Nick Riselli Interview

Haley R. Schoenfield
2002-2003

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Participants
HS
Haley Schoenfeld, interviewer (female)
NR
Nick Riselli, interviewee (male)
PB
Phil Buccelli, interviewee (male)
Worker
An unidentified employee of Mr. Riselli (male)
Woman
An unidentified customer (female)

Lost Theaters of Somerville: Nick Riselli Interview

This object is in collection:
Lost Theatres of Somerville Papers
Subjects
Theaters
Somerville (Mass.)
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/15866
ID: tufts:MS124.001.001.00007
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights
view transcript only

NR
...Cambridge, and the city condemned the building, it was a fine building but everything, but they wanted it out of the way for some political reason. So they condemned the building, we had to move.
HS
mm-hmmm.
NR
So Tom, come back, and this building, is, was owned by, a, a Greek fella who had a very successful pizza parlor, but his wife was seeking a divorce, and he didn't want her to get this good business. They had a real good business here. So he burned it, now I can't say that, you know, you couldn't accuse him in court...
NR
But, it was one of these deals that, all of a sudden, one, one morning at, uh, early in the morning, it was up in blaze, you know what I mean? And of course, uh, it was very obvious they were having a very, uh...bad court scene, you know, with their divorce case and all this became very, very nasty, and so, he burned the building so she couldn't get it, I guess.
HS
[laughs]
NR
Well, now this thing was burned like, the roof was out completely...
HS
Right.
NR
And the floor was half-burned. The only thing standing was that front wall and the back wall.
HS
Was this after, it was when it was the pizza parlor and not the theatre?
NR
Yeah, this was when after it was a pizza parlor. So, now Tom spent about six months restoring it; new floors, new ceilings, and then we moved from, from Cambridge to here, because down in there, that building came down about a year later, you know, the city got their way and they had it demolished. So there was no place there. And, and, he owned this, so he figured we'll, stay here for six months or a year, but once they, they get it all clear back down there, there's a building up we'll move back. Well, we never moved back, that's why the name here is Cambridge Lock. It actually was Cambridge Lock started in Cambridge...
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
On Cambridge Street. So now this becomes like our home. Well now Tom, has been restoring all these buildings here on this whole block...
HS
Oh...
NR
...and the block across the street. He's restored them all. As a matter of fact, he's just finishing up on the liquor store and that's, that's his last one, the one over there...
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
...now when he does that, which it's just done. They just gotta paint it and put the floor in, I, you know tile floor, then he is through restoring these buildings, in, in other words, they're all up to number one condition.
NR
They've all been modernized, all have these handicapped bathrooms and everything, and and that's the last one, in other words, there's no more. Now, that means that he's done the block over there where the diner is, you know where that is?
HS
Yes, Kelly's.
NR
That, and these, up here, up he doesn't own from here down, he just owns from this wall up. And they're all been restored, and and, and he's in good shape, you know as far as his buildings are concerned.
NR
So, uh, but getting back to the theatre, like, I can remember you'd come in that door and there was a, the uh, the girl who would sell you the tickets was right here and you'd walk along that corridor down there where you'd walk to the back and that was, you'd enter the theatre. And and, and then I can remember that when you got through at night, like they had some exits doors on the, uh, on the Boston Street side that you could go out...
HS
Ok.
NR
...but other than that. Now, I'll tell you another interesting little deal about this building uh, out front, before Tom restored it, he owned it for maybe five years, and there was a drunk, there was a nice façade up there, it was beautiful. You know, it was, it was made for the theatre. It had a beautiful, but I loved it.
HS
I actually have um, a picture of that here. Yeah, and it was beautiful, from what I could see.
NR
Yeah.
HS
I have a few uh, inside...
NR
Yup.
HS
And then um...
NR
Now that's what I wanted to show ya, tell ya about. Now this thing existed until about ten years ago, this front. Alright?
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
It was real nice.
NR
And, what happened is, that one day...or one night, or whatever, this drunk, he was out front, and he claimed that the building was wavering. And he went back to the city and he says, "You know I was in fear of my life," he says, "that thing is a, is a dangerous," he says, "It's not secu...". It it was, it's solid, it was all granite. You know what I mean?
HS
Right.
NR
It was all granite and it was real solid. It was about that thick and solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. That thing wouldn't fall like, like those Roman temples, you know what I mean?
HS
Right.
NR
It would last a hundred years or a thousand years. And it was just very nice, and I loved it.
NR
But, this guy goes over, so now the town sends their engineer down and he orders that it be taken down, or, or else. He had a friend that was in the steel fabricating business and for twenty-five thousand dollars he would support it such a way that it would be safe.
HS
Right.
NR
You know what I mean?
HS
[laughs] this all coming from a drunk?
NR
Yeah, no, but the guy now has a friend, you know what I mean? That all of a sudden he's got a friend that will do a lot of work up there.
NR
Well, anyway, Tom, first of all, couldn't afford the twenty-five thousand, but secondly, he wasn't going to do it on that basis. So, what does he do? Tom does, he hires a crane. And, he doesn't tell anybody, doesn't tell the town or anybody, and this crane come down and was parked right where this automobile is
NR
and I couldn't believe it now, because I was across the street, I was standing over there. And, this crane operator was only a kid, about sixteen or seventeen.
HS
Wow.
NR
And we figured gee, 'cuz, you know that's, that's not right to send that kid over, you know, to do that.
[Brief pause in the interview as Mr. Riselli speaks with one of the men working on the liquor store across the street]
NR
Yeah, so this kid, very gingerly was picking up these pieces, like an expert. And, and he took 'em one, one at a time and, and he did it so neat and so quick that, you know, they didn't have any permits, and Tom was in Block Island working for this guy that owned five hotels down there that he used to be located, but now I'm not sure. And he, ah, asked Tom to go down there, he owned these five hotels to change all the locks. So, Tom was there for about a week, week and a half, so Tom wasn't aware what was going on. But, he had already engaged these fellas ahead of time, before he went down there. Maybe a month before, and he said when they'll get around to it, they'll do it. And they happened to do it when he was away.
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
And they had a couple of trucks and this, I understand afterwards, that this kid that was running the crane and his brothers, his father owned the business, the crane business...
HS
Right.
NR
And the two guys running the truck were his brothers, so there were three brothers there.
NR
And they did that in about an hour. They took this thing down, and ah, of course it now looks like it does now, but prior to that it looked like that. And I used to think it was very impressive and very imposing and it was not dangerous. You know, like I say, these these blocks are like three feet wide, and and they're up there and they're solid, and that, well, they're as solid as the rest of it up in here. You know what I mean?
HS
Right.
NR
...which the building is still standing ten or fifteen years later. But this happened I'll say twelve years ago, or maybe even fifteen. No, no, I'll tell ya, this happened eighteen, twenty years ago...
HS
Okay.
NR
...because we've been, we've been here about seventeen, and we weren't here, then.
HS
Right.
NR
You know what I mean? We were in Cambridge. So it happened before that.
NR
But I can remember my wife used to resent coming down here, to this show. She used to want to go in town, to Loew's Orpheum or Loew's State, or, or the Paramount. She didn't want to come down to this "crummy little theatre," she used to call it. But, we used to come down here anyway, once in a while, I'll say for about two years, we'd come every two or three months, if there was a good picture or something here we'd come down. And we used to come down, my wife used to live up here in the hill, and we'd walk down, she and I, and we, we didn't have a car until about....I'd say, forty-nine, so this was like, forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, forty-four. We got married in forty-five, and we never came back again, ''cuz we moved to Belmont.
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
Yeah, this is a very interesting picture; Tom would love a copy of that.
HS
Well, sure, um, any of these pictures, if you'd like copies. I can definitely...
NR
Well, I I'll leave 'em with him, yeah. I mean, he's, he's away for the day, but when he comes back I'll ah, he'll get a big kick out of this. Because, when he bought the building, that was on there.
HS
Right, and it's gorgeous. I mean, only that little bit of corner is left up there.
[Mr. Riselli starts talking to somebody, the tape is stopped briefly]
NR
Yeah, I, I wouldn't know, you know, like I wasn't ah, I wouldn't know who owned the land at anytime. Tom would know, maybe. You know, who he bought it from. But ah, once, once the war was over, like see I, I would come down for my mother-in-law's up here, but we would come up Cedar Street, and I'd never come down this way much. You know, maybe once a year or something, so I don't know what progressed until, one day, Tom says he bought the building.
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
And he bought it from here up, and he bought that block, and he bought that block. No, he didn't buy that block, that, that came about five years later.
NR
See, he owns that where the liquor store is there, that house. You can see it right from where you're standing. Now, the house and the liquor store and the truffle shop, he didn't own first. He had bought those two, and then, that was his next purchase. He owns it now, and he's owned it probably for about twelve or fifteen years. Say five years less than this.
NR
But this was his first purchase. Actually, his first purchase was in Cambridge. The locksmith shop in Cambridge was such an old building, and he bought that and then they condemned that. Then he bought these two, then five years later he bought that. So he owns those three blocks now, and he is, they were all junky shops. He took each one, after he did this, he took each one, the next one, the next one, the next one, and he did the bank, and then across the street. And he guts 'em all out and he finishes them, nicely. Very nicely finished. That one is just about finished now.
HS
Well, it looks very nice along there.
NR
Yeah but, but that one there is, is super, is super, that one there is. And it's all done.
HS
Um, I also have a picture of, of how the theatre looked after there was a fire there. Do you remember anything about the theatre fire?
NR
Yeah, yeah. I really don't remember much, you know that, you go in in the dark and you come out in the dark, or the lights go on for a moment. But ah...
HS
Right.
NR
Ah, like, I would say there was like on the left side and the right side there was a door, yeah, that I remember. On the street side, that's where you'd make your exit. You know, unless you wanted to come back here, you could do that.
HS
Right.
NR
[pause] So this poor building had fires twice; once when it was a theatre and once when it was a pizza parlor afterwards.
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
The guy in the pizza parlor, he really destroyed it.
NR
Gee, it's amazing that somebody had these pictures, or there must have been a newspaper...
HS
Yeah, I think we got that one from a newspaper, but I'm not really sure which one that...
NR
Yeah, I can still remember it way back. I used to, I used to, come down here, but I was more, it was more ah, in my teens that I can remember it.
HS
Right.
NR
Looking like that...
NR
But then, I became a patron with my wife there, or, my girlfriend.
HS
And, she was the one who lived around here? Did...
NR
She, well, she always remembers it. In other words, they, their family home is, when you go up this hill, you take a sharp left there, and you go down the hill, and it's in the area near that ah, what's that school, uh, Healy school? Would that be it? The Healy school.
HS
Possibly.
NR
There's a school right at the bottom of the hill...
HS
Ok.
NR
Well, her house was like from here to that, uh, pizza parlor from the school, her family home.
HS
Right
NR
It was, uh, I believe like either twelve or fifteen Ash Avenue. And, and of course they sold the house. Uh, once the father died and the mother and the sister lived there, and they sold it. And I'll say, not too long after the war, and they sold it, and they moved into a, a condominium on Bow Street in Medford, and, and they lived there until, believe it or not, my sister-in law hit the Megabucks. Yeah.
HS
Wow. That's amazing.
NR
She bought a ticket and the guy gave her a wrong ticket, she asked for a Mass cash and he gave her a megabucks. So she went to return it, he wouldn't take it. So he says, "what are you prob-, beefing about? He says it's good for tomorrow. You know, it's a good ticket. And she, "I don't believe in playing Megabucks, I don't want to play megabucks." So he says "well, madam, do what you want." She said "Oh, I'll rip it up." But she couldn't find it in her heart to rip it up. And, and it won. Well, the, the winning 3 and half million, but there were two winners, so she had one or two quarters of that. So she lives very happily now up in hill estates in Belmont, one of these luxury estates you know, where you pay about 25,000 bucks a month in rent.
