Friday, March 31, 2017

Late Season Snow Information

Late-season snow facts:

- According to WBZ, Boston has had snowfall of 12 inches or more after March 20th once, in 1997. More on that in a sec.  Boston has 6 instances where 6 or more inches of snow fell after March 20th. Worcester has had 12 such events.

- Spring starts at 12:30 AM this Sunday, March 20th.

- The average date of Boston's last snowfall is March 25th.

- The latest measurable snowfall for Boston was a half inch on May 10th, 1977. The latest we've had non-accumulating snow in Boston was June 10th, 1955.

- This source tells me that New York and Atlanta both have the same day, in different years, for latest snowfall... April 25th.

- Most of New England had frost on August 23rd in 1816, and lake ice was seen around the Bay State into August.. This was due to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which gave everyone red, smoky skies and drove worldwide temperatures down. New England had her corn crop fail, and all sorts of food prices skyrocketed. June snow fell in some parts of New England. It is known as The Year Without A Summer. They had one period where it went from 95 degrees to 35 degrees in a half day.

- Three late-season snowstorms stand out in our history. One was that May 10th, 1977 one from The Farmer's Almanac. The record is a bit later in the year for the Berkshires. The other late-season trace snow events of note in our history are the ones I was yapping about up above.

- Our second storm of note was the 1997 April Fool's Day Blizzard. Over 25 inches of snow fell on Boston, and coastal flooding tore apart the shoreline.

- Our third late-season storm of note was a 17-21 inch blockbuster that hit Worcester and areas north on April 28th, 1987.

I was a freshman at Worcester State College for that storm, and had just picked up a girl from West Boylston High School for a date... because that's how I rolled in 1987, playboy! We went to a movie, came out, and there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. We had an Italian dinner somewhere, and there was a foot on the ground when we came out of the restaurant.

I had only been driving for a year, and had zero savvy. We nearly hit a plow when we skidded all the way down a hill on Route 9. We also drove into a drift in some guy's yard in Berlin, Massachusetts. It ended well... the homeowner called his sons out to shove my car from the drift, and they came out single file... and each one was bigger than the last. "Don't worry about it, just steer" is how the father replied when I offered to make Katie drive so that I could get out and help shove the car. They literally lifted my car and threw it from the drift.

I got zero (0) play from that date, too. The only time I even got a hug as when we nearly crashed into the plow, and that may have been a case where she was trying to wrestle me into a position where the plow blade hit me first. I really can't blame her.

Anyhow, 17 inches of snow is about as much as we get that late in the year. If you get snow on your lawn after May 10th, you just saw a regional record.

Our own March Madness brackets for Worst Massachusetts Storm Ever

1) 1938 Great New England Hurricane

2) 1635 Great Colonial Hurricane

3) Blizzard of '78

4) Hurricane Bob, 1991

5) Worcester Tornado, 1953

6) Halloween Gale, 1991

7) Blizzard of 1888

8) 1898 Portland Gale

9) April Fool's Blizzard, 1997

10) Hurricane Carol/Edna, 1954

11)  Hurricane Donna, 1960

12) The Great September Gale Of 1815

13)  Winter of 2015

14) 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane

15) The Triple Storms of 1839

16) Blizzard of 2005

Lower Seeds:

2008 Ice Storm

1698, reported 42 inches of snow in Cambridge

1831 Snowstorm, 3 feet on the Cape

1978 pre-Blizzard January snowstorm

2011 Springfield Tornado

Blizzard of 2013

1993 Superstorm

Saxby Gale, 1869

1969 100 Hour Storm

Winter of 1717

1996 South Shore microburst

Hurricane Belle

Hurricane Gloria

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Sandy/Post-Sandy Wareham microburst

1960 snowstorm

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Should Route 3A Have A Nickname?

Granted, there are more important issues on the table. Syria and Iraq look messy. The Trumpcare rollout has been slightly less than smooth. North Korea is advancing their nuclear technology. There are many problems in the world more important than naming Route 3A something cool.

However, those problems require complex solutions, ones that will most likely not be figured out by a wandering stoner journalist lining up his next road trip. However, I'm just the man to bring this issue to your attention and maybe float a few names out there to sort of jump-start the process. I'm not smart enough for a brainstorm, but I do generate an impressive squall line now and then. That's good enough to name a highway.

One thing that Bourne, Wareham and Sandwich do well is name highways. Sandwich has the Old King's Highway (Route 6A), Bourne has the Scenic Highway (mainland Route 6, between the bridges) and ?ham has the Cranberry Highway. You could also throw in the Mid-Cape Highway and the Grand Old Army of The Republic Highway, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Running a road along the Canal and giving it a catchy name didn't get the Muslims and the Jews to stop bickering or anything, but it adds some character to the area, makes it easier for traffic reports and helps the tourists along.

