Photography, Places

Hite Phones

In a decade of living in Boston’s South End, I never needed to get a VCR repaired, but it was comforting to know if such situation should arise, there was a place I could go: Hite Radio and TV at 1672 Washington Street.  Every time I passed the place, I would admire their vintage sign and fantasize that someday, I’d find myself in a 20th century electronics emergency — perhaps I’d be driven to the edge of sanity by noise from a failing radio, or maybe a friend would get their finger stuck in a voracious cassette deck — and then, in the chaos and confusion, just before it was too late, I’d think “Hite!” and we’d rush to safety there.

Here is the sign in all its glory (credit to David Salafia):


On a recent trip back to the neighborhood I found the sign had been taken down and was resting against the back of the Hite building:


It was time to say goodbye to a neighborhood icon, and to the mental comic strip I had created around it.

Me (wistfully): “Turns out I won’t be getting a VCR repaired at Hite.”

Me (impatiently): “Don’t have a VCR so what’s the problem?”

I turned my eye to another Washington Street icon, a cluster of payphones that stood outside Hite since well before I’d been in the neighborhood.  I spent quite a while photographing the payphones together, and then just one of them, gradually finding a more specific subject in the reflection the yellow receiver made against the shining silver keypad.  Out of roughly a hundred shots I chose the one below to include in my portfolio.

Just today I learned the entire site, including the payphones, has been demolished.  An article in SouthEndPatch quotes the developer of the new property as having said “I cannot wait to get rid of those telephone booths.”

Payphone (by Rudi Seitz)

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