HS
Right.
NR
But now she can afford it, she gets 50,000 dollars a year clear, you know after taxes, after state taxes, after federal taxes, she gets a thousand dollars a week. And that's after she was living comfortably on her pension and her social security.
HS
[laughs] So that's very nice.
NR
A plus.
NR
And she'll get that now, I'll bet you, let's see now...uh, my wife is 80, she's about two years younger, 78. So she'll get that for about 13 more years, so that was about 7 years ago, so she gets it form 20 years, so for 13 more years, she'll be like 91 before they pay out the payment, yeah.
HS
[laughs] Wow, that's very nice.
NR
But she's so tight with the money, that when she gets to be 91, and they cut it out, she'll have more money than you can bet, because she's having it all invested. You know...she's been investing it for the last seven years. She's got this investment service there and she's got a lawyer that we know, Hamlin or account, they all take good care of her. So she's making, she's making out like a bandit. She gets herself a new car every year, she's enjoying life anyway.
HS
Well, that's very good [laughs], very lucky.
NR
Well, they, they, uh, they had nine children. My mother-in-law had nine children. And that was the family home. And I'll say none of them are living, you know, in Somerville or in this area. The closest one, there's one living in Malden, but that's it. And then other than that, they're in Tewksbury, and they're in Worcester, they're here, they're there, they're everywhere. But nobody lives in Somerville, but the family was born and brought up in Somerville.
HS
[pause] Ok so, you said after you and your wife got married, that she didn't want to go to the theatre here anymore?
NR
No, she didn't want to go to the local theatres. You know, they had still had the one in Harvard Sq-...
HS
Right.
NR
Not Harvard Square, Davis Square, or they still had you know, she was not ah, she, if you were going to take her to the movies, you had to go in town. My wife's was a habit, and remember, that was before television.
HS
Right.
NR
You know, so it wasn't, you wouldn't say, " Well, I can stay home and watch television," no, she used to like to go to the movies, but ah, never locally. She wanted to go big-time. Loew's State, Loew's Orpheum, Paramount, what else, what else, what else was there? I forgot. But, you know the movies had, believe it or not, were a lot better than they are now, in this sense: that when you go in town, like they'd have a big band. You know, like Glen Miller, or Benny Goodman, or whatever his name was. So, you'd not only see a movie, and then the band would be there. You know.
HS
Wow.
NR
Big name band.
NR
And, like Harry James, Glen Gray and his Castle-oma at that time was big, and every time you'd go to the movies, like they used to compete at each other. Like, one of 'em wouldn't have a big band, but used to have, like acts.
HS
Right.
NR
Live acts.
NR
So you'd see a movie, and then you'd see their, their uh, comedians, or their, uh, actors come in and uh, put on a good show. And then you also had uh, like I say, one of 'em always used to have a big name band. Like, somebody that you'd heard of. You know, like I say, everybody knew Glen Gray, and everybody knew the Dorsey Brothers, and everybody knew them. You know, and they'd be, have a string of, you know one, they'd be there a week, and then the next one would come in, and then the next one would come in.
NR
And my wife would want to go to all of them. She used to like to go where they had the band. I forgot now whether that would be Loew's, Loew's Orpheum or Loew's State, they had one of them up on Mass Ave. and the other one was on Tremont Street or Washington Street, whatever that was. Washington Street.
NR
But uh, we uh, my wife is still alive and kicking, and we were enjoying life. We uh, we have a daughter in California, and we go out there once a year for a couple of weeks. We have one in Buffalo and we go out there, and then we have one in Washington D.C., a son. We're going to go there in the next three or four weeks. We uh, we expect a great-grandchild, and when the great-grandchild is born, we're going down. So, we've been enjoying life. We do a lot of traveling. Now we've been to Europe, and of course California, I'll say we've been there twenty times, if not more. My daughter's been there since 1970. And except for the years in which she comes back, we go there. So if she doesn't come here, we go there. So this year, we're going there.
HS
That's an excellent idea to travel so much [laughs].
NR
So we, we've done one [inaudible], we've been to Europe. I'll say I've been there 3 times, but I'll say my wife has been there six times.
HS
Wow.
NR
Like, she went one time with like all her sisters, and all her sisters' kids. One of my kids, and one of each of her sisters' kids, met them there. So they went to London for a couple of weeks, and there was, well there were four sisters, and there were three of their children were there, one of them isn't married, so the one that hit the megabucks isn't married. So, she's been there you know, like, at least, and then she went one time to Ireland, which I didn't, chose not to go, and ah, and then, the other time, she went back to, Scotland, to a, yeah, Scotland, England, and France, she went, but ah...
NR
we, we've done a lot of traveling, we've enjoyed life. Now we, we've been to Florida just a couple times, in other words I'd rather go to California, where I got relatives, then go to Florida and sit in the sun. [HS laughs] But we've been there though, one year we went for like three and half weeks, in February, the whole month of February almost.
HS
[pause] Did um, you, you mentioned other acts and bands at the larger theatres downtown, did they ever, did bands or other acts besides movies come to the Ball Square theatre?
NR
No, not, not...they never had any of the bands here, but in town it was a regular procedure. In other words, this, let's say it was the Paramount theatre, see 'cuz I can't remember which theatre, they used to specialize in big name bands.
HS
Ok.
NR
So every week they'd have a different band. So you'd see the picture and then you could hear the band. And I can remember seeing Glen Gray, Benny Goodman, Artie Shore, the Dorsey Brothers, I can remember seeing those, there was even a few more, but I can't think of them.
NR
And then, like the next theatre down the street, whatever it was on Washington Street, they had acts. They'd have comedians, or somebody, and, and, ah, you, if you went in there, but my wife used to like to see the big band...uh, show. So, we used to, just go to this more or less, Paramount most-, sometimes I can remember we used to go to Loew's State, but I don't remember what they used to feature. But Loew's State was up in corner almost at Mass Avenue and, uh, was that Tremont Street? No. Where's the Opera house, on what street? On Huntington Avenue?
HS
Um...
NR
Yeah.
HS
Yeah, Huntington.
NR
There on the corner of Huntington and Mass.
[Brief interruption while Mr. Riselli speaks with the same worker from earlier in the afternoon]
Worker
I got a few more things i was supposed to do over there but I got home now, I gotta go catch someone, so that I can get around for the weekend before they leave. But I gotta come in tomorrow morning.
NR
Yeah but he won't be here
Worker
Yeah but I have about two more hours left of work in the back of that building there. I gotta put the bricks around the pipe. Do if it's going to be better the weather. The weather tomorrow, did you hear?
NR
No I didn't
Worker
But I was wondering, There's no way..
NR
I know it's going to get dark, gonna get colder.
Worker
There's no way I could get one off her and she could date it for Monday.
NR
no, no
Worker
Because I'm really strapped myself.
NR
You know because she's gone to see sister, you couldn't get intouch with her anyway. I mean I couldn't even. Is Tommy Sullivan over there?
Worker
Tommy said everything was all set I says, yeah, no he left, Tommy left.
NR
He left
Worker
I did everything I had to do all week. I only got to do, I got two hours, I got to do two courses bricks around pipes in the back. but I'm going to do it tomorrow because I have to go down now to catch someone before they go.
NR
Well come in Monday and catch Tommy
Worker
No it aint even that. Nicky I don't want to talk to you right now alright. Thank you Nicky alright. I just got a change in course this weekend, I know that. Bye, bye Nicky, have a good weekend.
NR
[speaking as the worker leaves] If they don't make the arrangements before the guy goes and then now their...right, I can't help.
HS
Right.
NR
I'm just glad for Tom's sake that the project is all over, it's done. This guy's the most, uh, lackadaisal, I mean, you can't count on him, the job should have been done two month ago, but he'll come in a day and he'll stay out three, and then he'll come in two days and he'll stay out four, and the job just prolonged, because now, all the rest of...he was the lead guy and the rest of 'em didn't know what to do, and it was just a lot of wasted time and a lot of wasted money.
NR
I wouldn't hire this guy to, to build a dog kennel. [HS laughs] Ah really, to me if you say you're gonna come over here at 10 o'clock in the morning, you be here, nevermind.
NR
I worked, before we went into the locksmith business, I worked for B.F. Goodrich in Watertown before they closed. And I worked for forty years for them. And, my job, I was on, what they called special, ah, what they called special payroll. In other words, it wasn't, in other words my my ah, I didn't have to, well I was the manager for the last ten or fifteen years, but I didn't have to report to anybody or tell them I'm there. In other words, if I stayed out for a month, or two months there'd be no, course your job wouldn't get done, but, I'm just saying, you know, like I was almost like a guaranteed annual wage.
HS
Right.
NR
And, do you know that, in forty years, I only was out two days. Two days. I was lucky. I always had good health. But, I never abused the privilege. I was only out just two days.
NR
And not only that, but, I lost, well I really didn't lose and when I tell you the story, I....used to get, see when you get like five years, you get like three weeks vacation, when you get ten years, you get four weeks vacation, when you get twenty years, you get five weeks vacation, when you get twenty-five years, you get six weeks vacation, alright. So now I had the twenty-five years and I get six weeks vacation. But I'm the manager of the plant, and what happens is, that, I don't take my vacation, things are tough, or they will ask me, "I'm gonna take the last two weeks of the year" and they'll call me and say, "Nick, you can't, you can't go, we got this happening, or that happening, we got this special meeting in Acron, you gotta be there" Well alright, so I used to give it up.
NR
Now, they had a stupid rule in the company that if you don't take it in the calendar year you lose it.
HS
Yup.
NR
Now you're forcing me, and I lost it so, so one time we're in a meeting, we're in a meeting and, and this had to be in the '60s, I mean, you know, but, and it was a mangers meeting, all the managers in the Goodrich plants were invited to Pococnos Manor, in Poconos, New York.
NR
And it was like a business meeting but it was also like a pleasure, like a vacation. But every morning they'd have a meeting for a half- hour or an hour, and all these managers from all their different plants in the country were there.
NR
So they went around the table, and they said "ok, Joe, you know, what's your beef, have you got any beefs." [HS laughs] And, this guy would give what he thought was his beef, and the next guy and [inaudible] come to me, and I sa-, "Yeah, my beef is that I'm, forced to give up my vacation, because I'm forced to give it up. I says, It goes into the next year and I lose it. And I says 'that's a beef,' I says." So you know what happened? About a month later we all got a letter, that, you don't lose them, they're gonna be saved, so you can take 'em anytime, and if you don't take 'em, you'll be paid in full when you retire. Ok. So now, I retired, believe it or not, and they went back to the first week, you know, which was 25 years previously, and they gave me credit for every o-...
[tape cuts out]
NR
...well, they remember, the ah, pizza fire, pizza store fire, when this thing was burned right down. The only thing that saved the building was there's a brick wall about that thick here, and there's one there. Fire walls. And they go up above the, that one does anyway, it goes way up. And it saved the rest of the building. You know what I mean? Like, normally this thing would, see...
HS
Yeah, and the whole street would have gone up...
NR
See, Tom had a fire across the street, about, I'll say, nine years ago. Where the diner is.
HS
Ok.
NR
Ok, there were three stores there. No, there was... one, two, three...five stores, I believe. Ok, so now the feller on the corner of the street, the, the luncheonette, he had put something on the grill, and it caught fire. So when he went in the back, to get a, a bucket of water, when he come [inaudible] it was an inferno, you know what I mean, all that grease in the chimneys and everything caught fire. So he was almost trapped.
