I Went Down to the Crossroads

Crossroads Guitar Festival Featuring Eric Clapton (Wikipedia)

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

Every three years, Eric Clapton holds a guitar festival and invites the best guitar players of our time, and most of his favorite legends, like Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman and Jeff Beck. This year the festival was held at Madison Square Garden in New York on April 12th and 13th and sold out in minutes. The festival raises funds for Crossroads, the treatment facility that Clapton started in Antigua.

For those of us not lucky enough to score a ticket, Fathom Events presented a one-night only event in 500 cinemas across the country on Aug. 13th. The 2 1/2 hour film included backstage footage and a front row seat to incredible performances by some of the best musicians around. It surprised me that there were some empty seats. For only $15.00 one could have the privilege to listen to and watch up close, some of the greatest musicians on earth. Many whom I have seen in concert alone, but never collectively. What a treat!

After the first half hour of backstage and NY street footage leading up to the concert which was beautifully shot, Mr. Clapton came out and started the show with a sweet acoustic rendition of “Tears in Heaven”, which he wrote for his 4 year old son who tragically fell to his death in 1991. It was a beautiful way to start the show, but from then on, the electric guitars came out and we were entertained with some outstanding blues pairings.

John Mayer and Keith Urban blew everyone away with the Beatles song, “Don’t Let Me Down”, Jeff Beck still amazing with his young Australian bass player, Tal Wilkenfeld, doing “Going Down”, and Gary Clark Jr. impressing all with his talents and channeling the blues as if it was coming through his pores!

One of the most poignant numbers was Neil Young’s, “The Needle and the Damage Done” performed by Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes. It gave me chills and was apropos since this was for the Crossroads Center. “Midnight Rider” was a crowd favorite and “Why does Love Got to be so Sad” was also a high point!

Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013

The Garden went a little nuts at one point when they realized that Eric walked out onto the stage with non other than Keith Richards. They shared “Key to the Highway” and “Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller”. Clapton also brought us back to the days of Cream with “Sunshine of your Love.” Yes, cream does rise to the top and this collaboration of greats at MSG was the cream of the crop!

One of my favorites was Buddy Guy featuring his protégée, our own hometown boy, 14 year old Quinn Sullivan. Quinn stepped forward during “Damn right, I Got the Blues”, and impressed the hell out of the crowd. It didn’t matter that he was the youngest performer there. He held his own with these guitar greats and has a genuine respect and gratitude for the blues giants who inspire him. Quinn happened to be sitting in the row in front of me with his family, which added to my enjoyment of the film as we all cheered when Quinn first appeared on screen. I saw Quinn at the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford with Buddy Guy 2 years ago, and at that time I was so impressed with him and thought he would go far. Only 2 short years later, he is a rising star.

Other performers included Robert Cray, Vince Gill, BB King and Los Lobos to name a few. Eight hours of music had to be edited down to 2 1/2. Not an easy task but the results were impressive. Aside from the music, there were beautiful shots of New York architecture, skylines and other interesting images.

So, for those of you who missed the concert as well as the movie, look for the DVD out this fall. Hopefully, that will include some added extras like the final jam with all the guitarists, which was not included in the movie. I will most definitely be getting the DVD, but better still, Crossroads 2016 just got added to my bucket list.

Fairhaven (The Movie) Review

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

Last winter my brother Doug and I decided to answer an open casting call for extras in a movie filmed in Fairhaven and, for a lark, we ventured down to the Zeiterion Theatre on a cold January night. We were pleasantly surprised when we got called in as extras. Doug was cast in the funeral scene and I was cast as a grocery shopper. Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the Independent Film Festival in Boston to to see the completed film, Fairhaven (the Movie), which had just come from its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.  What a beautiful film it is!

The film revolves around three men in their mid-30’s who were childhood friends and reconnect in their hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts for the funeral of one of their fathers.

Fairhaven the Movie review
A scene shot at Fairhaven High School.

Tom O’Brien is the multi-talented writer, director and actor in Fairhaven (the movie) and actor Chris Messina, who plays Dave, the dark, dangerous bad boy, collaborated with Tom on the script. Dave fled Fairhaven right after high school, and lost touch with his former friends while running clubs in Vegas.  Jon, Tom’s character, is the former college quarterback who has aspirations to be a writer, but has been working on fishing boats while pondering his life’s purpose. Rich Sommer rounds out the threesome as Sam, the sweet, divorced single father who stayed in his hometown and works hard as a realtor to keep it together, while still harboring feelings for his former wife, Kate, played beautifully and soulfully by Sarah Paulsen.

