To anyone who’s ever read an academic monograph on the beach,
The fiancé and I have relocated to Northampton, Massachusetts for the summer. For the moment, I’m still trying to find my bearings, which mostly means charting the routes between our apartment and every café in a two-mile radius. My friend Katie has also lent me her bike while she gallivants through the physical archives of Europe, though I discovered within a minute or two that I have actually forgotten how to ride (with a slightly skinned knee to prove it).
It’s too soon to make any grand observations about Northampton or Western MA, but not to search the digital archive for glimmers of the past. So I turn to Digital Treasures, a joint archive of Central and Western MA’s industrial and agricultural history. The pickings are a little slim for Northampton itself, unless you’re a big fan of Calvin Coolidge, who lived and died here. In the photo below, he was spotted building (or at least modeling beside) a go-kart with his son, just a few years before he would head to the White House.
Maybe I’m just hungry, but personally, I’m a little more thrilled by these 1930s images of Holyoke’s A & P. Nothing like a long line of white guy in white pharmacist’s coats to rouse the appetite.
If that leaves you famished, you can also check out the selectively digitized recipes from the McIntosh Cookery Collection, including “Mother’s Buns” from the 1941 community cookbook What the Westminster Men Eat and How Their Wives Prepare It. I’m less sure what to make of Our Pet Cook Book from 1937 published by the MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The title suggests Depression-era dishes made for pets, or more grimly from pets. But in reality, like most community cookbooks, it was mostly an assemblage of recipes from the locals.
Still the real star of the McIntosh collection is their elegantly designed New England Chowder Compendium, which allows you to compare wild variety of chowder recipes (corn! oyster! clam!) decade by decade. Here, for one, is the fish chowder recipe from, yes, Our Pet Cookbook. Which raises the important question: would penguins make good pets?
Yours in summer garb,