A couple of times when I was 10 or 11 years old, I hitchhiked from Ipswich, MA to Cambridge, MA to hang around Harvard Square. Things were different in 1971, and I was in charge of my oldest brother and sister, while my mother spent the summer in San Miguel de Allende, an artist’s colony in Mexico that was not too scary at that time, and is probably not too scary now, indeed quite upscale, not quite the Mexico depicted in TV series like Breaking Bad, which also exists. Some things I remember:
Truc in Harvard Square.
It was a place to buy blue kaleidescope prism glasses.
Dannon’s frozen yogurt, soft serve in a cone or in the form of Danny’s yogurt bars. Not the Oikos Greek stuff they sell now, it was more like TCBY’s Italian tart flavor, but disappeared from the market for some reason. It was great. Back then, it was really modern.
Elsie Burger behind Harvard Square made the best burger. I’ve tried to reproduce the sauce but I can’t, a cross between Russian Dressing and mustard relish.
I saw the movie Joe at the Orson Wells Cinema near Central Square when I was 10, with my older sister. This is really not a movie to take a 10-year-old to. There are many things I shelter my children from now.
Steve’s Ice Cream with mix-ins was a big new thing around 1977. Mix-ins were modern. They’d take a scope of high-fat, stretchy ice cream, put a dent in it, sprinkle in some chopped up Reese’s Pieces or M&Ms, and mash it together then stick it on a cone. Super modern concept at the time. Cold Stone Creamery stores do that now. I think Steve’s, like Ben&Jerry’s which I think came after it, expanded into pints you could buy at a grocery store, but I don’t see those in North Carolina at all, whereas Ben&Jerry’s is pretty much national now.
Rock and roll concerts in Cambridge Commons. These felt like happenings, at least to an 11 year old, much more eventful events than they would seem to me now. Honestly, I think they really were, if you read the link, intended to be modern and challenging, much more by design than I realized at the time.