There are few things I like better than walking along a great Main Street.
For the past two days, I’ve been lucky enough to walk around four terrific Main Streets: Middletown, Connecticut; Amherst and Northampton, Massachusetts; and tiny Red Hook, NY.
You can pick up life lessons on Main Street – like the bumper sticker I saw on a car parked along Northampton’s Main Street this morning: Just say NO to Negativity.
You can also meet very interesting people. While taking photos around Northampton, I was approached by a resident of the streets of the city. He must have seen my inner preservationist (sometimes people who look at the world a little differently have great powers of observation), because he told me he liked to work for the “hysterical society.” He then proceeded to point out the historical courthouse (where Calvin Coolidge first practiced law) – a very nice 1885 building seen in the photo above.
My new friend then pointed in the opposite direction and identified the Northampton City Hall. “See those turrets?” he asked. “Every time I look at them I expect to see archers peering over the top.” And then he extended his arms as if shooting a bow and arrow. Take a look for yourself and see if you don’t agree.
As he left me to go have his morning coffee in the basement of The First Church, this local historian pointed out that Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan theologian, had preached in that very building. It was a nice history lesson to start the day.
Last evening we stayed at the Hotel Northampton, which is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America group. This is a wonderful establishment, located right in the heart of Main Street. We enjoyed the restaurant, the staff, the rooms, and the ambiance.
You can also eat well on Main Street. Over the past few days we’ve yet to visit a chain restaurant, but have enjoyed some tasty local meals at the New England Emporium in Middletown, the Fresh Side in Amherst, and the gourmet J & J’s Cafe in Red Hook. Everyone’s enjoying trying out the local fare.
And to be neighborly, one should plan on doing a little shopping along Main Street. I’ll have to admit, I may have gone overboard on this point but it isn’t every Main Street that has a fabulous instrument store along the lines of the Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst, where they had JUST the type of guitar I’ve been looking for over the past year. The proprietors, Tony and Mario, listened to me play on several instruments, and then brought out a used Parlor guitar in great condition made by Rick Davis at Running Dog Guitars. I was sold.
Hey, I’ll admit it isn’t every day you find the guitar of your dreams on Main Street, but you can always find great people, great food, and great places.
More to come…
Image: Courthouse in Northampton, Massachusetts