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Reflections Of Sommerville, MA #959

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Reflection by Anthony Accardi,

Osco #959 opened on November 29, 1976. The first store manager was Gerry Lapointe and the 1st Assistant was Dave Fields. From my recollection, the 2nd Assistant was John McKay?? I grew up around the corner and remember the store under construction. It was built on vacant land where two houses once stood and were burned to the ground in arson fires. It was built across the parking lot from The Winter Hill Star Market, another Jewel Company. From what I remember, one of the grand opening specials was a CB (Citizens Band) Radio for $59.99. The store itself was a moderate size and at first was low profile, but then was made high profile in the early 80’s. It had an extremely small upstairs backroom and required that all freight go down the conveyor belt and into the downstairs stock room…which was small for the volume the store did in sales. It was a typical inner city store with mostly walk in traffic and had a very high rate of shop lifting, thus requiring a security agent (later re-named loss prevention). It also had security mirrors where the walls met the ceiling. The mirrors in the upstairs management offices were 2-way so that anyone suspicious cane be observed.

I started at Osco #959 on July 6, 1978, the day after my 16th birthday. It was my first job. Second Assistant Mary MacGregor hired me and the rest of the management team was as follows: George Johnson was the store manager; Don Kerr was the first assistant and Rick Sheridan was the management trainee. My first day was an 8-hour shift – 9am to 5:30 pm. I remember how it felt like a 15-hour shift. My first assignment was to help another part time employee Paul Croak put trash barrels on the ledge. I couldn’t help wonder why a drug store would be selling trash barrels. I soon learned that a drug store would sell many other items that one would never think would belong in a drug store.

I worked there from July of 1978 until May of 1981. We had a great crew there. As a matter of fact, that store had a history of always have a hard working and dedicated crew. Some of my fellow employees were Full timers Anna Orlando, Barbara Sleek, Sandra Holland, Kathy Crotty, Terry Morrissey and Judy Shelley. Part timers were Rose Ferrigno, Irene Connerton, Cheryl Ingala, Paul Croak, Vinny Diana, Mary Crotty, Patsy Griffin, Jerry Griffin, Bernadette and her sister Kate Fothergill, Maryellen Spellman, Colleen Battaglia, Denise Silvestri, Linda Ciccolo and Diane Piracini. The pharmacists were Brian Callinan and Bernie Rosen. Brian left and was replaced by Anne Psomos. When Bernie left to go to new store #981 Danvers, he was replaced by Peter Licciardi.

Some of the management changes during my time were Mary MacGregor being promoted to 1st Assistant at #968 Waltham. She was replaced by Dan Daley, coming from #904 Medford. Dan resigned after about 8 months to go to work for Medi Mart, remember them? He was replaced by Ken Thistle, coming from #951 Dorchester. George Johnson resigned after his purchase of a farm in upstate New York. He was replaced by Ray Spencer, coming from #904 Medford. Don Kerr being transferred to #966 Woburn and was replaced by Pat Moloney, coming from #903 Lawrence. After a year, Pat was transferred to #975 Chelsea and was replaced by Rick Smith, coming from #904 Medford. Rick Sheridan was promoted to 2nd Assistant at #957 Cambridge and he was replaced by another trainee named Bob Grassia. Bob only stayed for about 6 months and went to work for one of the airlines at Boston’s Logan Airport. He was replaced by another trainee named Russ Kish. Russ was promoted to 2nd assistant at #904 Medford and was part of the management team that took that store from its huge former Turnstyle size to that of a “larger” sized Osco Drug. Russ was replaced by Frank Krimonski, former football standout at Boston University.

I have so many wonderful memories at that store. It always had an extremely busy pharmacy and was a very busy store in general – especially at Christmas. On Sundays, I remember getting an assignment card during the Christmas season and knowing that nothing on it would get accomplished due to the fact that my day would be spent at the front bagging for the cashiers. I fondly remember my first Christmas there. On Christmas eve, they brought in food and the duration of the breaks and lunches were somewhat relaxed. A few weeks before Christmas, we had a Christmas grab and on Christmas eve we exchanged and opened our presents, just like a family. After the store closed that Christmas eve and everyone was enjoying some Christmas cheer in the breakroom, security agent Eric Benson and I recited “Twas the night before Christmas” over the intercom system and including some hilarious sound effects. During the spring season, we had our annual bagged cow manure and potting soil sale, where we opened up the receiving door so that the customers could get their manure or potting soil loaded into their trunks. I fondly remember the 1978 Christmas party at the old Chateau Deville in Saugus Mass. It was the entire Eastern Region and attendees traveled from as far as Kittery Maine and Rutland Vermont. We had a full family style roast beef dinner, open bar, a live band and a door prizes. On most weekend nights, a group of us would go out after work for a bite to eat. It would either be the old Aku Aku Chinese Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass or Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach in Revere Mass.

In May of 1981 I left store #959 to accept a part time position with the Star Market in Malden Mass. I would be graduating from high school in about a month and I was still undecided in what I wanted to do in life. Star Market offered me a part time position, with an opportunity to work full time after the summer. Their full time salary was much higher and at the time I thought it was a better opportunity. Leaving store #959 was a very difficult decision. It was my first job and I met so many wonderful people. I still keep in touch with a few and was even best man at my friend Vinny Diana’s wedding. In 1986 I returned to Osco #959 as a 1st Assistant Manager. My own Osco home coming. I got to walk to work and I returned to many of the same people that still worked there from when I left in 1981.

Store #959 is still open as a Walgreens. When the New England stores were sold off at the beginning of the 2,000’s, it became a Brooks Pharmacy and then became a Rite Aid when they purchased Brooks. For most of its business life, the store pretty much had the market share for prescriptions in the Winter Hill area of Somerville until 1992, when Walgreens built a store right up the street on the site of the former Belotti Oldsmobile. In 2007, the Star Market across the parking lot was closed and the food sales at the former #959 Osco somewhat increased due to the fact that the Winter Hill area no longer had a place to shop for groceries. When Walgreens purchased Rite Aid, they closed the Walgreens up the street, deciding to do business at the former #959 store, until now. The City of Somerville has approved a developer’s plans to build on the entire site, including the former Osco #959 and now the plan for Walgreens is to move back up the street…………confused?? It’s just normal business operations.

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