The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mutual Ford Woods

I was visiting Pine Point recently and stopped by Doyle the Twig Painter's gallery on Boston Road in Springfield. Here is a picture showing me with a painting over my shoulder that Doyle painted during the Vietnam era portraying a dead soldier lying in a field.

Doyle, a Vietnam-era veteran, titled the painting, For Nothin'.

In my brief little walk around the Point I noticed that the old Mutual Ford woods just down the road from the Pine Point Library has been completely cut down. There is this large brick structure under construction on the site.

This nearby sign indicates the building's purpose.

I don't know if the undeveloped land we called Mutual Ford Woods was ever actually owned by the Mutual Ford car dealership (best known in its day for the big "Uncle Sam" statue that stood out front) yet because of the woods close proximity behind the dealership it acquired that name. It was once a swampy wetlands, but was repeatedly cleared and allowed to grow back until it became just a shrubby wasteland.

I never played much in it, mostly because it was on the wrong side of Boston Road. The Point was divided by Boston Road into two distinct kid-camps, the group on one side being identified with the Hiram L. Dorman school, which my Dad attended as a boy, and The World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School, where I went.

Boston Road was such a busy and potentially dangerous street that each child of the Point was forbidden to cross it on their own before a certain age, in sharp contrast to the rest of Pine Point's sleepy, sometimes unpaved roads where we played openly in the street. By the time you were old enough to get permission to cross Boston Road you had already established tight ties with the kids on your side of the street. While there was much intermingling between the kids on each side, the friendships were never as numerous or as close with the kids on the other side of Boston Road as it was with the ones on your side.

So I never spent much time in Mutual Ford Woods, except maybe for a little pot smoking in my teenage years. I'd be playing chess with Don Vennell and we'd decide to make the game more interesting, or at least absurd, by telling his Mom we were going to Nora's Variety Store when actually we would be huffing on a bong made out of a beer can that we kept hidden by an old pine tree. Though the woods is now cleared, the ancient pine at the top of Donny's street has been spared. I doubt however that the new church-goers will want to be doing bong hits under it very often.

I'm sorry to see the landscape of the Point changed so dramatically with the elimination of Mutual Ford Woods, but then again that's progress and I'm sure the church members will do good deeds for the old Point. However their immediate next door neighbor seems anxious to unload his house at a bargain rate.

Elsewhere in Springfield, I see this ugly plastic fence has been erected around downtown's Stearn Square.

What's the story behind that? Is there some kind of restoration underway, or is it just to keep the bums out? If so, then the bums are less of an eyesore than the fence.

I love this giant psychedelic mural in downtown Amherst, and of course couldn't help hamming it up in front of it.

Speaking of psychedelics, this Saturday the UMass Cannabis Club is staging a big festival, called The Extravaganja, on the Amherst Common demanding the legalization of marijuana. Stop by if you want to check out some cool bands and cosmic giggles. I stopped by the club's headquarters recently and made this video.

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