HS
Oh my gosh...
NR
You know, because he was on the wrong side. And, and what happened was that, he apparently threw the water on and ran by it so he was safe. So now, there's a firebox directly across his door, on the street, and he isn't thinking about it. Now he comes running down here, and he runs past the paint shop, and he runs down, the next block before he found a, a firebox. So in the meantime for ten-fifteen minutes, the fire kept getting more and more.
NR
Now, it was like in a February morning. Just about...I'll say...this time of the year. And it was a frigidly cold day, it was cold like, maybe five degrees above, and the fire engines, when they were coming up here, I was in here and I'm looking, and I looked and the hoses are falling out of the fire department, you know, they're falling out.
NR
So I said "Jeepers, when they get to the fire, they won't be any hoses." I wasn't realizing what was going on up the street, 'cause I couldn't see it from here. Well anyway, what I didn't realize was, they were unfurling their hoses, the hydrant was there, and they drop off the hose at the hydrant, then when they were going out, they were letting it just automatically unfurl, so there was two hoses going up, and I'm thinking that their losing them but they're not, they, but, when they got to the fire which was at the, where the diner is, the hydrants were frozen....
HS
Oh my gosh.
NR
No water was coming. In the meantime, this fire picks up momentum, more and more. So by this time, I walked over there and I noticed, like a ladder, a guy going up the ladder to the front of the building. And, so I'm watching him, and then four or five others went up and they all had axes and saws, and the next thing you know they started to drill holes and chop on the roof right there, you could see it from here very plain. And, and ah, the next thing you know, in those holes, the flames start shooting up, it was the worst thing they could've done...
HS
Right.
NR
...in the world, because, you see, the fire was up in the corner and they're chopping all these holes all the way down, and that fire and the heat is coming down, now it's bringing the flame up, now you got the flame on the whole block.
NR
So, jeepers I call Tom by radio and I told him "Tom, you got a disaster going on," so he rushed back but there's nothing he could do, you know the fireman, were taking care of it, but, they were, I will truthfully say they were incompetent. [HS laughs]
NR
Yeah, for the simple reason that, they didn't know, that you chopped that, and that flame is gonna come down and try to seek an outlet where as the, in the beginning, it was just going up, you know, that one store was burning, now they got five or six stores burning.
NR
But anyway, there's nothing you could do about that, nothing you could say, Tom had that for a couple of years, rebuilding those stores...so, so he's had his uh, ups and his downs, but right now things are looking rosy for him, you know.
NR
He's got the last one done there and he's got a tenant coming in April 1st I believe. Now the guy actually is moving in now, he uh, he brought his refrigerator in, yeah, and he told me as soon as they, they do the plastering in the floor, he's gonna bring all his shelves in.
NR
He's gonna bring all his shelves in. All his display cabinets and shelves so, now the floor is gonna be done, after they get through painting and I think the guys they're painting today and they'll finish it Monday, so anytime after Monday, that thing will start filling up
NR
so Tom is uh...So Tom's children are on vacation from school, so he took 'em out for a few days, he took 'em up skiing somewhere, Sunday river, so he's up there with his family for a few days. Now he'll either come back tomorrow, or, or Sunday.
NR
yeah this ah, this block, I can remember, where the uh, truffles shop is here, can you see it from there?
HS
Yeah, I...
NR
Yeah, next to the liquor store.
HS
Right.
NR
There's a, there's a Belgium Truffle shop. There used to be a very popular, ah, vegetable, the guy just sold vegetables. Fruits and vegetables in there. And it was very popular.
NR
And this, Victor's there, there was a meat market there, I remember that, and, and ah, what half of Victor's was a guy that used to repair furniture, I can remember that. That was way back. Now over here they used to have a Handy Andy's donut shop, where Sound Bites was.
NR
yeah. And that was O'Brien's café, that that Mulligan's was O'Brien's café for a hundred years. For over, from prohibition. From nineteen, when did they, I think thirty-four, they, they lifted that prohibition act. So, from then on, that was a, until Deco's bought it, and then Deco's sold it to this guy, Mulligan.
NR
Well Deco's actually, didn't, they owned it, they built it, you know, they finished it, put the brick up and everything. But, they never really ran it. They sold it to this girl, Sue, I forgot her last name, but Sue and her sister bought it, and they owned it for about ten years, Sue and her sister. And then, about three years ago, they sold it to this young fella, who's there now. He used to be a Boston cop for about five, six years, and he quit...
HS
mmm-hmmm.
NR
...being a cop in Boston. And he, and he opened up the bar room. Now, the reason he quit, was, he had an uncle, and his father were both Boston policemen. But his uncle, now I read this in the paper, you probably read it, maybe you don't remember it but, his uncle was on a pay detail one night, and these two black young fellas stripped him of his gun and they killed him, shot him.
HS
Oh my God.
NR
Mulligan. I mean, it was in the paper, got a lot of publicity at the time. But I'll say that was, had to be about eight years ago. And, and they killed him, so this guy wanted out. I mean, you know, and his father, I think, took his retirement. He was old enough to retire. So, he had his brother killed and he had his uncle killed, I forget, uh, we don't want to be in police work. So this guy opened this, and I think that's worse than police work. I would not want any of my kids in the, in the liquor business, in any way, shape or matter, whether it was a liquor store or, or a barroom. I, uh, I'm glad none of them are.
HS
Right.
NR
I think that's the, the worst...see these guys walking outta there stone-drunk, I'm just thinking like ah, "What a way to make money on other people's misery." Now those guys that walk out, they got families, they got, you know, who have a lot of problems. No, I wouldn't want that. Even this guy that's opening up the liquor store, I, I wouldn't want my kid to, to ah, run a liquor store; own or run a liquor store. I'm just that dead against it.
NR
I uh...Now, tell me, at Tufts, what year are you in?
HS
I'm in my third year.
NR
Third year? Now, are you ah, ah taking liberal arts, or what are you majoring in?
HS
Anthropology...
NR
Wow.
HS
...which is um, why I'm taking this course, and also it, it sounded so interesting to me to learn about the, the theatres that are around in, that were around in Somerville
NR
You know, you know um, talking about Tufts, three of my kids went there.
HS
Really?
NR
At the same time.
HS
Wow, when was this?
NR
Well, let's see, Mike, must of went '64, and when he was a senior, Cathy was a freshman, and Maryann, when Michael was a senior, Maryann was a, a junior, and Cathy was a freshman, all at one time, one year there was three of 'em there. But then Cathy finished when, she finished like I'll say in 1970 or '71, Cathy did. But, you know what, I will say, that we paid less, for the whole three, for four years, than your parents are paying for one year.
HS
Um, I bet you did [laughs]
[Brief interruption as Mr. Riselli talks to a lady who enters the room]
NR
Hi, Can I help you?
Woman
Hi I was here the other day...
[Tape stopped]
NR
So, I can remember the la-, that year, that I had to pay for the three of 'em, I owed them, this was a total of room and board and tuition, fourteen thousand, like and about four hundred dollars. [HS laughs] That was for the three of them, you know, and that was the uh, the big year. But, when Michael started, which was, you know, let's say in '64, the tuition was eighteen hundred, room and board was six hundred... [HS laughs] I mean, they'll keep you there today like for, for a week for that money.
HS
Yeah.
NR
Yeah. Eighteen hundred dollars, which, but that was 1964, eighteen hundred and six hundred for room and board. And the next year it went up, and the next year it went up....
HS
Mmmm-hmmm.
NR
So I, I was of the opinion that once they start you with a figure, they should keep you at that figure, you know, yeah...
HS
They should [laughs].
NR
You know like, like, by the time he got through it was like twenty-four, by the time Cathy got through her first year was three thousand, you know that was a twelve hundred dollar jump in, in three of four years. Today they jump that much in a week.
HS
[laughs] Pretty much.
NR
Thirty seven, thirty eight thousand...
HS
Yeah, just about it...
NR
I got a grandson, one of my daughters has a son that went to Columbia and then he went to uh, well he's going now to Oxford.
HS
Oh my God
NR
And I hate to think what it's costing her, because Columbia wasn't cheap either but, I think Oxford is even more. Even if it's the same, it, involves you know, flying back and forth, you know he'll come back for Christmas, and he's come back for vacation. And, and that's not cheap, and, and then he lives, you know, naturally, he lives there, he can't live off-camp-, well he could live off-campus but then he has to pay, you know it's not like a relative or something, it's all strangers there. But he's in his first year there...that's Matthew. [pause]
NR
I have another granddaughter that's going to graduate from Cornell, this uh, this year, and she emailed me last time, no she didn't email me, she IM-ed me [HS laughs], you use IM?
HS
Yes.
NR
She IM-ed me last night, and she says she's coming up...Friday at, she's going to be at our house at 2:30, this coming Friday, so we're looking forward to seeing her, this she's only got about what about, three more months, wh-, when is it normally over, around May 1st, graduation?
HS
Yeah the, first couple weeks of May.
NR
Yeah, so you figure March, April, May, that's all she's got three months and she's all done. Oh she's, she's applied to law schools all over the country, so, so, I think she's expecting to hear in the next month or so, I think she said that they start hearing around the middle of March, so she's applied to about five of 'em, but she'll get in.
HS
Yeah, they sound, sounds like excellent schools...
NR
Yeah she does good, she's a good student yeah...So she uh...we were hoping she'd apply, like to a local college, but she doesn't...Suffolk would be nice, that's where her uncle went after he went to Tufts. My oldest son went to Suffolk, and then from Suffolk he went to Georgetown. After he graduated from Suffolk, he got his master in law, in Geor-, Georgetown, but...
HS
My dad went to Georgetown.
NR
...he had a got a job for a company, and then he graduated and became a lawyer, and they, assigned him to Washington, so now he's down there, you know, at the time, and he was going to go to school here to get his masters, so he went to, uh, Georgetown. And, he's done great, so he owns a couple of a, law offices in, one in Alexandria, and one in Washington D.C., so he's doing good.
NR
So he's like, Caitlin's advisor.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
Caitlin anytime she wants to ask a question she asks Mike. I hope he's not charging her.
[Both laugh]
NR
No, those lawyers, they charge you for everything. You know, we used to live in New Haven, well we actually lived in Hamden, but,
NR
In New Haven, for some reason, I had to go into this big office building in New Haven, and you climb up these wide stairs that were about twenty feet wide, and they're up over the stores, there's stores underneath and there's offices on top. So I don't even remember why but anyway, I'm walking up the stairs, and at the top of the stairs there's a clock. And it's about, I would say, eight feet in diameter, and its right at the head of the stairs, you know at the top. If that fell forward, [HS laughs], it would go down like, like fifty stairs. But anyway, the clock, instead of the hands saying you know one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, it said, "five dollars, ten dollars, fif-" [HS laughs]
NR
In other words at that time, the rate was sixty dollars an hour. Yes. At that time, you know I'm talking now in 1969, '70. And that was their rate, but they let you know, time is money, and if you gonna talk, you know, you gonna talk 15 minutes, it's 60 dollars, or whatever, you know whatever it was, it was 5,10, no it'll be about 15 dollars for 15 minutes in. Today, it's probably 200 dollars an hour that they charge.
NR
But I could never forget that, that right there, big clock, 8 feet in diameter, right at the top of the stairs, and it will tell ya, five dollars, ten dollars, I thought that was clever. In other words, if you're coming in here to talk brother, you're gonna pay.
HS
Exactly.
NR
I, I think that's uh, that's good advertising, you know, let someone know in advance that uh, we're not a, a probono company here, or free company.
