|Wooly Mammoth baby uncovered in the Artic after frozen for|
40,000 years. From National Geographic Magazine.
Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Monday, January 31, 2011
Yep, We're In Trouble
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Out of Hiding
I have had much on my mind lately about the American soldiers who continue to perish in Afghanistan and Iraq. I imagine that most people don't realize that already in 2011 between January 1 and January 20th twenty-five soldiers made that ultimate sacrifice. I believe that whether or not we philosophically support the wars, we can agree that the casualties should not be hidden.
I have produced a simple video that I hope you will consider using on your web site. I have taken an old classic American historic song about the sadness of the loss of our youth and with just a few pictures of a cemetery and soldiers' caskets I have included the names of those who have perished thus far in 2011.
You will find this non-political, and I did not include my name or my website in the video. Please look at it and consider if you would embed it on your site. I am hoping that if others find it worthy, they will consider passing a link on to others. Thanks, Wally.
Speaking Of Sidewalks; Is Sturbridge Next?
Think about the stretch of sidewalks on Route 20 in Fiskdale from Cedar Street to Route 148 that do not comply with the ADA. All it will take is an attorney, and someone with a complaint to voice. It will happen, and we, and our children, will pay for our inaction.
The article below is from the
Taunton faces federal lawsuit
Filing claims the city's sidewalks do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Friday, January 28, 2011
I wrote last year that the savings would be small when compared to the big picture, and that there were a "bigger" reasons for the bylaw. I still have only suspicions of just what those reasons are, and I amuse myself thinking about all the different ones there could be. One reason I have not quite ruled out is that the Town thinks we are idiots.
Idiots? Yep. They town stated that money would be saved if residents and business owners cleared their sidewalks, and that would enable the towns DPW to move on to other storm, and DPW related chores. Time is money. Time gained is money saved.
Then I watched the towns sidewalk tractor clear the sidewalks along Route 131 southbound from in front of the Hampton Inn towards the Common. The tractor dutifully cleared the snow from the new sidewalk really well, and just as it approached the property line of a private residence, it popped off the sidewalk and onto the street. It then drove about 100 yards to the just in Front of the Center School, and hopped back onto the sidewalk, and began clearing again until it came to the property line of another private property.
On and off the sidewalk all over town. Well cleared sidewalks stopping dead mid sidewalk, and others on a road to nowhere, and just being cleared from property line to property line with nothing cleared beyond, or before.
Tell me, how does one save money by taking the snow blowing tractor off of the sidewalk, and onto the road, drive parallel to the snow covered sidewalk, and then hop back onto the sidewalk when it is the "towns" property to continue removing snow?
Really. Please, tell me how.
Do you really think the residents of Sturbridge are stupid, or is it the Town that is stupid by making a lot of little roads to no where all over town in order to save money and hoping we won't notice?
Well, I've noticed.
Twelve inches plus.
I grabbed the shovel, and started taking the snow from one place, and putting it in another. Silly really, but transferring snow is all the rage this winter, and I like being one of the "in crowd".
About 45 minutes into the process I saw a pickup truck with a plow begin to attack the neighbors driveway across the street.
I broke the standing high jump record as I bounded over the snow bank, and ran across the street to the truck.
"If you have time, could you...?"
"I'll write you a check..."
"No, I'll be right over."
And, he was. He pushed the snow bank that was three feet tall, and twenty feet wide, out of the way in about four passes. It would have taken me until Saturday to clear it. My hero then left, went back to the other driveway, and when he was done there, he came back to mine and pushed more snow out of the way!!
Thank you anonymous snowplow operator man. Thank you for saving my back.
Normally I don't mind shoveling, but after so much snow, it is not that I am getting tired, or sore, it is just that I have run out of space to put the snow.
I have no place left to put the snow, and quite frankly, unless we get a major January thaw, I'm screwed.
Now, here's a thought, and money making one, too. Maybe the DPW could offer their services, on a per diem basis, to help residents clear the mountains of snow from the ends of their driveways, much like they do to clear intersections of snow piles that obstruct a drivers view. A scoop, or two, with a front end loader into a waiting dump truck for $50.00, or so, would be well worth it. As it stands now, I guide Mary out into the street when I am home, but when I am at work all I can do is pray she is able to back out safely.
I am also praying for an early spring.
Maybe It's Just Me
The new enforceable bylaw in town is for property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their business, or residence, after each snow fall. If this was Boston, and the doors or shops and homes opened onto the sidewalk, then I would be all for the clearing of the snow, and de-icing of the walkways in front of those buildings, but this is cow country. For the most part there is fifty to a hundred feet from the door to the sidewalk, and most properties have way over a hundred feet of frontage. No small feat to clear.
