Oolah Avenue

Named after the Abdallahs – “Oolah” is Syrian for Nicholas. Over the years, this street has been the home to waves immigrants – Irish, Polish, Lithuanian, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Egyptian and Ecuadorian called this street home. At one time, Matt Drummey lived here and was known for the cellos he made by hand. On Christmas Day in 1932, #29 Oolah Avenue was the site of a horrible murder. Nine-year-old Nellie Keras was killed and her body was found in a sack in the basement of her home. The murders were two men who also lived at this address. Ahmed Osman and Tom Turley were found guilty and executed in January of 1934, and a third man Ali Osman found not guilty.

1088 Washington – Cafe Venice (photo LLKearney)

Café Venice – 1088 Washington Street (on corner of Washington & Heaton)

Café Venice has been part of South Norwood for decades! It has a brick oven in the back. Amy & Tony Guido, were the original owners. Stephen & Arlene O’Brian, bought the restaurant from the Guidos, and continue to serve traditional Italian and American food.

Morini’s Market – 1091 Washington (at Oolah & Washington).

1091 Washington – Women’s Community Committee’s (WCC) Thrift Shop (photo LLKearney)

A Market has been located at this site for decades. First was Morini’s Market, a provisions store, established in the 1920s by Ermando Morini, he owned and operated a store here for over twenty years. By the 1950s, the store became Romano’s Market, which operated here for a long time. Today the building is the home of the Women’s Community Committee’s (WCC) Thrift Shop (see #1192/1194 Washington Street), which has been at this site since the December 2012, but has been helping the community since 1925.

The Portuguese Club – 1092 Washington Street (at the corner of Horton & Washington)

1092 Washington 0 The Portuguese Club (photo LLKearney)

This club was founded in the 1970s. It is the social and cultural center to Norwood’s Portuguese community. In 1985 they formed the Rancho Folclorico do Alto Minho, a Portuguese Dance and Music Group.

Sam (Abdallah) Boulis’ Barbershop – 1096 Washington Street

Boulis was a Syrian immigrant who arrived in Norwood in 1916.  His barbershop was originally located at #1132 Washington in 1923 & 1942 Business Directories. The Boulis’s barbershop moved to this Washington Street location sometime after Sam died. It was a place where the Syrian men would for barber services – haircuts and shaves, then stay for fellowship –to visit and chat. It was a popular place for men of all ages. The barbershop served many workers from the tannery and Bird & Son – people of many ethnicities. Sam and wife Annesse (Elias) Boulis were the parents of 10 children, not atypical of the time.  Sam Boulis died in 1939. But by the 1930s, his nephew George Boulis taken over the business, he kept Sam’s name on the window sign. George operated the shop by himself, even thought he had 2 chairs, he never had a second barber. This was the shop were many young boys had their first haircut. George had a lot of patience with the children. His daughter Regina would sit in the barber chair and watch the people and the big wall mirror. The family lived over the shop for many years before moving to Austin Ave.

1096 &1098 Washington (photo Google Street View)

Bruzga’s Pharmacy/Jenny’s Pizza/The Sports Tap/The Third Base – 1098 Washington St

Over the years this site was home to many businesses. One of the earliest businesses to operate here was Bruzga’s Pharmacy.  The pharmacy was owned & operated by William C. Bruzga. He was a Lithuanian, who was born in New York. His pharmacy was at this location in the 1920s, and was still here in 1942. Jenny Purpura had a popular Italian spaghetti and pizza store called Jenny’s Pizzeria near Sam’s barbershop (where the bar entrance is now) on Washington and St. James. Jenny’s Pizza also sold fresh bread daily both retail and commercial, but they made the best pizzas! Next at this was the site of The Sports Tap Tavern, which operated here until 1987, when the site was taken over by Richie Hebner, and became The Third Base Tavern from 1987 to 2007.