NR
But I don't remember what the hell was I doing up there because, it must of had more offices than the law offices, it must of, cause I went up for some reason, now this goes back thirty years ago, thirty-three years ago so...yeah
NR
So, we've had good, good dealings in Somerville. Like I said, my, my wife came from Somerville, their family home was in Somerville, we have a business in Somerville, Tom owns property in Somerville, Tom's a, a good taxpayer, you know, he pays a lot of real estate taxes in Somerville.
HS
When did he start purchasing buildings, or land in, on this strip again? I'm sorry.
NR
When did we start building what?
HS
When did, ah, Tom start purchasing, um, property?
NR
Well, well, let me put it this way, to the best of my recollection, I'd say he bought this building and that building twenty two or twenty three years ago. So, that would be roughly nineteen seventy-nine, nineteen eighty, I would say. Alright, and then about five years later he bought that one. So, that one would be nineteen eighty-five, eighty-six. In that range of time.
NR
I'll tell you something else that was interesting [HS laughs]. That now you brought it to my mind. You know, about time. One time, he had a tenant, that was the Willow Café, and it was the uh, two of these stores that they had made into one, and they used to have these dance bands come in, and these different musicians come in, and they were very popular, Willow Club.
NR
Well anyway, one year, and I'll say this had to be twenty years ago, ah, we, we come down one night, Tom and I, and we're across the street in the building, and he's, we're going over that there's somebody moving out, and he's gonna put tile in the kitchen, gonna do that and all of the sudden while we're in that second floor in the apartment that was vacant, we hear, this...gunshots, but I, I thought it was a car backfiring, you know how they do, so I said "Listen to that car backfiring" and he said "Backfiring? Hell that, that's gun shots.
HS
Oh, oh my gosh.
NR
I says "You're kidding me," he says "No," he says, "c'mon," so we locked the door and ran downstairs, so we're standing behind that wall there. So you see where the apartment door is, next to Victor's there?
HS
Right.
NR
There's that, that door, see there's a brick wall there.
HS
Right.
NR
Well, we're standing there, and there's a guy in the Willow, and he's shooting...and he keeps shooting and shooting, and he's got like 20 or 30 people hostage in there, all the customers, he won't let anybody go out. And he holds them hostage, so we're standing there, and who comes along, jeepers if I could only think of her name...this reporter for channel four.
HS
Mmm-hmmm.
NR
She just retired, black woman. Uh...it isn't Liz Taylor, but uh, she, she was pretty popular. She was the anchor women for years after that, but at that time, this time she was a reporter only.
HS
Mmm-hmmm.
NR
Would it be Liz Walker?
HS
I don't know, I'm not....
NR
Yeah Liz Walker, alright that was her name. And she became the anchor woman on there, like that Natalie Jacobson is on the other station. So she's standing, so the two of us are standing in there [HS laughs] and we're looking like this, you know what I mean, at the edge of the wall...
HS
Right.
NR
And you hear the, uh, the shots, and wi-, because, you know, it could carry.
NR
Well anyway, what happened was, the, finally, we're watching the cops, and there must be about ten cops, all around, but not in the front, you know, they're on the side. And you could see that they had like a bullet proof vest and they handed to this cop, and this cop said "no," as if to say you know, we interpreted things say "no, I've got seniority, not me" you know [HS laughs]. Well, anyway then the hand it to the next guy and the next guy, and everybody was refusing. Finally they come to the junior guy who can't say no. So now he puts on this vest, and he has to go over there and crawl underneath there, and then open the door and throw a canister of uh, mace, or what is that, tear-, uh uh, gas there what's that gas they call...
HS
Tear gas.
NR
Tear gas. So he throws in the can, and of course the next thing you know somebody comes coughing out, and somebody else and about 15 or 20, but he didn't come out the guy that had the gun. So they went in, and they dragged him by the two feet, you know like one guy on each foot, and they drag him, and of course the gas by this time had reached like across the street.
HS
Right.
NR
You know, it, it floats low and it, and you could see it, you know it's, it's like a vapor. And they ran him up that street maybe about two houses before they got into the clearance you know? But they dragged him and his head, head was bumping the sidewalk like a, and it turns out that, he had come in, to kill the owner.
HS
Hmm.
NR
Yeah, he, the owner, about a week before that, had thrown out his best friend, who was very unruly, and told him "get the hell out of here and stay out of here, I don't ever want you in here again." So now this guy that got thrown out, he told his friend that had the gun here. And he told him that, "you know that son of a gun threw me out," so he come down looking for the owner, and as luck would have it, the owner, that morning, took the day off and he went to Saratoga Springs.
HS
Very lucky.
NR
Oh very lucky, or he would have been a dead turkey. And so what happened was, this guy, he doesn't believe them and he's telling them that, "you produce the owner or you, I'm gonna hold you here indefinite-," and he said, "and if you think I'm kidding you," he says, "listen," he says "I'm a sharpshooter," and he says, "see that number 2 on, you know 2 o'clock on the clock," boom, and he'd shoot out number two.
NR
You know, he was really, so what we found out afterwards, after they subdued them, and the next day at the trial and all that, that this guy used to be up at this Woburn rifleman's club or something, like, like three days a week, just target practicing. You know, he was a sharpshooter. 'Cause now the other deal he'd say, you see that letter E in that sign over there, boom, he'd shoot it out, and he had about twenty shots, you know the ceilings the walls and everything. And this Liz Walker, myself, and Tom, every time we hear the shots, we back up you know, because you know, it's a loud reportment.
NR
It lasted from about 7 at night to about 11. Then at 11 o'clock they finally got the tear gas in there, but she, she was just a reporter then, you know like, covering the story, but, later on, she was at the desk there, and she became the anchor, she was the #1, I think she still works for them but she's not the anchor woman anymore. She uh, she took her, you know, uh, lesser job, and lesser pay to be with her family more. But, she, I was amazed, she was like two inches taller than me [HS laughs]. She was a tall, tall girl, she was like 6 foot 2, but, we, we all watched it from there. But that's the square, other than that, not much happens here [HS laughs]. Yeah.
HS
So, ah, what year, again, did the, when this building was a pizza parlor, what year did that burn down? Do you remember that?
NR
Oh, I would say, I would say, I can't remember it as a pizza parlor before the war, you know, or during the war. I would say he opened up right after the war. I would say nineteen forty-six. And, and he burned it, I would say, well, look it, we're here now seventeen years, and I would say it took him about two years to fix it, so that would be nineteen, I would say twenty years ago would be nineteen eighty-two, when he burnt it. Just, you know I'm just guessing out of the top of my head, I don't keep these chronological correct, because, you know, they're not important to me, but....
HS
Yeah.
NR
Uh, all I'm trying to think of, we're here seventeen years, he couldn't have been here. And it took Tom about two years, so, it, you know, he was fixing it in pieces, and, and it took a long time. So that would be nineteen years, and then I would, I'm not sure that he started immediately after the fire, but let's say a year. So, like I say, twenty, twenty years ago, is when he burned it, in that time frame plus or minus a year.
NR
So, he must have been here for about, it was a real good pizza shop. Very popular. Lots of business. He's like that Victor's. I don't know if you know this area, but you know, see that Victor's over there?
HS
Right.
NR
Alright now, you look in there, and all you see, see you all those peoples?
HS
Mmm-hmmm.
NR
You can see them at the counter, see one coming out. Now if you stood here, and you walked down, one comes out and you watch it, no more than two minutes later two will go in, and then three will come out and five will come in, I mean, it's that type of business, from now, 'till about 2 o'clock, which it's getting close to it now.
NR
He, he has a, just standing room, you're gonna wait 15-20 minutes to get served, but then he doesn't do much from 2 to 4, but at 4 o'clock, he's got this crowd where it's a working wife and a husband, and she doesn't want to cook after working all day [HS laughs], she goes in and buys a big dish of lasagna or, soup, or whatever, they, it's a different type of business in the afternoon, in the morning they have mostly calzones and pizza and stuff like that for the people that work, but in the afternoon, it's all little dinners, you know all home cooked, and everything you buy there is freshly cooked, right there.
NR
And it's a family affair, in other words it's a mother, a father, a daughter, and a son, there's four of them. Now there is another daughter but I don't think she's active in there. And for awhile there was the other daughter's husband, in other words the son-in-law, but I don't see him there anymore. But four of those people are family members, and then they got about four more in the back peeling potatoes and cooking or whatever. But, it, it's a, it's a hell of a business, they do more business look , there's another one coming out, oh two more, look it now see that girl she's got a bag full there, that, she must have twenty-five or thirty dollars worth of lunches, the girls in her office probably told her, "get me one," "get me one," now see she, they come out, now there's another one going in, and all, all from eleven o'clock to two, that's all you see, in and out, in and out.
NR
They're all there. But, I will say number one he gives you plenty, number two it's nice quality, home cook, and number three it's reasonable in price, now you can't beat that combination.
HS
No.
NR
Now the guy next door, Sound Bites, he has quite a business too, but he's only open from 7 to 3, and he only ser-, serves like breakfast and dinner, nothing else, at three o'clock sharp, they close. Victor stays open till about six, six-thirty I guess, but he closes. No, it's a nice little, it's building up nice the square is, yeah.
NR
Now Tom is got, I would say, just outta the top of my head without counting, seventeen tenants, you know like, say ten, in the stores, or ten or maybe twelve in the store, and then he's got like four or five offices upstairs. Those are all different tenants. And, I would say...three...four, five. He got six tenants up there but actually there's more than six offices like, the union has got a double occupancy, they have two, and the girl that does the hair, removes your hair there by laser, she's got two offices and the guy in the corner's got two offices, so, so, uh, he's got a total of six...and I'll say four, ten offices up there and they're all rented to nice tenants. Real good solid tenants, every last one of them, and the family ware stores, he's got the, the rug guy next door, this dental, this, uh, I don't, I don't really know, so I'll just say Viet-, uh, not Vietnamese but I'll say Oriental.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
Yeah, husband and wife. And they're both dentists, and then they got ah, ah, a subordinate there, whoever, that is there, that they rent him space, you know he practices with him, but, they have, they're, they tell me seven days a week, until about ten o'clock at night, morning and night, they never quit work those people [HS laughs], yeah, never quit work, they, and their clientele is real satisfied with them, you know, they're all return agents or they're not, you never hear them advertising or, seeking somebody, they, they just are loaded all the time, and they won't go home until everybody's taking care of.
NR
But, uh, then he's got that real estate firm, and then he's got this women, who's got to be the most clever woman I ever met [HS chuckles]. You know, she's, she sews these uniforms for these marching bands, and schools that have uniform, uh name is uh....oh, I'm trying to think of it....
HS
I think on the outside of the shop it says "Rose Terie settlement" that's what I...
NR
She, she is so clever, you see her cutting that fabric over there, like, you know, like, thirty dollars a yard, and she cuts it like, like a maniac, and she saves every little part, she knows exactly how to do, she's a, and then she's got about seven woman that sew.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
So she sews it all, you know, she cuts it all, and then, she has it sewn by her girls, and, some of those uniforms I've seen 'em, they're beautiful, you know like, but she deals all throughout the country.
HS
Right.
NR
You know like, the, the Albuquerque marching band, I mean, they'll buy their uniforms or, or, you know like, uh, the names you know, like, places you just hear on television, you know, but she, sends them out UPS or whatever, but she's been there and, and she's great.
NR
And then she's got, and then he's got the bank and of course there [tape cuts out for a second] he can do electrical, so, he's, he's really a handy man. Besides he makes his living basically as a locksmiths.
HS
Mmm-hmm. [pause]
HS
That's great.
