Words & Photos
What I write—personal essays and short nonfiction—may not be
for you. But it might be. You can read it here
The weather here all Summer has been really
infernal. Fortunately, there is a tremendous supply of really
good beer, and so I have managed to survive.
H. L. Mencken, letter to Harry Leon Wilson, 23 August 1934
Genealogy, Family History, Local History
- 04-Jul-2014: Edward P. BROOKS: obituary
- 26-Mar-2012: SCANLON, CARPENTER: newspaper articles
- 19-Mar-2012: SCANLON: more family photographs
- 25-Sep-2009: Samuel SMITH: probate records 1840-1842
- 14-May-2009: John BROOKS: patents (1866-1907)
- 10-May-2009: CARPENTER: additional photograph—Reuben
- 07-May-2009: SCANLON: family photographs
- 07-May-2009: BROWN: additional photograph—Jennie
- 05-May-2009: CARPENTER: additional photographs
- 05-May-2009: BROWN: family photographs
- 01-May-2009: CARPENTER: additional photographs
- Vital & Church Records
- MAINE, LEGG: Horton Bishop's Transcripts, 1734-1880
- LEGG, LEGGE, REASON, SPICER: Affpuddle Bishop's Transcripts, 1743-1879
- LARAMEE: Hinsdale, MA Vital Records 1845-1900
- BROWN: Hubbardston, MA Vital Records to 1850
- BARBER, CARPENTER, CHAPIN, MASON, NELSON: Milford, MA Vital Records to 1850
- CARPENTER: Norfolk, MA Vital Records, 1870-1900
- CARPENTER, PECKHAM: N. Attleborough, MA Vital Records 1887-1900
- CARPENTER, SCANLON, et al: Community Church Records, N. Attleborough
- CARPENTER, BROWN, NELSON, MASON, et al: Adin Ballou's personal registers
- DISCO, LARAMEE: Black Brook, NY Vital Records
- DISCO, LARAMEE: Clinton County, NY Church Records
- DISCO, LARAMEE: Keeseville, NY Church Records
- ALDRICH: Blandford, MA Vital Records
- BARLOW, FLETCHER, LEGGE, SCANLON: Cumberland, RI Vital Records
- CLAPP: Norton, MA Vital Records
- Probate Records
- Cemetery Records
- BARBER, CARPENTER, MASON, NELSON, PARK, et al: Cemetery Records & Monument Inscriptions, Pine Grove Cemetery, Milford, MA
- CARPENTER, PECKHAM, SCANLON, et al: Cemetery Records & Monument Inscriptions, Mt. Hope Cemetery, N. Attleborough, MA
- SCANLON, LEGGE, et al: Cemetery Records & Monument Inscriptions, Moshassuck Cemetery, Central Falls, RI
- DISCO, LARAMEE: Clinton County, NY Monument Inscriptions & Cemetery Records
- CARPENTER: Monument Inscriptions, Old First Cemetery, Upton, MA
- CLAPP: Monument Inscriptions, Timothy Plain Cemetery, Norton, MA
- ALDRICH: Cemetery Records & Monument Inscriptions, Pine Hill Cemetery, Westfield, MA
- LARAMEE, et al: Monument Inscriptions, St. Thomas Cemetery, Huntington, MA
- LEGGE, SCANLON: U. S. Censuses
- LABOMBARD, LAFOND, LARAMEE: U. S. 1920 Census, Huntington
- LARAMEE: U. S. 1920, 1910, 1900 Census, Huntington;
1870, 1860, 1850 Census, Black Brook.
- LARAMEE: Berkshire County, Massachusetts, U. S. 1920 Census
- BARBER, CARPENTER, CHAPIN, MASON, NELSON, et al: U.S. 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 Census, Milford, MA
- Ancestral places
- Stockport, Cheshire, England
- Dorset, England
- Hampden and Hampshire Counties, Massachusetts
- Milford, Worcester, Massachusetts
- CARPENTER: Upton, Worcester, Massachusetts
- ALDRICH: Brookline Avenue neighborhood, Westfield, MA
- Military Records
- Family Photographs
Away from Home
John Knightley only was in mute astonishment. —
That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after
a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half a
mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed
company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of
civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike
him deeply. A man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in
the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long
talking, and might have been silent, who had been in more than one
crowd, and might have been alone! —; Such a man, to quit the
tranquillity and independence of his own fireside, and on the
evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the
world!... John Knightley looked at him with amazement, then
shrugged his shoulders....
