Category Archives: News

Pleasure Island Walking Tour Sunday May 20th

Author Robert McLaughlin Keeps The Memories Alive With His Book And Tours 

By Bobby Franklin

If you drive down Rt. 128 through Wakefield you will still see an exit marked Pleasure Island Road. It is one of the last vestiges of a place that in fondly remembered by many of a certain age. 

Pleasure Island was a family recreation center inspired by Disneyland and Storytown. It was a huge undertaking encompassing a total of 168 acres of dryland and meadowland. The park was conceived by a man named William Hawkes and the story of how it all came to be is the subject of the book Pleasure Island: 1959-1969 (Images of Modern America) by Robert McLaughlin. It is quite the story and Mr. McLaughlin’s passion for preserving the history of the ten years the park survived is evident on every page of his book which is also filed with wonderful archival photographs and excerpts of interviews with Mr. Hawkes as well as many of those who worked at Pleasure Island.

Pleasure Island wasn’t an amusement park with thrill rides. Rather, it was a theme park with many themes including Western City, Pirate Cove, Monkey Island, and Old Smokey Locomotive Ride among many other things. It also had a whale boat ride where visitors would get to see Moby Dick rise from the depths and see water gush from his blow hole. 

In an area of the park was the Show Bowl where many famous entertainers of the day appeared. Among them were Ricky Nelson, Hugh O’Brien, Jimmy Dean, Neil Sedaka, Chuck Connors, The Three Stooges, Fess Parker, and Johnny Crawford. In 1960 the Boston Jazz Festival was held there with appearances by Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, and Duke Ellington. As you can see, there was no lack of first rate talent.

While walking through the park you might confront a pirate who would be quite to draw his sword and pose for a photo, or you might happen upon a shootout between cowboys. 

Mr. McLaughlin’s book brings back memories for those of us who were fortunate enough to have been there and it will be of interest to those who have never experienced such a hands on adventure. The story and interviews are extremely interesting and the photographs are pure gold.

Eventually, Pleasure Island closed, the victim of many forces including unpredictable weather, the struggle to find backers, and the changing times. It is now an office park with only a few traces of that once magical place still to be found. On Sunday, May 20th from 10:00 am to noon, rain or shine, Mr. McLaughlin will conduct a walking tour of the site and will discuss the history of Pleasure Island while pointing out the places where it all happened. Many former employees of Pleasure Island show up for these walks and also share their memories. I took this tour last year and I can tell you it is a terrific experience. 

The location is Audubon Road in Wakefield (Rt.128-Exit42). The tour meets in the first parking lot the left after entering Edgewater Office Park. There is no charge. Mr. McLuaghlin will have copies of his book as wells two others he has written for the Images of Modern America series, Magic Mountain and Freedom Land: 1960-1964.

If you have any photographs or memorabilia from a visit to Pleasure Island be sure to share them with Robert. 

For more information go to  

Stop The Presses! Boxer Wins Fight Using Left Jab!

by Bobby Franklin

Golovkin vs Lemieux
Golovkin vs Lemieux

The other night I witnessed further proof of just how far removed today’s boxing is from having any resemblance to the fine art it once was. It wasn’t so much the fight itself,though that did contribute greatly to my feelings, but more so to the reaction during and after.

The fight was the Gennady Golovkin vs David Lemieux Middleweight Title fight. I had debated whether or not to spend $50.00 (I had sworn never again to buy a pay per view fight) to view the bout as I do feel Golovkin is about the only fighter out there today who is worth watching. While contemplating my decision I watched some footage of Lemieux in action to see if I felt he would be at all competitive. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was certainly not going to be a match worthy of spending money on. Lemieux is a tough, strong kid with almost no boxing ability. Watching him in action I could immediately see he had learned what he knew from spending hours hitting the punch mitts.

I could immediately see he had learned what he knew from spending hours hitting the punch mitts.

He threw his punches from his waist up and had no sense of footwork what- so-ever. He tossed shots in a very predictable one-two and one-two-three manner while pausing in between to regain his balance. He obviously would have no chance against GGG.