Why do property owners have to do this? Well, it is basically because we can spend a lot of money of silly things, but will no longer step up and spend the money on man power and the right equipment to clear the sidewalks in town.
It could also have something to do with the fact that no sidewalk plow can navigate the utility pole strewn sidewalks of Fiskdale, and is just too labor intensive to clear.
But, that is old news. Something the BOS wanted, and the towns residents let go ahead, and the bylaw is now in effect. I think that after this winter it will change.
Yesterday, the sidewalks in town were a mess at 5:00 PM. Some cleared right to the property line and then the path stopped. Some paths were wide enough for a stroller to pass through, others were just wide enough for a thin person to walk sideways. There were long stretches of uncleared sidewalks all over town.
Clear, not cleared, clear, not cleared. People were walking in the street, and that is a safety issue the town will have to answer for with the pedestrian accident, or vehicular accident as a result of street foot traffic regardless of the snow removal bylaw. They need a backup plan to insure the safety of pedestrians. As of 5PM last night, there was no back up plan in effect, those sidewalks were still blocked.
My neighbor is not responsible for clearing my front walk even though his property abuts mine. Same should be true for those folks that abut Mass Highway, and town property.
The snow removal from the sidewalks in front of businesses, and homes in Sturbridge constitutes a man made hardship being placed on many. There are those with no one to clear the snow, or the equipment, or the strong back, or the wallet to hire someone. If money is a concern for the town, then offer a subscription program, much like the school bus program. If you want to have your sidewalk cleared by the town this coming snow season it will cost you this much, otherwise it is up to you.
Not the best solution, but certainly fair, and much better that what is happening now, and what is going to happen. Believe me, this is not going to go as written.
So, as you drive through our village today check out the sidewalks, and the folks walking in the street. Keep it in mind, and maybe someone will introduce an article for the next town meeting insuring that the town be responsible for clearing all the sidewalks in town uniformly, consistently, and immediately after a storm for the safety and well being of the you, a resident of Sturbridge, and for our visitors.
Yes, visitors. We are a tourist town, like Gloucester, Rockport, Plymouth, and Lenox. We enjoy the benefits that tourists bring to our town. We will accommodate visitors with costumed greeters at the Host Hotel, but won't clear the way for them to walk to a restaurant.
Time to get on the same page. Do you want to continue to be a tourist friendly town? Then suck it up, spend a little more money, hire some extra seasonal workers, buy another sidewalk plow, and just do it.
We are making so much more work for ourselves.
Those at the Town Hall need to think things through, all the way through, unless they enjoy the feeling of something biting them on the butt after each poorly thought out plan goes awry. Judging from the torn back pockets at the Town Hall, some folks don't seem to mind that at all.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Local Man Has Great Idea
The idea is a simple one. Main Street on Route 20 would be named Main Street West, and Main Street on Route 131 would be renamed Main Street South. The reason for the change would to help customers find businesses, and instill civic pride. He compared Main Street here in town to Worcester's Main Street where the road is designated with north and south. "If anybody goes to Worcester and asks a Worcester-ite where Clark University is, they say, 'Main South'. It's something that the people of Main South really close to them. It's not part of Worcester, it's Main South, baby. My feeling is let's get this kind of feeling of presence in Strubridge", Barnicle said.
I agree with him that it will ease the navigation of our long, multi-talented, Main Street. Boutique shops to the west, and the town center, and more conventional retail to the south. Our Main Street is not like others. It occupies two routes US Route 20 from east to west, and MA Route 131 from north to south. It also has a "dog leg" turn in from of the Super 8 Motel where it begins its southerly journey.
The change is simple, and would be a great aid in navigation for locals, and visitors alike. I am not too sure about the civic pride aspect of it. I have been in a lot of places that separate themselves from the town, or city, by their geographic location, and misplaced civic pride. From the "Projects" of Brighton, to the "Flats" of Norwood, each had what they referred to as civic pride, and maybe it was, but they also isolated themselves from the rest of the community. They had their own place, their own rules.
We don't need anymore of that. No. No Main Westies, or Main Southies for me. Leave it as a geographic designation only, and let the neighborhood designations evolve on their own.
The Board of Selectmen agreed that the idea was a good one, but had some concerns. They are concerned about the "burden" the change would" place on residents, business owners, emergency response personnel, the post office, and the town, who would all have to adjust to the change." the newspaper reported.
Adjust? I have to be missing something.
Selectman Mary Dowling said, "I think it is a great idea, but we need to know what the residual costs to businesses or town will be".
Residual costs? Now I know I am missing stuff.
The paper also reported that the BOS agreed to assemble a committee that would consist of a selectman, the towns post masters, the police and fire chiefs, and the members of the Town Hall to discuss what the implications would be if the change were made.