Jane Austen, Emma
There is no frigate like a folding aluminum lawn chair, but
occasionally the satisfaction of sitting in the driveway yelling at
lost Rhode Island tourists and stray kids on bikes pales enough to
motivate me to travel. But not far, and to geezer-friendly
- It's not a road trip unless you stop at Miss Florence's diner. Apparently it changed hands early this
century, and it apparently no longer has a web site—you wouldn't
in the '50s, would you? But it's in the
National Register of Historic Places.
- SovInformBureau has all
the codes, probably directly from the KGB:
airports and airlines.
- Although the Topsfield Fair
is my favorite—it's in cool October, and Old Man Scanlon's Black as Sin Stygian Midnight
Porter won a first prize in the 1998 home brew competition—The
Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association will introduce you to
- Updated 14August2010 Martin Lewis.
- Worcester Art Museum
- The Red Lion Inn,
Stockbridge. A pleasant stop if you avoid the Mass Pike while
driving to the Catskills. I haven't been there in several years, but
it's a good sign that the music has disappeared from the web site.
- The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge
- Massachusetts speedtraps
- Geezer nirvana: Mohonk Mountain
House. Visited in 2010—still pretty close to nirvana, even
after several years of spiraling rate increases. It's much more
yuppie-oriented and homogeneous; the eccentric old ladies of modest
means who'd go for (relatively) inexpensive cramped rooms sharing a
bath have been squeezed out. But perhaps a slight loss of character
was the price of its survival.
- Harvard, Massachusetts: Oxbow
National Wildlife Refuge and Fruitlands Museum. To minimize
cash outlay, plan to arrive at Fruitlands after it closes. Park on
Prospect Hill Road and soak up the amazing vista to ease your
disappointment. Then go to Oxbow for an idyllic walk through the
woods punctuated by rifle fire from Fort Devens, just across the
- Panoramas of Burke's Beach, Marshfield, and other locations on the Irish Riviera.
- Ten Mile River.
Geezer at the Tracks
You enterprised a railroad through the valley.... The valley is gone, and the
gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour,
and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton.
John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera
Hanging around at the railroad tracks is Old Man Scanlon's idea of
a good time. It's virtually the only place where you can see,
hear, and feel trains operating at the speed God intended. Seeing
things and identifying them is the major draw, but vision isn't
the only sense to exercise—I heard my first American bittern
at the tracks. And occasionally you'll bump into another
The obligatory safety warning: trains are much bigger and faster
than you, and often surprisingly silent. Do not trespass.
- Web sites
- Equipment rosters (current)
- Where's it going? Good luck finding out. Public equipment-tracing is no longer de rigueur
- A lot grows near the tracks; granted, nothing quite as warm and cuddly
as a Conrail B23-7. Useful for identifying the animate objects:
- Even along the Northeast Corridor, there are places with old telegraph
(?) lines and glass insulators. Well, there used to be, anyway, until
burly men with chainsaws fixed that for the electrification project.
- Since 1964 or earlier, kids have placed pennies on the tracks to squash
them, but they didn't often find them. Find out
where the pennies go.
- Old Man Scanlon's historic photographs
of the New Haven and New York Central.
- Old Man Scanlon's contemporary
photos, including a CSX rail train in Attleboro and MBTA gondolas on PWRR's East Junction
Branch, in the NERAIL Photo Archive.
- Your Massachusetts tax
dollars at work at the MBTA's Attleboro station.
Technology, People, Shiny Things
It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epistles (88,45)
Dimly aware of my surroundings.
Pumpkins, whales, and inanimate objects fly.
- The Times (London) reports ("Cow-tipping myth hasn't got a leg to stand on,"
by Jack Malvern, published at 12:00AM, November 5 2005; paywalled)
that an analysis by Canadian
researchers indicates that
is a myth. (You can tell it's not an American newspaper—they
use the term "cos theta" apparently expecting their readership to
understand; more typically newspaperish, they do misspell
"hypotenuse.") The conclusion, based on a static model, is
overstated. Even the researchers' more appropriate hypothetical
dynamic models ignore the most obvious indicator of successful
cow-tipping: the surprise factor. The idea is not to push the cow
over, but to startle it into losing its balance. They do mention
that it's hard to sneak up on a sleeping cow and hint at the
difficulty of effective team play, but if it were easy everyone
could do it. The stealth and subtlety involved in Olympic-caliber
cow-tipping is awesome to behold.
- The Algorithmic Beauty
of the Trebuchet, including an OS X simulator application.
- The Chaos Hypertextbook™ and
OS X software.