The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, March 8, 2010


And Thereabouts

Yesterday I went with my friend Jeff Ziff , the Cray Soda heir and renowned blues videographer, to check out the new business he and his wife Sue opened in Palmer a few weeks ago. We met in Hamp and stopped first at Northampton Coffee.

The lady behind the counter there is a real wizard of pouring cream on the various coffee concoctions, making them look like pictures. Here is a fern embedded in a heart.

No extra charge for the edible art. As we passed the "oxbow" section of the Connecticut River, I asked Jeff to stop so that I could photograph something. Many times on the Holyoke bus I have spotted this rusty old sign and I always wanted to check it out. It is located on the side of this leaning shed.

It is a beautiful location right by the water, where swans sometimes go and the trees are really friendly.

This is the sign. It is badly deteriorated but you can still see that it once advertised Pepsi. Even more interesting is the upper advertisement for something called Nu-Grape.

Jeff is an expert on soda memoriabilia and said the sign dates back to the 1930's. Unfortunately at the rate it is rusting it will soon be no more. Eventually we arrived in Palmer where we visited Jeff's Trinkets and Treasures Shop.

It is full of everything its name implies. Check it out for yourself on Rte 20 someday - it's a nice ride to get there too.

While in Palmer we figured we may as well check out their historic and recently restored train station.

The inside has been made into a beautiful new restaurant. When you go shopping for antiques at Jeff's place be sure to make plans to have lunch at the train station after.

Since we were in the area we decided to take a look at Monson's Conant Brook Dam, which we had heard was really scenic. On the way there we passed the Quaboag Riders, where my friend Bodie Chesbro used to go.

We decided to stop in and watch the kids zoom around the track for a while.

Driving through Monson we came upon this ancient building by Lynch Street. No clue as to when it was built, but this is a true New England Classic.

Also intriguing was this thick coil of searope on the old handmade stone wall in front of the house. Rope like this was probably used for a big boat on the Cape.

Finally we arrived at the dam, which was just as beautiful as advertised.

The all-knowing Wikipedia describes the dam thusly:

The Conant Brook Dam is located on Conant Brook in Monson, Massachusetts, about 7.4 miles (11.9 km) upstream from the confluence of Conant Brook and the Quaboag River. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) east of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Designed and constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, this dam substantially reduces flooding along the Quaboag, Chicopee, and Connecticut rivers. Construction of the project began in 1964 with completion in 1966 at a cost of US$2,950,530.

The Conant Brook Dam is located within the Chicopee River watershed and is part of the Connecticut River basin. Access to the site is available from State Route 32 and State Route 19.

The water level however was unusually low. Frankly we've had more cold than snow this year, and the Conant Brook is running quite narrowly.

In the areas meant to handle overflows it is bone dry.

Later we went to a ghostly Monson churchyard.

There I discoverd the highlight of the trip - The first flower of Spring.

The Music Section

This is the best mix of music and politics I've seen a while.

Photo by Tony Mateus


sodafixer said...

Thanks for the plug Tom (Trinkets and Treasures) but I do need to correct one thing...Trinkets and Treasures is my wifes (Sue) vision and hard work...I cant take the credit for it...Thanks again Tom,
Jeff Ziff

Tony said...

Great flower's official!

Larry said...


Good Blog today. I like the nature stuff.

We have been to the Steaming Tender when it first opened, before they finished the Dining Room. For many years, the place was a scond hand, more like a Junk Shop.

Then the couple that now owns it bought it and have done a wonderful job with it.

Also, this area is a "Train Affectionado's Hangout" as you probably noticed by the number of guys & kids on the road with cameras. There are many You-tube videos of trains shot from this location. Palmer was the "Town of Seven Railroads" if you're a history buff.

And your friend Jeff is the heir to the Cray Soda Company, You're an heir to the Willis Oil Company! Tain't worth nuthin, but it sounds impressive!

Tim said...

Hey Tom, That Monson Dam is a great place to XC ski which I've done there several times. There's trail markers, but you can still get really lost because there are no signs with mileage or direction. Two years ago, I came upon three fox. Two of them were getting it on. I heard this is a rare sight. It was for me. I know that.

Anonymous said...

sometimes sacramento is obscured by anger

Mark T. Alamed said...

Signs and dams and flowers...train stations, trinkets, rope and saltboxes...excellent post, Tom, great photos.

Anonymous said...

See Track 5:

I Got Your Ice Cold NuGrape, (1926), (NuGrape Twins)

there's mp3s of the original 78 available on line as well....

Tom said...

Sodafixer, I would have included the picture of your wife, but you were in it with your eyes closed.

Tony, better than my flower photo is your classic downtown Springfield shot.

Larry, thanks for the train info.

Tim, you outfoxed those foxes!

Anon #1 - I'm glad I can't see Sacramento's anger.

Thanks Mark!

Anon #2 - Very cool detective work.