Implications? This isn't the Marshall Plan. This is adding the word "West" to one sign, and "South", to another. The only "burden" would be changing ones address on checks, stationary, credit card statements, license, and whatever else you have your home, or business, address attached to. The cost? Whatever it takes the DPW to make a few new road signs, and to pay for some of those address changes, but if one just waits until it's time to reorder stationary it won't cost anymore than it normally would.
Sometimes, no, I take that back, a lot of the time, town government can make a lot work for a little job. Oh, I know they are only being thorough, but for something like this, that only needs to take a day, or so. Just agree that the idea is good, and has merit, then get all those people mentioned above for a meeting on the front lawn of the Town Hall. Once everyone is on the lawn, the Chairman of the BOS should point to the south and simply state, "That is Main Street South. It goes from over there, to the Southbridge line. Now, up thataway," he will say pointing to the north, "is Main Street West. It goes from where South Main starts, to the Brimfield line. Tell everyone to update their addresses, and we'll make the signs." Then adjourn. I think the police, fire, and post office will get it.
They all mean well, but I think they go a bit overboard because they feel they have to, or people will rise up. For little things, that are good ideas, and would be best put into place sooner, rather than later, I believe the people will not take up torches and pitchforks.
Of course, this IS Sturbridge...
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Then And Now
|The Morton House on Wallace Road|
in 1938 (above), and 2011 (below).
|The Fiske House, on Fiske Hill Road, in|
1938, and today, in 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Are they Still Standing? Where?
|The Morton House|
|The David Fiske House|
Are these houses still with us? If so, do you know where they are?
Monday, January 17, 2011
Mystery House #2: The Hutchin's House
Today, the home is essentially unchanged, except for those spruce trees in the front of the house, they are just much taller.
Where is it?
Sure looks like the "Robinson" house at the corner of Charlton St. and 131.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Hmmm, A Puzzlement.
I wrote to Bob Briere, our resident historian, and asked him to identify the house in the previous posting. Bob wrote back, and sounded very definite that the house was an old farm house I had happened to drive by the other day while I was out taking some photos around town. The current photo at the top of the page was taken at this old farm. Here is what Bob wrote:
Well, an anonymous comment was also left stating the house was on Fiskhill Road, so I went there, and to Finlay Road, as Bob feels this is the house, to take some photos. Now the mystery deepens.
You judge for yourself.
|The Ed Nichols House|
This is another Federal style home on the north end of Fiskhill Road. No chimneys, but they could have been taken down long ago, and the center, second floor window doesn't match at all.
There are several other Federal style homes in town, maybe one near you. Is it a match to the Nichols House, or is that house long gone?
A Mystery House: The Ed Nichols House
The photograph, along with many other photos, and documents are part of my collection originally owned by Winifred Tillyer, Sturbridge historian. When the Historical Society obtains space for a permanent display of artifacts and documents in town, I will arrange that the collection can be displayed there. In the meantime, I will put them here for you to enjoy.
Does anyone know where this old house is, or was?
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Old-Fashioned Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rally at Old Sturbridge Village Feb. 5
Friday, January 14, 2011
Trail Contract Awarded
Sturbridge; The town has recently awarded a $ 51,795.00 contract to CME Engineering of East Hartford CT to provide engineering design and permitting for the ¾ mile portion of the Titanic Rail Trail, Grand Trunk Trail section from the Ed Calcutt Bridge to River Road. Of the $51,795 contract $41,440 is being paid from a part of the larger Transportation Enhancements Act (TEA) grant awarded by Mass Department of Transportation (Mass DOT) to the town, and the remaining $10,355 is appropriation from the Betterment Fund.
CME’s contract calls for a 100% design and permitted plan to be acceptable by Mass DOT to allow Mass DOT to bid construction for this section of trail. It is estimated that the design and permitting phase will take about 1 year as several public hearings on the plan as well as environmental review and hearings conducted by the Conservation Commission will be required. Work will commence this winter with flagging and topographic surveying of the trail route, confirming wetland boundaries, along with measuring and listing all trees that may need to be removed to accommodate the trail.
The proposed design is for a 10’ wide hard packed fine gravel trail with 2’ wide shoulders and a 5’ wide sidewalk along Farquhar Rd to the River Rd intersection including a redesign of the River Road/Farquhar Rd intersection to improve safety. Mass DOT will fully fund 100% of the construction costs from the TEA grant authorization and will administer the construction of the trail. Approximately ½ mile of this ¾ mile trail section is on lands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Westville Lake Flood Damage Reduction project. The remaining lands are owned by the Town of Sturbridge and the Morse Family. A trail easement is being granted by the Morse Family. Under a cooperative trail agreement, Park Ranger Tom Chamberland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be overseeing this project for both the Corps and the Town of Sturbridge.
