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A Corner Store That Had Everything

I grew up just north of Harvard Square and our corner store seemed to have everything from a soda fountain to books Harvard Law students needed and of course the friendly pharmacist who was also one of the biggest bookmakers in Boston.

Bence's closed in the late '80s and the location became a vintage clothing store called Looks.

The woman who ran the soda fountain was a neighborhood legend and we all knew her as Mrs. Holly. She worked that counter for over 40 years and while you could snow your parents, your teachers, the Nuns at St. Peter's and St Paul's you could not fool her.

Bence's was a DMZ between town and gown Cambridge and Tip O'Neill stopped by every Saturday to get the pulse of the neighborhood from Mrs, Holly.

My one chore after supper was to go to Bence's and get the '7 Races Edition' of the Boston Record American as that was the unofficial indicator of what the street number was. The Record would later plate the PAYOFF Edition and that is what the bookies would pay off on. If the wise guys decided the number in 7 Races would cause a loss they would simply call the sports editor of the Record and make an out of town track as the number of record.

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