Earlier this week, I wrote about two locations from the Infinite Boston series that I got wrong: Brainerd Road, which I had (defensibly, I would argue) interpreted too narrowly, and missed some nearby geography that informed the invention of 412 W. Brainerd; and Harvard Square, where I had (indefensibly, I acknowledge) missed the Au Bon Pain not thirty paces from the T-stop I had exited. Today we’ll tackle a few more errors of location:
I went into the Riley’s Roast Beef / Kelly’s Roast Beef entry knowing that it was speculative; months of searching for area fast food establishments specializing in roast beef had led me to conclude that the place was either long-closed or possibly a fictionalized version of another roast beefery. (This was well before I had actually talked with anyone familiar with Allston-Brighton in the 1980s and 90s.)
When I visited Boston in July 2011, I basically just knew that Riley’s Roast Beef would have been somewhere along Don Gately’s driving route from Commonwealth and Warren to the Bread & Circus in Central Square, so when I found only a place called Kelly’s Roast Beef at the corner of Comm & Harvard Aves., I decided this was the best I was likely to do, and went on a-puzzling about other locations.
But when it came time to write the post in August 2012, I had come to realize that very few (if any) locations in the neighborhood were truly fictional, the same was likely the case here, and so the very morning I was ready to publish my findings—or lack thereof—I took another hard look at Google and Lexis-Nexis… and this time found reviews of Riley’s in Allston, including news about closures. (I also learned the above-mentioned Kelly’s location closed about six months after I visited (and I only found out after publishing that this corner was the site of Marty’s Liquors, mentioned in the book, but which I had not pursued in the same way. (Oops.)))
In any case, I revised my conclusions, published my confusions, and that very morning a reader pointed me to an old photograph of Riley’s on Flickr, published there under Creative Commons license and so republished above.
Writing about the Chinal Pearl restaurant in late August, I said that I would have written about a more interesting location nearby, Hung Toys Cold Tea Emporium, only it seemed to be fictional,
however my best guess is it would be either on Tyler where the China Pearl is located, or else Beach or Kneeland which bookend it.
I received no immediate response, but within a few weeks, two readers had agreed to the notion that it might be
Ho Toy Noodle Co. Inc, over on Oxford St., about a block away from China Pearl.
Indeed, on the corner of Oxford and Essex, there is a place called Ho Toy Noodle Co., Inc. (not pictured above, since I didn’t visit, though it is visible on Google Street View). Better still, a photographer on Flickr snapped a shot of the establishment’s owner in February 2011. Is this nice-looking man the real Dr. Wo? For the sake of all concerned, I hope the answer is no.
Here are three more minor mistakes I made in first published versions, later updated with corrections:
For errors of geography, I believe that’s pretty much it. Not bad, if I may say so myself! But also not my only errors: at some point in the near future, I’ll get around to discussing other misconceptions and unresolved mysteries from the Infinite Boston series.