The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, August 28, 2017

Beyond the Blue Room

I finally had a chance recently to go down to Springfield and check out the newly restored Union Station (above in 1926) which opened to the public earlier this year for the first time since 1974. I remember going to the old station with my maternal grandmother as a small child, with my main memories being the iconic clock and the large wooden benches. Here's a picture of what they looked like:

I'm referring to them in the past tense, because they are not part of the newly renovated station as a result of BEING STOLEN. The thieves were never caught, even though it is impossible to believe that the theft was anything other than an inside job. Although authorities insisted the theft was discovered in 2012, and was reported to the police, no police report could be found and the public was not informed of the theft until 2016. Even more intriguing, this picture from the Springfield Republican dated July 2014, two years after the theft was alleged to have occurred, shows there were numerous benches very much still in the station.

You mean to tell me that the security personnel on site saw nothing, even though moving 40 huge benches must have involved several trucks? That it was impossible for local law enforcement to identify suspects by determining who had authorized access? That there was no ability to trace the sale of that quantity of unusual antiques suddenly flooding the market? Whoever stole those benches had to be someone with the political pull to make the site security look the other way and then get the police to back-off on the investigation. In other words, someone at the highest levels of government.

That isn't the only sordid tale of evil predating the grand opening. The Diary of J. Wesley Miller has passages about "how years ago certain cops used to grab minorities off the street as if to arrest them and then take them to a dimly lighted room in Union Station called "The Blue Room" where they would be beaten and robbed by the police." Could it be true that the abandoned station had at one point become a police torture chamber? If so, it must have been terrifying to be taken through the abandoned structure to that room where no matter how loudly you cried out, no one could hear your screams. Looking at this picture taken inside before the renovation, one can't help but wonder which portal led to the Blue Room.

But that was then, and this is now.

I've gotta admit, the joint looks pretty good, even with cheap seats standing in for the majestic stolen benches.

In an attempt to partially compensate for the benches, an honest attempt was made to recover and display the surviving memorabilia from the station's glory days.

Indeed the old girl is looking good....

....and hopefully beginning a new chapter, one that won't be held back by thieving politicians and one that can go beyond the legacy of the Blue Room.

Monday, August 21, 2017


I'm old enough to have seen a number of eclipses of the sun and moon, so I wasn't really all that excited about the one this afternoon. However, as a sometimes citizen journalist who sometimes attends things of public interest, and this being sorta the kind of thing I sometimes cover, I decided to attend the public eclipse watching party at the mystical sunwheel at UMass. I began my journey by passing through the Southwest tunnel.

I took the path past the ancient willow, one of the few trees still standing from the days when the Southwest dorm complex was just a farmer's field.

The lighting was similar to dusk or a rainy day, although the sky was mostly clear and it was only 2:15pm.

Passing the UMass stadium, I was surprised to realize this was the first time I had set foot on those stadium grounds since I saw the Grateful Dead there in -gulp!- 1979.

What would that years ago me have thought, if through some transcendent tear in the time/space continuum during Jerry's guitar solo, I had looked decades into the future to see me walking by today? Would I be pleased or disappointed to observe that I never quite escaped the UMass orbit? Probably I would just be glad to see I was still alive at all in the distant 2017, as even back then I was already exhibiting behavior that was inspiring doubt about my longevity.

Young Tom: "Good to see you!"

Old Tom: "Good to be seen."

Soon I found myself approaching the observation site of the cosmic event. There was quite a big crowd.

The local media was there as well.

The crowd mingled among the ancient stones. I've been told that local pagans perform moonlight rituals at this site.

Lots of people had homemade viewing devices, like this one my friend made that forms an E for eclipse!

The event was put on by the UMass Astronomy Department and their student association, which provided telescopes with special filters for magnified viewing.

Elsewhere, Congressman Jim McGovern watching the eclipse.

Congressman Richard Neal and Beth Ward.

Bobby Weir grooving to the eclipse.

The First Family.


photo courtesy of mark davis and mitch ogulewicz

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Truckin' down the avenue in downtown Hamp, window shopping at Faces....

....I came upon this sign:

It was in front of the building beside First Church.

I walk past that building every day and have sometimes wondered what the upper floors were like. Hey, here was a chance to find out, so I headed up the carpeted staircase.

It led to a huge apartment that actually covers two floors, large spacious rooms with nothing in them that was not very photogenic so I didn't take a picture of any of them. However, there is a staircase leading to the roof, where I found myself on a patio and virtually face to face with the historic First Church clock!

A dizzying look down at the seething metropolis below:

A look across the street and at the Holyoke mountain range beyond, what the Valley Indians originally called "The Seven Sisters."

I didn't bother asking what they were asking for the joint, because I knew it was a rent I could never afford. I guess I'll just sit in the Dr. Seuss chair out in Pedal People Land with the chickens and the ducks and the woodland way and all the wild things. We don't have roof parties, but we do have fun.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

summer series

Last night I checked out the Northampton Summer Concert Series at Pulaski Park and took this video of a song by the band Rebelle, at least until the battery on my camera ran out.

I hate when that happens. Mary Hurley and Linda Melconian at The Fort. Photo by Keith Sikes.

Jim Sampson, owner of Music World, which he has operated for 52 years in Pine Point, shown in front of a thirty year old ad for his former student Tony McAlpine. During the late 1950's, Sampson was a major figure in the early years of the Pioneer Valley rock n' roll scene.

Here's a sign that has appeared in the restrooms of the Haymarket Cafe:

I guess it's just a sign of the times, and not a good one.