Last week, South End News publisher Sue O'Connell donated the newspaper's entire collection of bound back issues to the South End Library, where it now resides on top of a bookcase across from the staff counter on the ground floor. "We are going to a virtual office setting," O'Connell explained, adding that, at the end of each year, the latest bound volume will be added to the library's shelves. Previously, the library only had loose copies of the popular weekly. Leafing through its pages, a movie reel of South End particulars unwinds. In its first issue, February 15, 1980, a front-page headine says that Digital Equipment Company, then the world's largest minicomputer company, is opening a facility on Albany Street and Massachusetts Avenue; the company no longer exists, acquired by Compaq and merged into Hewlett Packard. Those were the days when a six-month subscription cost $7; now the weekly is distributed free. The much-missed crime reporter, Police Officer John Sacco recounts that a man attacked a woman with a meat cleaver, but assures the readers "the weapon was confiscated." Another perpetrator who continued to beat up a woman after the police arrived found no sympathy: "Needless to say, his behavior was short-lived," was a typical Sacco comment. Realtors took out ads in those days advising homeowners not to "undersell your property." A writer named "Leupold" wrote an excellent and comprehensive arts
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and entertainment column called South End Muse. Movie reviews mentioned long-gone cinemas like The Paris, Nickelodeon, The Pi Alley. Battles over dog behavior were reported with headlines like "We're in Deep Doo-Doo." One day in 1993, actor Jeff Bridges and a stuntman roared down the alley between West Newton and Pembroke Streets at 55 miles per hour, "jumping several feet in the air," to film the 1994 movie, Blown Away. Food editor Lydia Walshin profiled South End chefs, amateur and pro, in her Community Kitchen column, the recipes for which were lated collected in her excellent cookbook, The South End Cooks. (And, yes, based on this title FOSEL was inspired to name its author series, The South End Writes.) Long-time Boston Globe arts reviewer Cate McQuaid penned serial fiction in the local weekly. Sad national events found room in the community paper, too: In September 2011, it reported the deaths of several South End residents who were killed in the 9/11 attacks: Rahma Salie and Michael Theodoridis, who were expecting their first child; and Todd Hill, who lived on Tremont Street. All three were among those who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The branch's history committee, consisting of Ann Hershfang, Judy Watkins and Alison Barnet, plans to index the collection so information about the South End's ups and downs can be more easily obtained. The committee will gladly accept other papers and written material that documents local lore. For information, contact Anne Smart at 617 536-8241.