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 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: