Autumn in the North Cemetery.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And, Now You Know

The Turnpike Madonna in Warren, Massachusetts
Ever since I was a kid, I remember seeing the statue in the photograph at the left while riding on the Mass Pike, and I wondered why it was there, and who put it there.  Something so Holy in such a secular place.

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

In 1979, the Brodeurs celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Eldora passed in 1981, and Alfred joined her in 1998.   According to, "... the statue and the area are maintained by Brodeur’s daughter Diane F. Fontaine, 70, and her husband Elmer “Bud” J. Fontaine, 75."

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   

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