NR
Yeah, so, now you know how that façade came down. A drunk imagined that it was falling on him and he ran up to the town hall and, the ah, guy that he told ordered it down, except that, unless you hired his friend for twenty five dollars to build a steel structure. So, so Tom wasn't gonna go for that. So, that's how that façade come down. But I used to love it, it was beautiful.
HS
Yeah.
NR
It, it really, uh, was something to behold, you know, it had been a talking piece of the square. So I'll say we had it, well, Tom had it, I'll say it was about three years. You know, while he owned it, that façade was up, and, of course they put the pressure on him, to, to fix it, though take it down.
HS
[quietly] Right
NR
And Tom is just that, obstinate. [HS laughs] That, you know, if you push him. Ah, you're not gonna force him into anything. You know, and, and everything he does is first-class, you know what I mean, he won't settle for something that almost good, or, or pretty good, or, or whatever. It's gotta be perfect.
NR
Like I can remember when he had the guys doing that house up there, about five years ago, he had this guy that came in here, putting the siding up....and Tom went up there to inspect it, the guy had put up about five feet of it.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
And when he went all around, he was off like say half a course.
HS
[chuckles] Oh, God.
NR
You know, like he would either have to, so, so Tom went up there and had him strip the whole thing, and do it over again. "You do it right, you got a ruler you measure it." So, so, that's how Tom was, I mean, and this guy didn't dare go off the beaten path one iota 'cause he knew Tom was watching everything he did....[pause]...
NR
You know, if Tom had his way, that façade would still be up, and that thing would've lasted a hundred years, it was solidly built, in a day when they didn't care about money, you know what I mean? Like if it was gonna be six inches thick, they'd make it a foot thick. They, they really, 'cuz that's why this is such a great building.
HS
Right.
NR
Because, when they built it, they didn't spare any money. They built this in 1925. That I know, what with the, the, the nameplate up there said it.
HS
[laughs] Right
NR
I don't remember it...'cuz I was living in Watertown. I remembered, in Watertown, in 1925, they built the Coolidge Theatre, in Coolidge Square. And, I used to go to school right along side of it. The Coolidge School. But it was 1925 and they built that. And, they ripped it down maybe about ten years ago. But, that Coolidge Square Theatre was very popular in its day. But, I guess, once television came in, it started to fall out of favor. And, they could make more money, you know, building other buildings there, so the Coolidge Square Theatre came down. But, many of the, us kids, used to go in there, watch the cowboy movies.
NR
But, you're not familiar with Watertown, huh?
HS
I had a few friends who lived there last year, but I just remember their house and how to get to their house from Harvard Square.
NR
Well, from Harvard Square, you just take the Watertown Square bus
HS
Right
NR
and it goes right up Mount Auburn Street, which is the main street and, actually, Watertown is a very small town, you know, like, like Main Street, after you reach Watertown Square, and Mount Auburn Street, and that's it. And the town is just, like, a few blocks on each side of those streets.
HS
Right
HS
And that's it. It doesn't, doesn't go way up. For, if you go too far up, on Mount Auburn Street, you come to Belmont, and if you go too far the other way, you'll come to Brighton, or you'll come to Newton. But ah, it's a small town. I think one time I read it was four square miles in all. Which is tiny.
HS
Yeah. That's really small.
NR
Four square miles. Yeah, well I was born and brought up there. I never lived, except for the time they transferred me from Goodrich, I've never lived within, out of a mile from my birthplace. Where I live now is just about a mile. And, when, that was my birthplace, and then, when I was about seven, my, my family moved into a home, which was just up the street, on Arlington Street, and we lived there until I was eighteen. And then we moved into our family home in, Mount Auburn Avenue, and we lived there, we still own the house. It's still our house, but nobody lives there. I mean, you know, the family. It's rented.
HS
Right.
NR
...but we've owned it since 1926. When I say, "we owned it," my father bought it and then, when he passed away, it came to uh, my sister and I...I was telling my sister last year, the way things were, she should sell it, you know, we should get rid of it, at the highest price you know. No, she wasn't interested. But, he only paid twelve thousand for it, you could get like five hundred thousand now.
HS
Right.
NR
But she, she says no, [inaudible phrase]. But she's in real estate big.
HS
Ok.
NR
So, that, you know that doesn't surprise me. She's got, probably, I would just guess out of the top of my head, twenty million dollars worth of property, that she owns.
NR
My younger sister. Actually, actually, she doesn't have, her name wasn't on that, it's Leena and I, it's another sister that actually owns the house, but we let Virginia handle it. She does the maintenance, and, 'cuz she's got so much other real estate, and she's got managers. That, that take care of the Boston property, and take care of other property so that, for her it's like second nature, she's, in Boston alone I'll say she's got a hundred tenants.
NR
But she doesn't do any of the renting, or any of the maintenance, you know, she, she gives it to a guy, or guys or people, or, in other words she has a, a rental agency that takes care of the rent, oh and then she's got one guy for, I forgot his last name Bob, Bob Clapford. He'd been taking care of her, like, trash, and windows, and screens, and light bulbs, all that light, you know, he doesn't do any of the uh, painting or stuff like that. But everything else he takes care of, and he's been doing it from the first day she bought that property, which was probably in 1948. And he still does it...Bob, Bob, what the hell is his name, nice guy...Bob.
HS
but anyway, Virginia is in good shape, great shape, she uh....she has struck it right now, my daughter in California the same way, she's, struck it right. She's in great shape, they own lots and lots of property out there in California, she and her husband. Buildings, vineyards, ranch...they own a building that's like, that block long, across the street, see from that street to that street, it's that wide and it's that deep. And it's eleven stories high. Right in the heart of Oakland.
HS
Wow.
NR
They uh, they're big into real estate out there, she, her husband, and her, their, they pick up property, all the time. We're gonna go out and see it, you know we go out every year, but she called me yesterday, wanted to know, "Why don't we go out there for Easter?" [HS laughs] I said, "Easter's around the corner," she says, "Well," she says, I says, "We were looking forward to coming out in July or August," she says, "Well, you come then too." [HS laughs] So and I said it to my wife last night, "you know, Mary Ann was talking to me and she said she'd like us out there for Easter." [laughs] She says to me, she says, "Give me 20 minutes to pack." [HS laughs] And we're on our way.
HS
How did you meet your wife?
NR
Huh?
HS
How did you meet your wife?
NR
Oh ah, when I used to work in Goodrich.
HS
Ok.
NR
I was the superintendent of this department. And, lo and behold, she came in there. And I took her an attraction to her, and she worked there about a year, and then I asked her to go to the movies one night, and that was it. That was about in 1941, I'd say.
NR
Yeah. Well, we didn't get married until, 'til after the war, though. We, uh, waited for the war to end. And we have four children, two boys and two girls. Like I told you, Michael, Michael is up, a lawyer, he does all the, the legal law for the two offices, and uh, and then we got Mary Ann who, used to be a teacher. But, she hasn't taught for, for thirty years, so, she's not a teacher anymore.
NR
But, she's the one who's in real estate with her husband, and and, she's, quite active with him, and they buy a lot of, every year they buy property, every year, and they'll keep it unless it doesn't make good profit, and then they'll sell it, if it doesn't make at least like say 15 percent return, they'll put it up for sale, they're not above...getting rid of property and figure you know, like myself, I own my home, until I die, it's my home I would never think of selling it.
HS
Right.
NR
And Tommy's the same way. He, he buys something and he doesn't want to get rid of it. Mary Ann and her husband, just show her the bottom line, and you own it. [pause]
NR
We uh, when we go out there.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
I'll show you, pictures. Well, I'll show you this other picture first.
NR
My oldest son, he works for, besides having those two law offices, he works for a company that, they have all these lawyers belong to their association, at a fee. Let's say a hundred dollars a year, or two hundred dollars a year. And what they do, is they provide these lawyers, all over the world, with experts in their field.
NR
So, let's say, that, you're a lawyer, and you get a letter, you're a labor law and and uh, they'll say, on June 22nd, 23rd, 24th, we're going to have, an expert at the, uh, oh I'm just picking a name, the Holiday Inn, on, on, Memorial Drive. I'm just making that up. You know alright, now. It says, that for fifty dollars, you can attend, and there'll be a dinner, you know, ok, now, when you go there, if your interested, this expert will explain all about labor law, all the latest changes and everything, and then when he gets through, he opens it up to, to questions. He'll point to you and you'll ask him a question. Yeah, well my son does the labor law for them...is it labor? Yeah. Labor Law.
NR
Alright. Now, they'll have another one for criminal law, and another one will have, uh, international law. So they'll have these experts there, and you can ask these questions, now the labor law goes to this room, international law goes there, and the corporate lawyers go here. Well Tom, uh, Michael used to do that ten or twelve times a years for them. But now he got it down to just, he cut them down to just four. And the reason he, he cut 'em four, he doesn't have the time anymore, plus the fact, but you say "well, how did he pick four," well one he picked in San Francisco because his sister lives in Berkeley next door, and when they go out there, he goes with his wife, and they make it a vacation. So he's just gone three nights, and they'll be there all week, and Mary Ann and Eileen, they'll have a ball, you know.
NR
So, he, he chose that, as one, and then he chose the one in Frankfurt, Germany, for another one, well anyway, to get along with the story, when, when ah, Michael was out there, now he goes every year, and Jerry, my son-in-law, he had this vineyard, that was about 48 acres, and he chose to dig 11 'em up, and put a pond there so he could swing when he's up there. He also built a nice swimming pool at home so he could swim because this is the only relief he's got, he's got a bad back. And he finds relief in swimming.
HS
Right.
NR
It's like a cure for him. So he went up there and about, well it tells you the date, 1994.
[Mr Riselli is showing pictures of Maryanne's home in California, as well as of the vineyards that they own.]
NR
7, 8 years ago, alright? He started to dig here, these bulldozers come in and he started to dig these...vines up, and now, this year my son, Michael, every time he'd go out there, he was taking these pictures, but he took 'em like a, like ahhh....a montage, or a panorama or whatever you want to call it. And he took this and that and that. And then, he'd put 'em together to show me. See? And this was the farm when he was building it, you know like, like, different view, this was from different views.
HS
Oh wow.
NR
Yeah so it was big, like, like he, eh, thought from here to down here, it's about from here to the circle. And on the width, alright, which I'll show you later, from here to there, it's about from here to that brown house over there.
HS
Oh wow.
NR
The width. It's not, symmetrical, you know it's irregular, but, but it's big, it's a real big.
HS
It's huge.
NR
Now you're saying, "Well, how deep is it," well here's Mary Ann my daughter stranding with her truck [HS laughs]. Alright, and here's the pier where you jump off of that I'm going to show you, right there see it? So you can see how high that is compared to that pier that they put in, see this pier here?
HS
Yeah.
NR
Alright. Now the pier is fifteen feet off the water.
NR
Now he made an island in here, which is this here, this is taken at a later date, there's an island, there, where they, birds can nest and everything else, and this thing has an overflow, I can show you on the other one better, that goes in with the Napa river, which runs along here, flows in, so, and it's like a, a five galloon pail, that's exposing the water flows in here and walk, and, and, and flows down to the river.
NR
But now, this here...was alright for a few years then last year, or the year before, I said to Mary Ann now, "Mary Ann, send me a uh...a picture you know like, a wide view picture of, uh this is something else now, this is their newest acquisition about two years ago. But uh, she, she sent me these pictures, now this shows, if, you know, all [feel], now this was that pier that you saw, and this was my wife over there that she loves it, and these are the grapevines, like this, this is eighteen acres of 'em right there, then there's like some in the back and then there's eleven acres in the front, so that's my wife, now this is different view, now they also bought a trailor, which they got no wheels, they took the wheels off, and it's permanent there. And it, it sleeps like six people and it's got [HS laughs] TV, and it's got a freezer, a refrigerator, a stove...now this gives you a better view...it's all worn in now, so, so it looks better, but look, see where the pier is there, see how it...
