A stationary store might seem like an unlikely place to find love. But Bob Slate is where self-described “pen addict” Laura Donohue spent her Harvard undergrad days in the early ’80s, lusting after cards and swooning over school supplies. Donohue became a loyal customer — and she wasn’t the only one. Last March, she stopped by the Mass. Ave. spot for a new Cross pen, only to be confronted by crying patrons who were dismayed that the shop, which opened its doors in 1933, would be closing.
Last Saturday, Laura E. Donohue ’85 opened the doors to the new home of Bob Slate at 30 Brattle St. Even though the store was not fully stocked and they could not accept credit cards, word had spread that a new Bob Slate would be opening, and it was quickly flooded with old customers. “I decided to let people walk in and believe Bob Slate was real,” Donohue said.
Members of the Boston Bruins accepted the “Best Sports Team Ever” award in front of a crowd of approximately 400 Cambridge residents and students on Sunday afternoon. Beginning in the early afternoon with live music performances, the event culminated in a ceremony in Brattle Square following a parade down Mass. Ave.
The tubas played with gusto and the beer flowed freely at Sunday’s festivities in Harvard Square—but in many ways, it was not your typical Oktoberfest. The event, which organizers expected to draw 150,000 people, featured multiple stages of live music, dozens of local vendors, and numerous street marching bands.
A visitor Kansas City who had never been to Harvard Square recently strolled through it and then enjoyed a grilled salmon dinner at The Harvest restaurant. “The Square is wild,” the man said, his eyes gleaming with appreciation. “There’s so much going on. The street musicians. The restaurants. The bookstores. I’ve never been anywhere like it.”
Country music, hot air balloon rides, and Thomas the Tank Engine may not sound like a typical Oktoberfest, but Harvard Square has redefined the German tradition with its own annual celebration, taking place this Sunday. The 33rd annual festival, expected to draw 150,000 people, will begin with the HONK! parade of local musicians and community groups that departs from Davis Square at noon and ends in Harvard Square at 1 p.m.
Few events in recent memory seemed to sound the death knell of historical Harvard Square as much as the closing of longtime stationery store Bob Slate last March. After nearly eight decades of operation in Cambridge, the store shuttered its doors on Church St., Mass Ave, and Porter Square. Citing “advanced age” and “declining sales,” the storeowners opted to not renew their lease on their multiple properties in the local chain, erasing what had constituted a permanent fixture of Harvard Square for most of the last century. Undoubtedly, the market had shrunk for stationery during this time; with the emergence of global chains like the competitor Staples and the popularity of online vendors like Amazon, Bob Slate’s closure became a poignant reminder that many local businesses may be nearing the end of an era.
High food prices are prompting increased interest in locally grown foods and community gardening — both of which will be on display at this year’s outdoor Cambridge Urban Agricultural Fair in Harvard Square.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been scratching about for something – anything – to feel optimistic about in this week of market misery. On Tuesday, in an empty store on Brattle Street, I found it. There, perched on a dusty old counter, sat brothers Justin and Mallory Slate, late of Bob Slate, Stationer, the store opened by their father some 80 years ago.
It is wrenching to think what must have been rushing through Harlan Bean’s mind that night in September that he lofted an e-mail into the ether, a soft cry for help that he had no idea would find human eyes. His smart and beautiful daughter, Brenna, a track star at her high school in western Massachusetts, was at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital after a horrible car crash left her paralyzed from the waist down. The moment was heartbreaking. The future was overwhelming. So he typed a message of quiet desperation to Fire + Ice, Brenna’s favorite restaurant from her occasional trips to Boston. He described her plight, asked if they did takeout, and added, “I don’t know Boston very well.’’