Meanwhile, the 50 mile stretch of road between Bourne and Quincy- Route 3A- has no nickname at all. Wikipedia says it is known as the "Cape Way" highway, but that sort of doesn't really work either functionally (these days), as no one goes to the Cape that way anymore, and stylistically (ever). "Cape Way" blows like the mighty north wind.

Every year at around St. Patrick's Day time, we run whatever Irish-themed articles we have kicking in the archives. "Check Your Irish" is a good one, as is "The Irish Riviera."

One thing you'll learn if you read either article (or read both, I need the money) is that the area between Quincy and Bourne is stuffed with Irish-Americans. That, and the seasonal/coastal nature of the area, garnered the "Irish Riviera" nickname for the area.

Many inland towns have high Irish populations, but the big unbroken run of 33+% Irish goes from Weymouth to Plymouth.

If you stare at a map long enough, you'll also notice that Route 3A runs right through the same area. While 3A itself is inland some and doesn't host the actual Riviera, it connects to every piece of it through a sort of river/tributary system.

If you weigh the factors of 1) no effective Route 3A nickname and 2) the green wave of Irish-Americans in that Plymouth-Weymouth stretch, a solution comes to mind. Give it an Irish-themed nickname.

There are many sorts of nicknames, some official, some not. At least one pol who I asked said I'd have to go to MassDOT. That's if we want to go official. If we just want to introduce a nickname or three into the public domain and see if one of them catches on, all we have to do is write an article and post it a bit.

Let's kick a few around, shall we?

- "St. Patrick's Highway" has a nice ring to it, but it may violate the concept of keeping the church and state apart. That's probably my only official-sounding one.

- "Paddy Road" sounds like an Irish Mob movie, but it is also very catchy.

- "Mick Street" and the Happy Meal-sounding "McStreet" might offend someone, but it won't be someone Irish. The Irish, who were compared with dogs for a lot of US history, are incapable of taking offense. Don't believe me? Approach any college and say "You should be more like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. How about the Bridgewater State University Crafty Jews?" You're not going to get a callback, player. Meanwhile, Irish-Americans who have never been near Indiana root for Notre Dame. If you think Christianity has anything to do with that, suggest that the bartender at your local sports bar stop what he is doing and hunt through the channels for the Oral Roberts University game.

- I am reluctant to put quote marks around O'Boulevard, because it already has a half of one in it.

- "The Green Mile" has ominous connotations from the movie that will be gone in a generation or two. It will also fit perfectly into those "Massachusetts Roads Make No Sense" memes, along the lines of "The Green Mile is 50 miles long." This nickname also lets us experiment with painting those yellow lines in the road green, which is just the thing to do in resort areas with a hard-drinking population base.

- "Shamrock Lane" sounds like a stripper, but it is also very catchy and relatively inoffensive to people who aren't a bit too familiar with Stripper Naming. The movie with the giant monster (Cloverfield or John Goodman, take your pick) sort of ruined any "Clover Road" possibilities.

- "The Guinness Bypass" would be ugly the first time someone de-barked a Route 3A tree.

- "The Capital Highway" would be a simple power grab. Ireland stopped being the place with the most Irish one potato famine ago. America now has the most people of Irish descent, by a large margin. In America, Massachusetts is known as the most Irish state.  In Massachusetts, the South Shore is recognized as the most Irish part of the most Irish state. Why shouldn't the South Shore thus have Capital status? Ireland can put the Capitol wherever they wish, but we can make a great claim to the Capital status. We should make a reality of that claim by naming Route 3A in such a mindset.

- "The Leprebahn" is a mishmash spelling of the little Irish pixie and the Autobahn in Germany where you can drive 200 mph if your car (and skills) will support it. We could paint the stripes between the lanes Gold, like the pot o' gold that the leprechaun guards. To save money, we can just declare that we painted them gold, leave them as the present yellow that they are, and hope that it either A) fools the tourists or B) amuses the locals. Stacey, an editor here, is arguing strenuously for a spelling of "Leprechahn."

- "The Edge" is not only a cool name for a road, but it is U2 related. U2 is an Irish rock band that the kids are listening to these days, or 1986 or whatever. That in itself doesn't merit a road, but could the actual real Edge guy be persuaded to record a quick ditty in exchange for having a highway named after him? I float this possibility only because Route 3A doesn't have her own song, like Route 128 does with that Roadrunner song by the Modern Lovers... although someone once told me that Roadrunner somehow references Cohasset (Editor's Note: Christine Frka, a former Frank Zappa groupie, lived and died at the Cohasset house of Modern Lovers founder Johnathan Richman,,, h/t to Nathaniel Palmer) . The Edge could hand us that title with ten minutes work.

