfield's Traffic Problem & Other Items From 1938

Westfield is a great little city. But let's face it, the burg has issues. Traffic issues to be precise. Is it any comfort for the weary commuter to know that the monkey of motoring mayhem has been riding on the back of many a generation of Westfielder? Imagine the interruptus horribulus that must have plagued the town in 1900 or so, when North Elm Street was dug out to flow under the railroad tracks, thereby avoiding the constant interruption of the lowered crossing-gates for train traffic that had been frustrating through-traffic for years. Things apparently being shorter back then, the engineers didn't scoop quite enough dirt from the new underpass and, as a result, its 11'5" height has been a long-time snare for many a truck driver caught unawares.

Traffic issues, specifically on-street parking habits, were also on folks minds in 1938, according to this article (following two images) in the January 28th issue of The Westfield Advertiser:

Am I the only person who thinks that the line, "The city is getting an unfavorable reputation abroad from visitors who find themselves in trouble here." Is a little over the top? I mean, was some guy in Marseilles overheard complaining about Westfield traffic? Nevertheless, the article is interesting. But the intersection of Main and Elm Streets is still a nightmare for pedestrians. It helps to wear running shoes.

Believe it or not, this newspaper came from inside the walls of my parent's house, put there by some cold soul who had come before them for its insulating properties, however meager they may have been. In 1938 times were hard. Seventy years later, the shadow of those uncertain days threatens to overtake us once more. Here are some more scans from The Westfield Advertiser and others...

More Westfield news of 1938.

A & P was a popular grocery chain in the Western Massachusetts area for decades. During high school, I worked at the now-closed Westfield A & P, which by then had moved to 47 Franklin Street from the Main Street location shown in the advertisement. I can still smell the fresh-ground 'Eight O'Clock Coffee' whirring in the big red grinders stationed at the end of each checkout counter. Mmm...

One of A & P's competitors, First National Stores.

I can remember my mother using Vick's Vapo Rub on us when my brothers or I were sick, but I consider myself extremely fortunate to have appeared on the scene long after the Cod Liver Oil cure craze. Then again, I do remember Fletcher's Castoria...ugh.

Headstones, heels, heat and haulers. Just three numbers away.

Anyone remember sock-sliding on just-waxed wood floors fresh with the smell of Johnson Paste Wax?

From pitchforks to pianos, books to bassinettes: What a selection!

Silk for a hundred cents.

Snuggies, flannelette pajamas, blankets: Makes a body feel all warm and toasty.

Mackinaws and mufflers and tailored ties, Jack's was the place to go for men's fashion in Westfield.

Ninety-six ice cubes and delivery for just five bucks down?! (Not to mention the "Super powered Rotorite Unit!") Sold!

Hmmm, a loan on just a signature. Sounds familiar. McWallStreet: 700 Billion (unde)Served.

Buy now, pay later!

Six tube, seven tube, whatever it takes.

Dynotrol II. Cool.

Lest anyone think folks were having fun in 1938, muddling through the dark days of the Great Depression, looking at advertisements in newspapers they're stuffing in the wall for insulation, at things they can't afford, here are a few newspaper front pages from the time. Some of the headlines are as chilling as a Sears Coldspot.

Sometimes you just want to know when the world will ever learn...

The planet abroil.

Precarious as life is, it's always a good idea to keep a little insurance. And to follow the advice of Marcus Aurelius. Peace.

My money talks. It says "Goodbye!"

Yesterday, today - movies are the medicine of the masses.

And who isn't cheered up by a great moving picture or a "Swingtime Revue?"

Or a hilarious comic? Well, hilarious in 1938. Maybe.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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1 comment:

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Great scans from the paper, and great observations, too.

By the way: "Anyone remember sock-sliding on just-waxed wood floors fresh with the smell of Johnson Paste Wax?"

Oh, yeah. Everything spring and fall.