The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mount Tom

My mountain.

Even as a small boy I was aware that there was a local mountain bearing my name. I didn't know how it related to me, or to any Tom, but I had a neighborhood Indian friend when I was at Duggan Junior High School who told me what the name meant. This kid, claiming to be an Indian, never wore a shirt out of school and wore beads around his neck. I had heard that he once ran around Snake Woods in a loincloth, but I had not actually seen this. All of it seemed very Indian-like except for one thing - my friend had bright red hair. Somehow red hair did not go with claims of Indian ancestry.

Anyway, this friend told me that the mountain's name had nothing to do with the Christian name Thomas, but was simply what the Indian's called it in their language and the white folk had adopted it from them. It sounded convincing. I mean the white folk must have been real anxious to adopt Indian names if they were calling places things like Agawam and Chicopee. Why not go all out and take the Indian name for the mountain as well?

Well, that may be a plausible story, but it is as authentic as an Indian with red hair. According to the Wikipedia, this is the real story:

According to popular folklore, Mount Tom takes its name from Rowland Thomas, a surveyor who worked for the settlement of Springfield, Massachusetts in the 1660s. Thomas supposedly named Mount Tom after himself while his fellow surveyor working on the opposite side of the Connecticut River, Elizur Holyoke, gave his name to Mount Holyoke.

In fact Mount Tom is in no way unique. There are 41 other elevated places in America bearing that name. All of the New England states have a Mount Tom, with the exception of Maine. Here are some other interesting facts about Mount Tom from the Wikipedia:

Mount Tom, 1,202 feet (363 m), is a steep, rugged traprock mountain peak on the west bank of the Connecticut River 4.5 miles (7 km) northwest of downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts. The mountain is the southernmost and highest peak of the Mount Tom Range and the highest traprock peak of the 100 mi (161 km) long Metacomet Ridge. A popular outdoor recreation resource, the mountain is known for its continuous line of cliffs and talus slopes visible from the south and west, its dramatic 1,100 feet (335 m) rise over the surrounding Connecticut River Valley, and its rare plant communities and microclimate ecosystems.

Located in Easthampton and Holyoke, Mount Tom is traversed by the 110 mi (177 km) Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and is the transmitter location for three Springfield - Holyoke television stations: WGBY, WGGB, and WSHM-LP, and for radio stations WHYN-FM and WVEI-FM. The name "Mount Tom" is sometimes used to describe the entire Mount Tom Range.

So now you know.

Here is a picture of me taken in 1988 when I was working as a librarian at the Western New England Law School Library. Notice the image of Mickey Mouse doing the Grateful Dead twirl on the side of my desk. Also notice how in that primitive era desks still had typewriters!

Poverty may drive me to it, but I hope I will never be a librarian again. I mean the gay librarian - how embarassingly stereotypical!

Two English businessmen in London were sitting down for a break in their soon-to-be new store. As yet, the store wasn't ready, with only a few shelves set up. One said to the other, "I bet any minute now some idiot tourist is going to walk by, put his face to the window, and ask what we're selling."

No sooner were the words out of his mouth when, sure enough, a curious Irishman walked to the window, had a peek, and in a thick Irish accent asked, "What might ye be sellin' here?"

One of the men replied sarcastically, "We're selling ass-holes."

Without skipping a beat, the Irishman said, "You're doing quite well me've only you two left."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And to think they are still selling assholes up there