Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blinstrub's Village



For Bostonians of a certain age - like me - Blinstrub's was a name like Jordan Marsh or Anthony's Pier 4. Even if you never went there, you knew the name, and you knew that it was a big deal. Would today's newcomers to the city guess that Boston's leading nightclub through the post-World War II era was located in South Boston.

Stanley Blinstrub was the son of a Lithuanian immigrant. The family moved from Staten Island to Brighton when Stanley was three. After school and working various jobs, Stanley opened a restaurant on the corner of Broadway and D street in South Boston. In 1934, the restaurant would be reopened as a nightclub. In 1952, the decision was made to book big name acts.

While baby boomers (like me) and the following generations may think of the 1950s as the time of Elvis and the birth of rock and roll, the stars of the day, who filled seats at Blinstrubs were the pop singers and show business staples of the day like Patti Page, Wayne Newton, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. The club continued packing in crowds into the 1960s. Diana Ross suffered a notorious on-stage meltdown when performing with the Supremes at Blinstrub's.

A fire in February of 1968 destroyed the building, ending 35 years of success on the site. Blinstrub's Old Colony restaurant survived for years in Dorchester, a reminder of a time when the name Blinstrub's was the leader in Boston entertainment.

39 comments:

  1. Here is a great link to more details about Blinstrubs. I'd never heard of this place before but it looks amazing:

    http://blinstrubas.com/blinstrubsclub/blinstrubs.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was pretty amazing. I was 6 when it was blown up and don't remember all the times I spent there. Oh .. but many , many stories have been told to me over the years through ear to ear grins about a special events that they have had there . Blinstrub's was THE place to go when people were celebrating. Back then people really appreciated a good night out for it wasn't common place to have entertainers like that . ....

      Delete
    2. I found a family picture taken here maybe prior to 1965. Two people on a date? Trying to identify

      Delete
  2. This is quite a memory for Scenic Arts Studios. It was Louis and Bessie Galanis that created the inside Village with their artwork. Christos their son later remembers working on the inside as well and picking up Jimmy Durante at the airport when he came to perform. Read our blog at http://www.scenicarts.com/sas_blog.php
    Great memories

    ReplyDelete
  3. I well remember a night sometime during the early 60's when a friend and I were there to hear Nelson Eddy. During the intermission we went back to try to get his autograph. Far from being the vibrant handsome movie star I expected, he was sitting at a table, looking anything but vibrant.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I saw Jimmy Durante and the Righteous brothers and Della Reese at THE Old BLINNIES Great times

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty sure Jimmy Durante lost his entertainment equipment that was shipped ahead of him before a performance.. and was ruined in the fire :/ But alas, better material things .. than lives. Would have liked to see him, or at least remember .. I was very young at the club, and was I think 6 when it was blown up. (Melanie Blinstrub)

      Delete
    2. I saw norman brooks there the al jolson sound alike.

      Delete
  5. Does anyone out there have any pictures !! I saw Dianna Ross,Wayne Newton,ThePlatters.. Iwould love to see If I could find myself in any of the pictures because all my past pictures are lost!! I would be forever grateful.
    Lost Past

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a great place. Never heard of it until today. Discovered your post while researching a dinner menu my uncle has treasured for years. It is autographed by Diana, Florence, and Mary. Maybe you were both at the same performance!

      Delete
  6. Did you know that Stanley's Towing company is also a decendent of the Blinstrub's? I believe a cousin, somehow..

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember seeing Johnny Mathis there. What I was doing at a nightclub while in HS, I have no idea. Can't remember who I was with. But I remember feeling very grown up, with my ginger ale and cherry tonic.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When I was 14 the Supremes were going to play Blinstrub's - I BEGGED my parents to take me, as a late birthday present, an early Christmas present, anything! They did and I still remember the night in 1965 & can still do some of the choreography. The parents really enjoyed the show, but I don't think they shared their son's fantasy of being a Supreme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there that night in 1965 with three girlfriends and will never forget the amazing performance of The Supremes and Diana Ross, I was 20 years old, everyone was dressed up and the night was magical. I still remember that night at Blinstrum's and feel so grateful to have been a part of the experience.

      Delete
  9. I remember the fire,it was a cold bright winter morning.I was on my way to southie
    high that morning. Also my stepfather was a doorman for years

    ReplyDelete
  10. My name is Melanie Blinstrub and when I was a very young child my dad worked 2 jobs, bar tending nights, and working days at the hospital. To keep me 'occupied' during busy times @ Blinstrub's they would feed me sherbet to keep me quiet :) . Not happy that they started my fat cells multiplying so early ;) hahha.
    One interesting note about my grandmother, was that after all had been lost to fire most woman would be belly aching for years ! Not her. I remember visiting her in the 70's at Marion Manor Nursing Home in Southie, and her stories were always positive, and she felt most blessed that this grievious fire took no lives. She would comment about the Coconut Grove fire, taking like 300 lives because the exit opened the wrong way .. trapping the fire victims. She so valued life over property. She was wonderful. She had THE 'peace beyond understanding' that is the testament of a life in His word ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melanie - thanks for sharing your family memories.

