Memories of a bygone era

  • Bobby C. Campbell Staff Illustration/Andy Castillo

Published: 11/4/2019 8:51:56 AM

Good morning and welcome to Bobby’s World. This week, I want to personally share a few very cool moments with you of when I was a kid (by the way, I’m 53 years old). I call this week’s recollections “Franklin County memories with Bobby C.”

I was talking with a few friends the other day about the good old days when Burger Chef — now China Gourmet on the Mohawk Trail in Greenfield — was still in operation. As kids, we used to go there as a family and build our own burgers. It was truly a blast for the whole family.

I remember when “Star Wars” came out and the line from the Garden Cinemas snaked around the corner all the way to Hope and Olive Restaurant on Hope Street. I had no patience and wanted to just go home, but I will admit, when we got inside the standing-room-only movie theater it was worth the wait. The original “Star Wars” was an amazing movie for sure.

I remember when there used to be fireworks at the Franklin County Fair. They stopped after a child was hit by a flying particle. The place went into a frenzy. EMTs, police officers and firefighters swarmed the grandstand when it happened. It was a very scary moment in Franklin County that night.

I remember a time when the Muscular Distrophy Association would run a carnival every Labor Day weekend in Greenfield to raise money for Jerry’s Kids, an advocacy organization. One year, they held a great contest, sponsored by Coca-Cola, called the Mellow Yellow Jello Jump. Contestants would jump into a pool of Jello and try to grab a key at the bottom. If you found the right key, it opened a box and you’d win a wonderful prize. The contest was held at Mammoth Mart, which is now the Greenfield Big Y World Class Market.

I remember when I was a kid and we had three drive-in movie theaters in Franklin County — the Deerfield Drive-In, Mohawk Drive-In and the Northfield Drive-In. Admission was charged by the carload. We stacked people on top of people like we were making our own burgers at Burger Chef.

I remember when downtown Greenfield was so packed on a Friday night that it took forever to get downtown with every store, restaurant and movie theater rocking and rolling. Back then, everyone in Franklin County went to Greenfield on the weekends.

I remember when towns had a community playground program where you would go to your local neighborhood playground from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a full day of activities including a neighborhood baseball team. My friends and I would travel twice a week to a different playground in Greenfield and play against that neighborhood’s baseball team. We always rode our bikes, which was a blast. There wasn’t a cost for the summer playground program. It was free for every child.

I remember when the Greenfield versus Turners Falls high school football game attracted between 5,000 and 7,000 people every year. Yes, you heard me right — 5,000 to 7,000 people. This traditional event was one of the biggest attractions every year in Franklin County. Fans, students, players, cheerleaders, the marching band and local media would all be at the game rooting for their favorite team.

I will always remember those times when I was a kid because these memories are very special to me. I could go on for days about the many opportunities I had as a youngster growing up in Franklin County. Today, I’m grateful to be able to continue helping others and making Franklin County the wonderful place to live that it is, and to raise our children and grandchildren. I love Franklin County.

Thank you for reading, have a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to turn your clock back — you deserve that extra hour of sleep.

As a local personality for radio stations WHAI 98.3, Bear Country 95.3, WHMP 99.3 and Bobby C’s DJ Service for the past 36 years, Bobby C. Campbell has been connected to the community for a very long time. If you have an event that needs promotion or an idea for a future column, e-mail him at bobbyleslie25@gmail.com.




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