- "Beating A Dead Horse Street" comes to mind when it's time to end this article.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blizzard Inland, Winter Storm For SE Mass, Coastal Flooding, Power Outages


Western Plymouth MA-Eastern Plymouth MA-Southern Bristol MA-
Southern Plymouth MA-Western Kent RI-Eastern Kent RI-Bristol RI-
Washington RI-Newport RI-
Including the cities of Brockton, Plymouth, Fall River,
New Bedford, Mattapoisett, Coventry, West Greenwich,
East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick, Bristol, Narragansett,
Westerly, and Newport
719 AM EDT Tue Mar 14 2017

* LOCATIONS...Southeast coastal Massachusetts and Coastal Rhode

* HAZARD TYPES...Heavy wet snow and strong winds.

* ACCUMULATIONS...Snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches.

* TIMING...Snow develops through 7 am and becomes heavy by mid
morning. Snowfall rates of 2 to 4 inch per hour snowfall rates
possible through early afternoon before precipitation changes
to sleet and then rain.

* IMPACTS...The heavy wet snow and strong winds may result in
tree damage and scattered power outages along with poor
visibility. Roads may become impassable at times from the
heavy wet snow combined with the strong winds.

* WINDS...Northeast 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 65 mph.

* VISIBILITIES...One quarter mile or less at times.


A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow are
expected. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible.













----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
7.8- 8.3 14/03 AM -0.2/ 0.3 1 NONE
12.6-13.1 14/02 PM 2.8/ 3.4 7-16 MODERATE
11.4-11.9 15/02 AM 1.8/ 2.2 7-11 MINOR
9.2- 9.7 15/02 PM -0.2/ 0.2 5 NONE
9.3- 9.8 16/02 AM -0.2/ 0.3 5 NONE
8.8- 9.3 16/03 PM -0.2/ 0.2 2 NONE


----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
1.4- 1.9 14/03 AM 0.0/ 0.5 1 NONE
5.4- 5.9 14/02 PM 3.7/ 4.2 3-6 MODERATE
1.9- 2.3 15/02 AM 0.1/ 0.6 3 NONE
1.4- 1.9 15/03 PM -0.2/ 0.2 2-3 NONE
1.2- 1.7 16/03 AM -0.6/-0.1 3 NONE
0.7- 1.1 16/04 PM -0.8/-0.2 2 NONE


----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
2.7- 3.2 14/03 AM -0.2/ 0.3 1 NONE
5.4- 5.9 14/03 PM 2.3/ 2.8 5-7 MINOR-MDT
5.1- 5.6 15/03 AM 2.0/ 2.5 5 MINOR
2.7- 3.2 15/03 PM -0.2/ 0.2 4 NONE
2.7- 3.2 16/04 AM -0.3/ 0.2 5 NONE
2.2- 2.7 16/04 PM -0.6/-0.1 3 NONE


----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
12.8-13.3 14/01 PM 2.8/ 3.4 4-9 MINOR-MDT
12.7-13.2 15/02 AM 2.7/ 3.2 4-5 MINOR
9.4- 9.9 15/02 PM -0.2/ 0.2 2-3 NONE
9.7-10.2 16/02 AM 0.1/ 0.6 3 NONE
9.0- 9.5 16/03 PM -0.2/ 0.2 2 NONE


----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
8.6- 9.1 14/03 AM 0.0/ 0.5 1 NONE
12.4-12.9 14/02 PM 2.0/ 2.5 6 MINOR
11.1-11.6 15/02 AM 0.7/ 1.1 5 NONE
9.9-10.4 15/02 PM -0.2/ 0.2 2-4 NONE
10.1-10.6 16/03 AM -0.2/ 0.3 3 NONE
9.3- 9.8 16/03 PM -0.5/ 0.0 3 NONE


----------- ---------- --------- ------- ----------
5.2- 5.7 14/03 AM 0.0/ 0.5 2 NONE
8.9- 9.4 14/02 PM 3.2/ 3.7 9-20 MINOR
7.5- 8.0 15/03 AM 1.9/ 2.3 9-12 NONE
5.2- 5.7 15/03 PM -0.2/ 0.2 6-7 NONE
5.4- 5.9 16/03 AM -0.2/ 0.3 6 NONE
4.7- 5.2 16/04 PM -0.5/ 0.0 3 NONE

Sunday, March 12, 2017

B Word! Blizzard Watch For The South Shore, South Coast

UPDATE: Blizzard Watch now covers all of Plymouth and Bristol Counties!


* LOCATIONS...Southern Rhode Island and east coastal
Massachusetts from Boston to Plymouth.

* HAZARD TYPES...Heavy snow, strong winds, and reduced

* ACCUMULATIONS...Snow accumulation of greater than 6 inches
possible along drifting and blowing snow.