The town of Fairhaven is another character in the movie. From the opening shot of fishing boats in the New Bedford Harbor to “the fort” scenes, Margarets, the Congregational church, town hall, Cap Log and Fairhaven High, O’Brien shined a light on the beauty of our town with his poignant script. Cinematographer, Peter Simonite, who is fromTexas, was impressed with the light here in Buzzards Bay and really showed off the breathtaking beauty of the Southcoast. The unexpected heavy snowfall only added to nature’s beauty. Tom was said to have pictured the film made in the fall season with football and colorful leaves as backdrop, but about two feet of snow dropped on the first day of shooting. He now says that he can’t imagine the film in any other season.

The film explores our search for happiness while revisiting the past and looking to the future.  A running theme throughout the movie is a Tom Brady quote that disturbs Jon.  After winning three superbowls and marrying a supermodel, Tom was quoted as saying, “Is this all there is?” Sensitive, Jon discusses this with each of his friends, while searching for his next step in life. Each character carries his own baggage, and over the course of the weekend these friends reconnect and try to sort out their own lives and friendships. Although the dialog is excellent, these characters portray so much emotion and passion with their expressions and body language than any dialog could portray.

Fairhaven The Movie Review
Scene shot at Lincoln Park.

There is a scene toward the end of the movie where Dave is walking in the snow and sits on a rock in front of the old roller coaster at Lincoln Park, now abandoned and in ruins. Those of us who grew up in this area have fond memories of Lincoln Park where we spent endless hours on rides at the amusement park, roller skating at the pavilion, and as teenagers, attending dances in the ballroom. I always feel wistful as I drive past the old abandoned park and this symbolic scene was the perfect metaphor. Three aging men are looking back on their youth, dealing with the death of a parent and wondering where their future will take them.

The audience at the film festival was enthralled with the movie and broke into applause at the end. I recently read that Fairhaven won the Audience Appreciation Award. At a question and answer session at the end of the film, I thanked Tom for his beautiful movie and mentioned that Fairhaven celebrates 200 years this year, and would be a perfect time to share his film with the locals. He mentioned that he was working on a possible showing at the Zeiterion Theatre this summer. This is a film you do not want to miss!  And even though my scene was cut in the movie and my name was mis-spelled in the credits, all is forgiven as I have fallen in love with this movie. And if you get the opportunity, I know you will too!

Fairhaven (The Movie) Trailer

The Hair Studio

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

A chic new hair salon called The Hair Studio” opened recently in Fairhaven, where proprietor Alycia Halle and her team create beautiful hairstyles in a relaxing, fun, full-service salon. Alycia has been involved in the hair business since 1990 and has brought her years of experience to her new place.  It’s beautiful inside, where Alycia hand-picked most of the décor, such as the fabulous chairs and rugs, the art work, as well as a great hanging chandelier which sparkles in the salon’s sunlit room.

Alycia regularly attends hair shows to keep current with the latest styles. Along with haircuts and color, the hair studio provides Keratin treatments, waxing and manicures. The Hair Studio also features the hottest new nail polish, called Shellac, which dries instantly under a cure light and lasts for two weeks without chipping. Paul Mitchell and Redken products are primarily used in the color process, and as for shampoo and styling, she uses Keune and Onestra. Onestra is a green company that produces all natural, plant-based products which are free of parabens, sodium sulfates, colors, dyes and animal testing to answer the requests for safer, natural products.

Alycia Halle, owner of The Hair Studio

Onestra also donates 10% of their net income to cancer research. This is close to Alycia’s heart as she is also a breast cancer survivor. While going through treatment herself, she realized that aside from the physical and emotional toll, there is also the financial toll that is not covered by insurance such as transportation and child care.

Alycia and friends decided to start a non-profit foundation to help those South Coast families struggling to handle those extra expenses that come along with the healing process.This was back in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). When trying to come up with a name for the foundation, they knew they wanted to “kick the cancer out”, so they removed the letter “C” and the BAM Foundation was hatched. BAM Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to raising money to help South Coast families battling cancer.