Hebner was part owner of this bar. He was well known in Norwood as he was a major Bay State League all-star from his freshman year at Norwood High School until he graduated in 1966. As a teen, Hebner worked digging graves with his father. He played professional baseball, with the Pittsburgh Pirates was recruited by almost every team in the NHL. When he played for the Pirates he often skated with the Penguins at their practices. Hockey was his first love. The Third Base Tavern started out as a fairly respectable establishment, but over time the tavern began to attract a unsavory a crowd, some of whom had frequented the previous tavern that had occupied the site. After a couple of police arrests at the bar and neighborhood complaints, Hebner pulled out of owning it, and it closed in 2007.

South End Bakery – 1097 Washington Street (per 1942 Directory)

1101, 1103 & 1105 Washington St (photo LLKearney)

Neighborhood Market & Deli – 1101 Washington Street

In 2004, this market was owned by Frank DeCosta, a Portuguese/Brazilian. He sold specialty and imported foods. Today, this is the Q’Sabor Market, which specializes in Latino Foods.

The Southern Theatre – 1104 Washington Street

1104 Washington – The Southern Theatre (photo LLKearney)

The Southern Theatre opened here in 1914, and was owned by Hayes Family. The theatre not only showed popular movies but also allowed community groups to meet here. One such group were the 84 members of South Norwood’s Polish community who met here in 1919, to discuss forming a Polish Catholic Church. The Southern ran several promotions over the years to attract moviegoers. On weekends for a quarter a moviegoer was treated to two movies, plus coming attractions! Many recall “Dish Nights” where patrons received plates, cups, glasses & serve ware. It was a long running promotion. The first 50 people who purchased tickets received a piece of dinnerware. If you came frequently, you might be able to collect the whole set!

Today, this building appears to be all residential, including the street level portion.

Lithuanian Co-operative Association Grocery Store – 1108 Washington Street

The Lithuanian Co-operative Association Grocery Store was operated by Benny Jankauskas in 1923. The 1915 Sanborn maps indicate there was a grocery store next door. Probably was the same building as the Krayzee Horse.

Krayzee Horse Tavern logo

Krayzee Horse Tavern – 1112 Washington Street

There has been some sort of eating establishment in this building since pre-1915. In the 1943 Norwood Business Directory it was the home of the Samovar Restaurant. The Krayzee Horse Restaurant and Pub opened in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and was owned by Donna Grant and her sons. The name “Krayzee Horse” is a nod to Norwood High School’s mascot the Mustangs. During its hey-day, it attracted an unsavory crowd and was the subject of many town hearings regarding the problems it created in the neighborhood. The Krayzee Horse Pub appears to be now closed, but online articles show it was opened as late as 2012.

Dundulis Lunch – 1118 Washington Street

The Dundulis Lunch building. (photo: LLKearney)

This building like so many others on Washington Street had apartments on the upper floors and business space on the ground floor. In 1918 it was the business of Anthony Neviackas. After Neviackas closed his shop, there were several other short-lived businesses here. For a while, a cobbler repaired and sold boots and shoes here, and at another time an insurance company and a real estate agency had office space here. In 1943, Josephine Dundulis was running a Lunchroom here, a business that occupied this site for some forty years.

In August of 1982, the dinner was the site of a murder. On the morning of August 16th, Maria Gil, and her boyfriend Frank Dorherty were found dead. Gil was found slumped over a bar stool and Dorherty was found in the front hall.  Police believe they had been stabbed sometime after the bar Gil owned (and the couple lived over) had closed the night before. It appeared Dorherty had come down stairs (as he had his PJs on) to investigate the commotion when Gil was attacked. It seemed Dorherty had tried to run away when he saw what was happening. It was believed Maria’s estranged husband, Walenty Gill was the only suspect for this murder. Maria Gil had filed for divorce and then took a restraining order against her ex-husband, as he “threatened bodily harm.” After this incident, the restaurant never reopened. Walenty Gil, was arrested, found guilty of murdering (stabbing) his estranged wife Maria Gil and her boyfriend Frank Doherty, and sent to Cedar Junction.

Today, this building appears to be all residential, including the street level portion.

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