A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Tin Man

Today I went up to Goshen to see Richard Richardson, owner of Good Time Stove Company. Richard's an old hippie who has been collecting, restoring, and selling old stoves since the '70's. He's nationally known as an expert on his specialty. I'd love to put a woodstove or two in the Emory House, but I need plenty of good advice before making a decision. A June day with a high of 86 degrees is as good a time as any to get the attention of someone who doesn't have time to scratch his head come fall and winter.

Richard has a number of acres off Route 112, and he's steadily filling them up with the actualizations of his bizarre and colorful visions. A Tin Man sixteen feet high greets you by the door. Every surface--including windows--of the barn which houses his showroom is covered with found art. Gardens, pergolas, ponds, walls, waterfalls, sculptures, a fire pit, a drum circle, a meditation circle...if it can be constructed in a New England cow pasture by man or machine, Richard's got it. He's presently building an amphitheatre.

Good Time Stove Company is what puts Goshen, population 921, on the map. A handful of travel sites cite the "Tin Man of Goshen" as a worthwhile destination. They'll tell you he was constructed by the proprietor, a metalworker, but that's untrue. Richard bought the Tin Man years ago--he was already a fixture for locals in the '60's--and installed him in his present location. Richard did give the Tin Man a heart, which is illuminated and glows red by night.

Richard claims to have the largest collection of fully restored antique stoves in the world. His showroom is like a museum. All the parlor stoves, pot belly stoves, cookstoves, and ovens look brand-new and gorgeous. Behind the showroom are a heap of sorry-looking items he's rescued but not yet restored. They seem to be pure junk, but when Richard's through with them, they'll stand proudly in the showroom. The man's a genius!


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