The Hair Studio is located at 366 Main Street in Fairhaven which is easily accessible from Rt.195 and has plenty of parking. Stations are available for rent for a stylist, massage therapist or esthetician looking for a great space to work as well. Call Alycia at (508)-999-0366 to book an appointment, and mention this article to receive 20% off your first service. The Hair Studio slogan:“Enhancing the true beauty that lies within each and every one of us.”  Happy pampering!

Brick by Brick: A Woman’s Journey

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

In my search for some new inspiration, I came upon a book with local ties by Lynn Donohue called, Brick by Brick: A Woman’s Journey. In 2001, this book was a finalist for the Ben Franklin Award for best autobiography. Since it’s publication in 2000, the book has motivated thousands of women to overcome obstacles.

Brick by Brick is an inspiring true story about a woman who comes of age in New Bedford during the 1970’s. Her compelling story reminds us that one random act can change your direction in life. You may read an article or bump into someone on the street and your life can take an entirely new direction. The book is also a story about pursuing your dreams and goals and overcoming obstacles that may seem insurmountable, one step at a time.

Lynn was adrift in her younger years, a high school dropout with no direction. She was tending bar at her father’s place, The Belmont, in New Bedford, and began to tire of days spent in a dark, smoky bar watching the regulars drink their lives away. She longed for something better, even though at the time she wasn’t quite sure what that was to become. Outside of work she had also seen some of her friends begin to lose their battle with drug and alcohol addiction, which further pushed her to find a new path.

brick by brick new bedford guideOne day, while working at the Belmont, she picked up the local newspaper and noticed a small ad looking for women who were interested in training for “non-traditional jobs” for women, such as masonry, carpentry and electrical work. These positions paid $17 an hour, which was quite a lot at that time, especially compared to her minimum wage earnings at the bar (even with tips). This intrigued Lynn, and her decision to take the steps to pursue the training needed would place her on that new path in life.

Lynn developed a passion for bricklaying and against all odds, she pursued her dream. This passion for masonry, with the rhythmic motion of laying brick, helped her find inner calm and personal strength, even as she was discriminated against as a woman in a man’s profession. But she worked hard and eventually Lynn became the first female member of the Bricklayers Local 39, working on construction projects from Cape Cod to Boston.

After a decade of working as a bricklayer she founded Argus Construction Corp., which began with two employees and a pickup truck and grew into a multi-million dollar business with fifty full-time employees. Many of the men she eventually hired to work for her company had initially been those who scoffed at the idea of a woman working in a so-called “man’s job.”  Being the boss was the best revenge! Lynn made sure that she personally thanked them for a job well done as she handed out their paychecks each week.

What makes this story so compelling is that Lynn built the life she wanted for herself, little by little, brick by brick, becoming a master of herself. She took pride in the accomplishment of building something with her own hands, something that would be here long after she was gone. For those of you who live in the South Coast area, you will recognize many of the places mentioned in Lynn’s book.

lynn donohue new bedford guide
Besides being an author, Lynn is a consultant and does speaking engagements.

Whenever I drive by buildings that Lynn had helped to build, such as the downtown New Bedford bus terminal or the Car Barn on Weld Square, I no longer see just a building; I see Lynn, working hard in the rain and the cold, coming back day after day when many others would have quit. She struggled to better her own life while at the same time paving the way for other women to do whatever they felt was necessary or what they were passionate about, to improve their lives, against all odds.

Lynn eventually used her profits to give back and established the Brick by Brick Foundation, a non-profit organization in New Bedford, MA, to help high school students and others struggling in their careers.  Today she also teaches workshops and is an inspirational speaker at women’s conferences, trade associations and academic institutions across the country. She inspires audiences to overcome obstacles to personal and professional development through a positive attitude, perseverance and a “can do” spirit.

Many lives touched and changed, and to think it all started with a newspaper ad read, a decision made, a new path pursued…step by step, brick by brick.

Yesteryear Cyclery

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

With the snow finally melted and our thoughts turning to spring activities, I stopped by Yesteryear Cyclery to visit and interview owner Kim Camara.  Located just off Rt. 140 (Exit 3), many of us are familiar with this bike shop.  I have personally known Kim since our kindergarten days at St. Kilian’s school, and have fond memories of all my childhood bikes that were purchased from Yesteryear.