      Delete
  11. I have a photo of my dad and Jimmy Durante and Blinstrubs, AWESOME!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great keepsake. My mother's claim to fame was that she saw Peter Lorre at a restaurant downtown - probably during the war years. No photo though.

      Delete
    2. The club looks great,but my favorite night club was THE FROLICS at Salisbury Beach

      Delete
    3. I just found an old Menu my mother had, wondering if she worked there or just went there. Pretty Cool.

      Delete
    4. I have one as well.

      Delete
  12. My Grandmother Agnes Roberge was the head hostess at Blinnies for 25 years until the fire in 1968.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have a Menu from there, My Mother had it and passed it down to me. AMAZING.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I saw the Supremes in 1965. Still have the picture taken of four of us that attended. I was 15 at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I met The Supremes @ Blinstrubs, in their dressing room, after their first set. I knocked on the door, Diana opened it & said Hello, in the softest tiniest voice you could imagine, Mary was in the makeup chair, she turned to look at me & smiled & Florence (bless her soul) was standing at her side, touching up their mascara/eyeliner, in this small room, with the big mirrors & rows of light bulbs... ALL IN THEIR GLITTER AND GLORY.. Diana touched my hand, autographed my program, I (sadly) don't have anymore .. It was 1965 maybe October, as that's my birthday month I turned 15, this was a gift from my Gramma Smig' who frequently went with her sister, cousins & girlfriends. They were there often, they saw The McGuire Sisters & Nat King Cole, that I know of, of which I have her autographed table group photos, that I still cherish today. So ..I am overwhelmed as I'm going to see Mary Wilson & The Four Tops next month & I am having such SUPREME & FOUR TOPS FLASHBACKS that I have butterfly's just imagining seeing Mary Wilson again.. and The Four Tops WOW!! <3 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there as well. It was October 1965, sometime after "I Hear a Symphony" had been released. Tickets for a matinee dinner and the show were under $10. Upstairs, I was pushed into a dressing room w/ Mary and Flo to avoid being run over by the local paparazzi who were clamoring for Diana Ross. I was able to get their autographs that night, but it was another 15 years or so before I got Diana's in Philadelphia.

      Delete
  16. This is a fun read- i have a great-aunt, now passed, who worked there for years as a waitress. She was about the toughest lady I've ever met. I was mortally afraid of her as a kid. She was called 'Annie'. Anyone remember her?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did she marry late in life to a guy named Vinnie

      Delete
  17. Watching Jersey Boys right now and remembering seeing The Four Seasons at Blinstrubs with a few co-workers think it was 1966 still have matchbook with my pic on it from that night

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a phot of my family including me celebrating my mom's 36th birthday. I was 14 - 12/29/67- sure wish there were records of who performed that night

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't know how true this is, but my former husband told me that his cousin Sonny Sullivan played piano at Blinstrubs,c. 1960...

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have two photos from this club listing Helen Feeney, Charlie Kane, Merryl and Walter Kendall, Dick Murray, Paul McNally, Louie Costa (my Uncle), Eddy(& Walter(?)) Wiloski and W J Phesnicki (?) from the late 40's/ early 50's.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have photos of Bobby Vinton performing at Blinstrubs. I also went backstage and had my picture taken with him. Photo is still hanging on my wall. Circa 1966. Remember what it cost back then for admission $3.O0. Miss the place!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have photos of Bobby Vinton performing at Blinstrubs. Had my photo taken with him backstage. He was my favorite singer of all times.. Admission for a matinee was $3.00. Jeanne

    ReplyDelete
  23. Saw Marvin Gaye & The Righteous Brothers there in the mid-60s.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My wife went there for a dinner party sponsored by the company I worked for in 1966 or 67. The headliner was to be Frank Sinatra but for some reason he was not able to perform so Tony Bennett was there, we were disappointed at first but were glad he was after the show.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mary Boakes nee White: I was there in June 20 1961 with Sheila, Richie and Paul. Iknow we saw someone very special but can't be sure who...saw several really famous singers that year...does anyone know who was performing that night....I truly enjoyed the night

    ReplyDelete
  26. Saw Connie Francis there several times She came at least once a year and always sold out. That gal could sing and wow she coul hit those high notes. Always enjoyed her show all the times I saw her there.

    ReplyDelete