With the completion of this section of the Titanic Rail Trail, ½ of the approximately 6 mile route will be completed thru the town. The Sturbridge Trail committee is actively working on several other sections including engineering and design of the 1.2 mile River Lands portion, a grant from The Last Green Valley to complete a ¼ mile section of the Fiskdale portion, known as the Trolley trail, and has applied for grants to complete the remaining ¼ mile section out to the East Brimfield Lake Dam.
Anyone with questions regarding this project or any Grand Trunk Trail section of the Titanic Rail Trail thru Sturbridge can contact park Ranger Tom Chamberland at Thomas.email@example.com or call 508-347-3705. For more information on the Sturbridge Trail Committee, contact its chair, Randy Redetzke at firstname.lastname@example.org The Sturbridge Trail Committee meets on the 2nd Thursday of the month 6 PM, Center Office Building.
Our Winter Coat
Photos: W.J. Hersee © 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
And, Now You Know
|The Turnpike Madonna in Warren, Massachusetts|
Now, I know.
A dairy farmer in Warren, Massachusetts, Alfred Brodeur, erected the statue of the Madona in 1964 after his wife, Eldora, successfully recovered from breast cancer, and a mastectomy and radiation used to treat it.
Eight years previously, Brodeurs farm had been cut in half by the construction of the Mass Pike, and his land went right up to the edge of the Pike between mile markers 68 and 69. He thought this location would be the ideal location to erect the statue to give thanks for Eldora's recovery, and to encourage prayer, and recitation of the Rosary from others, which Alfred felt had fallen off. He built a small kneeler and a little bench in front of the statue.
The three Brodeur children contributed to bringing electricity out to the site so that the statue can be viewed at night. Over the years a timer was installed, and eventually a light sensor.
|Diane Fontaine, daughter of Alfred and Eldora Brodeur,|
and her husband, "Bud". Photo: Lori Stabile / The Republican
Many people have stopped along the Pike to visit the site, something not wise to do, and discouraged by the family. Over the years people have left notes, rosaries, and other mementos at the site. If you want to visit the site you can contact the family.
Presently, there is no one to maintain the site after the Fontaines are unable to do so.
'Our Lady of the Turnpike' is a popular stop
Turnpike Madonna maintained nearly 50 years later by Diane Fontaine of Warren, whose father believed in the power of prayer
By Lori Stabile, The Republican
Published: Saturday, January 08, 2011, 10:00 AM
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Is Life Really Becoming Simpler, Or Just More Jetson Like?
I could be though, and this spring I just might, but in the meantime I will just wander about the house ( I'm in the kitchen now), and continue digitally applying my essence to my environment.
I am still waiting for that flying car they said back when I was in grade school, every home would have in the 21st century, or is it already here?
Damn. I can't keep up. I need to go set up a Google Alert on my iPhone to let me know when things are about to change.
I like being in the digital loop. FB me if you agree. ;-)
Sunday, January 9, 2011
March 23, 1903
Click here to view the original New York Times article.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Late December At Old Sturbridge Village
Your Mother Was Right, It Is Not What You Say, It's How You Say It
|The comic books from Classics Illustrated|
were ideal for those that were unable
to digest the full version of classics.
We write the same way. The words in a short note within a Christmas card are selected for the person that will read it. A reminder note on the fridge is written with less care.
Know your audience. It is a piece of advice that will not grow old , and can be passed on forever, and still be of great value.
There are those that speak, and write in a very simple, "grammar be damned" way that for the most part, is effective in all aspects of their life. It defines them. Sometimes it is purposeful, other times it is is just the persons baseline.
Then there are those that speak, and write in a verbose, affected, pretentious, grandiose way. It's just them, just as my writing like a hillbilly hooked on phonics is me. The issue that bothers an audience is when they feel that they are being "spoken up to", or "spoken down to". Both are bothersome, but some reason when someone we know speaks to us as if they are a Department Chair at Oxford, and we know dang well they isn't, it bothers us more. As a result, our concentration is placed on the fact that they are attempting a spoken, or written soliloquy about something as inane as the importance of rotating ones tires, and we find ourselves only hearing the tone, not listening to the message.
When the audience looses the message, we've lost the audience, and it takes a lot to get them back, otherwise we will alienate them forever.
Keep in mind, that just because one uses ten words to as opposed to anothers use of only one, doesn't make them any less truthful, accurate, or well meaning, it only means we need to take a bit more time to listen, and read than we normally would. Most newspapers are written for readers with an eighth grade level of reading, and when one writes, or speaks at an eleventh grade level it can confound many of us, myself included.
Now, if you are re-reading this, scratching your head, and grunting , Huh?" over your Sunday morning coffee, then I have not chosen my audience well, but if you are nodding, smiling, and muttering something like, "Whoa, Dude, you are sooo right", then I've chosen well.