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A lot of memories getting torn down this week on Boylston Street in the Fenway
By adamg on Sat, 12/12/2020 - 11:42am
Kim memorialized what's left of the buildings that used to house Machine and the Baseball Tavern (and an assortment of first-floor stores), being torn down to make way for an apartment building that will include an LGBTQ-themed performing-arts theater, in memory of the clubs that were torn down for the new building.
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Here's one for the kids
Anyone ever go into the hidden pool (billiards) room inside Machine/RamRod?
I can't remember clearly because I only went once and I probably was high but I remember a hidden pool room upstairs. I remember I was taken into Machine (the basement) and then taken up the backstairs to a pool room with 3-4 tables. I remember it not being accessible from the street.
Or am I just imagining things in a haze of ABDEKDSF drugs?
Those of us of a certain age remember...
when the Baseball Tavern was the 1270, a great gay club in the 70s 80s and with name changes into the 90s. When the original Herbie's Ramrod Room was torn down for the Transportation building, Ramrod opened up a few doors down from 1270 and later opened downstairs as Machine. Those were some wild days in the clubbing community, with the Fens right there for more "activity" after the bars closed.
I love a parade
A friend and I were smoking weed in the victory gardens nearby and it must have been closing time because it was like a pride parade came marching through heading towards the reeds.
Same. Used to go in there to smoke before going out.
Yeah either clubs got out or a sox game. Always seemed to be hopping at those two times.
and yeah.. after sox games. Something about the sox, beer, and all that man-ness of a baseball game gets alot of these Dads from Rockland or Wakefield all hot N bothered enough to go walking into the enchanted forest looking for DSL. and not high speed internet from Verizon.
It really is/was a thing. I know a few guys who were into that 'married but on the DL" types back then and they would tell me post-sox game was a place to be for that.
But to your comment.. A friend and I were walking in there to smoke along the main path to the back from the Ipswich/Boylston intersection, just about where the cross path and the gardens start. We hear a cop car make a "blipblip" and saw blue lights coming from behind us, so we turned around. To our surprise a cruise was coming down the path at us (and telling us to get out of the way). We ran to the Shell station and sat and watched hoards of men all coming running out as more cruises went in. Just like roaches when you turn on the light.. everyone scattered.
Later we went to the Ramrod and everyone was abuzz at what happened (as everyone who escaped went to the Ramrod).
I dont remember that
But I do remember the "leather only" room and security turning on their flashlights when things started to get out of hand.
They used to have pool tables on the first floor (Ramrod) in the back. That would be upstairs from Machine downstairs. But I never heard about an upstairs from Ramrod.
I was trying to think of something......
funny to say about being "taken" into the basement of the Machine but every time I thought about it I was worried that the comedy would not come out right and that it would come out homophobic.
But the answer Cybah is no.
Nah, not homophobic at all
You are just fantasizing : )
The only time I went into the basement was on a lesbian night. If I was straight, it would have been hot. Girls girls girls! Being a gay guy, I was only there to say hello to friends who were working or out to dance and drink.
You've never been inside :p You could have come for uniform night ...
Upstairs at the Ramrod in the back is where the fun used to happen. Its not as fun anymore since they added lighting and took down the dividers. :-)
Machine, a dance club was downstairs. The crowds could not be any different between the two floors.
Leather guys upstairs dancing to heavy industrial, Twinky Muscle Guys downstairs dancing to Deborah Cox
You'd see the rando lost twinky upstairs who didnt want to wait in the bathroom line downstairs, so he went upstairs and got lost in the back room because some big leather bear paw'd him.
Or the drunk leather bear who wanted downstairs. Annoyed by the music but still on the dancing floor in fullkit dancing between a drag queen, a straight black girl, and her twinky gay boy friend.
And then the 2am side walk sale. There were more bargains being made on that sidewalk than Filene's Basement had all year long.
Pete knows what it was like
Pete knows what it was like in there, back when he was in the academy, he kept ending up in the Blue Oyster bar.
As a child of the 80s
We had these on VHS and played them over and over again (along with Moving Violations.. a knock off by Bill Murray's brother), so I was well aware of the Blue Oyster Club. (As a young boy, I also had a fondness for Steve Gutenberg's furry chest...)
When I turned 18 and moved away from a small NH town to a big city of Atlanta, I went to my first gay bar. (1995ish)
I was expecting a hidden door with a knock and pretty much the Blue Oyster Club in some seedy part of town. (Yeah I was that naïve)
Instead, I was taken to a pretty gay little strip mall in a nice part of Atlanta, to Burkharts, a gay 'sports' bar. No dancing (except for the show girls), no leather, no strange music. (and in fact, music I liked!). No special knock (except pushing the 18yo me past the bouncer so I wouldn't get ID'd).
