And further Berkshire explorations:
Back again, this time rewarding myself for all the work work done on TOURISTS ACCOMMODATED which was enjoyed by almost 500 guests in the audience with 120 alone on our Mother’s Day matinee.
I have been visiting the Berkshires for many decades and can’t believe I am still discovering new back roads and new things to do. But, unfortunately many of the spots I wish to now visit do not open until around Memorial Day — but no problem, I will be back. And, maybe on that next excursion I will pick up some of these other places like Edith Wharton’s The Mount or Daniel Chester French’s Chesterwood.
Wednesday morning after having two unusual lap visits by Simon, I spent an enjoyable 2 1/2 hours at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Cathy and I visited there in the late 90s, so I was due for another visit. His iconic (in my opinion) Stockbridge Main Street at Christmastime was done in 1967 for McCall’s is one of my favorites. For the last 23 years there has been a re-creation of this scene with the street closed off around the first of December. I heard a docent talk about this painting,, and of note are the dark windows at The Red Lion Inn — at this time the Inn was only open in the summertime.
I also listened in to the docents talking to several school groups. In one gallery it was the group, me, and then one of the guards came in who I earlier noted having a very stern look on his face, but as he too listened I saw a gleam and glow on his face as it broke into a smile.
I could not resist, when he was leaving I said, “I noted your smile emerge while you listened.” “I really enjoy seeing the school groups and their enthusiasm,” he started, ,”often I see the same kids bringing their parents back weeks later to share and tell them about Rockwell’s work. It is so important to stimulate the next generation of Rockwell lovers,” he concluded. So true as I have stated for the survival of any organization, hobby or interest.
In 1986 Rockwell’s studio was moved from downtown Stockbridge, where he lived for the last 25 years of his life, to the site of the new museum.
It is presented as it was in 1960, and I was fortunate to hear the same excellent docent recount tales of this fascinating space. He would sign copies of his ADVENTURES OF AN ILLUSTRATOR on the desk there. I only have one signed copy left, and think I am going to read it before it sells. Prior to his move to Stockbridge he lived and worked in Arlington, Vermont, another of my favorite spots on my favorite US Route 7.
My next destination was Millerton, New York and the antique center there. I followed a section of Route 41 I had been on before down to pick up Route 23 to Hillsdale, NY to head south on NY Route 22. This section of NY 22 I had not traversed in ages and had forgotten how peaceful and pastoral it is following a valley through farm country. This route I highly recommend if you are traveling north/south along the eastern NY border . Millerton is always fun to walk around even though it does not take much time. The Oakhurst Diner was closed today (you know how much I
enjoy classic diners), but being a tad hungry I entered the Irving Farm Coffee House “best cup in town since 2003” and asked what was most popular (always a good idea). I was told to have the Cali D’Lox which consisted of lox, avocados, cucumbers and capers with a spread of cream cheese on fantastic toasted multi-grain bread. Definitely worth anyone’s visit.
Following US Route 44 I crossed into Lakeville, Connecticut and saw just below the first pocket-knife factory in the US a historical marker “Arsenal of the Revolution.” Having lived in the NW corner of Connecticut prior to moving to NH I knew that this was an 18th century area of iron production, but I was unaware of this foundry (partially owned at one time by Ethan Allen). The placard explained how the cannon were cast vertically in the ground, and when hardened raised above a vertical bore driven by a water wheel to ream out the barrel. After many test firings, markings were made on the cannon to advise the direction a cannon ball would go so compensation could be made when firing in battle. I need to learn more, but even more fun will be learning more about Ethan Allen and his escapes. He shows up everywhere in my travels from Cornwall and Litchfield Connecticut to now Lakeville, Bennington, Vermont, Fort Ticonderoga, and I have even been to his homestead in Burlington, VT. Still too much fun.
Heading back north and when in Salisbury I realized that instead of continuing to Canaan to pick up my favorite US 7 I had better go north on Route 41 on another section I had not been on.
Again, a most pastoral ride and worthy of a return sports car run.
Today on the way home I will explore (if the mountain road is open for the season) Mount Greylock where I camped in my Model A Ford in the mid-1960s, and have not been back since. I don’t recall visiting the top of the mountain and Bascom Lodge built by the CCC in the 1930s. In 2010 I had hoped to go there in BLACK BEAUTY, but she was not done in time. But will do so this year for sure for an overnight and diner watching the sunset from the highest point in Massachusetts — who wants to come?
I cannot believe how fast my time goes in the lobby of The Red Lion Inn reading and writing, and having diner in the dining room. I am so glad I now make my visits here two nights, but it may not be enough. My travels will be continuing, catch you soon, as always, yours, RAY
A typical Millerton NY store – frozen in time, and with luck a postscript tonight with images from atop Mount Greylock