Norman Rockwell Museum ~

During my recent trip to the Berkshires my BFF, Alice, and I certainly did pack a lot into the days we were there. Although I’ve posted about most of it, a reader questioned if I visited the Rockwell Museum while in Stockbridge. She made me realize I’d forgotten to mention one of the highlights of our trip!

I’ve loved Rockwell’s portrayal of small town America and the down to earth people in his paintings ever since I can remember. He always managed to capture the good in people. The important events that shape our lives. And most of all he captured an innocence that can disappear but is also capable of returning. So visiting his museum was such a treat for me. The original museum was located downtown on Main Street. It opened in 1969 due to concerned citizens, including Rockwell, who wanted to preserve a historic home that was destined for demolition.  It opened to the public with exhibits from the town library’s historical collection and original Rockwell paintings loaned by the artist. Nearly 5000 people visited in the first year. 

To insure future care, preservation and public access to his work, Rockwell entrusted his art to the Museum in 1973.  Over time, the quarters became too tight to accommodate large crowds and in 1993 the Museum relocated to the former Linwood Estate in Stockbridge. The Museum could now welcome thousands of visitors annually to its scenic 36-acre campus.

Alice and I attended the guided tour and I was surprised to learn information I had not known before. I thought Rockwell was originally from Stockbridge or that area. Wrong. He was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. In 1915 he moved to New Rochelle, New York where he established his own studio.  After he married and had three sons, he looked for a change of scene and a more rural area to raise his boys.  So they moved to Vermont in 1939. In 1953 the family left Vermont and moved to Stockbridge, where he died at his home there in 1978, at age 84. So I was quite surprised to learn he had actually only lived in Stockbridge the final twenty-five years of his life. 

Alice and I took our time walking through the museum and reading the info beside each painting. Something I had forgotten was that some of Rockwell’s paintings  depicted the struggle for civil rights and other moral concerns. But as soon as I saw his 1964 painting of six-year-old African-American schoolgirl, Ruby Bridges, who was escorted by four U.S. Marshals to her first day at an all-white school in New Orleans…………..I remembered! The painting commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling, intended to integrate public schools.

The museum and paintings were inspiring, uplifting and brought smiles to my face. The grounds were beautiful. We walked down the hill after we visited the gift shop to see the scenery of the hills in the distance and visit Rockwell’s studio.  In 1986 his studio, complete with furnishings were carefully moved with large trucks from his former home just off Main Street to the new site. 

And my favorite painting? It’s, Girl at the Mirror, 1954. The girl is contemplating her reflection and with the doll on the floor and movie magazine on her lap (I loved both as a young girl!) it captures a girl’s coming of age from childhood to womanhood……….and proves to me again how I’ve truly come full circle.

In the turmoil and uncertainty of today’s world, I think we all need a little Norman Rockwell in our lives.

See you here next time………………..

 

Berkshires ~ Part II

The evening we arrived it was spitting rain and a chilly/raw 36 degrees! Having left New England 30 years ago, this wasn’t chilly…..to me, it was downright cold! But we weren’t there to enjoy the weather. There was too much fun to be had. And each day got a bit warmer, so that by Thursday we hit a balmy 63 degrees, with sunshine and a definite feel of spring in the air.

When I visited Williamstown at age 14 with my parents, the one thing that made the biggest impression on me was the white steeple church. It gave me a sense of truly coming full circle when I returned last week and saw the exact church as I had remembered it over so many years!

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Half the fun was driving from town to town, discovering new shops, seeing new things, meeting new people, and always………lots of laughing. I feel the Berkshires are the epitome of New England. So much history, so picturesque and so many charming towns.

One of my favorites was Stockbridge. For some reason, I just resonated with the downtown area and Main Street. Such pretty old-fashioned shops, tulips and daffodils in bloom, huge leafy trees and very friendly people.

 

And as we were strolling about, all of a sudden my eye caught a sign hanging from a building. Walking closer to read it, I hollered to Alice, “LOOK at this! Talk about serendipity!” I had completely forgotten that Arlo Guthrie’s song, Alice’s Restaurant, had been written about the REAL Alice’s Restaurant in Stockbridge, Massachusetts! The original has closed, but in its place? Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe! Yes, I go by “Terri” but my given name is Theresa, spelled exactly that way. Definitely a serendipity moment for the two of us!

