DOWN AT THE OLD CAFE
"It was long like a train car. It was all counters and seated about 50 or 60. The
grill was right out front. You’d order a hamburg or a steak, and it was cooked right there on the grill. It was open
24 hours a day, seven days a week, right up until the 1940s."
SCENES FROM A VILLAGE
There was a light, wet snow falling this evening as I drove up on I-91 from Northampton
to participate in Charlie Hunter’s art discussion group at Oona’s, in Bellows Falls, Vermont.
NEW TOWN, OLD FRIENDS
Picture this. I am enjoying lunch on a crisp September day in a smartly dressed café
near the largest center for contemporary art and performance in the United States. I can see the top of a 75-foot clock tower
and the red and yellow foliage on the mountain behind it.
EVERYBODY'S AT SHADY GLEN
Every morning, Rene, a hair salon owner from Gill, Massachusetts, walks across the
bridge over the Connecticut River to get breakfast at her favorite place in Turners Falls. "I’ve been coming here for
35 years," she told me, shouting over the chatter and clatter. "It was the first place I ever had a soft-serve."
WELCOME HOME TO THE COMMUNITY RESTAURANT
The sign said, ‘Welcome Home,’ as we drove into Cortland,
New York, a city of 20,000, just off Interstate 81, about 30 miles south of Syracuse. The sign seemed strangely appropriate.
My wife and I spent our first year of marriage in a basement apartment near the State University of New York College at Cortland,
while I finished my last year.
"It looks nice now, but winter is coming," she warned, and introduced herself as
Marylou. "That’s why I’m planting these tulips. I planted 32 of them last fall, and 31 of them came up. Planting
them gives me hope. The winter is long, but I can sit by my window and wait for the tulips to come up again."
BLUE BENN BECKONS FROM GREEN MOUNTAINS
"The diner was one of the landmarks Dad always pointed out to us kids.
When I was about 10, we pulled into the parking lot. Dad said, ‘Let’s have a real Vermont breakfast.’"
LUNCH IN SPRINGFIELD, PART ONE
When Springfield, Vermont native Lena Kazak graduated from high school
in 1938, landing a job wasn’t easy. The Great Depression had its hold on this small factory town along the raging Black
River, about 35 miles north of Brattleboro.
LUNCH IN SPRINGFIELD, PART TWO
On a dreadfully cold New England day, I sit at a table that looks out
on Main Street, browse the Boston Globe, and scarf down a scrumptious breakfast of French toast and maple syrup. Journalists
need a good place to hang out, and the Morning Star Café in downtown Springfield, Vermont is the perfect spot.
LOVE THAT COUNTRY PIE
Route 116 between South Deerfield and Ashfield, Massachusetts winds like a babbling
brook through 13 miles of rural beauty that is breathtaking without being spectacular. I drove it one recent early morning
on the way to North Adams, the sun rising behind me, angling its rays on sprawling farmhouses, Wyeth barns, and green, hilly
meadows sleeping under the dissipating fog.
THE TULIPS ARE HERE
I met my friend Marylou in Claremont, New Hampshire about three years ago. It was
my first visit to the city, and I was just walking around and exploring. Marylou was planting tulips in her front yard, and
we got into a lovely conversation. Since that serendipitous meeting, I have made the annual 90-minute trip to Claremont
in the spring to see Marylou’s tulips and catch up on what is happening in what has become one of my favorite small
cities in New England. An April visit brought more of its share of surprises.
A NOSTALGIC TRIP ON NEW YORK'S ROUTE 20
I loved the drive along that historic road, as I climbed up and down rolling hills that cut through small agricultural
towns with real character, like Cazenovia, Morrisville, Bridgewater and Sharon Springs. I often stopped for a bite in Madison,
at Quack's Diner, a traveler's oasis that I understand is still serving up good meals at low prices.
FIRE AT TURNERS FALLS PAPER MILL
I drove into Turners Falls about 8:30 a.m. Some folks were already on Avenue A getting things ready for the Memorial Day
parade. There were plenty of cars parked in the Shady Glen lot, and the usual coffee crowd at the lunch counter. They had
lots to talk about. Forty-eight hours ago, early Saturday morning, a huge fire erupted in the vacant Strathmore Paper mill
CLAREMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE: STARTING TO LOOK LIKE SUCCESS
The three-story block is a gem. When you look at it from across the square, you can see Mt. Ascutney in the background.
What a view! What a place for a restaurant on the top floor, or a small performance space, or a movie theater...
A SANDWICH AND A SLICE OF HISTORY (IN KEENE, NH)
A narrow, four-story building stands at 26-28 Washington Street, in Keene,
New Hampshire. It looks familiar, like thousands of mixed commercial-residential blocks that were built in the late nineteenth
century in cities and towns all across the Northeast. But it captured my attention immediately on one of the many visits my
wife and I have made to this lively small city with its famous wide Main Street.
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Thirty-five years ago this winter, my wife and I had three meals in a row at the County Girl Diner in Chester, Vermont.
We had been living in Connecticut for two years and wanted to see what the Green Mountains looked like, so we...
SPRINGFIELD (VERMONT) FACTORY TO BE PARTIALLY DEMOLISHED
In 2003, I visited Springfield
and walked around the site, and was immediately captivated by the wooden structures, with their faded colors, peeling paint,
and haunting sense of antiquity. I took a few photos...
DISCOVERING REED'S LANDING
got there too early - we weren’t hungry yet - so we decided to do some exploring. We turned right on Mansion St, near
a church. A minute later, we were transported back in time...
CAPTURING MEMORIES OF PARK STREET SCHOOL
At one point, it was raining so hard
that I couldn’t even see out of the windows. I imagined the school sliding into the raging Black River. I hurried past
a small hallway, and the sound of the rain suddenly got much louder. So I followed the sound and found myself...
HOT ROAST BEEF WITH MASHED
I glanced quickly at the menu and ordered the ultimate comfort food: a hot roast beef sandwich
with mashed. Several minutes later, it was on the table in front of me, and what a pretty picture it made. On an oval plate
sat the open-faced...
CROSSING A NEW BRIDGE (2012)
At the lower end of Rita Street, in Springfield, Vermont, there is a short, steep path through the woods that
leads down to the intersection of River Street and North Main Street. Just across River Street is a footbridge that crosses
the Black River and connects to the front entrance of the former Fellows Gear Shaper factory, now the home of...