The first thing you will notice as you turn into the driveway is the funny saying on the marquee.  Much to the delight of customers and passers by, Kim changes the words on the sign often.  He tends to lean toward a George Carlin kind of humor;  today’s quote was, “I used to be decisive-now I’m not sure.”

The next thing you’ll notice is the high energy music, which can be heard before you even enter the building. As Kim unlocked the door and turned off the alarm, he demonstrated to me how he starts every morning. With arms outstretched , he shouts, “It’s Showtime!”  Then he’s off and running.  The shop may be called Yesteryear, but it is very 21st century inside.  With the latest and greatest gear available, Yesteryear is great not only for novice bikers, but also for those who require more from a bike shop.

Yesteryear's famous sign during the week-long Cinco de Mayo sale last year.

So, Kim, how long have you been in the bike business?
My entire life! When I was about 5-years-old, my dad owned a unique business, which was a conglomeration of many businesses in one. It was part hardware store, part pet shop and part bike shop. Dad got very tired of cleaning out the pet cages, so in 1959 he moved the business to the Hathaway Road location and decided to sell bikes only.  The rest, as they say, is history.

What is your busiest time of year?
We do about 70% of our business from April 1st through mid July. Right now I have 11 full-time employees, including four bike mechanics, three assemblers, two salespeople, my wife Karen, who works in the office, plus myself.  They say, “Make hay while the sun shines,” and we will be doing that over the next six months.

Locals usually shop for bikes around March, April, and May. Bikes are coming out of the cellar, and graduation gifts are popular during that time. In the summer, we get visitors from places like New York and Philly, visitors who, as they put it, want to enjoy their “Southcoast Summer Camp for the rich.” In September things slow down, but that’s when I attend the various bike trade shows. The Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas draws about 2,500-3,500 exhibitors and 50,000 bike dealers. November and December used to be a lucrative time for us, when every 10-year-old kid dreamed of a shiny new bike under the Christmas tree, but those days are gone. Now, most kids want an iPad or a laptop or an Xbox instead.  From January through March, we do very little business.

david duchovny yesteryear cyclery new bedford guid
Actor David Duchovny on a bike he most likely purchased at Yesteryear.

Speaking of summer visitors, I understand that you’ve had some celebrity guests visit the shop.
Yes, James Spader comes in with his kids every summer and buys the boys new BMX bikes. But he’s a real kid at heart and always buys himself a new bike as well, usually a much more expensive one than he got for the kids. David Duchovny of Californication and X-Files fame stopped in last summer with his wife, Tea Leoni. And Billy Joey likes to fly to Martha’s Vineyard from the New Bedford airport and will visit on occasion.

What is the “hot bike” right now?
O.K., this may be a bad pun, but the bike business goes in cycles.

Good one, Kim!
In the ’70s, it was the 10-speed. Mountain bikes were very popular ten years ago. Then cruisers with the fat tires became popular with the Baby Boomers. Now, the Pedal Forward bikes, where you sit lower to the ground and the pedals are in front of you, are very popular. It’s called recumbent riding and is much better for your back. Most doctors will recommend cycling because it is the 2nd highest calorie burning exercise, next to swimming.  It is low impact as well. Due to the bad economy, we see people deciding to ride their bike to work. With the price of gas, it saves money while being a healthier alternative, plus it’s good for the environment.

yesterday cyclery bikes new bedford guide
A look at some of the bikes at Yesteryear.

What can one expect to pay for a bike?
Well, there are two types of bikes: cheap bikes and good bikes.  I think of this like the auto business: You can buy a junker that burns oil and always breaks down, or you can buy a nice car that’s reliable. Dad had a favorite quote: “If you buy cheap, you buy twice.” Our bikes are guaranteed for life.

But to answer your question, an adult can expect to pay $300-$500, and a child’s bike goes for around $200.  A bicycle, unlike a banana, never goes bad. If you get away from cycling for a few years, you can always bring your bike back out of the cellar, pump up the tires, and you’re good to go again.

I understand that you are an entrepreneur and have another business as well.
Yes that is true.  I have a few business ventures I am involved with in addition to Yesteryear.

Let’s start with the restaurant business.
Well, a good friend of mine, who had tended bar for awhile after a career as a mailman, had decided he wanted to buy a bar and turn it into a Scottish pub. He found the old Ward Five Club on Dartmouth Street was for rent and thought it would be the perfect place. He asked for my help, and over five months together we refurbished the place and opened The Black Watch Pub. While he handles the bar, I help out in the kitchen with menu planning, among other things.

We featured Scottish food initially, but found that it wasn’t as well received as we had hoped, so we are in the process of planning a new menu. In fact, we both love BBQ and recently bought some smokers, with plans to add BBQ ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and things like that to the menu.  We will also offer a catering menu, so we can take our whole hog business on the road. We’re thinking of calling it, “Hogs Gone Wild.” But the bar itself is a great spot, with 12 beers on tap, an excellent selection of scotch, a jukebox, dart boards, pool tables, and entertainment every weekend.

You have another business as well?
Yes, I’m a musician as well. I’ve played in bands since the age of eleven.  Starting out I learned to play the accordion, before moving on to the organ and other keyboards. I’m in a Top-40 cover band called Soul’d Out. Unfortunately, I tore my rotator cuff not long ago and have had to put that on the back burner for awhile, but we hope to get back out there by mid-summer.

Sounds like you are a very busy guy!
Yes, my day starts at 5:30 A.M. and usually doesn’t end until midnight, seven days a week. I don’t sleep much. In fact, if you look at Facebook, most of my posts are usually done around 4:45 A.M.

Any special deals happening now that you’d like to share with us?
Yes, this is the perfect time of year to get your bike serviced. We will make sure it runs perfectly for all the riding you’ll want to do in the upcoming warmer weather months. We normally charge $125, but right now we are offering a Spring Tune-Up Special for only $85. We service about 200 bikes a week, and our service department is already very busy, so my advice is to get your bike in as soon as possible.

Yesteryear Cyclery is located at 330 Hathaway Blvd. in New Bedford, MA. Hours of operation are:  Monday-Saturday, 9-5 P.M.  They are closed on Sunday.

Yesteryear’s phone number is (508)-993-2525, and you can visit them online at www.yesteryearcyclery.com.  You can also find them on Facebook.


Thank You, Mr. Zuckerberg!

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

On November 16, 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”  This honor was bestowed on this twenty-something from Harvard for his invention of Facebook, the social network that has connected more than half a billion people while mapping the social relations among them.   He created a new system of exchanging information and changed how we live our lives. Facebook is growing at a rate of 700,000 people per day. Currently, one out of every twelve people on the planet has a Facebook account.  If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest behind India and China.

This got me thinking about the power of Facebook and the changes it has brought about for me and my friends.  About a year ago, I “friended” a few of my ex-high school classmates on Facebook.  This eventually led to all of us meeting for cocktails on a cold, snowy night in January.  The eight of us had a great time and so we decided to encourage others to join us in July for a summer New England clam boil.

Mark Zuckerberg Person of the YearThrough the power of Facebook, about 50 friends gathered for a wonderful reunion.  This meeting had a different feel to it than your typical reunion.   Since we had been sharing our lives, our triumphs, sorrows, pictures of our children, and whatever else interested us on Facebook, by the time we reunited we were up to speed on one another.   Although decades had passed since many of us had seen each other, the conversations flowed as if no time had passed.  New classmates continue to join and this summer we are planning an even bigger reunion!

After college I lived in California for many years, so I also enjoy using Facebook to reconnect with friends from that time of my life.  We were single and carefree then, and now many are married with kids and even grandkids.  Although there are 3,000 miles between us, it is great to be in touch with these people who I probably would have lost touch with had it not been for Facebook.

Earlier today I met for coffee with two girlfriends who I hadn’t seen in decades.  Nancy, who now lives in Nova Scotia, was in town for a few days and, thanks to Facebook, we got to reconnect.  We had a great time reminiscing about our time as roommates in Newport and Martha’s Vineyard many years ago.  Margie, who was friends with us both, joined us as well.  Although many years had passed, as we were chatting away, I couldn’t help thinking that we were back to being three teenage girls, gossiping about our friends.  As we parted, we promised to stay connected through Facebook, and I know we will.

facebookAnother great aspect of Facebook is that, as a music lover, I’ve been able to follow my favorite bands.  In fact, I understand that McCarthy & Legge, one of my favorite local bands, met on Facebook through mutual friends.  They even collaborated on songwriting together before they ever met in person!  A year later, they have released their 2nd CD and play in local venues to a huge following, many of whom are Facebook friends.  It is possible that this beautiful music may not exist at all had it not been for Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s bio page states: “I’m trying to make the world a more open place.”  Mission accomplished, Mark!  But I also think that it makes this big world seem like a smaller place, a place where we can reach out and touch our friends, wherever they are,  with the click of a mouse.   When I think of the friendships rekindled and the new one’s made, the music composed that may never have been, the sharing of our lives, the small moments and the big celebrations alike, I amvery thankful for Facebook!

So thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg, on behalf of myself and 500 million other people whose lives have been touched and changed by Facebook.  Also, thank you for the 100 million dollars you donated to the Newark School system…it will surely touch and change many lives.  I think you’ve earned the right to be called, “Person of the Year!”

The Return of Mark Twain

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

Mark Twain’s still got it!  America’s most famous author loved a practical joke or a good-natured spoof.  I can almost hear him laughing now as his dying wish is coming true!  The creator of Tom Sawyer left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memories.  When he died in 1910 at age 74, he left hand-written instructions that the pages were not to be published until he had been dead for a century…which just happens to be right now.  The first volume of his autobiography hit bookstores recently and is selling like hotcakes!

Twain very much enjoyed his celebrity status in his day, and by delaying his autobiography for 100 years he thought that people would still be talking about him well into the 21st century.  Well, he was right!  The book is already on many bestseller lists, and gone back to press six times.  Stores cannot keep this book on the shelf!   If he lived today, Mr. Twain would do well in the marketing business.  I’m quite sure he would have his own blog and Facebook page.

mark twain autobiographyAmericans have an enduring love affair with Mark Twain.  Ernest Hemingway himself said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn…all American writing comes from that.  There was nothing before.  There has been nothing good since.”  William Faulkner wrote that Twain was, “the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs.”

As a resident of Fairhaven, MA, I have a passion for local history and have discovered that Mark Twain spent some significant time here.  In 1893, Mark Twain was introduced to industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers, the Vice President of Standard Oil, who happened to grow up in Fairhaven.  As he got older, Rogers summered in Fairhaven in an 85-room mansion, and eventually was the town’s most famous benefactor.

Rogers helped Twain at a time when his finances were in a tangled mess and he was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Rogers helped save Twain’s copyrights, as well as his sanity, and they became close friends for the remainder of their lives.  Twain and Rogers were drinking and poker buddies, and Twain would visit the Rogers’ family  many times at their home in Fairhaven, as well as travel together on the Roger’s yacht, Kanauha.

Twain was also present at many building dedications in Fairhaven.  He gave the dedication speech at the opening of the Fairhaven Town Hall on Feb. 22, 1894 (the manuscript of the speech is on display at the Millicent Library).  He also gave a humorous address at the laying of the cornerstone of the Unitarian Memorial Church.  The following is the letter that Mark Twain read at the dedication of the Millicent Library :

Fairhaven, Feb. 22, 1894

To the Officers of the Millicent Library:
I am glad to have seen it. It is the ideal library, I think. Books are the liberated spirits of men, and should be bestowed in a heaven of light and grace and harmonious color and sumptuous comfort, like this, instead of in the customary kind of public library, with its depressing austerities and severities of form and furniture and decoration.  A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of events or a name or an affection; for it, and it only is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.  Creed and opinion change with time, and their symbols perish; but literature and its temples are sacred to all creeds, and inviolate. All other things which I have seen today must pass away and be forgotten; but there will still be a Millicent Library when by the mutations of language the books that are in it now will speak in a lost tongue to your posterity.
Truly yours,

Mark Twain

Twain Huttleston Rogers 1908
Mark Twain and Huttleston Rogers: 1908

The tycoon and the writer were kindred spirits and both fond of poker, billiards, practical jokes and mild profanity.  Twain was grief stricken when he heard of the death of his dear friend, Henry, in 1909 and was a pall bearer at his funeral.  Twain himself died less than one year later.

He wrote in1909: “I came in with Haley’s comet in 1835.  It is coming again next year and I intend to go out with it.”  And so he did!  Haley’s comet can be seen in the earth’s skies once every 75-76 years.  It was visible in November 1835 when Mark Twain was born, and it was also visible on April 1910 when he died.

