Red Hat review 2012

... Over The What Hill Gang at play

by Shirley Rabb

January 9th and we started this year at the spa. The Wakefield Vocational School is now our place for facials, hair wash, blow dry, and manicure, all for $10.00. The students are great, careful and pleasant and after our luxurious treatments we were off to Brother’s for brunch. A wonderful beginning to what we hope will be a happy and healthy year.

January 22nd took us to the Stoneham Theatre to see the Edwards Twins. These men are wonderful celebrity impersonators. They sang the songs of Barbara Streisand, Cher, Adres Boccelli, Stevie Wonder and so many more. Their costumes were so authentic you could just see Cher in her skin tight outfit and Barbara Streisand swishing her hair back at each high note. What a fun show it was.  Off to Sam’s Bistro in Reading for dinner and conversation with a private room where we watched the second half of the Patriots foot ball game. The game was great and we completed the day with cheering and applause for the Patriots win and our friendship.

January 23rd and it is Chinese New Year so off we went to Mandarin Reading for the best buffet around. Eleven members in our purple outfits and red hats lightened up the room to start the year of the dragon. It was a great gathering of good friends eating good food with happy conversation.

February 5th and it was Super Bowl Day; but before the game we headed for Cambridge to see “There will be flood” done by the Hasty Pudding group of Harvard University. In retrospect I must admit the play was better than the game. Twelve Harvard men, some dressed as women, went back one Zillion years to prehistoric times to save this world. It was funny and a great show to see. Injecting current politics, local colleges, and even the Red Hatters in their dialogue made the show wonderful. Because of the upcoming game we deviated from our norm and did not go out to eat.  We all went home with the hopes of the Pat’s winning. Since this did not happen we remember with happiness and laughter the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

February 12th. And we were off to the Hill Top Restaurant to once more see the Edwards Twins.  This was dinner with a great meal and outstanding show. These two brothers impersonate many of the stars we know in full costume. There was Cher, Barbara Streisand, Boccelli, Johnny Ray, etc, etc, etc. If you have chances to ever see there shows just do it!

February 14th and it is Valentine’s Day. How could we pass it up? We drove to Rowley to have lunch at the Bradford Inn and Pub. We all received a carnation as we entered the restaurant and the service was excellent. The food was delicious, hot and plentiful and we claim this as a place to come back to.

February 26th took us to the Brockton Historical Society Museum for a personal tour. This was much more than we had expected. Three retired fire fighters including George Churchill took us through the Fire Museum which opened in 1992. There are two beautifully restored 1850s hand-tub pumpers and thousands of fascinating firefighting artifacts. There is also a memorial dedicated to the 13 Brockton firemen who were killed in the Strand Theatre disaster in 1941.

From the fire museum we were led to the shoe museum, the only authentic shoe museum in America. There are unique collections of military shoes from the Civil War to the Desert Storm War. Celebrity footwear worn by Ted Williams, Mamie Eisenhower, Arthur Fiedler and of course Brockton born Rocky Marciano.We also got to see the shoes of Primo Carnera, world champion boxer of the 1930s; his shoe size was 24. There is an exhibit for Rocky Marciano heavyweight champion in 1952.

The Thomas Edison Exhibit was new history to most of us when we were told that Edison came to Brockton in 1893 and 1884. He was here to oversee the installation of the world’s first three-wire underground power system. He also supervised the wiring of the world’s first centrally powered theatre, fire station and shoe factory.

Continuing on the tour we headed for the Homestead which was built in 1767 and enlarged in 1807. The Homestead remained in the family of John Beal, one of the first shoemakers in America. Throughout much of the 19th century it was “The Solid Rock Inn" and in 1971 the Historical Society acquired the building. There are books, paintings, tools, a cast-iron stove and numerous pieces of Brockton history. The entire tour was educational, and fun and it definitely worth the trip. The tour was longer than we thought so we headed back to Reading for a great dinner at Bertucci’s. Great conversation, laughter and picture taking made it an excellent Red Hat Day.

March 10th and off to Merrimack College to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats. The show was outstanding. I am sure that the members of the group are physically without bones. There were acrobatics, traditional dance, spectacular costumes and ancient and contemporary music. Breathtaking skill and spellbinding beauty filled the two hour performance. We were off to Angelica’s restaurant in Andover for our dinner and Red Hat conversation. It was a colorful, fun filled evening with laughter and wonderment.

March 17th and the day for the wearing of the green, except for Red Hatters. We were in our purple outfits and red hats, with a hint of green, when we headed for the Irish Cottage in Methuen. Five members ready to enjoy the day that makes everyone Irish and every one eat the traditional corned beef and cabbage or Sheppard’s pie.  We waited about and hour and a half to get into the restaurant but so did every one else. We did not mind the wait because of all the activity around us. There were green hats and shirts, green pants and green toe nails to match the green trimmed hair. The food was excellent, the music happy and the people friendly. It was a beautiful day for the wearing of the green, purple and Red Hats.

