Kicking it old school: The Bingham

On January 12, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times


On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

If you look around Somerville you will still see some grand old brick structures that used to be elementary schools. The Brown, on Willow Ave., which was built in 1900, is the last one still actually being used as a school. Some of them have been converted into condos, such as The Lowe School on Morrison Ave. and the Carr School on Atherton.

This week I am going to revisit The Bingham School that was on Lowell Street between Medford and Vernon Streets opposite Wilton. I feel closeness to The Bingham School because a lot of my friends attended, plus my grandfather Giuseppe (Joe) Del Ponte was a custodian there. One of my friends was a student there, and her mother actually owned a condo in the complex that replaced it. S. Lester Ralph was Mayor back in 1974 when the Bingham School, which was built in 1886, was ordered closed due to structural defects. The structure may be gone, but the memories of The Bingham School live on.

Most of these recollections are from friends of mine who are now in their early 50’s and 60’s.  Many of the former students still live in Somerville. They are random memories that I have strung together as a tribute to another lost ‘Villen treasure.

A friend shares this: “I remember lining up outside by grade and then they (the teachers) walked you through the basement to your room. I also remember when there was a fire drill being scared to go down the rod iron stairs because I could see through the steps.” “Lottie’s was the little store where a lot of us Bingham students went for penny candy. I think it was near Richardson St.” Someone my age (around 59) who attended told me that Bingham girls were not allowed to wear pants or slacks at the Bingham at one time. I’m not sure when that rule ended. There was also a cool shortcut on Franey Road (behind Trum Field) that the kids from around the Cedar St. area used. Do you remember a little fruit store nearby where Yola and her sister worked? Sometimes they gave the kids free apples and peaches.

Another friend tells us, “When Miss Mackey came, my dad never missed a PTA meeting because she was a former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.” Fact or fiction? Someone remembers that, “Miss Malloy taught the fifth grade and I think she used to wash and iron her money, and also iron her cheese sandwiches.” I heard this from more than one former student! This next story is a little scary. “I was in the office just before the entire ceiling light came crashing down and almost killed me. The very next day the school was condemned and closed and we were all sent to other schools.” After the Bingham School close its doors forever, the 329 students were bused to other schools including the aforementioned Brown.

Here are some more Bingham School teachers’ names that my friends remembered. Mrs. Laidlaw, Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Dwyer, Mr. Buckley (The Principal who always wore a bow tie), Miss Driscoll, Miss Correy, Miss Wiggins, Miss Albania, Mr. McDonald, Miss Crowley, and Miss Ricci.


Fond and happy memories of their old red brick school include the smell of mimeograph machine copies, playing punch ball and kick ball in the school yard at recess with their friends, and milk money being 15 cents a week. And to this day no one can actually confirm whether or not there was a spanking machine in the principal’s office of the old Bingham School.


22 Responses to “Kicking it old school: The Bingham”

  1. A. Moore says:

    Didn’t need milk money(I don’t think we did) as we came home every day to have lunch, watch Bob Emery and then be back to school. The nice part of the location was that we got to go up the street to the Hostess place and see how things were made and have twinkies and milk there. I remember we got to vote, I am pretty sure it was Ike running at the time. Lottie’s was half way down Richardson Street but closer to Lowell Street on Richardson in a brown house was another store which the name escapes me now. I was only there until the 4th grade and then we moved and I went to the Carr school. I only have one sad recollection and that was while we were in class one day a house was burning down near Vernon street and it was one of the kids in my classrooms house. I think of that when I go by the house that had the fire. We used to play behind Franey road before they built the DPW. Was it that long ago?

  2. A. Moore says:

    I forgot about the ink wells and pens. No ball point pens back then. Just that messy ink which I somehow managed to get all over me. And we had a blotter too. The good ol days

  3. j. connelly says:

    I tip my hat to you….”before they built the DPW”…Damn! you are older than me…I guess that makes you the “most senior” Real Somerville News Commentator. [we don’t count politicians, hacks, activists] Therefore I think the Somerville News should honor you with some type of honorarium, a statue in front of their office, or a bench, or better yet a lifetime free tab at Olde Magoun’s Saloon…lol

  4. A. Moore says:

    I forgot about the ink wells and pens. No ball point pens back then. Just that messy ink which I somehow managed to get all over me. And we had a blotter too. The good ol days. Lotties was a little brick building on the corner of a dead end street on Richardson. I believe it was Zarex we got there when it first came out.

  5. MDNIONAKIS says:

    I was a” pupil” at the Bingham School, if my memory serves me correctly thats what they called us then, students went to college, I didn’t have to walk far because we lived right next door.My parents still live in the house. I will never forget that fall day in 1974 when all the kids got sent home with a note from the Superintendent of Schools saying the Bingham was no longer a safe building. I was in the 5th grade.We all then had to get bused to the Brown School for the remainder of the school year.But some of us became the 1st graduating class of the Winter Hill Community School in 1976.My favorite teacher was 3rd grade Ms. Cheney who drove a beat up old blue Chevy Bel Air and played the guitar.

  6. A Moore says:

    Where the dpw was there were these little rounded over brick things that were like caves. I don’t know what they were but they made a nice playground. Maybe as a prize I could get a free copy of the Somerville News. I made my appearance in 46.

