Kate Abbott: Berkshire Museum looks at Pittsfield s past


Stand on North Street in 1903. The elm trees have lost their leaves. The late afternoon smells of horses and frost. You have ridden a trolley car from a quiet country stop -- the lines were only laid two years ago.

Low-slung power lines criss-cross the street, and you remember how it looked without them, but the dusk is falling and hiding them from you. The shop windows glow more brightly.

You are here because the newspaper today told you that the markets have finally gotten their shipments of oranges and walnuts for the holidays. And you have been reading about the turkey shortage and worrying about the holiday, because you don t raise your own birds.

Besides, England Bro.s has its holiday toys in stock, and you know how quickly they run out. The ad says they have toy delivery wagons and runabouts, water mechanical fish ponds and German windmills, doll s houses with empire clothing and sewing machines, drums, stuffed cows and sheep, bowling pins and tool kits, a fire engine with galloping horses ...

You stand on the corner, holding your hat on against the wind as you try to stuff the newspaper back into your bag. A man has shot a woman by accident while demonstrating the use of a shot gun -- the exploration to Labrador seems to have vanished -- President Roosevelt is entertaining an ambassador from Panama -- high school students have œpounded a classmate ... a lack of turkeys sounds almost funny by comparison.

But you liked the story about the man at the Burbank Hotel who met a child from a traveling acting troupe with no home to go to for the holidays. œToll Gate Inn and œThe Dangers of Paris are playing at the Colonial Theater ... maybe you ll go tonight.

You can see the silver in the department store window across the street, but you pause before crossing over. Maybe first you will visit the new museum around the corner. You hear it s full of stuffed birds (probably they have a turkey at least) and even a mummy. You have time if you go right away.

The Berkshire Museum s Festival of Trees, which opens tonight, celebrates the city s past, present and future on the museum s 110th anniversary. How do you see the city in 1903 -- or in 2113?


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