Sooo not the Blue Oyster Club. I was sadly disappointed.
And out of all the gay bars I've been in the world, I've never found the Blue Oyster bar. I've been in some leather bars that are similar, and a country line dancing gay bar where they will pull you in to dance. But no cheek-to-cheek dancing.
So coming from a gay guy.. the Blue Oyster Club is just... ODD.
Best salad bar in town!
Or maybe they serve seafood?
I went in once it of curiosity (really) and this was back when it was Ramrod. Black paint, S&M vibe with a swing hanging from the ceiling - like that club Hex in the theater district if anyone remembers that. Speaking of that place Hex.. I never seen so many cops/detectives in the same place before in my life (except the courthouse).
Those weren't real cops, just men who like to wear cop uniforms.
Hex was a ManRay ripoff
IIRC that went nowhere. Pretty sure the Cambridge cops never bothered ManRay because of the owner's connections but Boston cops at the time still had the Swedish Nanny case on their minds.
One of the potential suspects lived nearby so they were all over Hex.
Not sure what you experienced Cyb
But back in the day there was Ramrod on the ground level, door on the left and Machine downstairs, door on the right. Both were accessible from either door, but sometimes a cover charge or a ticket was required for events downstairs.
Ramrod was a bar room with pool tables in the back. Machine had pool tables too before they changed everything to accommodate the performance space/dance floor.
Not imagining anything
And the things that went on in the backroom of the Ramrod behind the barrels left nothing to the imagination either....
There was a billiards sign on
There was a billiards sign on that building forever which I always thought was probably the cause of many confused tourists walking into machine.
are you remembering the M&M lounge?
Lansdowne Street upstairs waaaaaaaaay back in the day
Was that the 1270 ?
Was that the 1270 ?
There was a sign for it on the side of the building
I definitely remember the
I definitely remember the pool room! There was an air hockey table, too.
Pool room at the Ramrod
That may have been the Korean pool hall in the back of the building, and I believe the entrance was from the alley side, and from the lobby entrance at 1260 Boylston, which also had an entrance to Machine if I remember correctly. I worked at the Ramrod from 1990-1995 .
That sounds about right. I remember the back of the building entrance because we all used to go smoke weed there before we went in. I thought it was on the shell side and down that way next to the homo deli.
This would have been 2000-2001 ish so not too far after Machine opened in 1998.
And yeah there was an entrance at 1260, but it was never used. it was more of a fire exit. If I recall, it went to a set of doors near the coat check/sexy shop downstairs. This might have been where I went upstairs, as I knew the coat check guy. (as did alot of people at that time)
The other thing I remember is remarking how that pool hall felt un-used and hidden. But there were others in there (playing pool) so people had to know it was there. It probably was the Korean Pool hall.
I'll hafta ask Mike O when I see him next (old bartender upstairs in the back at the ramrod). He would know and remember.
If it's the building that housed the Baseball Tavern that means the old 1270 also. Man, that was THE gay bar to be in back in the 70s golden age of Boston gay bars. Ramrod/Machine always felt kind of meaningless to me, having been to the ORIGINAL Herbie's Ramrod Room on Carver Street in Park Square. It was a sawdust on the floor, celling fan kind of place (as was the original Chaps before it went disco). The whole street is gone now, torn down when the Transportation Building went up circa 1979.
Remember seeing some hardcore
Remember seeing some hardcore bands there on a Sunday night back around 1982 and it was an all ages show.
times were good
I remember the 1270. I used to go there when I was 16. People were nice to me there when I was a dissolute, broke youth. Elsewhere, not so much.
And was there a 24 hour Bickfords down the street, or are my memories all mushed together?
The Baseball Tavern moved
The building in the picture is where The Baseball Tavern moved when the building they were in at the intersection of Jersey St was torn down to build a bigger building, Citizen's Public House is on that corner now. They moved to 1270 in the early 2000s and I'm drawing a blank on what was there right before that (edit: It was Sophia's, another comment mentions it).
Boylston Street of High School and College is Now Done.
Pre Smartphone Days - If someone in a Yankee or Mets hat asked me where was the best place to drink before a game at Fenway, I would always send them to Machine.
I told my wife about this being torn down. She got a little sad about the good times Sophia's she had and that a little of her post college heart and source of some of her hearing loss was being removed from this earth.
Besides the Seaport....
If you got out of a time machine from 1985 in Boston today, Boylston St. might be the biggest shock/change in the entire city I can think of....
I'm Still Pissed
It used to take about two minutes to get from South Station to L Street and you were able to use the Northern Avenue Bridge. Not no more it ain't.
