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Everything was contaminated by everything else

wrko tower

WRKO signal contaminated everything

Burlington residents became frequent WRKO listeners, but not by choice. The WRKO towers behind Bradlees (now Kohl’s) apparently needed some fine-tuning, because Burlington residents heard the station every time they turned on a TV, or stereo, or tape deck, or were placed on hold during a phone call. The station vowed to rectify this interference on a case-by-case basis and asked anyone affected to call in and provide the details.

Gas spill threatened to contaminate water

A gas line owned by Humble Oil ruptured near Middlesex Turnpike along the Vine Brook, very close to Well 7, which accounted for 40 percent of the town’s supply. A huge crew of workmen frantically built a dam to contain the slick. Burlington opened a temporary hookup to the Metropolitan District Commission water supply. Humble Oil humbled itself and agreed to pay $200 per day for the hookup, which brought a million gallons of water into Burlington daily. The ruptured gas line ran from Chelsea to Dracut.

Portable toilets contaminated neighborhood

The Monogram Company was in the habit of cleaning out its portable toilets near its facility on Edwards Road, near the VFW building. Residential abutters complained to the town about the stench and risk of contamination from the chemicals used in the toilets, so the Board of Health shut down the operation and held a public hearing Jan. 26 to air out grievances.  A company lawyer argued that the Board of Health itself was contaminated because two members, Ken Morrison and Mary Bennett, didn’t really live in Burlington.

Drop-in center opened to combat drug contamination

This would later be called the House of Common. It was an effort to combat alleged drug addiction and general teen unrest. The building was formerly the Burlington Music Academy, located at 172 Cambridge Street across the street from Church Lane. More here.

House of Common July 1972, Burlington MA


Sandstorms contaminated main streets

Out of concern for the “ecology,” Burlington stopped using salt to melt icy roads, and relied on sand instead. Problem was, once the sand dried out, it wafted everywhere and created dust clouds along major roads.

Charles River contaminated by cars

Margaret McKinley, 21, of 13 Cresthaven Drive, escaped from a car moments before it sank into the Charles River in Cambridge. How did it get there? Robert Donzella of Boston was driving along Memorial Drive with the Burlington woman and his twin brother Daniel. The car collided with another car and rolled down an embankment and into the drink. The brothers clung to the car while McKinley rolled down a window and swam ashore. The driver of the other car, Robert Connors, 50, of Boston, waded into the icy river and helped the Donzella brothers to safety.

7 thoughts on “Everything was contaminated by everything else Leave a comment

  1. I think the House of Common was next to the Burlington Church of Christ, which must have at least been under construction then because I think it opened November of 1972.

  2. I volunteered at the House of Common. I remember getting a phone call from a girl who was going to harm herself. I ended up going to her house and talking her down!

  3. Was that close in picture of one of the WRKO towers taken by you? Hopefully zoom lens from the edge of the property. The tower bases are fenced in so as long as you did not touch the tower you would be okay. For AM stations the entire tower is the antenna and for WRKO is energized with 50,000 watts and about 26 Amps. Touching an AM tower would cause a severe RF burn . 30 year broadcast engineer here. 😀

  4. Another fun read! WRKO….I can still remember and ‘hear’ the way it was sung…..and speaking of a great parking place…hmmm. I ‘may’ have been there a time or two – 🙂 🙂

  5. I did not mean to enter reply as anonymous. Too quick w/the enter button. For whatever reason, I do not recall the House of Common – at all. Hmmmm…..

  6. I remember getting the WRKO tower on my phone even when I was talking to somebody else sounds like a third-party
    Am Radio Rocked Burlington.
    There was no FM, in the 60s I remember when I would listen to “Dale Dorman” on 68 RKO
    He was my Wolfman Jack!

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