At the end of the street is the beautiful and historic Red Lion Inn. Needless to say, this is where we chose to have lunch. We enjoyed a nice glass of wine, a delicious lunch and we wandered about enjoying the antique furniture and beautiful decor. The Red Lion has a lovely gift shop and after browsing in there, we got a drink at the bar to take outside to their veranda overlooking Main Street. This was our final day in the Berkshires, but as we sat there sipping our drink, we looked back over the past week and held our memories close. Because even though Alice is now back in the Boston area and I’m here in Florida, we’ll always be only a phone call or text away. Because that’s just how it is with best friends! And the best part? We loved the area and time together so much………we are already booked at the Cornell Inn in Lenox to return next year on May 7. Hey, life is too short not to have wonderful plans to look forward to! Next year we’re planning to use Lenox as our base again, but we’ll drive north to Vermont for a day and west to up state New York for another day. Oh…..the memories ahead of us!

See you here next time…………………..

Trip to Berkshires ~ Part I

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I flew back to Florida this past Friday and I returned home with a multitude of memories! What a great girlfriend get-away it was! Alice picked me up at Logan Airport and we headed west to Lenox in the Berkshires. We arrived at the beautiful, historic, Cornell Inn just before 8 PM.  We had booked the Truman Suite, which was ideal for two women traveling together. Two connected rooms and we each had our own space. But we could easily gather in Alice’s room in the evening to sip wine, laugh and talk.

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THE CARRIAGE HOUSE

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MY ROOM

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HALLWAY SEPARATING OUR ROOMS

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ALICE’S ROOM

We checked in, dropped the luggage and headed downtown to the Olde Heritage Tavern for something to eat. We quickly realized this was the local hangout in town. Everyone was so friendly! Even the owner, who has owned the place for 17 years, came over to chat with us. The clam chowder was excellent!

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DELICIOUS!

Alice brought some wonderful cheeses from the cheese shop in Salem, along with crackers and olives for us to snack on in the evenings when we got back to the Inn. 

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The first night we were bad girls and up till one in the morning, drinking Proseco, laughing and talking! Reminded me of high school days………over 50 years later! 

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The Inn served a full breakfast in a beautiful setting, in the main house. It reminded me of many of the Inn’s I’ve stayed at in England. Beautiful grounds, friendliness and perfect.

Staying in Lenox was excellent because it was the perfect base to visit the surrounding towns in the Berkshires. On Tuesday we headed south for a short 45 min. drive to Great Barrington and Stockbridge. Discovered a yarn shop in Great Barrington with a wonderful shop kitty.

On Wednesday, we drove one hour east to Northampton. If you’re a knitter, you’ll appreciate that we visited WEBS, the huge yarn shop and warehouse. Alice and I have been ordering from them online for years, so it was a treat to be able to actually visit in person! My daughter, Susan, lives about 90 min. away, so she met us there which was really nice! Needless to say, all three of us were in knitters paradise!

And after we were exhausted from yarn shopping, we made our way to Sylvester’s in downtown Northampton for a wonderful lunch. I bought a lot of yarn and they’re shipping it down to Florida for me. 

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Terri, Alice & Susan

I have more photos and commentary to share with you. So join me here next time for Part II……………

My Native State ~

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So tomorrow I fly back to my roots….the state of Massachusetts. I’ve blogged about my trip on here and I’m very much looking forward to it!

My BFF, Alice, will pick me up at Logan and we’ll drive the 3 hours to the Berkshires. We’re booked at a historic inn in Lenox.

If you’re a knitter, you’ll appreciate that we’ll be visiting WEBS, the humongous yarn shop and warehouse in Northampton! 

So I’ll be off the radar all week. You take care and I’ll see you when I return. Promise to have lots of photos and commentary for you. But if you’re on Instagram, join me there for updates.

See you here next time………………

Friends Who Are Gone ~

One cannot reach the age of 70 and not be aware of the losses in one’s life. It’s inevitable. Grandparents. Parents. Possibly siblings. Even a child. I lost another friend this past week and this caused me to pause and think back to others I’ve lost along the way.

