Vol. II No. 11 6/1/2021
Stockbridge Memories — Stockbridge Education
by Bruce Blair
It has been nearly 50 years since I went to work for Roy Boutard at the Berkshire Garden Center, now called Berkshire Botanical Gardens, and learned about how plants grow, how to make maple syrup, drive a tractor, take care of tools, run a Locke mower. It was a typical Stockbridge education for that time. Roy had a Danish/English accent, not from around these parts, but he was down to earth and unpretentious, kind and funny. Both the Garden Center and Stockbridge seemed a little more rugged than they do today.
I lived 200 yards away, still do. Walked home for lunch every day, watched Art Fleming on Jeopardy, and learned even more great stuff. Went to college, got a degree. But it was here in Stockbridge that I learned how to watch the hawks along the ridgelines and over the fields, read the water for trout, find constellations in the night sky.
Roy's son, Anthony, taught me how to drive the old Ford 1950s tractor balanced on just two wheels when making a downhill high-speed turn. I figured out how to hang on tight as I stood on the running board of the pickup while he tried to hit 100mph on the Rt 102 flat heading into town. He may have been exaggerating, but who knows?
People made sure I knew that Tanglewood is in Stockbridge, not Lenox. I learned that Nate Horwitt invented the frameless picture frame and the faceless watch, but his best work was teaching me how to plow and use a corn planter. I learned how to ride Charlie Coomb's horse because he was a good guy and let me take my time. It was a good horse, civil and tolerant.
We used to have a lot more expansive views of our hills than we do today. Larrywaug did not have as many trees, less invasive brush. From my house, I could see Rattlesnake and Prospect Hills, Beartown ridge, even Monument Mountain if I climbed up on the roof.
Changes happen, some regrettable, some inevitable. Trees have taken away views all over town, but I can still see them in my mind. I live in the here and now, but I can't live without the past and all the things I have learned in Stockbridge, things that matter. I know better than to forget the past and sell out the future.
Photo: Patrick White