The end of two businesses.
Well, I took the bus to Springfield yesterday just as I said I would. It was the first time in a while I had been in the Peter Pan bus terminal and I see that they did a little remodeling. It looks better.
There is also a display about the evolution of the Peter Pan buslines that is sure to please every local historian.
Going down Main Street to Tower Square (Baystate West) I took a walk past Edwards Books. It was all over the media that it was going out of business. I expected to find it closed, but when I got there I was surprised to see the lights on and the doors open, although the shelves were nearly bare and there was almost nothing to buy.
It turns out that the owner, Janet M. Edwards, had come in to do some final cleaning up, and I had just happened to wander by to witness the store's final moments. The owner and her family had really given their heart and soul into surviving in that mall, and if they couldn't make it then no one can. Here's Janet Edwards posing with a Dr. Seuss poster before closing the doors for good.
I rode the State/Boston Road bus up to ol' Pine Point, where I took a walk past the old family homestead. I was pleased to see that my mother's little tree is still alive.
About a year before my mother died, her friends at work gave her a small tree as a present. Guess whose responsibility it became to dig the hole to plant this tree? So I was out there digging while my Mom was standing by offering encouragement when who should pass by but the crackpot lawyer J. Wesley Miller. He had to give his opinion on everything, and opined that the hole was being dug too close to the house and therefore the tree would die for lack of room to spread its roots. He says this to me when the hole was almost completely dug, which greatly reduced the chance that I was going to take his advice. In fact I told Wesley to go to hell and planted the tree in the hole I'd already dug.
Time has proven Wesley wrong. The tree is doing just fine, and is a nice memorial to my mother and the friends who gave her that little tree.
I went to my father's grave, and was pleased to see that the grass is growing back in quite nicely on the plot where he was buried.
Then going out on Boston Road, I got a real surprise. The Pine Point Cafe is closed!
Yes, the Pine Point Cafe, where my parents and my grandfather once had a major confrontation, as I described it earlier:
The original Pine Point Cafe, which burned down in the 1970's, was a big old rambling dump of a joint where anyone could drink if their money was green and they could reach the bar. That was where my parents went for underage drinking, and when my mother's parents found out they were totally outraged. My mother's father, an otherwise quiet and gentle man in nearly all circumstances, shocked everyone by storming into the Pine Point Cafe one night, the first and last time anyone had ever seen him in a bar, and dragging out his daughter he shouted to my father, "If I ever see you with her again I'll kill you!"
It was in the Pine Point Cafe that I bought Jay Libardi his last drink. Here is a picture that Jay Libardi took of me outside the Pine Point Cafe in 1993.
I never thought I would see the day it closed. A Google search produced no explanation, but it had acquired the reputation of a drug dealing den, as seen in this Springfield Republican article.
There was much to criticize about the PPC even in my day. It was never a happy place overall, although there was often a lot of laughter. It was a bar for hard drinkers, and when we were kids if someone said their dad drank at the Pine Point Cafe that would tell you something about their family. Not good things. It was a loser's bar, but a special kind of loser, the sort who goes down swinging. It was a place people went when the wheels were coming off their lives, after you lost your job, when they foreclosed on the house, the first place you stopped after your wife threw you out. And you went there because it was the only place where you could be sure to find people in just as bad a state of decline, and you would find them none the less laughing and partying and carrying on. Laughter in the face of disaster has a special edge to it, and those who need to hear it can always identify it. Those who sought it often found it at the Pine Point Cafe.
I was glad when my own Pine Point Cafe days ended, over a decade ago. But that's beside the point. It's closing is still the end of an era, even if that era is better ended.