I was 38 when I lost my first girlfriend. I had met Cynthia in 8th grade. We had just moved back to Salem from Ohio, where we’d lived for six years. I had to transfer in the middle of the 8th grade which is never easy. But Cynthia was one of the first to welcome me at school. She also had a Polish last name with a million letters and difficult to pronounce. We didn’t really “hang out” in the first couple years of high school but we knew each other and would chat. But we became best friends a couple of years later when we were both young moms. I had my daughter in October of 1964 and she had her son that December. I think we began bumping into each other in downtown Salem as we both pushed baby carriages and a solid friendship was formed. And that friendship grew and lasted until the day she died. Cynthia went through a divorce and ended up becoming a nurse. I really admired that and although I’m not certain, I think it was because of her that I decided at age 30 to attend college and also become an RN. But 8 years later, Cynthia was gone from pancreatic cancer. It was shocking and sad. I was with her a lot during that final year as she fought the battle with radiation and chemo. But in the end, there was no hope and she left behind a son and a daughter, both college students. Maybe because she was the first friend I lost, I took it very hard and even now I look back and have sorrow for all the years she wasn’t able to enjoy and grow older. I’m still in touch with her son on Facebook and that gives me comfort to see the man he became and his four children. Something Cynthia had taken from her.

A couple of years later, I lost another friend, Theresa.  Newly remarried, we bought a home in Peabody and Theresa was our neighbor. She was just two years older than me, we had children the same age and I loved her company. She was a feisty Italian from Dorchester. I admired her spunk and her humor. She attended our daughter’s wedding and we made a lot of memories. So when I moved to Florida, we still stayed in touch. I still remember the day my mother called to tell me it was in the Salem News that Theresa had been killed in a tragic car accident. In Florida. She was down here on vacation with her mother and her sister, Karen, a few years younger. They were driving from the west coast of Florida to the east coast and had been hit head on by a tractor-trailer. All three were killed instantly. Theresa left behind 3 children and Karen left behind one daughter, who I’m still in touch with on Facebook. 

And about a year and a half ago I lost another girlfriend, Karen, at age 70.  In 1965 I moved into an apartment across the street from her. Susan was just a year old and she had two daughters about the same age. We became very good friends over many years. She was my matron-of-honor when I married Ray. We traveled with her and her husband. Over more than twenty years, our friendship grew and endured. We traveled with her and her husband. She visited me in Florida a couple of times. And then, she drifted away. I’ll never know why. Sometimes those things just happen. I tried to pursue the friendship for a while and then gave up. But we had built a history together and I was sad to learn she passed away from a pulmonary disease. All the memories of our friendship surfaced and I felt bad for the years we had lost.

This past September I lost another friend, Maureen. We first became pen pals back in 1978. She lived in England and I was captivated. She was also married with three children. We quickly switched to cassette tapes which enabled us to get to know each other better than letters. I can still recall my excitement in 1985 when Ray and I visited England for the first time and I had the opportunity to finally meet Maureen and her family in person. We even returned a few years later for the wedding of her son. Lots of years of friendship, lots of memories. Maureen had been diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, it spread, none of the treatments worked and she was gone. I’m also friends with her children on Facebook, so I feel a part of her remains in my life.

And then the other day I learned of another friend who passed away, Jean. I met Jean when I worked for a dermatologist in Salem as a secretary. Jean was the office manager and we just clicked. We became very good friends and we also traveled with her and her husband, had dinners at each other’s homes, went to restaurants and social events. When I decided to go to college to become an RN, it was Jean who cheered me on and she was there when I graduated. Although we weren’t quite as friendly during the past years, we still exchanged Christmas cards with a note up until last year. But now, Jean is also gone.

It’s not easy losing a friend but I’m glad they came into my life. Because each one of them represents a particular time in my life that we shared together. Good times. Laughter. Fun times. Even sad times and sorrow. It’s these memories that at age 70 make me realize even more how very precious a good friendship is and how those memories are all part of my journey. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything! 

See you here next time……………..