Thursday, April 23, 2009

Return to Fitchburg

After 1,390.5 miles of driving over two days, I arrived in the ancestral homeland -- Massachusetts -- on Tuesday night.

And how do I know I was back in Fitchburg? I could buy a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

... and a copy of the Boston Globe. It might be going broke, but it's still a hell of a paper. Today's editorial page was miles better than the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It actually took a stand on important issues.

Every stop in Fitchburg has a good memory. The Dunkin' is on the site of the old MaryAnn Donuts, where the family would stop for a treat after Friday night swim at the Y. It's right across the street from Crocker Field, where we used to watch the Fitchburg High School Red Raiders football team, from the spot just in front of the WEIM location in the pressbox, the better to have our obscenities broadcast to the world.

Every view is like that. This one. My old elementary school -- the brick building -- and the paper mills that made the city hum back in the day when this country not only had a manufacturing base, but a thriving one. I could tell you, I think, what every building in this city used to be. That yellow one use to be Godroy Wholesalers.

It's a city chiseled into the granite hills, and a welcome antidote to two days of driving across the flatland of the nation's midsection.

Fitchburg has its problems. I could barely see as I drove in last night -- being rainy and all -- because the city has turned off most of its street lights to save money.

It got hit -- bad -- by an ice storm this winter. Residents have cleaned up the debris and put it out by the road where they've been told the city will pick it up. But nobody has picked it up and it's almost May.

I haven't had a chance to look at the damage around my mother's house yet. Yes, this is the roof I fell off of last year (from the peak).

Most of my work today was spent indoors, rewiring a nursery light system for my mother's flowers and vegetable seedlings in the basement. I got to see the route from Ashburnham St., to Home Depot several times, however. And she's good to go and should be in good shape to get a head start on growing other crops if Massachusetts ever legalizes marijuana.

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