  7. gary m says:

    Wow, I remember when they were tearing down the Charlton (excuse the spelling) in the sixties and it became Kenney Park in memory of a soldier killed in ‘Nam. Also remember when they built the Powderhouse, WinterHill, and East Somerville Community Schools, as well as the Kennedy School to cope with the older red-brick schools and potential for overcrowding back in the sixties. I often drive through the ‘ville and recall the locations of those red-brick schools they were intended to replace.

    I attended the Lowe School– I remember one kid in the first grade said he would own that school– often wondered if he ever bought a condo there? Those red-brick schools were old even in our time but they had a lot of history. It doesn’t seem that long ago in our minds. Time does fly. Nicely done Jimmy!!

  8. Joe Lynch says:

    Jimmy’s memory still amazes me. The little brick variety store on Richardson Street in the Magoun Square neighborhood, fondly remembered by most as “Lottie’s”, was actually owned and named “Ryan’s Variety” by my grandfather in 1926. Lottie Ryan was my aunt, took over the operation in the late 40’s and ran the store until she retired in the early 1970’s. The brick store you remember actually replaced the original wooden structure of the twenties sometime in the mid 40’s.

    My Mum and Lottie probably waited on some(not Jimmy, he’s too young) of you. Wonder bread, Hood milk, the “pickle jar”, brown paper bags with Lottie’s addition on it, penny candy, sliced bologna, fireworks!, sparklers, canned goods, mops, household cleaner, everything you could possibly imagine was packed floor to ceiling in that little space.

    And the Bingham School “pupils” were some of Lottie’s best customers.

    Jimmy, good to see you this weekend. Listen, Gene Brune is not the only one to be thinking about writing a book. Need an agent Jimmy?

    Joe Lynch

  9. Joe Lynch says:

    Mr. Moore,

    The other variety store on Richardson St. was between Vinal St. and Richardson Terrace. The name was Filosi’s Variety, run by the Filosi family.


  10. Joe Lynch says:

    …………here comes more synapses………..the North End Fruit Market in Magoun Square was run by Yola, Kate and Charlie. All siblings. Yola’s last name was Rapoza. Her husband was a former Somerville firefighter who passed at a young age.

    The store was located to the right of the former Cara Donna’s(as you faced the stores).

    Best fresh fruit in the city. Closed sometime in the late 70’s early 80’s.

  11. A. Moore says:

    Yup, Filosi’s Variety. 24 hours later I will forget the name again. Mostly we went to Lottie’s as we lived on Hinckly street at the time. I remember the Filosi’s being older people. We moved there in 1950. We still had an ice man coming to the house back then. Fruit wagon drawn by horse,rag man. Better stop since this about the Bingham. The city took my house to build the East Somerville school.

  12. jimmy DelPonte says:

    I have to thank all my facebook friends for once again digging into their memories to come up these great recollections.. And thanks to all the on line people for their nice comments. Hey Joe… I need to string together a few of my best Somerville stories and slap them in a book. I’ve been talking about it for months.

  13. A. Moore says:

    Jimmy, I would get going a little bit faster here on getting these memories while they are still here. Nothing much stays up there anymore. And it is not getting better.

  14. Joe Lynch says:

    Say the word and you’ll have a guest shot on “Greater Somerville”. I may even take that show to an hour……………think about it.

    “Memories of a Greater Somerville”……………….

  15. A. Moore says:

    I will second the greater Somerville. Had to have been there to appreciate it.

  16. j. connelly says:

    Both would be great Jimmy’s Book Vol 1 (of many volumes) and for Joe Lynch to have the “Memories of Greater Somerville”, but do it before election time as we hope Joe does the “moderator” at some election debates again, they went pretty well and gave a real insight into the candidates.

    Do you think my cuzin would get upset if I ran….I’d have good name recognability….lol

  17. gloria says:

    i remember going to northeastern jr high on marshal st in the60s i went back home for brothers funeral and the school was torn down and made into a condo things have changed alot since i grew up there did you know our president lived on marshal and broadway when he went to harvard

  18. A. Moore says:

    I believe that was Fenwick and Broadway gloria. Big brick place. One he became president the landlord was asked about putting up a plaque, he said he was going to wait until he did something.

  19. noabitya says:

    No but I do know he is a scofflaw, a product of prestigious Hahvud Law School as he screwed both Cambridge & Somerville and their taxpayers out of a large amount of money for unpaid parking tickets for years. Then sent someone back several months before he ran for President to “come clean”, get “honest” and finally paid the money he owed for all those parking tickets.

    Seems a lot of “Hahvud” celebrities have done some questionable stuff over the years….Drug Tester Timothy Leary, the Hahvud President who belittled women, the “nutty” professor with the Cambridge PD incident, Kennedy, “Whiskey Willie Weld, then the professor “I’m an Indian then I’m not” Warren, among a few pillars of the Hahvud Community.

  20. gloria says:

    sorry i was missed inform about the president living in somerville i was told on broadway thanks for setting the record straight

  21. A. Moore says:

    ON the corner of Marshall street was the old Primos which was a yellow house before they moved down the block and on the other side was Freddie’s Hardware. which used to be a drugstore which I don’t remember the name. Somedays I am lucky to remember my own name.

  22. Erni Squeglia says:

    Who remembers Miss Fox?

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