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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New England Vampires

With Halloween approaching this week, we give thought to an episode in New England history when vampires were thought to dwell among us.
Not vampires like Dracula, but it was very common in the folklore of New England, even unto the early 1800s, that death by consumption—or tuberculosis as we now call it—was due to the souls of the dead feeding on the living.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection, easily spread among people in close quarters.  Entire families were wiped out by the disease, but with absolutely no knowledge of germs, the infected victims and their frightened relatives sought other answers.

In rural New England, folklore persisted that in order to stop the disease, the body of a family member who died of it would be exhumed, and ritually desecrated in various manners—the organs would be removed and burned, or the head decapitated, or the body simply turned over to face downward.

It might have given a panicked family a night’s sleep to think they’d solved the problem, but the ritual obviously did nothing to curb the consumption of remaining family members.
A fascinating article on the subject by Abigail Tucker, which begins with an eerie investigation into an unmarked graveyard and leads to incidents in Griswold, Connecticut; Woodstock, Vermont; Plymouth, Massachusetts; and Exeter, Rhode Island; was published in Smithsonian magazine in October 2012, and reads like a mystery novel, an historical documentary, and a tantalizing ghost story.  You can read it here.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gilbertville Covered Bridge - Hardwick & Ware, Massachusetts

The Gilbertville Covered Bridge, also known as the Ware-Hardwick Covered Bridge, built in 1887, crosses the Ware River between the central Massachusetts towns of Ware and Hardwick.  Gilbertville is the village in Hardwick where the bridge is located.

These photos are from 1992, a period between two important restorations.  The bridge is a little over 136 feet long, and about 24 feet wide, with a roadway of a little over 19 feet. 
It had been restored in 1987, but due to a number of issues, including a pernicious beetle infestation, was closed to traffic in 2002, finally rebuilt and opened again to traffic in 2010.

Have a look here for more on the Gilbertville Covered Bridge.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Book - The Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 16th, I'll be speaking before the Chicopee Historical Society in the Community Room of Ames Privilege, lower Springfield Street, Chicopee, Mass. on three men who all worked at the Ames Manufacturing Company during the Civil War, and how the links and coincidences between them illustrate the Northern Civil War experience in a small factory town.  The event is free and open to the public.

Also, my latest book on the subject, The Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts - A Northern Factory Town's Perspective on the Civil War will be for sale at the event.  It is also available in paperback from, Barnes &, and CreateSpace.  It is available as an eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Sony and other online shops.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley - Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

Bridge Street on Shelburne Falls is the gateway to adventure.  At least the alley to which the arrow on this handy sign is pointing.  It leads us to...

The appropriately named Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley, where folks have been bowling "half Worcesters" since 1906.  It's candlepin, of course.  Have a look here at a previous post on candlepin bowling, and here at the Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley website for more info on the world of fun waiting for you at the end of the alley. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Naugatuck River Review - Westfield, Massachusetts

The Naugatuck River Review is a journal of narrative poetry published twice yearly in Westfield, Massachusetts by poet/editor Lori Desrosiers, whose poems have been widely published and who has taught poetry in area colleges.

The recent Summer 2013 collection of poetry, the 10th issue, includes the work of several poets from around the country.  The poems are richly evocative and tell soft, contemplative stories, brooding memories, or things that have happened to you before.

Have a look here at the Naugatuck River Review website for more information on the journal and how to subscribe, and here at Lori Desrosiers' blog for coming events of her own poetry readings.

Now Available