HS
Yeah. [pause]
NR
Now last year, along this road, he was having the bulldozer when we there, take this out, he was gonna plant two roads of uh grapes, from South, because all these other grapes he can't touch, he owns 'em, but, a, a Spanish company has a 22 year, well it had a 25 year, contract, that they can pick those grapes and only they.
NR
You know, I mean they have a, a, a winemaker goes down everyday and checks the acidity and checks that, so they got first. And they have a fence put around it, I don't know if you can see it but, you know like a, a cow fence put around that prop-, so, so, even though Mary Ann and Jerry own the land and own the grapevines, this company owns the right to pick 'em, so, so, they do all the picking, but this is, sort of, is um, more broke down so it looks lousy there, but there that's all nice and trim. [pause]
NR
It's gorgeous, we, we go there for a whole day or two days, and we sleep in the trailor, overnight, it's very comfortable. Now this is the swimming pool that, he put in behind his house for himself now. He not only look, [HS laughs], had a luxury thing there, but he turned around, and he built himself, now this used to be land that went from here to here like on a slope, and he dug it down, put a wall in, and he put, this now, this thing here is heated, and so is the hot tub. And this is, down here is a cover that when you push the button, this whole cover covers [HS laughs] everything, including the hot tub. Now that's right behind this house. Now that's where I'll be sitting [HS laughs]. That's where, right here, I'll be sitting right here on one of these chairs, or one of these, and relaxing.
NR
Now you know when we go out there in August or September, see if we go in March it won't be ready, but this is a big fig tree.
HS
Oh.
NR
And I love 'em, but I only eat about four. But these figs hang right down, you can almost reach up and grab one. [HS laughs] But uh, and figs, like once they start getting ripe, they they mature all the time like, you know, like right up until, they don't have a frost, but until they're all exhausted, but they'll keep maturing.
NR
But now, you can't see it, but right over this thing, he's built a deck on the house. There's a deck here. All in front of the kitchen, one story up. In other words you're standing under the deck now. So we'll see that, he just finished it recently.
NR
And this is all nice stone, nice, I don't know what you call it but it's a nice quality stone, but we, we enjoy this, we go up there, now he has a, in a, when we go up in the fall, he has a job for me, when I go out there [HS laughs], my job is to, go up and down each row, grapes, and select like four vines on each row. Typical vines, don't, don't just take the biggest one or the smallest one, just take an average one, and then, pick off, uh, count all the, the, the bunches, and they go anywhere from forty-eight to ninety, depending on the...
NR
See he's got three types of grapes, I don't know which one is more productive, but, like he's got merlot, he's got sauvignon then he's got, uh, chardonnay, and, and one's red, the other, the other two are white, and, and what I do is, every roll I pick four, and I count 'em, and I put 'em in a shopping bag, and then, go home, and give him the figures, and he weighs 'em, and he estimates what his yield is going to be. And for the last six or seven years he says it's right on the money. Everytime I do that, he says it's on the money. In other words, uh he, figures he's gonna get, let's say, a hundred twenty tons from this vineyard...
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
And, and it may come out plus or minus, you know, two or three percent, but he says it's very close, and, and, I do that for him every year so, I'm....
HS
You're a natural [laughs].
NR
....so I go up there and work on the west coast like those Mexicans do [HS laughs]. Which I get a big kick out of anyway, but, but I've been doing that now for him for about six, seven years, and, I look forward to it. Wel-, well my wife was over there and the, she's a great swimmer, and she's over there in the pool.
NR
Now, he bought this about two years ago. [pause] He bought this, uh...I forgot the name of the city it's near, well, it's in Napa Valley, but at one end of it. Now this, this is right, next door, to this ranch that this uh, he told me this uh, that football quarterback for San Francisco, Joe Fontana?
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
Joe Montana, whatever it was, Joe Montana. Joe Montana owns the property on on, like, this side here. He has a ranch there, or he raises horses and things.
NR
Well Jerry, now bought this, and this is a hundred and forty acres, and he's got one section that there's a vineyard in it, but most of the others he's gonna develop, as a uh, property for homes, 'cause they got water, and they got electricity. And, and he's gon-...
NR
So now, he ask me, to ride with him. So he has two of these on the property at all times these uh, rovers, whatever you call 'em land rovers, and we rode up and down, no I like say it's two hundred and...somewhere, like in the two hundred forty or, two hundred acres whatever. But, like one hundred twenty acres he's gonna subdivide into building lots. Now all this in here, see like where's it clear and everything, this was all like that, with trees, and he already cleared it, where these things were. But that's, that's, I think that's me. Yeah, that was me on one, I rode up with 'em, we went all through it. You couldn't mark it, you know what I mean, it's big.
HS
Right.
NR
[pause] So he and I, went up and the, and, and incidentally, he put the roads in...
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
Like see that road? He had bulldozer crew, and himself, and, they cleaned all the trees, and they, they ran these roads, and they also dug this well, big well, and, and, they, they dug that.
NR
And they uh, and this town, or city or county, ran an electric wire right adjacent, you know like, out here on the street so that, they can tap into it, and if they wanna build it, they can, you know they have water and they have electricity, so, uh, they don't have sewers, they have to have uh, uh....their own sewers but uh, but other than that.
NR
So he, had actually cleared, two lots and the last time I talked to Mary Ann about this, she said that the, one of the people that's adjacent, that owns a horse farm there, there's a lot of horse farmers, he's interested in buying it, so she says, if, if they can come to terms, she says Jerry will sell it to him, you know?
HS
[quietly] Yeah.
NR
But these things are up there, they keep 'em up there permanent.
HS
[quietly] Mmm-hmm.
NR
[short pause] Do they, they have a lot of property, an awful lot. But you know, he's pretty smart, what he does, is he doesn't do any of the work, none of the renting, none of anything. He has a guy, and uh, this guy's name is Stephen Banker, and he's the son of this guy Coldwell Banker, you know that you see...
HS
Oh, yeah.
NR
But that banker is the father, Coldwell Banker. Those two guys started that business. But this is a son Stephen, and Stephen manages it for him at fifteen percent.
NR
Now, not only, he takes care of everything, but, he owns fifteen percent of the property, he gives it to him, in other words, Stephen Banker owns fifteen percent of whatever he owns, but, Stephen is responsible for renting it, upkeeping it, in other words, Jerry is just like an overseer, you know what I mean?
HS
Right.
NR
He'll, he'll meet with Stephen once a week or once a month, and just tell 'em how I want you to take this thing here and update the front of this building, or do that, or, but he, he doesn't do any of the work anymore.
NR
Now, he, like Tom, is very capable, he can do anything, he started off building five homes, and then he was building a lot of 'em, I'm saying about in 1970, when, when they got married, and he, he quit teaching in 1971, that's how they met in the school, where they both taught, but then they got married in about '70, and then in '71 he took a year off and he built, five homes, and he made a lot of money on 'em. So from there, he took off, and then he every time he'd build, he'd either sell it or he kept some of 'em, you know, that were real good.
NR
And he's owns quite a bit, quite a bit, I mean, I will say, three big office buildings you know or complexes, and, and then, uh, they have a home that must be worth like two and half million dollars. It's gorgeous, there's [inaudible] where that pool is, and, and then, they also, like own a ranch in Oregon. They had this tornado or earthquake, or whatever it was uh, so Mary Ann start getting it, so they decided, alright, they wouldn't buy anymore in that area, so they'd move up north where there was fairly free, but it was too far away from 'em, so they still own it, they bought it, they own it, and it's a ranch, but it also a got a, a building in there that's an office building that they had built on it. So they still own that, I don't know whether they'll ever get rid of it or not.
NR
Then they own the, the Napa valley they own, forty-eight acres that are all planted except for the pond. They also own this other new property that they bought about two years ago, that he spent last year putting roads in and making it accessible and clearing, he's cleared actually about two lots, and I told 'em, if I lived out here, and I liked that type of living, I'd buy this lot.
NR
You could look down on the valley, you know, it was up higher, and, there was a clearing, and you could look down on this gorgeous Napa Valley, and I says, "this is a gorgeous view Jerry," and he says "yeah" he says "you know," he says, "right out in the very base of the hill," he says, "what do you see there?" and I says, "I can see some horses," and he says, he says, "you know who owns those horses?" I say "no," he says, "Joe Montana." [HS laughs] He says "that's, all that in there is his ranch, he, he raises and, and horses and, and he, he loves it out there," so I said "imagine, how the hell did he ever find that place?"
HS
Yeah.
NR
It's right in Napa Valley. Of course, when you're in Napa Valley, I don't know if you are aware of, but like, it's the, goes up, like this and there's mountains and mountains and it's the washout from the mountains through the hundreds of thousands of years, that have brought all the soil down, and made it so rich so you can down six feet, eight feet, and it's all rich fertile soil, you know, it's very conducive to grape growing, and the, it, it, it makes the best wine, and they claim that, it's even better than France's wine. I don't know, I'm not a wine drinker.
NR
But, the company, that bought them, uh their grapes, was named, uh I can't think of it, but anyway, sounded like a French name but she said no it's a Spanish name, and, and she, said that, this company claims that they're the oldest, continuous winery in the world.
HS
Huh.
NR
Their roots go back over two thousands years, this company that has leased their grapes.
NR
So, so I says, "Well can you go buy your, your wine, like wholesale it?" she says, "Are you kidding me Dad?" she says, "Even wholesale, they sell their wine from like ninety-five dollars a bottle and up, and even wholesale would costs forty-five or sixty dollars, you know," she said "no, we wouldn't buy our grapes from them"
[BEEP]
[a man enters the room]
NR
Hey, how are you my friend? Thank you very much, I appreciate it [the man leaves]. Now that's what you call a good neighbor. Now you and I are gonna enjoy a half a cup of coffee each [HS laughs]. Every afternoon, see rather then dump it, he closes at three, rather than dump it, he sends me...
HS
Aww, that's nice.
NR
.....a glass of....coffee.
[Man talking inaudibly in the background]
HS
Um, a little bit, yeah....
[tape stops]
[tape resumes]
NR
Ok. [pause] You take that, I never can drink a whole one so [HS laughs]. You know, I tell him "send me a small one, don't send a big one." Ah, they still send me the big one.
HS
Mmm-hmm...yeah, I can usually not, finish a, large one like this by myself.
NR
Now where do you originally come from?
HS
Wisconsin.
NR
Wisconsin?
HS
Mmm-hmm, Milwaukee, right on the lake.
NR
Where?
HS
Right on uh, Lake Michigan.
NR
Yeah, but what city?
HS
Milwaukee.
NR
Milwaukee?
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
No, you know why I, I, I, I was surprised when you said Wisconsin. I only been there once, on business. And I went to Cheboygan.
HS
Oh, ok [laughs].
NR
And that's where the company was that I was to uh, visit and all I can remember was, going down this road, and the lake was on my right, you know like the road was right adjacent to the lake and they were off on that same road so that when you looked out their front window, you could see the whole lake. And I don't even remember, because this had to be in the '60s...
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
And I can't remember why, I was delegated to go out there, my boss from Akron told me he wanted me out there so, I went, when he, when the boss told you to go.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
But it was on business and I don't remember what it was, it had to be about one of our products...but we uh...now, all I can remember was the lake, the road we're running along the lake for miles, and this factory right on the road. And, and then the other deal was a guy, the manager I remember, took me out, into the city, of Cheboygan. And, he said to me, "Nick," he says, "I, I would advise you to try this...," oh jeepers I forgot...Reuben.