Early the following morning I watched a replay of the fight. It was, as I expected, a very one-sided affair. Golovkin utilized a decent left jab to keep Lemieux at pay and to punish him. David was at a complete loss in being able to cope with the jab. He did not know how to slip it. He did not know how to parry it. It was as if he had never dealt with the jab before. It was like a foreign language to him.
Listening to the commentators, you would have thought Gennady had invented a new punch. They were in awe of his phenomenal jab. They kept rattling off the number he had thrown during each round. They also repeatedly commented on how this amazing punch was keeping Lemieux confused and unable to launch an offense. Yes! Gennady Golovkin was actually throwing left jabs. Just amazing!

The incredulity continued on social media. Fans were stunned by this display of boxing prowess. The dominant left jab was something most of them had never seen before. What was once the most basic and important punch in boxing was now being talked about as if it were a secret weapon delivered to the Earth by aliens from another planet with a vastly superior intelligence to us. Shock waves rippled throughout the Blog-a-sphere. Is Golovkin really one of us or some super being from a galaxy far away?

Back when boxing was actually being taught as the serious art it once was the left jab was the first punch taught to aspiring boxers. Students were shown how it was both an offensive and defensive punch. How it was the key to landing any other punch.

“Hey kid, if you can’t land the jab you, you can’t land any other punch.”

“Hey kid, if you can’t land the jab you, you can’t land any other punch.” was a common line heard in boxing gyms. Great contender Tony Shucco used to tell me, “Hit ‘em with the left, they like it. Then every once in a while toss a right so they don’t get bored.” “Stick and Move.”, “Pepper him with the left.”, “Pop that jab out there.”, were other lines you would hear over and over again back in the day.

On the flip side, young boxers were also taught how to slip and parry the jab. As great a punch as the jab could be for setting up an opponent, it could also be the opening your foe could use to counter you. Timing the jab and then throwing a right cross over it is a very effective maneuver. It takes a lot of practice, and not the type of practice you get hitting the foolish punch pads. Another skill is slipping outside the jab and hooking to the body. This is a move rarely if ever seen today.

Another lost move is feinting the jab and then turning it into a hook. This is the tactic that was employed so effectively by Billy Conn in his first fight with Joe Louis. It almost won him the title.

Jabs also come in many different varieties. There is the tapping jab where a fighter doesn’t hit his opponent terribly hard, but he hits him repeatedly and frustrates him by keeping him off balance with it. Then there is the stiff armed jab that was used so well by Light Heavyweight Champion Bob Foster. Foster would snap his jab up from his waist and punch right through his opponents. It was a brutal punch that busted up many of his challengers.

Wepner vs Liston
Wepner vs Liston

It’s funny, but as I was contemplating this column a friend sent me a clip of the Chuck Wepner vs Sonny Liston fight. We had talked a bit about this whole madness over GGG using the jab, and my friend told me to take a look at Wepner in his losing fight with Liston. Yes, Wepner, the Bayonne Bleeder, the guy considered to have very few boxing skills was actually using a fairly effective left jab in this fight. It just goes to show that it wasn’t all that long ago that even the crudest boxers knew how to throw the jab. It would be interesting to see how Mr. Wepner’s jab would do against today’s unschooled heavyweights.

I am often criticized for pointing out the lack of boxing skills in today’s fighters. I don’t blame the boxers as they train hard, are in good shape, and are just following instructions. The problem lies in the fact that there are no good teachers out there. The techniques employed to develop these skills are not there either. Abel Sanchez, GGG’s trainer, appears to one of the only trainers left who has some sense of what skills a good boxer should have, and that is why Golovkin is such a standout. The fact that his use of the most basic punch in boxing is such big news only reinforces my opinion that boxing is a dying if not dead art.

SpeakEasy Stage Presents Casa Valentina

New England Premiere Runs From October 24 to November 28th

From October 24 to November 28, 2015, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present the New England Premiere of CASA VALENTINA, a hilarious, provocative, and touching new play about gender identity, self-acceptance, and the struggle to find the right pumps.

A 2014 Tony Award nominee for Best Play, CASA VALENTINA is the most recent work by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein

Based on actual events, CASA VALENTINA takes place in 1962 at a Catskills resort where a group of heterosexual men secretly gather to dress and behave like women. Away from their families, in their beehives and brassieres, these men enjoy a carefree camaraderie of cocktails and McGuire Sisters. But when challenged to publicly reveal their female alter-egos in the pursuit of political acceptance, “the sorority” must decide whether freedom is worth the risk of ruin.