* TIMING...Tuesday and Tuesday night.

* IMPACTS...Rapid snow accumulation as well as blowing and
drifting snow may make many roads impassable. There could also
be scattered power outages.

* WINDS...Northeast 25 to 35 mph with gusts over 50 mph.

* TEMPERATURES...In the lower 30s Tuesday.

* VISIBILITIES...One quarter mile or less at times.


A Blizzard Watch means there is a potential for considerable
falling and/or blowing snow with sustained winds or frequent
gusts over 35 mph, with visibilities below one quarter mile, for
at least 3 hours. Whiteout conditions will be possible, making
travel very dangerous. Be prepared to alter any travel plans.

Please note that Cape Cod and the interior of both Plymouth and Bristol County aren't in the Blizzard mix... yet.

The rest of Southern New England has a Winter Storm Watch.

Also note that the areas with the Blizzard Watch are the areas with (as for now) the lowest forecast snow totals.

Remember, a Blizzard isn't just heavy snow, it involves winds and visibility. As we've pointed out before, you can have a Blizzard with no snow falling at all, but that's an extreme case where you need an iced-over Lake Superior full of dry, fluffy snow and a high wind.

Coastal Flooding will be major and ridiculous. They are forecasting a 2-3 foot storm surge, on what I believe is a 9.9 and then a 10.0 tide on Duxbury Beach on Tuesday morning and Tuesday night. Only an unexpected wind shift will save the South Shore from a major Poseidonistic curb-stomping.

We'll try to embed ourselves somewhere dangerous for the high tides, but no promises. The Cranberry County Magazine Cranmobile barely made it over the Bourne Bridge in the last blizzard, and the house that I usually storm-watch from on Duxbury Beach is rented. We'll do our level best for you, however.

Snow Total Predictions From Local News Stations:

WBZ... " Plan on around a foot of snow for most (give or take a few inches) and maybe two feet.".... don't EVER bitch at me about a vague forecast again, Pam Gardener is getting 6 figures.

WHDH... " I think it’s a lock to say we see a widespread 6″ of snow…  I think it’s a VERY good possibility we see a widespread 10-16″ of snow.  I think it’s also a possibility that we get...closer to 20″ of snow.".... There's your "six to twenty inches" forecast that you see Boston weather girls drop now and then. Brie Eggers may just be in a More Vague contest with Pam Gardener.

WCVB... 12-18" for Emass, 5-10" with some rain for Cape Cod

WFXT... 1-3" with rain on the Cape , 3-6" Plymouth/Bourne/South Coast, 6-8" interior Plymouth/Bristol Counties, 8-12" central/western MA

NECN... 5-15" coast, 10-20" inland

Accuweather... 9.7" in Buzzards Bay by Wednesday AM

Info you may need or want:

Tide Charts

Eversource Outage Map

National Weather Service

Forecast Flood Maps (for hurricanes, but still a useful tool.... maps for all towns in EMass)

NWS Boston Facebook

Nor'easter Blues storm information/reporting Facebook page

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Chase Wild Animal Farm Mystery

Bill Chase is on the right.... we lifted this pic from the Circus No Spin Zone website

Halifax is a quiet little town off of Route 106 in the rural center of Plymouth County in Massachusetts. While it doesn't qualify as "the middle of nowhere" since the commuter rail hit it, Halifax is still a place where nothing happens. I don't mind saying this, because I'm a former resident of Halifax, and I know that locals like it when nothing happens there.

Halifax is largely residential today, but there was a time when it was a resort spot. The railroad lines that ran into town brought people from the teeming cities of the No Widespread Air Conditioning era. They were thrilled to spend a summer in a cabin, enjoying the many benefits of Silver Lake and (pre-algal blooms) Monponsett Lakes. Cars and highways brought day trippers.

Businesses in town were built to suit the needs of these cash-carrying tourists. Since the land was cheap, a businessman could afford to think Big. A man named Bill Chase got into the import/export business, and his stock in trade was wild animal hunting/exhibiting/selling. Most of us don't know anyone who could get us an elephant... but if you knew Bill Chase, you knew someone who could get you an elephant. You also missed your chance, as he died in the 1980s.

He had some gig, which I'm betting is quasi-illegal now, where he would capture animals in Africa, store them at his western Africa depot, and then ship them to zoos and reservations and whoever else orders things like Leopards. He also was in on some animal storage thing in Florida, which is most likely where his Wild Animal Farm animals spent their winters.

What wild animal farm, you ask? Why, I'm talking about the Chase Wild Animal Farm that used to be in Halifax, Massachusetts. In 1955, Chase moved his Chase Wild Animals Farm (which, due to his unfortunate last name, implies that you get to hunt the wild animals) from Egypt/Scituate Massachusetts to Halifax, Massachusetts.