HS
Mmm.
NR
He says, "The guy in this store, his name is Reuben, and he claims that he made the first Reuben," he told me. He says, "You try it and you'll like it." Now this was like in the sixties. So, I tried it, and I loved it. So as I remember, I had to be there the next day, so I went back and had another one, you know with him, [inaudible]. But that was the only city I ever was in, Cheboygan.
HS
Yeah, that's um, it's probably about forty-five minutes from where I live.
NR
Yeah, I, I remember, it wasn't too far from, from the main drag, you know, it wasn't like you had to go up, cause I had a rented car, and ah, I remember was, you know, I would've said it was an hour's drive from where I landed, and where I had the car, and then drove up there.
NR
I used to go up to uh, what the hell is the name of that city, it used to be named Berlin, but they changed it during the war because of the name, Berlin. But it was in uh Canada, and it was right over the, right by the lake up in Canada, uh, halfway between Buffalo and, and Toronto. It's now name, I can't think of the name, they changed it, but they don't use Berlin anymore, they didn't go back to it, but, it was something like ru-, oh no Kitchener. Kitchener, [HS laughs], Kitchener used to be Berlin. First time I went up there it was Berlin, first time. But then when I went up again, it was, I said "what happened?" They said no, on account of the, you know the Nazis and the Germans and the war and everything, they changed it, they didn't want that stigma on them.
NR
But I used to go up there often. [pause] Now there used to be a very popular drug store, where the...um...fingernail there or whatever you call it uh, these Vietnam people have a place where they build your fingernails out on the corner.
HS
Ok.
NR
That used to be a, a big drug store.
NR
They had, probably three of those stores they were very popular, but of course like all others they all, failed in time, you know, with these CVS's and everything, they opened up the CVS, and they also had a big one on that block, Tanner's. He had like two or three stores, he had like the corner and the next two stores and that used to be Tanner's. It was like a, a small miniature CVS let's say but, but he couldn't survive it either, because once they put that CVS there, oh they were all dead. [pause]
NR
Now, that Mitchell's was there forever. I don't know when they started but, there's still two brothers who run it.
HS
Do you know them?
NR
Yeah, yeah Mitch. I, I don't know much about them except that they're nice people. One brother runs it in the day, he opens it up at nine and goes to maybe four, and the other one goes from four to ten or something. They, you know, between 'em. They're the only two in there, nobody else. Nice people.
NR
This guy's a nice guy, this Mulligan's. He's the son, like I told you, of the cop, and he's married, and he's got a child, and the girl he married had another child, so he's got two children. But he's a very nice, nice young man.
NR
And this guy is uh, Lebanese, Lebanese, he uh. He, well, you can see how nice he is now rather than throw this out, he sends it over every day. He's a nice, nice person and, and, he's one of, lately, this just happened about two months ago, he was being evicted from his house, and he asked Tom, and Tom owns that house there, and ironically, the, his tenant, was, bought a home on Morrison Ave and was fixing it, himself. So Tom says if you can wait like a month or two or three, or whenever this guy finishes and moves in over there, he's gonna move out you can have that apartment, up at the top. And he waited, whatever he did with his landlord who wanted him out, so he moved up there. So he now is Tom's tenant, an addition.
NR
On a Saturday and a Sunday, they say that place is so popular you can't get in there.
HS
Yup, I've um, my friends and I will usually go to brunch like every once a while on a Saturday at...
NR
[interrupting] He's got five, ten people all the time outside waiting [HS laughs]. Plus it's not that big, yeah. 'Course we're not here Saturday and Sunday, so we don't see that. But I had heard that they are very busy.
HS
Right.
NR
Every weekend.
HS
The service is really quick, and I mean, even if there's a line like, out even, halfway down Mulligan's...
NR
Oh no no no...
HS
...it's very quick.
NR
...I've seen that too, with the, with the line, they've been as far as that door, and then you look back and their over to this door.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
And then the, they build up again, and, you know, they, they do move you quick.
HS
Yeah.
NR
They say he gives you a, a scrumptious breakfast. I never had it but...
HS
It's very good.
NR
Yeah, I wouldn't know but, that's what they say, but, he is nice, I mean you know, oh ah, here, like I say, everyday he sends me a cup of coffee, now you say "always?" no maybe two days a month, they don't have any left over, you know what I mean but they will not throw it away...
HS
Right.
NR
...if they have it. They'll send somebody oh nah, you don't even have to walk and pick it up, he'll send it over.
NR
This is not the owner though, this is just a worker. No that's a nice, a nice, they've got a good reputation. Now the woman that just walked by, they own that Italian restaurant next door, but I don't see how they can survive, they don't do any business, it's good food, but uh...for some reason, the people don't take to ya...
HS
Yeah.
NR
You're dead, in the water. Now he's uh, he's very...very popular over there...now, this guy I don't think does much business, Mulligan's. I don't, you know, I don't ever see anybody going in. Now, you see, he doesn't open, till one, but he's open now, and see I can tell by that light that's on, he's open, and, and I never see anybody from the time I'm here ever go in there.
HS
I know sometimes um, they have a, a Tufts student night there,
NR
Oh yeah.
HS
but...I don't, other than that, I don't really hear many people talking about going there.
NR
Do you know that, when the, my kids went to Tufts, like, forget Miller Hall and whatever hall, but Michael wanted to live in West Hall.
HS
Ok.
NR
Now, you know it, because you go there. But a lot of people don't know West Hall. And in my mind, it's the crummiest and the worst building in the world [HS laughs], I don't know if you've been in there, have you been in there?
HS
Yes, I have.
NR
Now, like, because Michael was on the football team, he played three years of starting center, he had, let's say, uh, a leading edge towards signing up for it. They used to favor the football players, so he could get in there, which the first year he lived in Carmichael Hall, and then the second year, third and fourth year, he lived in, West Hall.
NR
Well now, we only live about two miles from here...
HS
Right.
NR
So, what I used to do, or what my wife used to do, was every like Tuesday, she'd have me go down, and I'd pick up, their clothes [HS laughs]. Alright, so I used to be the laundry man, so I'd go down and pick up Michael's, Mary Ann's, Kathy's clothes, take 'em home, she'd wash 'em you know, and then, Thursday night, I'd go back. And I'm telling you, I could, for the life of me, I couldn't understand why the kid, or anybody, would wanna live in that building.
NR
He lived on the top floor, and the ceilings were like this, and your bed was right underneath that thing there, if you, I think lifted your head fast you'd hit the ceiling, you know what I mean? It was a big room, [phone rings] but, it was awful. I'm, I'm telling you, I couldn't understand his, logic in living there, but that's what he wanted.
[tape cuts out briefly]
NR
Yeah, so, I could never figure out. Now, one year, they had, I don't know, open house? Something. And the parents were all invited. Ok. But, we weren't invited there, we were going somewhere else. So they wanted to run upstairs, him and his roommate, and his roommate's name is Rockio, and they wanted to go upstairs to the fifth floor there, change, or whatever.Ok. So we're standing outside the, the, the Rockio parents and the, and my wife and I, we're standing outside and the fire alarm [HS laughs]...rang.
NR
Alright? So now, it's [imitates the sound of people running down the stairs] ga-gung-gaga-gun, and I don't know, there must be forty windows across that front, and everyone of 'em, every window, a guy and a girl would be looking out to see if there was really a fire, you know what I mean? Now this guy Rockio and myself, we looked at each other, and, we said, "Now, wait now, isn't this a, men only dorm, and it's being proctored so no, you know woman," look it, we counted about twenty-five girls up there, I mean looking up, "Jeepers," we figured, "my God," here we are thinking that they are safe in there, women can't go in, that they got a guy sitting at every door, four doors, and there's a you can't get by 'em, [both chuckle], we learned something that day.
HS
Which dorms did your daughters stay in?
NR
Uh, see, I don't remember the names of 'em, but you know when you're on, is it College Avenue?
HS
Right
NR
That street, is that it, College Avenue?
HS
Um, Professors' Row...
NR
Well, there's two, there's a fork, say you're over here, now there's a right and then there's a left, if you take the right when you can go to the post office, or, or whatever, but in the left when you go down to Dilboy Field, on that street, there was only one dorm there, at that time, now, you go down there now, it's a maze of dorms you know, there must be six or seven now or more, but at that time, and it, the name that seems to come to me was, is it Haggerty? Is there a Haggerty dorm?
HS
There's....
NR
Millen?
HS
There's a Miller dorm.
NR
Miller, alright. Alright, now. I believe Mary Ann lived in the Miller but, Kathy lived on College Avenue, that uh, one building that was there, now see, you can't say which one now because, you say, "I don't know if it's the middle one or they built it on each side," there was only one. Well, it was on this street, where they had like three of 'em, coming down, from say, the street up above, and you took a right, and you go down that street, and she was the last one on the right.
HS
Ok.
NR
And, and to me it's, uh, the thing that comes to my mind would be like Haggerty...
HS
Hascall maybe?
NR
Huh?
HS
Hascall?
NR
Hascall?
HS
Was it brick?
NR
Yeah, yeah, Hascall, yeah, alright.
HS
I lived there my freshman year.
NR
Yeah, Hascall you got it, yeah, that was it, she lived in Hascall Hall. She lived there, I believe three years, and then she lived one year somewhere else.
NR
Yeah, you know, like, our three kids, could have been home, in ten minutes,
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
That's all it takes for me to get home from here, so it's the same distance from the college and my wife and I felt that, living in, is half of college life. Now, you know, you say, well even if we lived next door, we would have given them that option that you could live in.
HS
Right.
NR
And all our kids, lived off, well, on-campus or off-campus look it, oh now that you mention it yeah, Kathy lived in Hascall Hall, then she and one of her kids uh, roommates, hired an apartment up here, right by this, on the street, where this uh, Cataldo Funeral Home is, one year she lived there. So she lived off-campus one year.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
So I was thinking she didn't live in Hescall Hall three years, she only lived there two years, and then she lived up here one year, 'cause we gave her our old refrigerator, we bought a new one and gave her a lot of things [HS laughs]. Yeah, Cathy lived off-campus, Mary Ann lived off campus...
[Phil Buccelli enters store]
NR
Hey, what do you say buddy? [distant response] Good, how you doing? How are the boys?
[tape cuts out briefly]
PB
So, we used to go visit them all in fact I used to, I used to go every week for my mother, God rest her soul, because they used to give dishes then. Remember that?
NR
Yeah.
PB
They used to give out a dish every, every time you went to the theatre. We're going back [HS laughs]. So, anyway, but so I lived down that end, so...
NR
[speaking from the background]...and if they had a big piece, if they had a big piece, you didn't get the dish in one, you had to go twice.
PB
Yeah that's, that's right. Jesus, he's got a good memory too. So I, I lived, I was brought up down that end. So, that's why I went to them two theatres. This one here I used to [inaudible] too often, because we had the other two theatres down there...
HS
Right.
PB
...but I remember this one. I remember, I remember Winter Hill, who was the Winter Hill? Capitol. How 'bout the Strand in Union Square?
NR
No, I wasn't familiar with that one.
PB
Oh, see? Yeah, they got the Strand in Union Square, the Broadway, the Capitol was, and what was this one up here named?
NR
This one was the Ball Square Theatre.
PB
Ball Square Theatre, right. And then the Te-, Teele Square Theatre.
NR
Right, right here.
PB
Alright.
NR
This was the lobby right here where you're standing.
PB
That's right, yeah. In fact, ah, my wife's best girlfriend, Mary Keane, who, she used to be a cashier here. Her hus-, God forbid, her husband just passed away a couple months ago, but she's still our best friend, my wife's best friend. She was a cashier here.