Casa Valentina
Casa Valentina

A 2014 Tony Award nominee for Best Play, CASA VALENTINA is the most recent work by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, whose credits include the books for the hit musicals Kinky Boots, Newsies, La Cage aux Folles, and A Catered Affair as well as the play Torch Song Trilogy. As an actor Mr. Fierstein is known worldwide for his performances in films like Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, and his stage work in Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage aux Folles, and Torch Song Trilogy.

Director Scott Edmiston returns to SpeakEasy having previously directed the company’s productions of Far from Heaven; The History BoysThe Light in the PiazzaFive by Tenn; Other Desert CitiesNext FallIn the Next Room (or the vibrator play)RecklessThe WomenThe Last Sunday in June; and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. He has directed more than 60 productions across New England and is the recipient of SpeakEasy’s Outstanding Artist Award, three Elliot Norton Awards, two IRNE Awards, the StageSource Theatre Hero Award, and the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. He is a Professor of the Practice and Chair of the Theatre Department at Northeastern University.

For this New England Premiere production, Edmiston has assembled an impressive cast of veteran Boston actors, including Timothy Crowe, Thomas Derrah, Kerry A. Dowling, Deb Martin, Greg Maraio, Will McGarrahan, Sean McGuirk, Robert Saoud, and Eddie Shields.

       The design team consists of Edmiston’s frequent collaborators: Janie E. Howland (scenic), Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes), Karen Perlow (lighting), and Dewey Dellay (sound).

CASA VALENTINA will run for six weeks, from October 24 to November 28, in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End.

Ticket prices start at $25, with discounts for students, seniors, and persons age 25 and under.

For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call the box office at 617.933.8600 or visit

James Montgomery To Appear At Jonathan’s

Ogunquit on November 6th

James Montgomery
James Montgomery

When blues legend James Montgomery plays the harmonica, he “brings it on home”. Whether it’s recording with Kid Rock, sitting in with Gregg Allman, or fronting his hot band of thirty years, Montgomery plays with authority. While growing up in Detroit he learned first-hand from the masters – James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, and Jr. Wells – at the legendary “Chessmate.” Over the years, he’s carried on in the tradition and continues to be a vital presence in Blues as one of the most dynamic performers on the scene.

James Montgomery and his band will be playing live at Jonathan’s Ogunquit on Friday, November 6, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

In 1970, while attending Boston University, Montgomery formed the James Montgomery Band. His inimitable (oh yeah, he majored in English) harmonica playing combined with his incredibly energetic live shows led to the band’s quick ascension on the New England music scene. Within two years, the James Montgomery band was among the hottest acts in Boston along with J. Geils and Aerosmith, and they were quickly signed to a multi-album deal with Capricorn Records.

Montgomery has toured with many major artists, including Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, the Allman Brothers, Steve Miller and others. He has jammed on stage with B.B.King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Jr. Wells, James Cotton, Charlie Daniels, Bonnie Raitt, Greg Allman, Laverne Baker, Patti LaBelle, and Peter Wolf among others, including an impromptu session with Mick Jagger at New York’s “Trax”
Over the years Montgomery’s band has been a springboard for many musicians. Members of his band have in

cluded Billy Squire, Wayne Kramer (MC-5), Jeff Golub (Rod Stewart), Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), Nunzio Signore Bo Diddley), Jeff Pevar (Ray Charles Orchestra, Crosby, Stills & Nash), Bobby Chouinard (drummer with Ted Nugent, Squire and Robert Gordon), Jeff Levine (Joe Cocker), Aerosmith’s Tom Gambel, and many others.

Back by popular demand, James Montgomery has become a regular at Jonathan’s Ogunquit. Coming up in the afternoon, grabbing dinner at Jonathan’s, playing some music and staying over in Ogunquit…They love the set up and so do their fans!
The James Montgomery Band will be playing live on Friday, November 6th, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available on line at Tickets start at $22.50.

For more information about the concert please visit Jonathan’s Website.

Jonathan’s Restaurant is located at 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit, Maine.