Red Burtts Place

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Location: Maine, United States

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Filenes Basement Dress Sale

A long time ago they used to have a big sale once or twice a year on women’s dresses and ladies underwear in Filenes Basement in Boston, I loved them.

Filenes used to announce these sales in the newspapers a month or so before the sale, they usually held them on a Saturday morning and they made sure that the time and date were in large print such as “BIG SALE FILENES BASEMENT COME EARLY WOMENS DRESSES AND IMPORTED CHINESE SILK LADIES UNDERWEAR ALL SIZES MAY 12 DOORS OPEN AT 8:00 AM”.

These things were great it was better than watching dirty movies, it was even more fun than going to a Carnival.

On the big day about ten of us would meet on “our corner” we would go up to Central Sq Cambridge and take the subway into the Washington Street Station from there right over to the underground doors of Filenes, it was a sight to behold, there would be two or three hundred women, Fat Ones, Skinny Ones, Blind Ones, Young And Old Ones, they would be yelling and screaming and starting to get undressed even before the doors opened, there would be a few Cops outside but I don’t ever remember them being inside the store where all the action would take place so we didn’t act up outside we just sort of mingled around making believe we were “observing” that way the Cops didn’t pay much attention to us, we were waiting, the real action, the fun stuff would start when they threw the doors open.

The sales I speak of all took place just before the beginning of WWII when money was scarce and every penny counted, this was at the very end of the great depression and all these women were looking for a bargain and they were ready to kill for it, females can be vicious when they want something and they are ready to take on all comers, when WWII started the Government should have put an ad in all of America’s newspapers saying there was Free Dresses in Japan and Germany, the American Women would have found a way to get over there and they would have killed Hitler and Tojo and ended the war in a month.

The sale was a first come first served situation, they had to run into the store and see who could get the good stuff first, these women were mothers, grand-mothers and sweet feminine little things but today they were transformed into insane lunatic savage beasts.

We were ready for them, we had been planning this ever since we saw the ad in the papers, this was it, now the fun for us was about to begin, we started running around all through this herd of wild screaming animals, we were yelling right along with them and laughing our asses off, then it happened, The Doors Opened, Oh Boy, the stampede was on, some of them were stripping their clothes off while they were running (it looked just like the running of the bulls) some of them fell down we would jump right over them, we were running right along with them, we were also screaming with them and yelling dirty words, they didn’t care they were so excited they didn’t even notice that we weren’t “Girls”, we were in hysterics laughing at them and at each other at some of the things we were doing, because what we started doing was the whole reason we got up at 6AM to come over here, they started grabbing dresses off the rack, and so did we.

We started trying on Dresses, ten or fifteen young teenage boys running around Filenes Basement in the middle of two hundred half naked shrieking crazy women, we were now right in the middle of what I considered the most fun I have ever had in my life, tears were running down our faces from laughing, we were all wearing Dresses over our clothes and we had Silk Bra’s and Underwear on our heads, some of us started dancing with each other and some of us made believe we were having sex.

In those days there were no “Mall Cops” but Filenes had a few women that looked like men and they would try to keep these women from killing each other and it wouldn’t be long before they spotted us, when they did they would yell at us and try to catch us but we were way ahead of them, the safest place to be would be right in the middle of the screaming half naked women sometimes one of them would punch us in the face but they were usually to busy fighting each other and tearing the dresses apart to bother with us and you have to remember there were over two hundred of these women running around so it was pretty easy for us to avoid the Filenes Goons besides they were busy trying to control the “shoppers”.

The whole purpose of our crowd was to put on a show for each other we all had dresses on and we tried to find the largest pair of silk bloomers that we could to put on our heads then we would race around in the middle of the herd laughing and yelling and trying to avoid the store employees, we also had quite a show put on for us by these crazy women, they were all running around with nothing on but their slips and they would get so excited that their breasts would start popping out and their slips would get torn and we would start yelling and screaming at them and laughing and they would start swearing at us and try to hit us but we were to fast for them, when your fourteen or fifteen years old nothing can catch you.

Every year a few of them would get hurt, if one of them fell some of the others would kick them or step on their faces and take their dress away from them sometimes they would come after us and grab the bloomers off our head or try to tear our dresses off, some of the kids in our crowd would start getting mad and fight back when a women would try to steal his dress or his underwear this would have the rest of us in convulsions and we would be rolling on the floor laughing at the sight of a screaming women trying to rip a dress off a six foot 16 year old boy who was calling her a “crazy bitch” and telling her he was going “to kill her”.

Things were winding down and we had to get the hell out of there, these sales usually only lasted for an hour or so because by that time the Racks would be bare, there were coat hangers, used underwear, blood and sometimes wigs all over the floor, some women were still screaming obscenities, some were still trying to have fist fights and a lot of them were crying but it was time for us to get out because soon some of the Cops would have to come down here and we stood out like sore thumbs in this crowd, we took our dresses off and headed for the street.

We didn’t leave through the Subway Station exit we went upstairs and out onto the street where we didn’t attract any attention, we were all excited, it was better than we thought it would be, it was the most fun we would have all year.

We would cross over through a side street from Washington Street to Tremont Street and work our way down to Scollay Square where we would go to Joe & Nemo’s and fill up on hot dogs, we would be starving from all that activity we had with the “Females From Hell”.

Now we usually split for awhile, some of us would take the subway home and some of us would hop a truck up Cambridge Street over the Charles River into Central Sq then we would walk up Brookline St or Pearl St to our corner where we would all get our milk cases out and sit around bragging and laughing about our dresses, ladies underwear and all the half naked women we had been running around with all morning, we would be telling all the other guys who hadn’t been with us about our dresses and bloomers for many weeks to come.

I think the Downtown Crossing Filenes is gone now and almost all of “the kids” that were there that day are now gone also, one by one over the years they passed away but for many years there were times that we would all be together at a Wedding, a Funeral or at some of our Reunions and the Filenes Dress Sale would always be brought up and again we would laugh until we cried at the pictures we had in our heads of each other running around in our dresses with ladies underwear on our heads.

During the late Nineteen Sixties my oldest daughter was getting married and making plans with my wife on buying a Wedding Dress, my wife and I were sitting out in the yard and my wife says “do they still have those big dress sales in Filenes Basement” I turned my head and looked away then I started laughing, my wife said “what the hell is so funny about that” then I said, “no I don’t think they do that anymore” then I said, “they just opened a big Mall in Burlington with some brand new stores” she didn’t mention Filenes again, at the time they did have those sales for Wedding Dresses Only, I kind of wish I had let her go.

Author Red Burtt:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nursing Home "goo goo ga ga"

I just finished reading about Nursing Homes and I came to the conclusion that the first thing a Nursing Home does to a new Resident is that they try to KILL them by forcing them to exercise, eat food they don't like, blow up balloons and play silly childish games.

Old people are old, leave them alone, they played with balloons and jig saw puzzels when they were kids.

They should be watching Dirty Movies.

Author: Red Burtt