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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Survey

Submitted by Randy Redetzke, Chairman
Sturbridge Trails Committee

Please participate in our SCORP survey.

Under the Land & Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCF), states work closely with the National Park Service to analyze recreation needs, set priorities for funding, and supervise and coordinate the selection of projects.  In order to remain eligible for funding from the Land & Water Conservation Fund grant program, the National Parks Service requires every state to complete a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) every five years – the SCORP is the state's Open Space and Recreation Plan, and provides regional data for the entire state.  To help inform the SCORP process and guide future use of LWCF funds, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is conducting a survey to gather data about Commonwealth residents’ preferences for recreational activities.  To participate in the survey, please click

New Organization In Town

The following information was passed on to be by a reader, and is worth a look.--ed.

What is Back Of The Pack Productions?

The ultimate goal of our non-profit association in Sturbridge, MA is to give back to and support local communities. 
Back Of The Pack Productions is a non-profit association based in Sturbridge, Massachusetts dedicated to promoting the health & well-being of individuals and uniting them through sport. It achieves this end by organizing and directing local community educational activities and races to promote well being, health and fitness. The net proceeds received from athlete registration, donations and sponsorship  are maintained and used to award grants to IRS designated non-profit organizations with charitable, educational, literary, scientific or historical purposes operating in and/or benefiting residents within the following thirteen Massachusetts towns; Brimfield, Charlton, Brookfield, East Brookfield, North Brookfield, West Brookfield, Holland, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Wales, Ware and Warren.
Established in January 2011, our inaugural events will be a swim challenge and a sprint triathlon in August 2011. For more information about each of these events, check out our Events page. 

For more information, visit Back of the Pack Productions at

Monday, July 25, 2011

"There Will Be A Snow Storm This Winter. Please Take Cover"

Reverse 911 calls are now on societies "must have" list.  If you have never experienced receiving a reverse 911 call, don't worry, your time will come as more communities get on board, and adopt the community emergency alert program.

The program was developed by Cassidian Communications and is used to alert, and communicate people that live in a particular area via the telephone. It can be tweaked to call only those in a particular area, and it can even reconnect a 911 call that has been disconnected.  Those that have cut the cord with Verizon, can have their cell phone number associated with your street address in most communities in order to receive the warnings.

"The system can be used to notify residents in areas both large and small. During the 2010 Boston water emergency, government agencies used the system to notify a large number of Boston-area residents in particular neighborhoods to boil water before drinking.[5] During the much more contained 2004 bulldozer rampage in Granby, Colorado, authorities used Reverse 911 to notify the approximately 1,500 residents of the town to evacuate from the bulldozer's path.[6] During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiSeaside and Astoria, Oregon, residents were notified by Reverse 911 and sirens to evacuate low-lying areas.[7]"---Source Wikipedia:

As with most services, and devices, there is a tendency in the beginning to over use it.  Makes sense, since that is what it is for, to be used, but let's not use such an amazing system in such a way as to turn the authorities into the Chicken Little that cried wolf.

A week, or so ago, I received a reverse 911 call from the Sturbridge Police Department alerting me to a "severe thunder storm"  heading our way from the west later in the day.  I also received two emails from a selectman alerting me to the same storm.  The storm fizzled, and what had been predicted the day before never materialized.  

The intent was genuine, and sincere, but with a severe storm falling on the heels of the June 1st tornado, folks in charge were a little bit on edge, thus the early alert.  

Most of us in the area have a television in our home, or a radio in our car.  Very few of us are without any connection to the outside world, and although we may not be viewing, or listening at all times, we are in the audience enough to know what is happening in the world.  The June 1st tornado is testament to that.  The warnings given by the media were timely, and heard by those in the path.  They heeded the warnings, and although nothing could have prevented the damage, the warnings prevented more injuries, and deaths from occurring.  Reverse 911 calls are something that technology has given us, and will save property, and lives.  It cannot be used just for the sake of saying it was used, otherwise when a storm fizzles, and a Reverse 911 call sent out many hours in advance warning of devastating consequences, does little for the credibility of the system, and those that run it, when the storm does not materialize.

I knew the storm was not going to be as it was hyped in the media the night before, the following  morning.  I have a TV, and I looked at the weather map.  Although, storms can evolve spontaneously, or worsen at a moment notice, and do, the meteorologist on TV were saying by midday that the storm would not be as bad as predicted in some areas.

