County Fare | Descendants descend on Bass Water Grill


For a while last week, the Bass Water Grill might have felt like the old country.

On Sept. 30, the restaurant on Cheshire Lake hosted 46 attendees of first-, second- and third-generation descendants of the Northern Italian settlers of the Berkshires.

The guest of honor was Adam Bona of Surprise, Ariz., a researcher of these families for more than 35 years. He returned to Lee for his 50th Lee High School reunion, along with classmate and wife Patsy Viale.

Coordinators and hosts were Karen (Kneipfer) Rousseau of Adams, granddaughter of Antonio DelMolino of Postalesio/Zelonite; and Rich Girard of Adams/Boston, grandson of Stefano Smachetti. DelMolino and Smachetti used to compete in their winemaking every season in Adams with grapes trucked in from relatives from Napa Valley, Calif.

Descendants from many diverse families attended the get-together from all parts of Berkshire County, Vermont and New Jersey. Some of the families represented were Albertazzi, Bona, Balardini, Bongiolatti, Bormolini, Dellaghelfa, DelMolino, Gusmerini, Moncecchi, Pozzoni, Smachetti, and Volpi.

Bona, who has traced all these families back to their roots, talked of his research and the history of the little towns in the Italian Alps in the area called the Valtellina.

Searching old Berkshire Eagle newspapers, Bona learned that this year was the 50th anniversary of the last "Paesani" Picnic in 1968.

The Paesani Picnic (those from Postalesio) originated in 1953 by Angelo Balardini, former owner of the Highland Restaurant in Pittsfield. The fall gatherings for the Valtellina settlers and their families started at the Pine Brook Club in Cheshire because of the proximity to the Farnams/Cheshire Lime Kiln on Cheshire Lake. These lime kilns employed the settlers from the early 1900s.

Several veterans from the 1968 picnic attended this year's event, including Edward Bona, 93, and Andrea Pozzoni, 80.

Over 1,000 ramble to summit

Steven LeMire was the first to check in right at 8 a.m.

Since 1965, people have gathered at the base of Mount Greylock on Columbus Day for the Greylock Ramble. This year, more than 1,000 hiked 6.6 miles up the Cheshire Harbor Trail, the gentlest path to the summit — at 3,491 feet, the state's highest peak.

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By day's end, 1,037 hikers claimed their certificates at Bascom Lodge, but organizers estimate that there were a few hundred more hikers on the mountain.

Many noted that the temperature was favorable this year, but the fog and low cloud cover made for little to no visibility at the summit.

Throughout the day, volunteers heard stories of family traditions and gathered information to determine the youngest hiker, oldest hiker, and the hiker who traveled the farthest to participate in the 51st Ramble. The youngest hikers were 7 months old — Kaylee Wesley of Pittsfield and Dylan Icardi of Cheshire. Caroline Brazeau, 89, of North Adams, participated in her 21st Ramble.

Most hikers were from the Berkshires, but some traveled much farther to be part of the day's event. Visitors from Maine, Delaware, Oregon, Texas, Nevada and California were all in the running at various points for the hiker who traveled the farthest. That title for 2018 goes to Daniel Callanan, 25, of London, who participated in the Ramble for the first time.

Riverbrook updates

Riverbrook Residence in Stockbridge has unveiled a newly renovated cottage, which will accommodate four women with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Working closely with Riverbrook to assess the organization's needs, architect Pamela Sandler designed a layout that allows the four residents of the cottage to have privacy, as well as ample communal space. The updated cottage is wheelchair-accessible and includes a full kitchen, laundry facilities, four spacious bedrooms and bright, sunny common areas with a view of the Konkapot Brook basin.

A studio apartment has been added to house live-in staff, giving residents of the cottage easy access to Riverbrook's 24-hour care.

The residence is being called Kate's Cottage, in memory of longtime Riverbrook resident Kate Ryan, who died in 2016.

Susan Booth, Ryan's Riverbrook roommate for over 50 years, gave a short speech before the ribbon-cutting.

"Kate," Booth said, "I miss you and I love you. This one's for you. I think you'll like it!"

For over 60 years, Riverbrook Residence has empowered women with developmental disabilities. Riverbrook, the oldest single-sex residence in the country, is a model of care for women with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental challenges. To learn more visit

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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