The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Down the Shute

Greetings and Salutations on The Feast of Fools

Speaking of fools, I can't believe how people in Northampton just blithely step into the street expecting the cars to stop.

The amazing thing is that the cars actually do stop. In Springfield you would have a low life expectancy if you tried to cross the street like that.

How cool is this? An entire poem by Amherst College professor Robert Frost scrawled on the guardrail of the footbridge across the Connecticut River.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I'm glad I live in a place where poetic masterpieces appear as graffiti. This poster is outdated.

Seems a lot of people are missing this these days.

Hey let's go peace-out at the Haymarket....

....and go up to the counter and I'll order a coffee and you can get a banana shake.

Then go downstairs where it's quieter and more private.

See that square enclosure, that's an old coal shute. In the olden times the coal man would use it to pour the coal into the cellar for the furnace.

Now it is decorated with religious icons.

See the light shining through the top? This is what it looks like from the sidewalk outside.

In Amherst today the UMass football team was raising money for autistic kids.

The 1975 film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, a so-so thriller based on a so-so book, is none the less an eternal local favorite due to the fact that large sections of it were filmed in the Pioneer Valley, especially downtown Springfield. Northampton videomaster Dann Vazquez has spliced together all of the Springfield scenes for your viewing pleasure, which capture the city's downtown during a time of heavy construction and "revitalization." Sadly, most of the new buildings they put up were way inferior to the ones they tore down.

Some say this opening was the final nail in the coffin of downtown Springfield.


Anonymous said...

In Northampton it's the pedestrians you got to watch out for, in Amherst it's the drivers.

I saw that Peter Proud movie years ago, God was it awful. Glad someone thought of condensing it into segments of local interest.

Jim said...

Darn, left out the great pictures of 80 Cornell St, the house everyone now refers to as the Peter Proud house because of the movie. was fun to see all that was being built at the time, and yes, so much great architecture was destroyed in the name of progress.

Anonymous said...

I love that movie! I remember riding our bikes around town trying to get a glimpse of Jennifer O' Neill. And that mural at 2:04 is a blast from the past. Remember.... it depicted several African Americans with huge afros and bell bottoms high stepping through an orange and yellow background? Richard.

Foggy Notion said...


Re Haymarket; although I'm sure the building HAD a coal shute, with those glass bricks on the sidewalk, I'm pretty sure that's always been a light well to bring natural light into the basement.

Re Peter proud, if I remember correctly, they also shot a bunch of outside stuff up in the woods in the Wilbraham/Hampden/Monson area including some shots around a pond.

Tom said...

FN - You may be right, but it is also possible the glass bricks were put in after they no longer had a coal burning furnace. Anyway, you are definitely right about Peter Proud having shots filmed from other parts of the Valley such as Wilbraham and Longmeadow.

Anonymous said...

And shots in Northampton too. I remember the scene in which they are driving on Main Street and the woman asks Peter Proud if he knows what this town is famous for, he does not, and she tells him "girls"..... as Smith College is here. I seem to recall a scene in Historic Deerfield too. Richard.

Jesse1986 said...

I saw that movie years ago on TV, right after I moved to Springfield in 1995. I live on Edwards Street directly behind the Quadrangle. The tore the building down in 2001 to expand the museums. They basically used that as a ruse to get everyone out of their. It's a fenced off lot now. I guess the people from the suburbs who visited the museum didn't want to catch anything from us working class folk. I had elderly neighbors who had lived there for 40+ years. They were given $200 cash and moving expenses and sent to live in senior housing. Not one of them lived more than two more years. Thanks for posting this as there was no DVR when I saw this on TV and I never saw the video or DVD where I could freeze-frame. It's strange seeing Springfield in the midst of all the "urban renewal. There was a lot of demolition, but Springfield still seems to have more historic and older buildings than a lot of similar cities. Thank God for that, and let's hope Springfield eventually does bounce back. It's down, but not out.

Jesse1986 said...

I meant to say I "lived" on Edwards St, not "live".