By the way - This video was filmed in the Seaport in 1991. Things have changed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjPB3jROgco
But you can use the billion
But you can use the billion dollar bus tunn...oh wait. That doesn't go to L Street. And if it did, it would take way more than 2 minutes.
Seaport from 2005 to now
Seaport from 2005 to now would be enough of a shock
Recall when Quest- other bookend of building from Ramrod- started booking regular shows/ music nights in the mid-90s- was always odd to see the weight bench/ stocks still in the back of the room
Also where the Herald used ti
Also where the Herald used ti be - now inkblock.
The former combat zone along washington st.
No one even says combat zone anymore.
Binging on Spencer for Hire during quarantine gives me an amazing shots of Boston during the ‘80s. Much grittier than the shiny city it is now but just as beloved.
"The Friends of Eddie Coyle" and the lesser-known "Fuzz" (starring Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds at the height of their beautiful people period) have some great shots of gritty and classic early 70s Boston. Likewise "The Thomas Crown Affair" from 1968 shows what Boston (including Logan Airport and a VERY different looking outdoor Prudential Center) looked like during that period. The latter is a little short on plot, but Steve McQueen is so damn cool in it.
Bolyston Street's Little Manhattan
When I went to school (Boston Latin Academy, before it moved to the Dorchester/Roxbury line in 1991), there was a White Hen Pantry, the Ramrod, the Baseball Tavern, several small stores, a McDonalds, some auto repair shops, a Burger King, WBCN's studios, a motel, a fire department annex, and a U-Haul store, before Boylston Street ended at Brookline Avenue near what is now the Landmark Center.
Once they began building the apartments, slowly that area became Little Manhattan.
Okay. If you’re replacing parking lots, grease pits empty storage and carchtecture with residential buildings, it’s not gentrification. It’s adjusting to long ignored housing need. Nobody was pushed out except for people who were charging too much for game day suburbanite parking. Now people who work in Longwood medical area can live there too. I welcome it.
The average rents in that
The average rents in that neighborhood were about $400/ month above the pre-pandemic median for Boston- about $1500-2500/ month depending on occupancy- not exactly replacing those "grease pits" with affordable stock
I'm not over there often enough to notice (except for Target); hence I edited my post.
The BSA Ran A Thing in the Late 80's About Boston's Future
They asked architects for charrettes on what the City would look like in the future. It was on display at the Transportation Building for a while.
Some things were provoking like somebody showed the housing of the future and it was a picture of a simulated woodgrain covered 72 Country Squire station wagon. Some brought up future coastal flooding.
Jung Brannen put a steeple on the Pru and made it look like St. Nakatomi Plaza. Someone said Kenmore Square would have a lot of neon and electronic billboards like Times Square. That is before BU killed Kenmore Square.
No one called the Seaport, nor the explosion of growth in East Cambridge.
One group said Boylston between the Sears building and Park Drive would have a row of 12 to 18 story buildings with a mix of medical space, residential, and retail space. To whomever they were, fair play to them. They were nearly perfect in their call and the zoning for such was no where in place at the time.
Also with the Fenway, three cheers to John Henry and Janet Marie Smith for only paying lip service to the idea of knocking Fenway. We would have had better sightlines but a boring place to watch baseball.
Maybe not entirely but in Cambridge, the 1976 master plan for East Cambridge includes office space, rebuilding of Kendall Square (i.e. Marriott), a redeveloped Lechmere Sales into a 'super regional shopping center'. (i.e. CambridgeSide Mall). Including a new Lechmere Station and GLX.
They knew it was going to happen.
I worked at a startup 1975-77 in the area between 1st & 3rd Sts -- one story configurable spaces that were built as place holders after NASA decided to plant the Manned Space Center in Houston. Everybody knew that it was only a matter of time before the whole area would be redeveloped... but I miss the F&T Deli, and being serenaded by the drum & bugle corps practicing in the parking lot behind National Casket Co.
The Old, Deserted Kendall Square
The old, deserted Kendall Square of the 70s felt like something from another planet or a David Lynch movie. The F&T Deli always had a sign that said "closed", even when it was open. The Terminal Barbershop (a surreal name in itself) seemed to exist in an expanse of nothingness and seemed so odd and out of place it had a local hit song written about it by the band Pastiche. And there was that giant multicolored poem written high up on a wall. I still remember it:
Pull this change
Sweet and twenty
Except there was a pipe running through the word "change", so if you looked at it a certain way it was "chance". Like I told you, very, very surreal.
I was thinking more the land east and north of Lechmere.