April 2nd and we were off to Mason N.H for a tour of Parker’s sugar house and lunch. The weather has not been conducive for sugaring because of the warm January and February but the tour was a big success. Our guide, Kenny, went through the process and the history of maple sugaring. Not only did we get some knowledge of the Indians in the area but we discovered that a woman,(young girl) was the first to realize the sweetness from the branches of the Maple tree. Her mother was probably a future Red Hatter. The food was outstanding and we ate and talked and had a perfect Red Hat Day.

April 11th was our regular meeting and we decided to pass on the planned trip this month to Finagle the Bagel tour. The plant is under construction and we will wait until they put down the hammers to see the whole bagel tour later this year. May plans were set up and we had a good go-a-round for upcoming events.

May 5th. and it is Cinco-D Mayo at the Fat Cactus in Peabody. The restaurant was crowded and the music exciting. We had great Mexican food and lots of fun.

May 6th. And Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose had their once a year Brupper, (breakfast at supper time). The tables were loaded with bagels, lox, cream cheese, white fish and white fish salads, etc., etc., etc. Pastry for dessert for those that could fit it in and a fun time for all.

June 24th and it was off to see A Chorus Line at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham. The Regal Players always put on a great show. Lorenzo Lamas played the lead and 25 dancers filled the stage with moves that kept us watching. The dancing was outstanding but the theatre was very warm. The show ran two hours without an intermission and although we enjoyed the dancing it was good to head for the Chateau for dinner. Just being together is fun for our group, and conversation and good food always make for a happy group of hatters.

July 10th and the Upper Deck Trolley Tours was our day out. We boardered the bus in Cambridge and had a great tour around Cambridge including; Kendall Square, Central Square, and Harvard Square. All the locations were highlighted by our young driver and the breeze through the open windows, and high views were terrific. Our first stop was the Cheesecake Factory for lunch before we started the second part of our bus tour. This included the Boston areas of downtown, the West End, and North End. We traveled through Back Bay, around Faneuil Hall, passed Fenway Park, Chinatown and the theatre district. Midway on this trip near the USS Constitution we stopped to board the free super duck tour. Back on the bus after 45 minutes on the water and we got back to the original starting point happy and tired. The architecture of both Cambridge and Boston are so diverse that we went from China Town to roof gardens to futuristic building complexes. It was a wonderful day, sunny and cool and another typical Red Hat Day.

July 15 and it was off to see “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Regal Players in Waltham. The Players are always good and this show was right up there with the best of them. We ate at the Legal Seafood in Burlington. Dinner, conversation and laughs were the way this day went. The air conditioning in the theatre, car and restaurant helped as the temperature outdoors was 90 degrees but we are a cool group so all was well

July 21st and The Gloucester Stage Company welcomed us to see “Carnival”. It was a fun show in this small, intimate theatre. Carrot Top the puppet, Marco the Magnificent and the rest of the cast were delightful. We had dinner at the Seaport Grille and we, in our Red Hat outfits, made a great hit with most of the other people that passed our happy, joyous table. Perfect weather, perfect company and a perfect waiter made it another exceptional Red Hat Day.

July 29 and Car Talk: The Musical was our destination at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge. This play was a take-off on the radio station by the same name. It was funny,funny,funny. We laughed at every skit and we applauded with gusto at each scene. On the next corner on Mass Ave was the Asgard Irish Pub and Restaurant so we walked the ½ block and enjoyed some interesting food for dinner. Reuben Eggrolls, Chicken Avocado Quesadilla, Miso glazed Salmon, Triple Pork Sliders and Shepherd’s Pie. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere was Cambridge. It was a really fun day for all of us.

August 12th and we were off to see the Regal Players again. The play this time was My Fair Lady and it was wonderful. The performers, the songs, the dancing all were great. We enjoyed this last of three shows as the best of the three.  Dinner was at the Macaroni Grill in Burlington and again we were a happy group of Red Hatters having a wonderful day.

August 24th and it was part of restaurant week in the areas around Boston. We chose to go to Bedford and enjoy our lunch at Dayla’s restaurant. The menu consisted of appetizer, cold delicious soup or salad, a main course and decedent desserts. Aranchini,a vegetarian dish, crab cakes, linguine w/mussels, a Mediterranean sandwich were a few of the main dishes. Desserts were Coupe “Lydia”, Moroccan pumpkin tea loaf, warm chocolate bourbon pecan bread pudding and on and on. One of our members that had moved to Texas joined us while she was visiting in the area and we caught up on all she has been doing while leaving this area of the world. It was a beautiful day to spend with friends, enjoy good food and be happy that we are Red Hatters.

September 8 and it was off to Lowell for a boat tour. We had an exceptional guide that boarded the trolley with us that took us to the boat dock. On board we were informed about the locks where the water rose to allow the passage of boats. The cement blocks assembled by muscle and sweat in the 1800’s are still standing solid. The ride was historical and smooth and the captain had the look of an African Queen Captain. We learned about the politics,the money provided by the rich of the times and how the workers made 84 cents per hour for their labors. Later in the mills the women made 84 cents per week. Have we really come a long way since then? It was exciting as we stopped in one of the locks to feel the boat rise, and then on the return trip with doors opened we were back to sea level. Our dinner this day was at the Athenian restaurant. The food was very good but the bathrooms; (a necessity for most of us) are upstairs so we would probably pass this place because of the inconvenience. It was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful time.

