Saturday, September 8, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 5 - Williamstown to Great Barrington

Prospect Lake Park Campground, North Egremont
Wednesday, 6 September 2018
today's route
North Adams was clearly once a mill town, and several of the old mill buildings are being converted to lofts for artists, according to the signs.  Seems like a good use for them, what with all the windows and the high ceilings.
marble bridge

marble dam
I saw a turnoff from the highway to what they call the Natural Bridge, meaning it’s a bridge carved by nature.  But what makes it special is that it’s marble and was formed by glaciers and wind.  There’s also a marble dam nearby, and I’m including photos of both I found online.  I decided not to go see them because there’s a $10 parking fee at the entrance to the trail which I don’t want to pay just for this, especially because I’d then have the guilt-inducing decision to make of whether to take the dogs on the .1-.2 mile trail and risk dealing with other dogs or not take them and deprive them of a walk in the woods.  Too early in the morning to deal with moral decisions like that.

I like the sign
Williams College
A few miles farther down the road is Williamstown, home of Williams College.  Old quaint town, and the college consistent ranks among the top in the country, and has for years.  I vaguely remember visiting here quite a few decades ago; doubt if much has changed.

From there the road turns south parallel to the border with New York; the Taconic Mountains run along the west side of the road and Mount Greylock, MA’s highest point, is on the east. 
Mt. Greylock
A little farther down the road (everything’s still close together – I drove only about 70 miles all day today) I passed through Lanesborough, which is old enough to have a church – St. Luke’s – which celebrated its 250th anniversary last year.

For a ways as I was coming into Pittsfield the road ran alongside a large lake that I think was Pontoosuc Lake.  Very pretty with lots of moored boats and lakeside houses ranging from small to quite large.  The dogs and I found a short walk along the lake to stretch our legs.

Pittsfield is known to some as the place where Herman Melville lived while he wrote Moby Dick.

Norman Rockwell Museum
On down the road is the Norman Rockwell Museum.  I thought about giving it a miss, since I’d seen the very charming and downhome museum in Arlington, VT, where Rockwell lived for many years, especially because the admission fee here was $18 for seniors.  But I’m definitely a Rockwell fan so decided to go for it.  We ended up spending several hours there, so we could eat lunch and the dogs could walk several times on the extensive grounds around the museum.  A tour was included in the admission fee, and the guide gave us quite a bit of interesting information.

On the lower floor, they’ve got one room devoted to all the Saturday Evening Post covers, which he provided until 1963.  The interesting thing about his decision to leave the Post is that they refused to use any covers that might be considered controversial.  The 60s were full of controversy, and Rockwell was particularly interested in the civil rights movement.  So he moved on to Look and Life magazines.  I’m showing photos of 3 of the Post covers I really like, but I couldn’t get very good photos, with the gallery lighting and the angle I had to use.

One of my favorite Rockwell paintings, called oddly "The Problem We All Live With," wasn't here (I took this picture off the internet), and the guide told me she’s part of a traveling exhibit, along with the originals of The Four Freedoms.  Her obvious bravery always makes me cry. 

While they don’t have the originals of The Four Freedoms,” they do display the war bonds posters they were designed for.  I took a picture of one, along with Rockwell’s explanation – hope you can read it.

I also thought this was interesting: the before and after paintings of this famous Post cover, called “The Runaway.”  It’s odd because most of the differences are subtle, but they add up to a huge difference in feeling, and I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly why that is.

This was Rockwell’s 1st Post cover; what’s interesting about this one to me is that he used the same boy as the model for all 3 of the boys shown on the cover.

This well-known Rockwell work, called "The Marriage License, is easy to like, but the guide gave us some really poignant information: the man who poses as the clerk had recently lost his wife when this picture was made.  The look on his face shows a lot.

This photo is of the original painting which, oddly, close up didn’t look like anything particularly special.  But then I happened to turn back and look from across the room and it suddenly came alive – Rockwell’s use of light was amazing.  The picture has also been praised because of his composition, putting the window frame in the foreground.

Alice’s Restaurant/The Guthrie Center

This is the church (actually right next to the railroad track) is the very one where Arlo Guthrie was one of several people enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with friends, after which the events ensued that are immortalized in the song.

The restaurant that Alice owned is in Stockbridge, and is now Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe.

The church is in Van Deusenville, down a country road from Great Barrington, and is where Alice and her husband lived.  Arlo later bought it and established the Guthrie Center, which specializes in what you might call good works.  A man there spent some time showing me around and explaining what they did, and the list is extensive: free meals and food assistance; tutoring for all ages; legal assistance; regular concerts, which occasionally include Arlo; church services – he said it’s a Bring Your Own God church; and many more which I should have written down and have forgotten.  Here’s the website.  These are interior shots.


Great Barrington, incidentally, was the birthplace of W.E.B. DuBois.  For more information about this remarkable man, look at: black-history/w-e-b-du-bois.

On our way to our campground, I stopped at a park to walk the dogs a bit.  While we were out I noticed a fenced area that looked like it was for riding horses.  Sure enough, when we were on our way back to the RV, a horse and rider rode up from down the road and went into the fenced area.  Dexter especially became increasingly excited and I had to drag him away from the area, and then Gracie joined in a bit, enough to tip the weight advantage so over I went and they dragged me a bit while I was hauling on the leashes as hard as I could in between yelling at them to STOP!  I don't know what finally stopped them - although the horse stopped trotting around and the rider called over to be sure I was okay, and the non-movement of the horse may have been enough to let me stand up and grab the dog collars and haul them out of sight behind the RV and get them in.  What a hassle.  Idiots.

I'm really truly glad we haven't met a moose, since Dexter seems to go bonkers over large mammals.

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