Monday, March 03, 2008

A Berkshire comeback

When I was growing up in Central Massachusetts, I felt about the Berkshires the way most people in Massachusetts feel about the Berkshires -- they're out by California somewhere. As luck would have it, and it is luck, my third job in radio took me to the Berkshires. I ended up meeting my wife there, I wouldn't have gotten the call to Boston if I didn't work at one particular station and if Boston hadn't called, neither would New York and, then neither would the Berkshires again, and then neither would Minnesota. And so on and so on and so on.

It may be one of those places, though, that you don't want spend too much more time there because you can't go home again, much like Jeff Opdyke and his wife discovered when the Wall St. Journal columnist and his wife discovered when they moved back to Baton Rouge from the northeast several years ago. Baton Rouge. Berkshires. Same thing.

In my first trip through the Berkshires -- as a poor and soon-to-be-ditched spouse -- I lived in Pittsfield. In the winters, a newsman, Jeff Gluck, at the competing station in town and I would ski in the morning at Jiminy Peak (we got "press passes," which was probably unethical, but so what? We made about $125 a week), and then work in the afternoons. How many people can do that?

Tonight I watched a James Taylor concert, recorded last summer at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. I saw Star Wars II at the Colonial Theater, and then it was going to be torn down. Tonight was the first time I've followed its restoration, which -- like everything else -- has been documented on You Tube.

At the time, Pittsfield was home to General Electric, and was the largest manufacturing facility for large power transformers in the world. It employed more than 5,000 people and was the primary polluter of the Hudson River. It closed during my second foray through the Berkshires.

It's hard to make a living in the Berkshires, which perhaps is why most people make their fortune in New York and then move there. I haven't been to Pittsfield in quite a few years now. Maybe this summer.

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