Thoughts on the Citgo Sign

The Boston Globe reports that the Citgo sign is going to remain in place after all. And that's as it should be. Yes, it's a Boston landmark just as much as the State House dome, the Hancock Tower, and Fanueil Hall. But even more, it's a landmark for student life in Boston. It's practically on the Boston University campus (until recently, the building that supports it was owned by BU), and MIT and even Harvard enjoy commanding views of it across the river. Berklee, Boston Conservatory, Northeastern, Wentworth, Emmanuel - all are close by, and I'm sure I'm leaving out several others. The Kenmore Square area includes a lot of fraternity (and a few sorority) houses.

So much of Kenmore Square has changed since I was a BU student myself (1982-1986). The restaurant and retail landscape has changed almost completely. Souper Salad, IHOP, Mississippi's, Joy of Movement, the Rathskellar (!), Bertha Cool - even Kenmore Army Navy! - all are gone. And that row of repurposed brownstones was shamefully demolished to make way for a hotel that looks like it's carved out of Styrofoam. (At least it houses the excellent Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar (or whatever it's called).)

I miss two destinations more than all the others. The Deli Haus, that near-underground restaurant, was one of the best places to go for a cheeseburger, and featured the old-fashioned jukeboxes in each booth. And Aegean Fare, the only restaurant in the area open until 4 AM, was THE place to go when walking back from a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening at the Exeter Street Theatre at 2:30 in the morning. Avgolemono soup, grape leaves, and gyros! And for me, still damp behind the ears from childhood in the bayous, the epitome of Big City Doings.

All that seems to be left is that optometry school, the post office, and the Citgo sign. The grit and excitement got swept away long ago.