After 25 years, it’s back to the bumper stickers

This week, for the first time in probably 25 years, I put a bumper sticker on the back of my vehicle. That’s something I’ve shied away from for a long time, even though I’ve been tempted by some funny ones and requests from those with political aspirations. Not to mention that I’ve come to notice that bumper stickers really aren’t that popular in the neighborhoods on the west side of Dorchester. Most people don’t seem to want to mess up a sweet ride with some mumbo jumbo about this or that or their kid being an honor student.

If you go across Franklin Park to Jamaica Plain, or maybe even beyond the Charles River to that other city next to Boston, you’ll find cars littered with messages, slogans, and personal philosophies. And if you take a trip to certain South Shore enclaves or up to New Hampshire, you will see thin blue lines, thin red lines, and lots of statements about rules, rights, and regulations. 

That’s just the scene in those spots. As you follow behind them, I guess, they really want you to know what they stand for. Most people in this neighborhood would prefer to keep a shiny bumper shiny.

But my hesitancy at this time was about past experiences, and nothing more. In the 1990s, someone gave me a bumper sticker that they thought was funny. Having an aversion to cats in those days (I now fully embrace feline ownership, by the way), I found it funny, too.

It was salty – a bit rude. It was definitely in poor taste. It read something like

“Lost your cat – check under my tire.” Again, it wasn’t my most shining moment from the choir loft.

About a year into it, I came out one morning to find some wingnut had placed a dead cat under my tire – positioned just under the tacky bumper sticker mentioned above. It was a sickening feeling. Was it a bad joke, or was some whack-job sending a message to me that I ought to consider? I called the cops, and because it was the 1990s, they came about two or three hours later.

“Do you have any enemies?” the officer asked me right off. I told him there were none that would go this far.

“I see that bumper sticker there,” he noted. “Probably want to take that off if you don’t want something like this to happen.” And that was the long and short of it. I ripped off the sticker as he pulled away; Animal Control came by later and took the poor cat.

And so, this week I stood out front of the house and put on my first bumper sticker in 25 years. This one is also a little bit salty, a Christmas stocking stuffer. It reads: “Bigfoot Hunting Permit.”

Indeed, if somehow history repeats itself in the same fashion with this bumper sticker, then hold on tight. We’ll have one heckuva column next month – West Side Stories goes full tabloid.

Half a mill on Blue Hill Ave.

Maybe, like me, you’ve been watching the transformation of the massive, old, and formerly pink house on Blue Hill Avenue next to Franklin Park. The Victorian was always a bit of an eccentricity, but a developer from Allston who takes on odd and difficult projects nabbed it before Covid hit and built it out with no expense spared. It’s now divided into condos, but it’s quite the property. With a color scheme now of dark blue and gray, it has lost its pinkish hue while apparently gaining some credibility in the market.

I was thumbing through the property transfers recently and noticed one of the units traded for nearly half a million dollars. Can you imagine that? There were times not very long ago when it would have made more sense to bulldoze the house than rehab it. Now it’s commanding impressive sales. What a turnaround. 

Some people will make hay over this situation. If you’ve owned a home around here for a while, this is nothing but good news, provided property taxes stay in check. If you don’t, well, then, there’s hay to be made.

Road restrictions and deaths

Speaking of making hay, much has been made about the road closures around Franklin Park, Talbot Avenue, American Legion Highway, and other areas. They are restrictive. Once I went to the hospital from my house riding shotgun with third-degree burns on my hands and legs. We sped through the park, which would have been closed under the current scheme. It would have caused some delays for sure. That’s one side of the coin.

Then we have the terrible news of two cars early this past Saturday morning allegedly racing side-by-side up Washington Street in Codman Square, which is a two-way street. Something went terribly wrong and one of the cars careened into a building – killing one young lady. This is exactly the kind of thing the road closures are meant to prevent – except that the word in the neighborhood is the closures have just moved the problems to Washington Street. Not much of this kind of thing has happened around Franklin Park since the closures. That’s the other side of the coin.

We can’t close every road at night four days a week. But we can’t have people doing daredevil stunts and dying while the rest of us try to sleep. Like hundreds of my neighbors and family members around here, I’m tired of the fast cars blowing through stop signs, the dirt bikes and ATVs popping wheelies into oncoming traffic, and the endless racing and partying.

This is a no-win situation.

Four Corners Weekend

June 24 through June 26 promises to be a blockbuster of a time in Four Corners with the annual Four Corners Weekend. They’re starting off the fun in West of Washington (WOW) with a fish fry and cook-out at the soon-to-be park on Norwell Street. Saturday is going to have Family Day at Ripley Playground, a pop-up market at the Four Corners Station, and dining under the stars at Mother’s Rest Park in the evening. On Sunday, a special worship service is planned on Washington Street, followed by a neighborhood history lesson at the Guild as the final treat. 

A hope: More of this…and less of the other.

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