September 26th took four of our members to Suffolk Downs to join 100 Red Hat members from other groups around New England. There was a wonderful buffet luncheon, trophy presentations and preferred parking. The gathering was in the Topside Room where members voted on the best red hats, and the winners came in win, place and show. One of our members even made a $3.00 betting on the races. It was a great day for being at the track and a wonderful group of women having a great time.

September 29th and on a cloudy New England day we drove to Marlboro for a pot luck day at the home of our Queen. The food was varied delicious and plentiful. We had macaroni salads, meat balls, chili, develed eggs, shrimp and to end the day we had chocolate fondue with vegetables. We could see the changing colors of the trees by the lake and we had stimulating conversation. It was relaxing, fun and another great Red Hat outing.

October 1st and it was the scariest month of the year. We drove to Salem, the Halloween City for a trolley tour. Our guide told us about the history of Salem; about the witch trials and the houses built in the 1600's and 1800's that are still standing. From the trolley we were told about the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. We drove past Winter Island and Salem Willows. The Witch Museum and Witch Dungeon Museum were on our tour and the old homes where history was made. It was an interesting historical trip with sites that will be ablaze on the 31st. of this month. We walked to the Great Escape Restaurant for lunch. This restaurant is located in a 200 year old jail. At one time this was the oldest active jail in the country being in service for 177 years. The only person in prison garb was handing our coupons for the restaurant. We all had great meals at reasonable prices and it is a place to go back to, but not any later in October. We leave this for the witches, ghosts and goblins.

October 12 took us to Gloucester to the Cape Pond Ice House. The tour went back 160 years with a movie of how ice was harvested those many years ago. In the old days, Cape Pond used to hire men to carve up a local pond with huge ice saws, but now the ice is made in row upon row of 350 pound blocks, the process is similiar to our refrigerator trays except on a much larger scale. The temperature in the ice house remains at 23 degrees and it was cold as we walked through the room where the ice is kept prior to shipping. There were ice sculptures that have been in the ice house for 30 years and still remain solid in this room. We were told, by our young tour guide, that the Ice company supplied 58,000 tons of ice for the Big Dig in Boston. It was an interesting tour which recalls that the Cape Pond Ice was described in the movie The Perfect Storm. To warm ourselves up we went to the Gloucester House for a great lunch, conversation and memories of another Red Hat day.

October 27 and Arlington was our destination. We went to have a tour of the Old Schwamb Mill Historic Site. This historic site dates back to the 1700s as it is seen today represents a very brief period in American history when the Industrial Revolution was underway but work in wood was still being done by hand, with limited help from machines. Our tour guide pointed out the machines that were, and are still, being used to create the hand crafted frames of the finest quality. Although only a few woodworkers run the machinery and turn the oval frames now, whereas thirty-five workers were here a century ago. On the second floor they exhibit and sell beautiful tiles. Also on the grounds in another building Shaker woodwork is also for sale. It was an informative and enlightening tour. Of course it was lunch after the tour and today we went ot Jimmy's Steer house right in Arlington. It was a beautiful day and a great Red Hat experience.

November 9th took us to Chestnut Hill to get a tour of the Waterworks Museum. What a beautiful building situated on Beacon St. across from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Our guide, who volunteers here, can be found as a doctor at the trama center at the Beth Israel Hospital as his regular job. The introduction video was an experience in itself, different than any we had seen before. We spent one hour with him as he went over the history of the building and the functions it has performed since the 1800's.

The original station was built in 1887, but by the 1890's the population had grown so fast that the need to install more powerful and enormous pumping engines was evident. An addition to the building was added after the engines were in place and they had been running every day till 1970. The engines, three of which were the same as the engines on the Titanic, ran silently for all those years pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to the people in Boston and outlying areas. The system is still used as a back up and can be put into service should the system at the Quabbin reservoir have problems. The tour was historical, exciting and just plain awesome. It is a place to visit as adults or with children. Our meal was at Zaftigs, a deli in Brookline where we partook of brisket, corned beef, roast beef and pastromi sandwiches. What a great day it was!

December 9th and we were off to college, Salem State college that is. We saw a wonderful production of the play Cabaret. The sets, the songs, the merriment along with the under tones of Nazi Germany, left us in awe as the play ended dramaticlly with a smoke filled stage. It was Bertuccis in Reading for dinner and the end of a lovely warm, almost winter day.

December 12th. 12-12-12 and we ended our year of fun and frolic at the home of one of our members to celebrate the holiday season. The tree was surrounded with our gifts, (recycled) and the table was loaded with a variety of food that any restaurant would have been happy to display. We did a Yankee swap, ate the goodies and indulged in mimosas and Bailey's Irish Cream. It was a warm and wonderful get together that gave us time to think about the past year and what we had done together. Our plans are set for January and February so we really never stop thinking of having fun.

We wish for all of you as many happy times that we have had. May the New Year bring you all happiness, good friends, love and peace.

January 4, 2013

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