Walter owned a little variety store on the corner of Center and Willow in North Lawrence. It was one block over and just down the hill from the Howard Playground on Lawrence St. Walter would let us little guys hangout at his place. This was greatly appreciated in those cold winter months. We always knew that Walter “loved” us little guys but, nevertheless, his patience had its limits. Periodically we’d hear a scream, “Okay boy’s, on your way - time to clear the house here.” “But Walter, it’s still snowing outside,” we would whine. “And so it is. On your way! Go to the boy’s club or someplace.” “Let’s go up to Clifford’s.” Clifford was another case entirely. We had to buy something in order to be allowed to sit in Clifford’s Ice Cream Parlor. So as we dragged up the hill to the corner of Lawrence and Chelmsford through the cold wind and driving show, we would all start counting our pennies. Usually one or two of us had enough cash to buy something. Six or seven of us would pile into a booth and one or two of us would order a hot chocolate. His hot chocolate was only a dime. He would top off the hot chocolate with a little spoonful of vanilla ice cream. We could take a long time drinking the hot chocolate using the excuse that it was too hot to drink quickly. Occasionally he would play his organ for us. We really didn’t care much for his organ playing but if we gave a loud enough cheer he would continue playing and we would get to stay inside and soak up more heat. He had a fancy Gulbranson’s deluxe model organ. He loved that organ. “Wow, that was great Mr. Clifford. Do you know any more songs?” “How about this one,” and off he would go. The next evening we would be back to good old Walter’s Variety. By then Walter would have reconsidered his impatience of the previous evening and everything would once again be hunky-dory. But nevertheless there would come an evening when Walter would get sick of us and we would be off to Clifford’s to get a ten cent hot chocolate. One day Walter asked a bunch of us if he established hot chocolate and ice cream at his variety store would we buy from him instead of Clifford? Why of course we would we told him. We thought he was just jealous and needed to be reassured. Within a week or two Walter’s Variety was under construction. We kids could not believe our eyes - or ears for that matter. What was Walter doing? Walter actually built a complete soda fountain out of the front portion of his storage room. It was beautiful, complete with ice cream cases, shake machines and a barrel that sat on the counter flashing a sign that boasted “Hot Chocolate.” The hot chocolate sign waved back and forth on the top of a big hot chocolate barrel. It was a great idea but none of us kids really had much money. We only bought hot chocolate at Clifford’s because Clifford would not let us stay inside out of the cold unless we bought something. Walter would let us hangout most nights, all night. It was always warm and cozy inside Walter’s. At Walter’s we could get our traditional bag of Granite State potato chips and a C&J unique soda of our choice. Curran and Joyce (C&J) offered unique flavors like orange phosphate, sarsaparilla, lime rickey and more. Who needed a hot chocolate? For weeks at closing time Walter would come storming into the soda fountain where we would all be sitting and grab that barrel of steaming hot chocolate and pour it down the drain. “Gee Walter, if you are just going to dump all the hot chocolate down the drain, why don’t you give each of us a free cup? It ain’t right to just waste it like that.” For a long time Walter simply ignored our pleas. His face would get a little red and he sometimes stuttered a little, but nothing intelligible dribbled out. We couldn’t understand it. Walter was usually very generous hearted. One night as we all leaned over the counter and watched Walter pour the hot chocolate down the drain, he exploded. “You guys drive me nuts! I pay good money to put in this whole soda fountain and buy this hot chocolate maker and I don’t think that one of you guys has bought an ice cream cone or a hot chocolate.” “Who buys ice cream in the winter time, Walter?” “Well, what about the hot chocolate?” “We only bought the hot chocolate at Clifford’s because you threw us out in the cold and the snow.” “Well my god, I wish you would have told me that before I went to all this expense.” “You never asked.” Finally one cold snowy night after that explosion, Walter lined up a bunch of paper cups on the counter. Instead of pouring the hot chocolate down the drain, he poured us each a cup. He had a big smile on his face until one of the guys asked if he would put a spoon full of vanilla ice cream on top like Mr. Clifford used to do. I snatched up my hot chocolate and ran. I knew what was coming would not be pretty.
Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Mass and is now a freelance writer. He has published five books. Two of them have Lawrence as their setting, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. A Little Something is a book of poetry portions of it inspired by life in Lawrence. Hobo-ing America, is a workingman’s tour of the U.S.A and The Eastpointer is selected pieces from his award winning column about life in a sleepy fishing village in the Florida Panhandle.
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.