By Richard E. Noble
Bea’s sandwich shop was a big memory for those of us who were growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in good old Lawrence, Massachusetts.
There was a whole legend that went along with the success of Bea’s sandwich shop. My older brother, who was a classmate of one of the sons of the locally famous family, told me that the fable was true. I think their family name was Consoli.
Supposedly the founders of the shop began their operation in their tenement kitchen. They would prepare their famous cutlet sandwich and then sell it from a mobile cart that they pushed down onto Broadway - so claimed the legend. They started out selling their sandwiches at lunch time to the kids from Central Catholic and Lawrence High.
Within time they rented or bought a building on Broadway and opened their first shop.
The shop itself was rather revolutionary. It had no place to sit. The walls were covered with mirrors. A counter ran below the mirrors on both walls. The entrance and building front was large glass windows. You could drive by on Broadway and see if they were busy or not. McDonald’s and Burger King and most of the fast food shops are all like that today. But Bea’s was before any McDonald’s.
The kitchen was also quite revolutionary. The ordering area was also glass and the whole kitchen could be observed by the customers. If anybody dropped a cutlet on the floor it had to go into the garbage or everyone would know. The help had to look clean and presentable also. And they always did. A few daubs of spaghetti sauce on the apron did not warrant any comment or customer disapproval.
Eventually, they had a whole wall full of cutlet sandwich varieties and several stores - cutlet with plain sauce, cutlet with meat sauce, cutlet with meat sauce and mushrooms, cutlet with green peppers and onions and on and on. But once they had their shop opened they presented other sandwich favorites. Their chicken bar-b-que was a big one. I think they used to call it chicken a la king which was more appropriate. The sandwich had nothing to do with bar-b-que sauce or smoked meat. It was chicken with a mayonnaise or cream sauce of some kind. It was great.
They also had hotdogs boiled in beer. Of course they had sausage and meatball sandwiches and several other Italian favorites.
When I was a little guy my uncle used to take me down to Bea’s. I always got a cutlet. It was only thirty-five cents and the cutlet was always too big to fit in the bun. You would have to eat the cutlet down around the edges before you got to the bun. In my childhood memories it was a giant sandwich. There was nothing else like it.
There was another fellow down the street, King-size sandwich shop, who always bragged that he used real veal in his veal cutlets and not cheap pork butt like they used at Bea’s. He would point up to his sign and make note that he used the word “veal” while Bea’s only used the word “cutlet.” His cutlet was good too. But it didn’t flop out over the edge of the bun by three inches like Bea’s had. It was certainly softer (more tender) than Bea’s. But, it was no contest. Everybody liked the Bea’s pounded pork butt cutlet better than anybody else’s.
When we were early teenagers we would head down to Bea’s and buy sauce sandwiches. They were ten cents. They would slop a big ladle of their homemade meat sauce into one of their delicious buns. Sometimes we would get two or three sauce sandwiches each.
One day a mob of us walked down there. We pooled all our money. We had enough money to buy 37 sauce sandwiches. It was a little embarrassing to be ordering sauce sandwiches, so we drew straws to see who would get the honor of going inside and ordering 37 sauce sandwiches.
Jack Sheehy, who now owns the Pizza Pub on Lawrence St., got the honor. Jack was a little shy in those days. So when he went up to the window he whispered to the girl taking his order. “Thirty-seven sauce sandwiches, please.”
When they called his number and he went to the window, the girl said, “That will be fifty-four dollars,” or some such phenomenal amount. Jack protested quietly but vigorously. “It can’t be. It is only supposed to be $3.70 for 37 sauce sandwiches.
The girl said, “You ordered sausage sandwiches.”
“God no,” Jack squealed. “I ordered sauce sandwiches. I only have $3.70.”
The girl frowned and then brought all the sandwiches back to the cook. He had a very bad look on his face as he pealed all the sausages out of our 37 sauce sandwiches.
When the girl returned with the sauce sandwiches she didn’t call out our number. She used the loud speaker and said, “Would the young man who ordered 37 sauce sandwiches please come to the pick up window.” As I remember Jack attempted to walk out the front door but we would not let him do it. We wanted our sauce sandwiches.
We have been laughing over that story now for over 50 years. And every time someone tells it, it gets more hilarious. Amazingly enough I can still see Jack’s beet-red face when the lady challenged his order and then again when she called our order on the loud speaker.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.