Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I was struck with a wave of nostalgia when I noticed that they're finally tearing down the old paint and hardware store called Pope's in my hometown.
My dad used to go there a lot when I was little, with hectic emergency plumbing issues and stalled lawnmower mysteries. Somehow he always found that badly needed copper coupling or mechanical cable-gizmo that would set our lives back on course again. I had gone there just a couple times myself, when I was older. It wasn't a particularly important place for me personally as far as purchases go, since many modern competitors had sprung up during my time. But the image of that familiar looking building and it's familiar looking owner runs deep, back to the earliest memories of life in my hometown. They were always there.
We had a couple hours to spend last Sunday. And now being in the mood for such a thing, I went to show Kelly a couple of spots in my hometown that had figured importantly to my youthful development, back in the day. There were many hidden spots in Ludlow where we'd hang out as teens. One spot was the woods behind the hydroelectric plant known as Red Bridge.
It's probably not a particularly powerful generator, as there are only three electric lines emanating from it. Probably enough for a neighborhood, I suspect.
The other side of the plant is a famous fishing spot, but from my experience, one of those that has more fame than fish.
This is where the actual 'hanging out' used to occur, on the odd summer night, before the powers that be finally got wise and installed a gate blocking it off to vehicles.
The name Red Bridge is from the covered bridge that used to span across the Chicopee River, connecting Palmer and Ludlow, until the infamous Hurricane of 38' made splinters of it. A sturdy dam now sits on the location, with overflows on each end. The end that serves the hydroelectric plant has a red building over it, reminiscent of the old covered bridge.
We walked along the top of the dam to the other side, where the Chicopee river was swelling over the top in a pretty impressive display, by sleepy Ludlow standards...
Here's a quick look-around:
From that location we could see our next: Up on a nearby hill, the top of the old fire tower peeked above the tree line.
A short drive, and we were hiking up a path I haven't been on in about 20 years.
Not a half a mile of recollected memories later, there it was...
Just as I remember it. Even better, actually. The tower has been kept up, and looked to be in fine condition. Cell phone and satellite antennae now cling to it's sides, along with the old radio antennae.
The hill is a great location for a fire tower, as it juts up above the surrounding terrain and has unobstructed 360 degree views of the southeastern corner of the valley.
The late day sunlight was beaming through the cloud cover here and there that afternoon, spot-lighting Springfield and Hartford in the distance...
Specks of concrete from here, but entire worlds from within. A little to the north, the sun cast a flattering light on the Mt. Tom and Mount Holyoke ranges.
All these years later and the view hasn't changed; just the perspective...