Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day Trip to Monson, Massachusetts

Today I went to see an old friend who is recovering from an operation. I had never visited Monson before and decided to take the backroads to see her. From Florence, through Hadley, Belchertown, and Palmer, I finally reached Monson, a cute little town most hard hit by the  tornado that ripped through this area on June 1, 2011. The destruction I saw was a fraction of what had been there a few months before, and yet still does not take away from the overall beauty of this community.  I did not go to Monson intending to be a disaster tourist, but my friend says that I am witnessing a sad chapter in her town's history.

Yikes! This used to be a car garage below left.

 At right is the in-ground swimming pool for a house that no longer exists.

We decided to get lunch in Palmer, at the railroad station converted into a restaurant. The railroad runs right next to the dining room, and while we were finishing lunch, a freight train ran slowly past the building. Steaming Tender is housed in what was the third largest railroad station in Massachusetts.

With destruction, beauty lurks. I was struck by this juxtaposition when we reentered Monson, and looked at some of the more prominent buildings. Left is a mansion built during the town's busy days as a manufacturing center, damaged in the tornado. Right is the grand stained glass window inside the Unitarian Univeralist Parish of Monson.

Monson is thirty-five miles southeast of Florence, A tornado can be awfully precise in its landing, and devastating whenever it does land. I've decided never to ignore a tornado warning in the future after my visit today. 

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