Lesson learned: Save the Reverse 911 calls for when a situation is imminent, not six hours before, that is not imminent.  Remember, it's about warning of imminent danger, or a situation that requires your immediate attention, not something to schedule later in the day.  It may look cool to say, "We sent out a Reverse 911 call to warn folks...", but wait until you are sure, and then warn with enough lead time to be effective.

Reverse 911 calls are needed, but we can not afford to have them delivered each time someone feels it just might be a good idea.  Set up a policy, and a procedure, or refine the ones in place, to outline just how, and when an alert should be delivered.  We know that when a warning system goes off too often it can lead to complacency when nothing, or little happens.  Just look at what some folks do with their smoke detector when the brisket smolders.

My iPhone sends me weather alerts from Boston TV stations, as well as from the Weather Channel.  I have a radio in my car, and we own a TV.  I even get emails from the selectmen to alert me of the weather.  Although I feel I am covered, I could always use a heads up if something evolves, and slips through the cracks.  Let's just be careful of how we use it, and when.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do You Remember Ovide's?

The dining room inside Ovide's on Route 15 in Sturbridge

Ovide's from above.  The sandy area at the top of the
photo is where the Pilot Gas station is now.

Looking down on Ovide's from where the eastbound lane
of I-84 is now. .

Click on images for larger view.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some Comments Are A Conundrum

Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge gets all sorts of comments. Some immediately after the an article is posted, some months later.  The comment at the far bottom is one I received a couple of weeks ago on a posting I wrote about the Chowder Festival at the Public House last winter, it reads, "Great blog, more wine reviews please".

Well, first of all, thank you for the compliment about this blog.  I like it, too.  As far as wine reviews go, well, That's not what I do.  I am not wine savvy.  I 'd like to know more, and I am learning.  I did stop by the new Wine Buyers Outlet on Main Street here in town a couple of weeks ago, and left knowing more than I did going in.

I do try wines when recommended by friends, and when I like them, I will recommend them to others.  Since you offered a compliment about this blog, I will reciprocate and recommend a wine we tried a few weeks ago.

Recently, our brother-in-law, Paul, a man with exquisite taste, recommended a white wine that he enjoyed a great deal.  The wine is named, "Conundrum".  The reason for that puzzling name is that the wine is a proprietary blend of wines that one would never expect to work together, and the exact ingredients are not shared by the vineyard.  A real conundrum.   The wine is excellent.   If you would like to learn more about this excellent wine, check them out at

So, as far as wine reviews go, well, that's it.  Now, it's your turn to share one with me, and next time I'll share with you all I know about Boones Farm Strawberry Hill wine.

Betcha can't wait.

Comment left on blog:
Great blog. more of wine reviews please

Friday, July 22, 2011

Your Mother Was Right: Think, Then Speak.

Sometimes, despite our very best of intentions, we spread ourselves so thin that our effectiveness at everything we do begins to fail.  We can also become so emotionally involved about a particular event, or thing, that our fanatical passion can cause us to say, and do things we would  otherwise never have said, or done.  Despite years of saying things well, and having done things right, all it takes is a poorly worded moment to cause those around us to become upset, and confused by our words.

Quick words from the lips fired by emotion, and not tempered by thought.  This scenario has changed lives throughout history as we have seen recently.  We should all adopt a 5 second delay when we speak.  There are so many times I have spoken, and then gasped hard as if to suck my words back into my throat.

It doesn't work.

The same goes for writing an email during an emotional moment.  One word of advice from one that knows all too well: don't.  If you must write in order to release the demons, then do so without an address in the "To:" box, and when you are done, save it as a draft.  Do not send it.

After twenty-four hours or so, look at the draft.  Reread it.  If you still feel the same way you did when you first wrote it delete it, and the same goes if you feel better than you did the day before.  After you delete it, pick up your phone, and call the person to speak to them live.  You may just come up with a solution when there is an active, live exchange.

I guess the bottom line is to think out what you intend to say, or write,  in advance, pause before you speak, or save your thoughts as a draft, and respond appropriately to those that are present.  If there are those that disagree with you, and tell you to go soak your head, and it happens to be on a day like this when it is 100℉ plus,  then thank them for caring, and move on.