The farm (part of the Chase Enterprises, Inc. empire) had permits allowing them to keep the animals in their "natural habitat," which is sort of funny because no part of Africa, let alone the parts with the cheetahs and hyenas running around, has Halifax's climate. They had a veritable Wild Kingdom happening off of Route 106, about where the Country Club is today.

Residents of the park included elephants, cheetahs, anteaters, leopards, zebra, llamas, various exotic birds and God knows what else. Admission was 50 cents for adults, and 25 cents "for moppets."

They used the Zebra as the mascot for the farm, and cardboard zebras were placed on highways to make sure that tourists didn't sleep on the Dark Continent happening in Halifax. They had free advertising from an animal-themed Boston TV show, sponsored by a Chase-friendly dog food manufacturer. They had a promotional deal with a local soda company. They opened themselves up to churches, schools and youth groups, making sure every kid left with a free (advertising) bumper sticker.

You could work a pretty good 1950s vacation in these parts. When you weren't splashing around in one of the Monponsett Lakes, you could go see a leopard at Chase's, then go to Edaville Railroad some other day, take the kids to Duxbury to see an ocean the next day, check out the Pilgrim stuff in Plymouth on another day, then finish off the week (and your paycheck) at Lincoln Park in Dartmouth.

This was pre-Internet, and not far from an era where kids rolled a hoop down the street for fun. It is very far removed from my own style of vacationing, which generally involves places where I can't be extradited from, coca and a bevy of gringo-friendly prostitutes. We're getting away from the point, however... and if the kids weren't happy seeing a leopard and going to Lincoln Park, you could always send them off to Vietnam or- if what I saw on Happy Days was customary- have the Fonz slap some sense into them.

I moved to Hally in 2000, and dudes were hitting 200 yard drives off the tee where CWAF was by the time I showed up. CWAF was unprominent (we make up our own words sometimes, and patent the really catchy ones) enough that I can't find out when it closed on the Internet. I could probably find out if I went to the town's historical society person, but I'm not going to Halifax from Cape Cod until I'm sure that I have a pretty good chance at getting a hippo skull (more on that later). I also have to convince Jessica to go, and the last time she and I went exploring in an old park, we were nearly arrested for breaking into Edaville Railroad. That is a story for another day, however...

I do know that Chase was still looking for Rhesus Monkeys in 1957, so the park lasted at least that long. They ran a nine month season, closing after their big Yule Festival promotion that had Santa with real actual reindeer. I'm sure that elephants and toucans love Massachusetts in late December.

A guy on Facebook said it ran through the 1960s, and it was his post (taken from a forum on cougars in Massachusetts) that got my imagination working. Several locals have told me a similar version of the story. I didn't canvas the town or anything, but no one I chatted with about the farm who actually had lived there when it was operating hadn't been told some version of this story.

If I may cut and paste some....

"I grew up in Halifax, in the fifties and sixties. There was a wild animal farm there called the "Chase Wild Animal Farm" It's now the Halifax Country Club Golf Course. It was one of those walk-thru zoos in the forest,where the animals were barely restrained, and was finally shut down. 

The owner, a man name of Bob Belinda, released all the animals into the swamp, including big cats, birds, everything, before he was run out. Even elephants, alligators, monkeys, lions were in the swamps for years, and some undoubtedly cross-bred with local animals. 

After that time, we saw weird-looking birds like vultures, there were even yellow canaries that would attack other birds in swarms, and huge cats lived in the area after that. My father shot one huge cat by our barn, that was larger than a bobcat. We used to hear wild screams from the swamp in the summer, and Gawd knows what types of inbreeding went on. 

We had horses, goats and sheep that had to be watched closely becuse of the wild dog packs, and some of those that we killed resembled Hyenas. 

This can all be verified at the Halifax Town Hall. This is the area about a mile behind the King Supermarket on Plymouth street. You can start your own "Monsterquest," for real."

Nowwwww, we have something we can work with.

You and I both know that is nonsense. Let us count the ways.

A guy who sells wild animals has very little to gain from releasing them into the swamps of Massachusetts. Even if he chose to do so (see: Zanesville, Ohio), it would have made headlines very quickly. An elephant rampaging through Plympton would be one thing, but it would get ugly with the quickness if the liberated leopard started picking off Kingston schoolchildren.

Please understand that Logic only gets in the way of a good urban legend, even out in the sticks.

If they did escape unnoticed somehow, some animals would have a better chance of surviving than others. The tropical birds would be hurtin' for certain. The cheetah once roamed North America, but I'm not sure if Massachusetts was part of that range. Asiatic Cheetahs are capable of growing a winter coat. Amur leopards range into Siberia. Hannibal once took 38 elephants over the Alps to invade Rome, possibly passing within sight of the Matterhorn, and got a few of them across.

