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They Say The Neon Lights Are Bright

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 28, 2013 11:56 PM

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Blinstrub's Fire1968.jpg

End of an era. The fire that destroyed Blinstrub's in 1968

On the corner of Broadway and D streets in South Boston, is a Burger King and a McDonald’s. They have fast food cheap. Stanley Blinstrub wouldn't be too upset to find out two fast food places have taken over his spot. When he opened Blinstrub's (often minpronounced charmingly as Blinstrum's) in the 1920s, he too offered fast and cheap food; a nickel for a sandwich, a quarter for supper.

Stanley Blinstrub was a 20 year old working for dad and feeling sad. The Brighton kid caught wind of a restaurant that had closed in Southie and decided to go for it. With hard fought family financial backing, the young mensch began fulfilling his dream.

The place caught on and soon there was a 350 seat night club next door to the restaurant. It got real hot real quick. A guy from Southie knew he could grab grub and a boilermaker for chump change. And the general public knew there was showcase for the greats right in Dirty Old Southie. On Broadway, the restaurant bloomed into Blinstrub's Village and became one of America's largest and finest nightclubs with seating for nearly 2000 who came to see top shelf entertainment.

This was the Golden Age of the Glittering Nightspot. New York may have boasted the Copacabana, but Boston had Blinnie's Village. Frank Sinatra, Robert Goulet, Tony Bennett and Patti Page played Blinstrub's. Johnny Mathis was sold out for two shows a night for two weeks. 160,000 had to be turned away. Jimmy Durante called it his home away from home. Wayne Newton caught his first break there. The Three Degrees, one member from Dot, premiered there before their glory years in Philly. The top entertainers got up to $20,000 a week-- in cold hard cash. Blinstrub's, it seemed, could do no wrong.

Ah, but the hottest fever cools. Those who won't face that fact are fools. Because like all things, time must overrule. The Golden Age would turn to stone when on February 7, 1968, the uninsured Blinstrub's was destroyed by fire, never to reopen in South Boston. For locals of a certain age, Blinstrub's was a name like Jordan Marsh, or Anthony's Pier 4. Even if you never went, you knew the name, You knew it was a big deal. Would today's newcomers to the city guess that Boston's leading nightclub post-World War II right up to the Viet Nam era was located in South Boston?

Please 'like' us on Facebook. Dig through your home photos 1945-1987 for inclusion in our upcoming book for Union Park Press. It's EZ. Scan and send them to Dirty Old Boston.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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