The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Friday, July 13, 2007

Remembering Rahars

One of the great things about Packards in Northampton is that it serves as a kind of museum of Northampton business history. I was overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia there recently to spot the old sign for the legendary 70's bar Rahars.

If you look behind it in the photograph, you can also see part of the sign for Beardsleys, a famous 70's restaurant but one I never ate at because it was too pricey for me on a college student's budget.

Rahars however, I have very fond memories of, which is surprising considering the state of mind I was often in while in attendance there. It was the premiere place in its time for local bands and the coolest place to be in Hamp on a Saturday night. It sort of played the role that The Elevens plays today, but on a larger, hipper scale. Here a band called The Foreign Objects performs at Rahars in 1979.

Carl Mayfield, of Martian Highway fame, used to rent an apartment over the bar. I used to visit him and it was absurd to even think of sleeping while the bar was open and a band was playing, as you could hardly talk with the music booming through the floor. God what parties went on there!

I miss that place, as well as some of the other classic Northampton businesses of yore which now survive only as Packards memorabilia. If you haven't been to Packards before, definitely do stop in as the local history lesson alone will make it worth your while.

A neat new place I discovered recently is the Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst.

Great wholesome locally grown food that is filled with health is available there at low prices. The farm gets its name from an old Shaker hymn whose lyrics would serve well as the official poem of the Pioneer Valley:

Tis a gift to be simple,
’Tis a gift to be free,
’Tis a gift to come down
Where you ought to be.
And when you find yourself
In a place just right
’Twill be in the valley
Of love and delight.

Finally, people sometimes complain that I'm too critical of Springfield, but at least I've never nuked the place like Bill Dusty:


Marilyn V. said...

Why is Bill Dusty photographing my house?

Bill Dusty said...

Entirely incidental, I assure you! ;-)

Jack said...


Several nights ago a bunch of us who were in college in the late 1950's started talking about Rahar's. Our conversation prompted me to see what was on the web about our old favorite haunt. I was surprised to find very little other than your Tommy Devine's Cosmos Report.

I don't know when Rahar's first opened, but I do know that by 1955 it was a venerable institution. My guess is that it was around before WWII, but that is just a guess.

When I was at Amherst in the 1950's single sex colleges were the norm, and Smith College was a magnet for all the guys from Amherst, Williams, Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard and even the stray Princetonian. I used to call a friend at Smith and say, "I'm going to Rahar's" and she would gather us some friends and we'd meet for a beer and "intellectual" discussion. It was our co-educational club.

My home was in Ohio, and at Rahar's I would invariably run into friends for home who were going to college in New England and visiting girls at Smith or Mt. Holyoke. Rahar's was a much a part of our college years as were our own colleges. We all still talk about our Rahar's experiences.

You can imagine my dismay when I went back to North Hampton and found Rahar's to have turned into a seedy pizza joint.

I was hoping to find reference to a history of Rahar's on-line. All I found was your site.


Jack Edwards