Mark Twain’s memoir, which contains letters, diary entries, pictures, and personal notes, is a book to be read in small bites.  It’s the kind of book you could read a little bit of every day of your life.  With the holidays approaching, I would suggest  Mark Twain’s autobiography to any book-lovers on your Christmas list-that is, if you can find one!

Two Hours in Heaven

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

I have to admit that I don’t normally attend church on Sundays, but I last week I made an exception.  This was no regular day at church though.  It was a celebration of music by the McCarthy, Richards & Legge Trio at The First Congregational Church of Fairhaven.  For those of you who stayed home to watch the Patriots game or just didn’t want to brave the cold on this blustery day, you missed out on something special.  What a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Many folks in southeastern Massachusetts are familiar with the beautiful harmonies of the McCarthy, Richards and Legge Acoustic Trio.  Their music can always  be heard at various drinking establishments in New Bedford, such as the PTF ( Pour Farm Tavern ) and RAAH ( Rose Ally Ale House).  Besides the local bars, they usually play the street fairs and Chowderfests, which always turns into a big party if they are on the bill.

Today however,  in this big, beautiful church with great acoustics, Butch, Chris and Dori sounded better than ever.  Aside from having beautiful voices, they seamlessly interchanged playing piano and guitars to great effect.  The song list included favorites from Carole King , James Taylor, Neil Young and CSNY.  Sprinkled in were a few doses of Lucinda Williams and one inspirational Marvin Gaye song, belted out by Chris Richards.  I am especially moved by their original songs from the first album, Damaged Goods.  The trio performed beautiful renditions of, “Fell Too Far,” and “I Don’t Mind.”

McCarthy, Richards, and Legge in concert.

I don’t know if it was the beautiful setting, the great acoustics, or that the band was “in the zone,” but the moderate sized crowd at the church was thrilled to be in attendance.  We even demanded an encore and the band was given two standing ovations.   I believe I heard Butch say that it was a first for them, and that he liked it!  Well, we liked it too!  In a bar, the music will always have to compete with the clanking of glasses and chattering, but here in this church, with everyone there to listen, sans cocktails, it really was a little slice of heaven!

Take my advice and check out the MRL Acoustic Trio.  Download their old album, and look forward to their soon-to-be-released new one.   Better yet, the next time they play at a venue like the one in Fairhaven, get thee to the church on time!  Thy will not be disappointed!

Millie’s Window

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

“Some say she can be seen in the window of the Millicent Library at night, even though she has been dead for over one hundred years.”

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing to their beautiful yellows and reds, pumpkins are on the doorsteps, and children are excited with thoughts of their Halloween costumes and endless bags of candy.  October also conjures up ghost stories, whether real or fabricated.  South Coast Massachusetts has a rich history of ghost stories, my favorite of which is the story of the Millicent Library in Fairhaven.

Millicent Rogers FairhavenFairhaven was founded by the famous Standard Oil magnate, Henry Huttleston Rogers.  He had a daughter named Millicent, who died in 1890 at the age of seventeen due to heart failure.  She loved to read and sketch and write poetry.  She told her dad that her wish was for there to be a library in Fairhaven so that all the children would have a place to go to read.

Upon her death, Henry decided to build that library and dedicate it to his beautiful daughter.  He spared no expense as he hired the best architect of the time, Charles Brigham of Boston, and told him to use the best of everything available to build his daughter’s library.  The result was an architectural masterpiece that still stands today.  On January 30, 1893, on the anniversary of Millicent’s birth, the library was dedicated in her honor.

Rumor has it that Millicent is buried beneath the foundation of the library.  Some visitors swear that they have seen her walking the halls, outlined in a bright blue light.  Another woman dressed all in black has been spotted walking along the upstairs hallway, running her hand along the spine of the books.  Some think this could be Millicent’s grandmother, Rhoda, who may not be resting easily.

Millicent Library FairhavenA male ghost is also thought to live in the Millicent Library.  Some staff and patrons have seen a man dressed in a tweed jacket and purple bow tie with round-rimmed glasses mopping the floor in the basement.  The story suggests that he was the janitor who fell on the wet floor and broke his neck, and now his ghost spends eternity mopping the floor.  Others say that he suffered a heart attack upon opening up the library one morning.  Interesting, considering Millicent died of heart failure as well.

