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Opinion

Jourgensen: Cavallaro’s, the Cow Palace, Casper and casinos…

I’m finally digging some gems out of Nahant thanks to my friend Carla, who has family roots deep enough in town to recall Frank & Sam’s. Described as a 1930s-era takeout restaurant it was located, she said, next to the 400 Club on Nahant Road for a period of time. The 400 Club became Cavallaro’s with its reputation, she said, for being a “place to go if you didn’t want to be seen with your wife but with your mistress.”

Speaking of Nahant, Jody LaFalce turned 100 last month with a big party that included a motorcycle ride. She was driving into her 99th year and informed sources say she doesn’t look a day over 70.

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Joanne Frawley recalled how Lynn’s Western-Walnut Code Enforcement Program in the 1970s gave her parents an opportunity to renovate their Whiting Street home. The upgrades included a new kitchen and bath for the Frawley’s and their six daughters.

Western-Walnut, by all accounts, was an urban improvement program fueled not only by federal dollars but also by youthful inspiration. Ed Calnan, Ann Marie Leonard and the other city workers who made it a success spent their 20s witnessing and participating in programs launched by the presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Calls for action like “The New Frontier” and “Great Society” were genuinely (in hindsight, maybe naively) intended to inspire people into changing and bettering America. Western-Walnut carried on this cause one house at a time making memories like the one Frawley still recalls.  “I was only a kid but I remember being happy that my mom wouldn’t have to worry about catching rainwater leaking inside from the roof!”

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The great Dick Field provided information and a photograph documenting the Lynn band’s 1893 visit to Mitchell, South Dakota, where the musicians helped inaugurate a Victorian monstrosity called the Corn Palace. The photo shows a gigantic structure with towers and turrets dwarfing the band arrayed in formation. It would be interesting to find out how and why the Lynn musicians were invited to cross the nation by train and perform.

Speaking of music and Lynn and the Wild West, my wife’s first introduction to Casper, Wyoming, long before she met me was through visits by the Casper Troopers to Lynn for drum and bugle competitions. Turned out in their smart cavalry uniforms, the troopers hearkened back to the south central Wyoming city’s days as a military outpost.

The Troopers entertained people across the country but my memories of a big night out in Casper were when my parents, uncle and aunt packed all of us cousins into the car (pre-seatbelt era) and drove the airport road out to the fairgrounds, where calf roping and barrel riding competitions were featured along with “freak show” displays long since eliminated from fairs.

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In delving into Perley Burrill’s history, colleague Thomas Grillo encountered a claim contending the service station was the only place for miles around with working lights during the great blackout of 1965 thanks to generators. The story might be rooted in Perley Burrill’s sign advertising the station as the “place off the Pike where the lights shine bright.”

While we’re on the subject of signs and memories, here’s hoping the great nautical decor in the Porthole Restaurant shows up somewhere else locally where people can be reminded of good times spent eating at the Porthole, having fun in the bar or attending functions.

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Anybody remember the two gambling boats that gave it a go operating off the EDIC pier? Was there a casino a century ago on Red Rock and did Casino Road in Marblehead once lead to a casino?

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