Seaport was kind of called in the late 90's, but it was all hush hush on the DL. We weren't allowed to talk about the development drawings our coworkers were drafting up for one of the bigger developers. In fact, if there were tours by other clients, those drawings were put in drawers out of sight for that hour or 2.
Yes it is gentrification
All those things that you turn your nose up at? They go along with the cheap housing that used to be around there. Longwood medical staff lived there before (Fenway, Queensberry Street, Park Drive.) But now it's the ones who make lots of money. The ones at the lower end of the salary scale have been pushed out. You add lots of expensive housing into a neighborhood, prices go up.
Yes - and we’d sneak out to
Yes - and we’d sneak out to the fens or to BK or go to bertha cool’s in kenmore sq. The Rat was still there and Narcissus and The Metro
The White Hen
I knew some people who hung out at the clubs there who jokingly referred to the White Hen at closing time as "Any Cock 'll Do"
When we all went clubbing there... it was the Home Run Deli
or as we called it the Homo Deli .
I dont remember it being a white hen but it could have later on when I stopped clubbing
I moved here in 1999, so I never went to Quest (or the 1270 before that).
But I remember going to Sophia's with coworkers in 2000. I only went a few times but I remember the roof deck.
Everyone talks about the 1270, I cannot believe what that place was like as a big disco dance club. (Sophia's was a dance club, but different crowd) It must have been insane.
Yes! I used to sell
Yes! I used to sell definitely not bootleg t-shirts on game nights and we always sent people to the Machine.
RIP to the Ramrod Center for the Performing Arts.
The old 1270! Disco bar and dance hall.
Three floors and the best DJ's with real records
Four floors if you count the summer roof deck and bar they added in the mid-80s.
Before the Baseball Tavern
"Where two of a kind beat a straight, and the house is always full".
So many memories. So much alcohol. So much pot. So much coke. Oh my.
Ahhhh The Baseball Tavern
The UW watch bar. I stopped going after the psychopath bouncer almost killed Robbie McGlaughlin. Justice is still waiting.
Back in the day I remember
Back in the day I remember the 1270. My girls and I loved going there because the drinks were the best and the music made you move like there was no tomorrow. Nobody dances anymore. Best exercise physically and mentally. Everybody put your music on and dance!
Drinks at the 1270
In the mid-late 70s the cover charge to get into the Twelve was $3, which also got you two drinks of any kind. When you paid the $3 at the door you got a receipt. When you wanted a drink you handed the receipt to the bartender (any one of the many bartenders in the place) who ripped it in half and gave you one of the halves back with your drink. You used that half for another drink. After that you paid for any more drinks you wanted.
For some reason the dance
For some reason the dance clubs have been empty lately...
For some reason ...
These particular clubs were doomed long before anybody had heard of Covid-19. Like a developer bought the buildings.
There was a documentary made about the 1270. It is not great but. Check Amazon.
The reason that documentary (which I saw when it had it's premiere in the Ramrod, ironically enough) is not great is because basically NO video footage and almost no photographs exist of activity going on inside the 1270. It may not be clearly understandable to today's generation, but even aside from the fact that in those days nobody carried electronic devices with built in still and video cameras documenting every aspect of human life, there was a certain element of secrecy or privacy that was never violated in these places. Back in the day I saw somebody who came into the 1270 with a camera attempting to take photographs roughly "escorted" out by the bouncers.
Warren Anatomical Museum specimens
A librarian who worked with rare books at Harvard Medical School’s library told me of a mission that she was sent on a number of years ago to retrieve some anatomical specimens that for some reason had been archived in the cellar of the Ramrod. Natch, she was shocked by the lack of ‘climate control' and was trying to work out how/why the Ramrod was the chosen place to store said artifacts. But, there ya go.
Body parts in the Ramrod
Yes indeed Harvard Medical kept a storage room in the basement, before Machine opened. I believe it was probably there before the Ramrod moved in upstairs in 1979. I worked at the Ramrod for 5 years and was in there a few times and can attest to the jars of body parts, the long stainless steel tables and sinks, I often wondered if they did autopsies down there but I will never know for sure.
Anatomical specimens stored in the basement of the Ramrod?
I'm not falling for that one again.
I thought Ramrod was Downtown
I thought Ramrod was Downtown? Fenway is not Downtown. WTF? Has the earth shifted?
Herbie's Ramrod Room was near Park Sq
Until the building and other buildings were demolished to build the Transportation Building. Then it reopened in the Fenway as Ramrod.
You may be thinking of The Alley which is in Downtown Crossing.
You are thinking of The Alley, which is in downtown crossing.
Or its predecessor, the 119 (@ 119 Merrimac St near N Station)
Remember when it was called Quest. So much fun up on the roof deck on warm summer nights.