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.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Fort

The other day the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning held an open house. I've toured the building already, but new board member Helen hadn't, so Cousin Joanne and I accompanied her on a quick visit. Joanne's the standing board member who had nominated Helen.

We met at the Fort Restaurant in Springfield before heading over to Chicopee. We sat in a booth by the bar and had spiked eggnogs. The place, always animated and cheerful, was still decorated for the holidays and looking particularly festive. This display of carved wooden figurines suspended over the bar caught my eye amongst the amiable jumble of gewgaws.

I've been going to the Fort since I was a little girl. I've got a lot of happy memories of the place. It's a sort of Bavarian wonderland in the middle of downtown Springfield. The bar section is actually called the Student Prince Café, the same as a place my Uncle Stanley owned when I was a kid. And, according to Uncle Stanley, his café came first, and Rupprecht Scherff copied the name. That was back in the '30s. All parties privy to the truth are dead.

Anyway, Uncle Stanley's café is gone, and this one remains. The Fort stands on the site of the actual fort built in 1660 by William Pynchon to defend Springfield from the Indians. Springfield was burned to the ground in 1675 by the Pocumtuck Indians. Only the fort remained. It stood until 1831, a victim finally of urban renewal. Let's hope Charlie Ryan never decides to "improve" the spot.

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