The China Room, located in the library, houses several paintings of the Rogers Family.   Children have said that when they talked to the paintings, the expressions on the faces would change.   Also, this room is always dreadfully cold! Doors open and close by themselves and footsteps can be heard on the stairs leading to the basement.

The vault in the basement houses another famous artifact: the hat of Heddy Green.  Heddy, mother to Colonel Green, was said to be a stingy old woman, even though she was one of the richest in the world upon her death.  Some claim to have seen Heddy in the basement after touching her hat.

Aside from all the ghost stories, the Millicent Library is by far one of the most beautiful libraries in Massachusetts.  The architecture, the stained glass, and the spiral staircases are a feast for the eyes.  It lies in the center of town, surrounded by other beautiful buildings, such as the Town Hall and nearby Unitarian church

So if you find yourself in Fairhaven, please visit the Millicent Library.  Whether you want to visit for the books or the ghosts, you will definitely enjoy this wonderful place. After your visit as you drive away, take a look back at the window on the front turret… Millie may be looking back at you too!


Back Road Trips to Horseneck Beach

Marilyn Watts
by Marilyn Watts

I have always preferred driving on back roads as opposed to highways.  I guess I’d rather enjoy the drive than fly down the road. One of my favorite back drives is the one heading to Horseneck Beach.  Currently, I live in Fairhaven, but my memories of taking the back roads to Horseneck go back to early childhood, when I lived in New Bedford.

A day at the beach was an event and we would make sure to pack all the essentials: a big blanket, beach chairs, a radio, a cooler full of food and drinks, and anything else that would allow us to spend the entire day at our favorite beach.  Then we’d pile into Mom’s car and be on our way.  We’d head out to Dartmouth, past Davoll’s General Store that has been Horseneck Beach, MAthere for over two hundred years.  Then we’d go over the little hill and soon mom was pointing out the cows and horses in the pastures and the flowers growing along the sturdy old stone walls.  This was all a prelude to the beautiful vistas we knew awaited us upon our first glimpse of the ocean.  I guess this is why I believe so firmly that it’s not only the destination, but the journey that matters.

Eventually, we turned onto Horseneck Road, which I always recognized because the first part of the drive reminded me of a long horse’s neck.   I loved to visualize this part of the journey and anxiously awaited our arrival at the top of the horse’s head. The road eventually spilled out to meet the ocean and we couldn’t wait to get our toes in the sand!

My love affair with Horseneck continued through the years.  When I finally got my license at sixteen, it was always a favorite destination.  Strutting along those two miles of beautiful coastline in my bikini with my girlfriends was a favorite pastime as well as checking out the waves and the cute lifeguards. The ride home would always include a stop for clam cakes, something we couldn’t get if we took the fast way home.

After college, I moved to California.   It was a very adventurous time and I enjoyed discovering all the beautiful stretches of beach along the coastline drive in California. Still, Horseneck Beach remained my favorite and memories of my back road drives to the beach always brought a smile to my face.

Fast forward many years later.  I found my way back to New England and settled in Fairhaven, right over the bridge from New Bedford.  Only now I was the mom and my little girl Danica and I would carry on the tradition of the back road drives to Horseneck. This time her eyes were peeled for the cows and horses and flowers and rock walls.  The drive home was even better if you can imagine that!

Horseneck Beach MAWe spent the day in the sand and the waves and left feeling sun-drenched and salty.  It felt great to roll down the windows, feel the ocean breeze, and take in the beautiful seascapes from Westport to Dartmouth and on to New Bedford.  We stopped at a farm stand along the road to pick up some corn on the cob for dinner that night and of course a stop for ice cream was a requirement for the drive home.

The years have flown by since those days and teenage Danica recently requested a surfboard for her birthday.  Our trips to Horseneck Beach still include all the essentials: big towels, food and drink and a radio. Only now, those items are joined by a hope for gnarly waves. Things may change over the course of time, but the route taken has always stayed the same.

These days, anytime I need a good walk, a good cry or just need to think, I find myself driving that same old road out to my favorite place.  A walk along the beach always seems to restore my peace of mind.  So next time you’re heading out to Horseneck Beach, ditch the highway. The road less traveled can bring you pleasant memories that will last you a lifetime!

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