Still, every animal in the park would face long odds in a Massachusetts winter.

picture from Christine Murray Pearl

I have no idea how these species would interbreed with native fauna. The only thing I can see an elephant being able to shag around here would be a Jeep. A domestic cat would explode if a leopard entered her. Our local seagull population would be cooler if they interbred with escaped Macaws, but something like that would have been noticed as soon as they started opening McDonald's around here.

Perhaps an alligator could be responsible for the hybrid car-sized turtle said to haunt Great Herring Pond in Plymouth, but the killer mutant canaries story sounds eerily like the plot of that Sylvester/Tweety episode where Tweety gets into the steroids and swells up like 10000%, to the extent that he is then able to hunt Sylvester.

However, some "proof" does exist if you insist on pursuing the mass-release story. Where I'm headed with this is the Bridgewater Triangle theory.

The Bridgewater Triangle is a term used to describe an area of heightened spooky/paranormal activity. It runs from Rehoboth to Abington back to Freetown, although you could make great arguments for including some of the surrounding areas.

You name it, someone has seen it in the Triangle. UFOs? Check. Bigfoot? Twice spotted, once eating a pumpkin. Thunderbirds? Yup. Anaconda-sized snakes? You know they have it.

A man who knows the basic Bridgewater Triangle legends can turn his imagination towards matching Triangle monsters to things that might have been released (or escaped- they say that Chase favored a barely restrained style of animal husbandry) from the Chase Wild Animal Farm in Halifax. This is especially true if it happens during a slow news week.

The Beast of Truro? Perhaps this is what became of the Halifax leopard. I do wonder if Chase would bother to report a cheetah escape, or- if it killed someone- he'd just be like "Oh well, it must have belonged to someone else around here who frequently purchases leopards." The Pamet Puma, described by witnesses as a Big Cat style big cat, made no appearances after 1982.

That alligator corpse in Westport recently? Could it be a sewer-living offspring of a Chase gator? No. We've discussed alligators up north before, it never ends well for the Gator.  The Silver Lake Frogman could have been someone getting a fast glimpse at an alligator, but it could not have been, too.

Daniel Webster's Sea Monster, spotted off Duxbury? OK, too early. The same goes for the Cape Ann sea serpent, and we should mention here that Chase did not have any plesiosaurs or however they spell that.

Pukwudgies? Too early, the Wampanoags had lore of them. The Dover Demon? That could easily be escaped Rhesus monkeys, who would most likely have had the best chance of escaping Chase's farm.

Bigfoot sightings in Bridgewater? Could it have been someone mistaking a llama? Even if your answer is no, you simply have to grade that possibility far above "a Yeti wandered into a Massachusetts college town." Chase procuring and losing a bear without Google knowing 60 years later is also a possibility.

Giant snakes menacing workers in Hockomock Swamp? I bet there was a very short list of "people who might import an Anaconda into the greater Halifax area," and Chase was probably on the top of it. While the Hockomock snake story goes back to the Great Depression, Chase was in business in Scituate at the time, and your guess would be as good as mine as to "where in Massachusetts to get rid of an unwanted Reticulated Python."

Those monster stories are best left to the Monster Hunters. There's one grotesque part of the Chase legend that fascinates me, and that may finally move me into a trip back to my old Halifax stomping grounds.

An ugly story followed Chase around, both in Halifax and in his prior Scituate digs. When his animals died, he was rumored to have buried them on-site. According to local legend, the remains of a giraffe are buried in Scituate. Halifax, where I intend to prowl around some, is said to be the final resting place of a hippo.

It makes sense in a pre-EPA way. Let's say that your elephant moves on to the Final Answer. It's not like you're going to ship him back to Africa for burial. I doubt that any animal cemetery in the region could accommodate one. Much like when you have to kill someone, you go find an isolated spot out in a forbidding swamp and dig a hole wide enough and deep enough. While an elephant funeral would most likely be a great media event, it would raise ugly questions with the local officials... who might be understandably leery of the guy who keeps free-ranging cheetahs in town.

You can see where my man might want to do his dirt by his lonesome, on the D Low.

It is for God to judge him, and- seeing as he died in the 1980s- that probably has already happened. All I care about is where to dig for that Hippo skull.

Most of the time, we write about foliage and snowstorms and local matters, but this column does piss someone off now and then, and they sometimes are able to deduce my identity and thus my home address. This leads to animated discussions and sometimes even the presence of Johnny Law.

Now, I'm not a small man, and I like a good slobberknocker as much as the next guy does... but, if I can avoid conflict because my stalker foes are intimidated by the giant and ghastly Hippo skull that I have nailed to the front gable of my cottage, that counts as a win.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Three Chances At Snow In The Next Week

You may have been fooled by that Strawberry Spring we had this month, but Cranberry County Magazine wasn't fooled. It takes a good man to fool Cranberry County Magazine... it just doesn't take him very long.