HS
Do you, do you know her number?
PB
Ah, I don't but when you call me, I can get it.
HS
Ok.
PB
She lives up in New Hampshire, now. She used to live over here on Bay State Ave. [inaudible] they got a nice place up at the lake, and she's still going to hold on to the place even though her husband passed away. But she was a cashier here, so she could really give you some good information.
HS
Yeah?
PB
Her name is Mary, Mary Keane. K-E-A-N-E. How did she spell it? K-E-A-N-E? Yeah, K-, Keane, I think that's how she...
PB
[To Mr. Riselli] How much you need? [Mr. Buccelli pays for his keys] Ok. Thank you.
PB
What else can I help you with?
HS
Um, well, right now this is great, I mean, I, either I'll be in contact with you, or, um, our oral history director will be in contact with you, her name is Cathy Stanton, I can give you a, a summary of the project that we're working on, if you'd like.
PB
What are you, eh, what are you going to be doing? Just the Ball Square Theatre?
HS
Just, ah, I'm just doing the Ball Square Theatre. There are other students who might want to get in contact with you who are working on the Orpheum and, um, the Capitol and the Strand.
PB
Ok, ok.
HS
Would you like a summary?
PB
Yeah....eh, we're goin' back, Nick [NR laughs]. We're goin' back.
NR
Back further than we'd like to remember.
PB
Those were the good days of life, oh, those were the good days.
NR
Yeah, you could walk out without getting knifed, or clubbed, or...
PB
Positively.
HS
It's a course, actually, at Tufts University.
PB
Well, fourteen? We have fourteen? Somerville's fourteen movie theatres? We had fourteen theatres in Somerville?
HS
They're um...
PB
[reads information] "Somerville's fourteen movie theatres."
HS
We actually discovered that there might be a fifteenth, as we've been doing the research, but...
PB
Fifteen, wow.
NR
I could remember four only, in my day. But I was not, I was a Watertown guy.
PB
Yeah, no, Orpheum, Broadway, Winter Hill, Ball Square, Teele Square, The Strand in Union Square, I got six. I'm up to six. Yeah, see, the plumbing supplier [looking at information sheet], The Broadway, The Capitol, yeah I got that, Winter Hill, well ok 303 Broadway Capitol ok...Capitol, here's 303 Broadway... Ball Square, Teele Square. Oh, the Davis Square! Right, that's still there. We, we even forgot about that one. 'Cuz that one's still there.
NR
Yeah.
PB
[looking at sheet again] ...the Orpheum, yeah, we said that. Day Street. That was where the bowling alley was.
HS
Mmm-hmmm.
PB
That's right. Yeah, I just, I just had a flashback on that. [HS laughs]
NR
Uh Phil, do you remember was, there was a bowling alley under that block over there, do you remember that? Over there where the uh...
PB
No, I only remember, no....
NR
No, there was a, there's a, they're high ceilings like this in the basement, and you wondered why, and we found out at one time it was a bowling alley.
PB
Yeah. Now, ah, I remember the, the Highland Avenue Central, Central and Highland, where the Elks building is now. Ah just know be-, the other side, yeah...
NR
372 Somerville Ave. Star, I don't remember that one. Somerville Ave.
PB
372, would down be, down by Demulla's. [inaudible], Union Square, the Strand, yeah, I remember that one. Oh Warren Ave. and Bow Street...[pause]
PB
alright [HS laughs], have you's come up with any pictures? Anybody come up with any old pictures of the theatres?
HS
Oh, yeah, actually, um, well I just, we have pictures of, pretty much all the exteriors of the old theatres, and on some of the theatres we have interiors, and, I gave, ah...
NR
She gave me these, but they're not for you [HS laughs], they're for me, but here you can look at them.
HS
I can bring, I can get copies. We have a big pamphlet...
PB
In fact, the night, this is going back, you won't remember this, this has nothing to do with the theatre, well, in a way it has with the theatres, but back when we had the gangs here, the Winter Hill Gang? Buddy McClane, the one's that was shot? These, ah, rival gangs, I mean, in fact, that night, Buddy McClane got shot up at the, back of the, the ah, the Capitol Theatre.
HS
Right.
PB
His, I was working as a police officer then. as, ah, we picked up Buddy McClane, and we took him to the hospital. He, Buddy McClane was the, he was the head of Winter Hill Gang. He was the head honcho. Oh yeah, Jesus, and ah, that's what we picked him up, picked him up right as the guy was hiding in the side of the Capitol with a shotgun, just, shot him when he come out of ah, out of the bar room there.
NR
Do you know his brother-in-law comes in here? At least, this is what the guys tells me. That he, that he was married, Buddy and him were married to two sisters.
PB
Right.
NR
Now Buddy got killed, but he's still alive naturally. He comes in here, and he tries to palm on to me, and of course I don't pretend that I know him, or, or would heard of him, or anything but [HS laughs], that he was a, great g-, he was a great guy. He was, he was a good person. Buddy was. I mean, there he was, he-, I don't want to tell him this story, but this happened to my brother-in-law.
NR
My brother-in-law was a member of this Baltimore Club, wherever that was in Somerville. Alright. Now, all these veterans were members of this organization, Navy, or whatever it was. And, what they had, they didn't have a lot of money, but they had a lot of camaraderie they, used to each, serve like one day as a bartender. You know, the members. And, and the members would come in, and, well one night, he is, there is, it's his turn, so he's sitting there, or he's behind the bar and he's serving drinks, and in about eleven o'clock, comes Buddy McClane and this guy, Nicholson whatever his first name was. What was his name Nicholson? The, the guy that was a state trooper or something, that was his buddy...
PB
Yeah, I know what you mean..
NR
...that also got shot.
PB
...yeah.
NR
Ok. So they come in and they start drinking, fine. They're at the bar, and they're drinking and they're talking, what next job they're gonna rob, or whatever [HS laughs] they're talking. And, ah, Jack, my brother-in-law, keeps, you know, bringing liquor. So now, it gets to be five minutes to twelve, and Jack says to everybody, "Fellas, it's five of twelve, last call. No more after twelve," you know.
HS
Right.
NR
So alright so, they turn around and uh, they ah, keep drinking, you know. So now all the members they finished up, and they're walking out, and these two are sitting-, still sitting at the bar. And, Jack says to 'em, "Listen fellas, it's twelve o'clock. We gotta close. Those are the rules," you know? So, this Buddy McClane, there's a bottle half-full with scotch, or whatever they were drinking...
HS
Right
NR
...he took the bottle, and he hit it on the edge of the bar, broke it, and he stuck the handle in his hand, [inaudible] broken pieces, and he says to his buddy, he says, "Buddy," uh, no he was Buddy but McClane, ah, Nicholson, whatever his name, let's call him Tom. He says, "You know, Tom, I say we don't go at twelve. Do you? Or are we going or what?" he said, "No, I'd say we're stayin'," and Jack over there, now, he knows these two guys, you know...
HS
Right.
NR
...They're both criminals. One works for the other. "But fellas, if you wanna stay, it's alright with me, I'm only going to go home and watch television, so, I'll watch it right here," you know, he's trying to [HS laughs], he said he was shaking, you know what I mean?
HS
Right.
NR
And he says, they kept him there 'til four o'clock in the morning. Now here's a guy that had to go to work at seven. He was a crane operator, and he had to go to work at seven. And, and, and he was just stuck there with these two characters. No more than a week or two later, one of 'em uh, got shot, and then, no more than a year later, the other one got shot. So they both got killed. But they were bad characters.
HS
Yeah.
PB
Yeah.
NR
So this guy's trying to tell me he's a great guy my brother-in-law, they got him maligned and, I mean, this and that, and he's telling me about the great things he'd done, this Buddy McClane. All he was, was a, was a hood. Lived down there on the, that street off of...
PB
Snow, Snow Terrace.
NR
What's the name?
PB
Snow Terrace, off of ah...
NR
Yeah, yeah, just a little, there's three street, uh three houses on the street, yeah.
PB
Snow Terrace.
PB
Alright, I gotta run along, alright?
NR
Alright.
PB
[inaudible] much help but I'm, at least....
NR
Every little bit helps...
PB
Mary Keane will be able to help you, because she was like I say, she was a cashier, so. She would know.
NR
You have a cashier at this one?
PB
At this one.
NR
Wow.
PB
Yeah, but she lived right here on Bay State Ave.
NR
Yeah, she probably sold me tickets maybe ten times.
[HS & PB laugh]
HS
Well my name is Haley Schoenfeld, great meeting you, and...
PB
Same here.
HS
...I'll be contact, or else uh Kathy Stanton, will be calling you.
PB
Ok, bye. Nick, I'll catch you later.
NR
Thanks a lot.
HS
Have a good evening.
[Mr. Buccelli leaves]
NR
Yeah, his son's a real estate...town here, the Prudential...
HS
Mm-hmm.
NR
Real estate, [inaudible], nice people, there a nice family. He, he used to be a cop, now he's in charge of the uh, parking and ticket the...
HS
Mm-hmm.
NR
Oh, I don't what his official title is but he works for the city of Somerville as a uh, uh parking and meter hitman, they all report to him. Nice person. Yup. Funny how, one thing leads to another.
HS
Right.
NR
I had forgotten some of the things he told me, I forgot about that McClane.
HS
Yeah.
NR
Bad character. Now, his brother-in-law comes in about every three months I cut a couple of keys, and he always tells me, "I miss Buddy, what a great guy." I mean, I forget he was a punk [HS laugh], but I don't want to say it, I...
HS
Right.
NR
Oh, I, I tell him, I really never knew him, I come from Watertown, but ah, but ah, there he was, he was shot dead, right on this street, up, up on ah, by uh, I don't know what you call it, but where the post office is, like, right in front of the door there or something, they, they gunned him right down. But, he killed a lot of people too.
HS
Right.
NR
As I remember, he killed a lot of people. And, the other guy, was a state trooper, for years, and they got to be buddies, and they were partners in crime. Afterwards, I can remember his name was Nicholson. But I can't remember his first name but, he and him were like partners in crime, but they were part of a, of a big organization, and, every once in a while...
NR
but I, I remember my brother-in-law Jack telling us that story about geez and you know he says, "no, don't worry, I, I'm only going to go home and watch television," yeah, you know, he says, "I was shaking in my boots," because these guys, they would kill you like, like nothing, like a cockroach, like you'd crush a cockroach.
HS
[pause] When we first started the class uh, we heard about that, with the Winter Hill Theatre, we heard about the whole...
NR
The Winter Hill Gang too, yeah.
NR
Now you know uh, I wanna just tell you a little story about my granddaughter who's coming up Friday. She's goes to Cornell.
HS
Mmm-hmm.
NR
Now about two months ago, she wrote, in one of her assignments, about the rubber industry and, during the war, and uh, so one day we were talking on the phone, and she says, "Grandpa, did you know this guy [Collier], Mr. [Collier] and I says uh, I says I might of, but you know like, that's a, not a very familiar name, but it's been used quite often you know, and she went, "this guy was the president of Goodrich," he was the chief operating officer of Goodrich, you know during the war? I says "Oh yeah," I says, "Caitlin, not only I knew him but, I actually had dinner with him twice," [HS laughs],
NR
You know, and I met them you know and, and what they used to do is he would come to our company, which, Goodrich was a big company then, and they had like, five hundred thousand employees, and they had maybe, fifty plants in the country, and ours was one of the big ones too, besides the tire plant. So he would come over there and, they would, at the time I was a superintendent, and they would ask all the superintendents and up and all the officers to have dinner with uh Mr. Collier, I said they used to do it too with, with uh, you know the...
[tape cuts out]