You tried, and that's all you can do.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Now, Let's See What Happens

I was driving west on 20 yesterday afternoon when I saw this sign for just a fraction of a moment.

I almost pulled a "U-ee" in front of  the dance studio.

The sign announces that a development called "Quinebaug Landing" is to be built on the land at the intersection of Route 20, and Holland Road.  The current site of abandoned old mill buildings, overgrowth, and no inspiration.  I would like to think the owner of the land read one of my previous postings suggesting just this kind of development, but I understand that others can have awesome ideas as well.  Either way, it is a great way to rescue that corner, and I wish the developer the very best of luck.

This morning I wrote to the owner to acknowledge his wonderful idea for developing the area.  I also told him the sign needs some tweaking since it can hardly be seen to drivers heading east bound, and it comes up way too fast on the west bound side.  Ideally it should be directly at the intersection with two signs in order for those at the light coming from the south and north can view it as well.  When an opportunity like this comes to a financially stressed area, we have to do everything we can to help it succeed.  The jobs that would come from construction, shops, restaurants, and offices are so needed.

It will be nice to drive up onto that intersection and see anything other than the wasteland it has become, and to see a facility that will actually take advantage of the rivers beauty.

Now, all we have to do is wait.  Wait for interested  businesses to tell the developer that they are on board.  Seeing how well other business developments have filled in around town, even in a time of "economic downturn", I have a great deal of confidence.

If I had the money, I would be one of the first in line, and put a cafe, and art gallery right on the river.  For those of you with more of an ability to invest, take that dream as inspiration, and go for it.  I don't think a better investment could be made in today's economic climate.

One more thing, it is all about location, and this site has it all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Sturbridge Village “Redcoats & Rebels” Aug. 6-7

New England’s largest military reenactment
Two-day event for the price of one

The Tenth Regiment of Foot prepares for battle during
Redcoats & Rebels at Old Sturbridge Village.
Photo courtesy Old Sturbridge Village.
(Sturbridge, Mass.) July 18, 2011 – Old Sturbridge Village’s “Redcoats & Rebels” is New England’s largest Revolutionary War reenactment, and this year’s event will be the largest to date. Nearly 1,000 soldier reenactors from eight states who will participate in the August 6 - 7 event, which features mock battles, drilling, musket and cannon demonstrations, fife and drum music, and the chance to see military life up close.  Mr. Butler is the Commander of the Yarmouth Minutemen.

Since Old Sturbridge Village offers a free return visit within 10 days, visitors can attend both days of the event for the price of one. Admission also includes extended hours on Saturday, Aug. 6, when the Village will remain open until 8:00 p.m. for the Twilight Encampment, where visitors can mingle with the soldiers around their campfires. For details, visit or call 800-SEE-1830.

More than 40 units from eight states will participate in the reenactment, including six companies attending for the first time. More soldiers will participate in Redcoats & Rebels this year than in any of the previous eight years of the event. Reenactors portray British and Colonial soldiers, as well as their allies from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, and France. This wide range of companies is an accurate representation of the nations and soldiers who fought in the war for American independence.

Following a parade of British troops through the town, the Village fields will become the site of a mock battle each afternoon. Troops will reenact a battle scenario where Americans and their allies attack a British-occupied town. Visitors can see surgeons “treat the wounded” and see the American troops get their smallpox inoculations. Throughout the day they can tour behind-the-scenes in both the British and American camps to learn what life was really like for these 18th-century soldiers -- how they ate, slept, and even how they did laundry.

Other events designed to provide a look into the lives of soldiers include reconnoitering with a Ranger from Peter’s Corps, and a prisoner exchange between the Americans and British (Saturday only). Special events on Sunday include a Sunday Service for the troops, the arrival of American soldier’s pay and uniforms, and a court martial trial with the HMS Somerset. Young visitors will enjoy learning the real words to “Yankee Doodle,” making tri-cornered hats, and drilling with the Second Massachusetts Regiment.