As it turns out, we have not one not two but THREE shots at some Siberian Marching Powder in the next 7 days.

Friday looks like the best bet. 1-3" are forecast to fall on us. Friday morning looks to be the time for that one, although- as we always say in this business- a slight wobble in the track could mean rain, no precipitation at all, or even 3-6". Freezing cold air moves in behind this storm for the weekend, so get the shovel work done early, lest you be chopping at ice on Saturday.

Sunday Night/Monday Morning has a lower floor and a much higher ceiling. The floor, made more likely by the length of time between Now and Then, could be a non-event. The ceiling would be a powerful nor'easter with heavy snow. Yup, I just gave you a forecast of "nothing or two feet." If you want odds, go with the non-event, as it is the more likely scenario. Just remember that we also told you about the ceiling.

Monday Night/Tuesday Morning is a storm which (currently) is forecast to move along a more northerly track than the fellow we're watching for Sunday night, and is more of a bet to put some powder on us. Accuweather, which is very conservative, is giving Bourne, MA three inches of snow for this one.

Please remember that these events are not set in stone. They could be better or worse than I am telling you. You want to check the forecasts frequently during the upcoming week, as it is constantly evolving and has the chance to mess up your commute.

We'll be back with an update.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Rise, Fall and Rebirth Of The Hanover Mall

A local icon is about to get a major face lift in an attempt to Get Modern.

The Hanover Mall was sold recently (to PECO Real Estate Partners, for $39.5 million), and the new owners came out this week and debuted their plans for the Route 3 landmark.

The plans are radical. it involves the Hanover Mall becoming a sort of outdoor mall, along the lines of Shops At The 5 in Plymouth or even- keeping it Plymouth- the Colony Place mall with the Wal-Mart. Rather than enter one big building with all the shop entrances inside the mall, you can pull up to whatever store you want to go to.

Malls, aka large scale public shopping centers, have been around at least as long as Rome, and actually predate Rome if you're willing to break out the dictionary and argue Semantics for a while. Trajan's Market in Rome is the first one with a name I can find, but Istanbul, Damascus, Tehran, Oxford, Paris and St. Petersburg have malls that are older than America. Timbuktu, technically a city, was essentially a mall that was fortunate enough to have culture spring up around it.

America mastered the mall, and we were/are the catalyst behind the advent of the modern mall. America is big, and we spread ourselves further out than European or Middle Eastern people do. This led to us getting into cars and highways and- most importantly- Suburbia.

Notice that all of the old malls that I named are based in cities. For much of history, people would take their goods into the cities, where the large numbers of people gave them the largest market possible for those goods. Cars, trains and highways allowed Americans to flee the teeming industrial cities, and they didn't want to have to trek back into the Metropolis every time they needed a vacuum cleaner or a manicure.

In the same vein, the low population density of a suburb means that you can't set up a vacuum store in town and sell enough of them to earn a living. Americans also need a great variety of stuff, and there is only so much room on Main Street. You can't fit every sort of store that someone needs in one town.

Keep in mind, this is pre-Internet. If you need a part for your wood stove and it's 1972, you can't just order it online. You can't even Google up a location for the Wood Stove Parts store a few towns over from you. That's just how it was back then. "The Internet must have sucked in the 1920s," as one of my students once said.

The solution? Build an airport-sized building, and fill it with every sort of shop that a person could want. Space these buildings out, maybe one or three per county. Soon enough, rather than trekking town to town in search of an obscure product that you need, you can walk through a mall full of more stuff than you could possibly even take a crack at buying in an average life span. Walk through your local mall today, and you'll probably see several dozen stores that you will never set foot in. "This place has got everything," as Joliet Jake once said.

Laws opening up land for development and tax dodges where real estate investment trusts could avoid corporate income taxes spurred mall growth. Retail Stores dominated America. The enclosed suburban mall style (like Hanover) came about in the 1950s. By 2015, there was 48 square feet of retail space for every American.

Malls are deeply ingrained in American culture. While I lack the fashion knowledge, several girls in Duxbury that I knew in high school could tell where someone was from by a formula of A (what they're wearing) = B (which mall had an Old Navy or whatever), which = C (the kid must be from the region which had that mall), so A = C.

Every kid in every 1980s movie who wasn't babysitting or selling drugs  worked in a mall. I think that all of the non-Spicoli kids from Fast Times At Ridgemont High worked in a mall. The best car chase in The Blues Brothers went through a mall.

