How to make your Grandma Betty have a major car accident on the VFW.

So for me to make this story work, I have to explain something.

During summers, my Grandma Betty would come to Albany, pick me up, and let me spend the summer at her home in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. She lived in a little cape-style house on the corner of Willowdean Avenue and Courtney Road, just a stone’s throw from the VFW Parkway.

Now the VFW parkway is a historic little tree-shrubbed highway that goes from West Roxbury to Dedham, and it passes a few stores and housing developments. In fact, at one point in time, there was a shopping center / apartment complex known as Hancock Village.


Hancock Village was built in the late 1960’s, and there were signs all along the VFW Parkway to direct shoppers and future tenants to the tawny multipurpose complex. Heck, it even had its own theater, which you can see in the photo above.

Of course, little five-year-old me is riding in the car with my Grandma Betty, and we’re driving somewhere – to Dedham or to Newton or wherever – and as we passed the sign at the intersection of Weld Road and the VFW Parkway, I would read out loud, “1,000 Feet to Hancock Village!”

This made my Grandma Betty very happy. Trust me, I was a kid who appreciated road trips like this, especially when I could wave to the Fontaine’s Chicken neon rooster (it waved back, I swear it did).

Now apparently, inbetween one summer and the next, the property at that location underwent a name change. Now it was known as Westbrook Village, and even the theater got rebranded. Here’s a picture of the rebranded theater; I can’t post the image here due to copyright, but the link will take you to the image location.

So yeah, first trip in Grandma Betty’s car, and we head out on the VFW Parkway. And there’s the new sign.

And I shouted out loud, “1,000 Feet to – Westbrook Village!”

Grandma Betty almost had a car crash right there on the VFW Parkway. She figured that I could read some words here and there, but she had thought that I simply knew that the sign was directed toward Hancock Village, and that I simply parroted what I knew. She hadn’t told me that the complex was renamed; heck, she had no reason to do so.

But yeah, at that point in time, she knew that her grandson had picked up some very quick reading skills. Albeit probably not the best time to announce it when you’re on a very busy road.

The Hancock Village is now known as the Shoppes at Chestnut Hill or some generic imitation of same. The movie theater was ripped out in 1992, and I think it now houses a CVS.

But yeah, it’s nice to have these memories of the happy times I spent with Grandma Betty way back in the day.