Greetings, and welcome to my weblog,  “Shooting Stars: My Spectrum Memories in Words and Pictures,” which provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the nocturnal world of a multi-purpose sports arena. When the lights have dimmed and the crowds have  dissipated, the historic Broad and Pattison Avenue venue  in South Philadelphia became a crossroads of the labor world as the experienced joined the novice, the sober saluted the sauced, the civilians comingled with the military and the partiers pissed off the pious.

Weekends were worshipped–typical of any standard work site–where “hump day” marks the  mid-way point in a weekly rat race,  energizing the fatigued in the golden glow of an approaching  paycheck  just over the horizon . Weekends in The Spectrum were more like New Year’s Eve celebrations–a time to renew old acquaintances, to cheer the reinforcements as they descended the steep delivery tunnel in the darkened night, and a welcomed relief from the monotony of repetition, muscle aches, day-old beer and peanut shells. Not to mention overworked work crews.

My Spectrum memories, accumulated during a five-year period between April, 1973 and July, 1978, included an amazing array of highs that overshadowed those freezing, exhausting and, at times, dehumanizing lows, when The Spectrum was no different from the Gulags described in  Solzhenitsyn’s novels.

I will be sharing these experiences and many more within the pages of my weblog.  In addtion, I will  describe the infinite cast of characters that I’ve  befriended during my five years working at the Spectrum. While McCartney, Jagger, and Erving made headlines, in the shadows lurked the likes of:

Nickophonic Nick, who would spray his comb with  raid to kill the bugs.

Bob Bywater, a robust 45-ish fellow who never spoke a word, not even to warn a co-worker when a falling section of stage was about to decapitate him. Rather than push him aside, Bywater calmly tugged my shirt,  pointed upward and watched.

Bob “One Ball” Boomenheimer,  my first supervisor when I began working there. Boomenheimer, who had a testical surgically removed, was at peace with himself. Mild mannered, with  green, cuffed work pants and salt ‘n’ pepper hair slicked back, Boomenheimer was a grocer at heart.

Tom Dorff, our 55-year-old crew chief, worked full-time for ARCO during the day.  Dorff was the  father-like  figure who guided us, the friend, whose signature shout  of Pink Floyd’s MONEY kept us laughing and loose  when our buzzes faded, and a stalwart leader who challenged management when our grievances were ignored.

Bob Kane, the ruddy faced drunken carpenter who would scream throughout the night. Settling down only after raiding the hockey officials’ dressing room for left-over Schaeffers. Oranges weren’t for him. Kane carried a mallet and on several occasions was too drunk to work.

A cast of characters befitting the vanities of Tom Wolfe .


~ by photosfromphilly on March 28, 2009.

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