The Hanover Mall has stood in place since 1971, and was the only mall in the region until they put the Independence Mall (now known by the newly redesigned and ridiculous Kingston Collection moniker). If you commute to Boston up Route 3 from anywhere south of Exit 13, you look at the Hanover Mall twice a day.

Any kid from the 1980s Irish Riviera who was too far from the South Shore Plaza didn't have many mall choices. Hanover was your mall. It's where you did your school shopping, where the cinema was, where to try to get girls before you figured out Beer... it was where you could buy jeans and have a pretzel while someone was fixing your brakes. If you couldn't knock off your Christmas shopping in one trip there, you weren't trying hard.

Still, as the child of the 80s grew up, he saw the Decline setting in. I can recall being very angry when the York Steak House left (one YSH remains in America, and it's in Ohio), I still miss Friendly's and Brigham's, I disagreed with the closing of Zayre's and a big part of me thinks that the mall people deserved what they got when they uprooted the fountain.

The Hanover Mall never really died, and the tail still wags. They just became marginalized. It's funny, because it is straddled by wealthy towns like Duxbury and Cohasset, but here's what did in the Hanover Mall that you know and love. Keep in mind,the guy doing all this urban planning talk peaked in life as a Sportswriter, and has very little experience planning malls and analyzing market trends.

1) They were slow to adapt to the Food Court idea. When the Independence Mall opened and you could get Taco Bell in these parts, it was very bad for Hanover when the best non-Brigham's meal you could get in their mall was an Orange Julius. Much like a house with shag carpeting, the Hanover Mall had a very 1970s look during an era of rapid Mall Change.

2) The Independence Mall came when the Hanover Mall was getting complacent. Hanover was the only dog in town for a while, and when the Kingston mall opened, people had shopped themselves out at Hanover's long-term offerings. "Let's go to Hobbytown again!"

3) Hanover had a highway project going right off Route 3's exit that took 35 years or so to complete, and the left turn towards the mall for someone coming up from Plymouth was a death wish.

4) We're getting into Square Footage talk that I'm not really smooth enough to discuss, but Hanover was very poorly equipped to accommodate the big Box Stores that came into vogue after Hanover was constructed.

5) Wal-Mart kills everything else, why not the Hanover Mall? You can carry a dozen shopping bags full of goods through 40 stores like a homeless person at a mall, or you can get all of that stuff in shoddy, Made-in-Chine mode and run it through the register all at once in a Wally.

6) The Hanover Mall eventually went into business with the devil and gave Wal-Mart a corner office, but it's one of those weak Wallys without the supermarket. More modern malls are built to accommodate free-standing Super Wal-Marts.

7) Hanover finally went for a food court, but they did so when Kingston was kicking their ass. The food court was never profitable, and they ended up putting an Old Navy there instead.

8) We had a backbreaking recession kick in by 2008, and there was trouble with gas inflation long before that. Those things bring about the Want/Need question among belt-tightening people.

9) The Internet slit a lot of Mall throats. Why wander through gangs of teenagers when you could instead just order stuff online? While a mall has great variety, the Internet has more stuff.

10) Hanover is set in a wealthy area of the South Shore, and those towns tend to trend Elderly. Old people buy less stuff, and towns with lots of elderly are bad places to open up a Hot Topic in.

11) The growth of Southern Plymouth (and the explosion of shopping options south of the Independence Mall) both drew away customers and illustrated the new open-mall game plan that Hanover would either adopt or perish before.

12) Malls in general went into decline. Malls were still being built in the 1990s, but a marked decline was present by the turn of the century. The fight-or-flight period for many struggling malls went down during the Great Recession.

13) Store owners balked at the high cost of heating the common areas in an indoor mall.

Hanover is now rolling the dice on the outdoor mall approach. This will be a sort of retail cul-de-sac formation, based around several box stores.

They'll pour millions of dollars into it, snarl up the traffic some, and a whole new entity will emerge in the following years. It will be a major economic base in the central South Shore, and it will employ or supply many of her residents.

We'll miss the old Hanover Mall, but progress is inexorable, Several "dead" malls (Hanover, which is still somewhat vibrant, qualifies as a "dead" mall among mall-labeling people because it is seen to be underperforming) have been restored to their former glory through just this sort of bulldozing, and Hanover is in a prime commercial region.

Even the guy who paid $39 million for the Hanover mall described it as a "B+" 1970s mall that "started to diminish." I doubt that's what he has in mind as an end goal, so we should end up with a pretty cool mall sitting in a prime location just off the highway.

Only time will tell us what ends up in there. He could change his mind and fill it with low-income housing, for all that I know. For now, we're looking at a bulldozing and rebuilding project, and a brand new, redesigned Hanover Mall that will confuse elderly people for a generation.

Construction is set to kick off at the end of 2017, so prepare yourselves. We'll be back with an update as they get closer to Bulldozer Time.