In addition, visitors can learn about the fashions and customs of the time during programs like “Mrs. Peabody’s Levee” – a look at 18th-century foundation garments presented by the group “Ladies of Refined Taste,” which will also present “Runaway Runway” – a look at civilian clothes in the late 1700s. Military fashions through the years will be presented by the Tenth Massachusetts Light Infantry.  On Saturday, music, dancing, and ball games will be featured. A complete schedule of activities can be found at

Reenactors choose to portray either British or Colonial units for a variety of reasons. Andrew Fredericks, of Rochester, Mass., commander of Tew’s Company, a Colonial unit based in Rhode Island, says the reenactors in his unit want the public to know that “a group of common men from the tiny colony (of Rhode Island) had the perseverance, fortitude, and willpower to become one of Washington’s premiere fighting units.”

Another new unit, Butler’s Rangers, led by David Sorek, of Monroe, Conn., portrays a group of Loyalist soldiers fighting for England – a unit largely forgotten by history. According to Sorek, the original members of Butler’s Rangers were average Americans working hard to build a good life for their families. When faced with the prospect of war, they chose the status quo and loyalty to the Crown, and were persecuted for these beliefs and stripped of their belongings. Joining Butler’s Rangers gave them an opportunity to take back what was theirs.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in early New England from 1790 – 1840. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., OSV is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. Currently, the Village is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors; $7 for children ages 3-17; children under 3 are admitted free. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get 25% of adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive 50% off adult daytime admission. For details, visit or call 800-SEE-1830.

# # #
Redcoats & Rebels at Old Sturbridge Village – Participating Units by State

Billerica Colonial Minute Men
Crane’s Battery
Danvers Alarm List Company
Eighth Regiment (Kings)
Eighty Fifth Regiment de Saintonge
First Foot Guards
Fourth Regiment of Foot
HMS Somerset
Lexington Training Band
Regiment Bourbonnais
Royal Irish Artillery
Second Massachusetts Regiment 
Second New Hampshire Regiment (Cherry’s Company)   
Second Rhode Island Regiment
Sixteenth Queens Light Dragoons
Sixty Fourth Regiment of Foot
Stow Minutemen
Tenth Massachusetts Regiment
Tenth Regiment of Foot
Tew’s Company
Twenty Fifth Continental
Twenty Third Regiment: Royal Welch Fusiliers
Yarmouth Minute Men

Butler’s Rangers
Fifth Connecticut Regiment
Great Quinnehtukqut Company of Artificers and Traders
Lebanon Towne Militia
Ninth Regiment of Foot
Peter’s Corps
Stafford Springs
Prichard’s Company: King Rangers 2nd Co.
Sixth Connecticut Regiment

Eames Rangers
North Berwick

New Hampshire
First New Hampshire Regiment  
Kings Rangers
Regiment von Riedesel
Twenty Ninth Regiment of Foot

New York
Alden’s Sixth Massachusetts Regiment
Second Regiment, Albany County Militia
Third Ulster County Militia
Twenty Fourth Regiment of Foot
Balston Spa

Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment
Twenty Fourth Connecticut Regiment

Rhode Island
Fortieth Regiment of Foot
Smith Castle Museum
Peace Dale
United Train of Artillery
North Providence

Warner’s Regiment
Whitcomb’s Rangers

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just A Small Thought

Every home should have a paper / document shredder.  If your child is setting out on their own, give them a shredder as a house/apartment warming gift.  Getting married?  Then register at Staples, and choose a heavy duty shredder for the two of you.

Sounds a bit silly really, but it is one of the soundest pieces of unasked for advice you will receive.  If a person with bad intent has a small snippet of information about you, they can, and do everyday, use that snippet to bilk you, and others, out of hundreds, and thousands of dollars.  You can prevent it from happening by spending between $70.00 and up for shredder that will shred well, and shred for awhile.  Once you have the shredder home put it where it can be accessed easily, and begin the habit of shredding every piece of paper that comes into your home that does not immediately go into a file cabinet to be saved, or put aside for when you pay the bills.  Everything with your name on it, and/or your address on it.  Everything you do not wish to keep, shred.

Obviously, don't shred your bills, as much as you would like to, or insurance policies, and other important papers you will need in the future, but everything else...into the shredder once it has served its purpose.

Consider this preventive medicine.  A stray breeze could pluck a bank statement of yours from the trash, and place it right into the hands of a person who knows just how to access your funds with that small snippet of information.  Don't give them the chance.

Tomorrows Saturday, a good day to cruise the aisles at Staples.  You will never regret it.

Oh, and I don't get a kickback from Staples, but it would be nice.