I thought I would share some thoughts about people and historic events
that have a connection to Pittsfield.
It's one of those cold snowy days and a good time to share pieces of stories I
have been writing about our hometown.
If you haven't gotten any of the past vignettes, please let me know and if you really
aren't interested in these pieces, also let me know.
if you have a some classmates and friends who might
like to be on my Pittsfield
mailing list, please send me their names. I also appreciate it if you ad
me to your address book so that I get a
notice if you change an internet carrier.
Just a note to let you know that we are still pursuing the
building of a Carousel and Exhibit Hall for 2011, the 250th anniversary of Pittsfield.
The PACE organization is now a 501-c-3 non profit and ,
we are currently working on a location. Personally I am in the final
stages of hand carving a carousel horse which will be used for fund raising in Pittsfield and
eventually on the carousel.
I do appreciate your emails with comments and questions.
Best regards, Jim(my) Shulman
JESJMSKALI @ aol.com
Is Pittsfield on the
Map??? Thoughts from Jim(my) Shulman
I caught the tale end of the 2007 Grammy awards last night
and those Dixie Chicks bounced back well from their fall from popularity.
Whether or not you agree with their politics, they are terrific performers and
survivors as evidenced from five major Grammy awards. Well, did you know
that this group has Pittsfield
Emily Robison, who plays mostly the banjo, was born in Pittsfield on August 16, 1972.
Read more about Emily the younger sister of fiddle playing Dixie Chick, Martie Maguire:
There's more! The husband of lead singer, Natalie Maines is actor/director, Adrian Pasdar,
who was born in Pittsfield on April 30, 1967.
His dad was a prominent heart surgeon. Read more at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0664499/bio
Pittsfield is the
birthplace or hometown to many Broadway, Hollywood and
music industry celebrities. If you are interested in learning more about
other celebs from Pittsfield, check
the site below.
A couple of the folks in the list include Elaine Giftos
and Martin Aronstein. Elaine was at Pittsfield High in the early 60s and
had a dance part in the 1960 Class Musical Brigadoon which many of my
classmates might remember.
Martin who was born in Pittsfield, but
moved at age 8 to the Albany area,
became a famous lighting director. I discovered Martin through a genealogy
search and learned that he and my mother were second cousins. Sadly he
passed away a few years ago, but we did have some great conversations.
Here is the list of Pittsfield celebs and bio info.
What else puts the City on
Besides Pittsfield being
the hometown of these celebs,
the City has made its mark on history in a number of areas.
We all grew up knowing that Herman Melville wrote
Moby Dick while living on Holmes
Rd. at Arrowhead. He resided
in Pittsfield from
1850 -1863 and completed other lesser known works during this time, i.e., Pierre:or The
Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade and The
Did you know that the first Secret Service agent
in the US was
killed in Pittsfield?
William Craig, a bodyguard to President Theodore Roosevelt was killed on September 3, 1902 when a
trolley car collided with the President's carriage when enroute
from downtown to the Country Club. Incidentally the trolley driver was
later charged with manslaughter and received a heavy fine and a six month jail
recently prided itself on being the home of baseball. In 2004 in the
archives of the Berkshire Athenaeum, a document from 1791 was located in which
reference was made to baseball. This newly famous document, known as the
"Broken Window By-Law," prohibited anyone from playing baseball within
80 yards of the church and new meeting house. A sign has been placed on
the lawn of the First Church of Christ to commemorate this By-Law. The
authenticity of the sport as real baseball has been in question, but not the
document. Cooperstown, NY has
been the recognized home of baseball allegedly founded in 1839 by Abner Doubleday. The Pittsfield claim
pre dates this date by 48 years!
Read more about Pittsfield's role
in baseball at
William Stanley and GE
In 1890, William Stanley founded
the Stanley Electric Company in Pittsfield.
the inventor of the prototype AC transformer a device which made it possible to
spread electric service over a wide area and allow alternating current to be
available at different voltages. He first demonstrated this device in 1886 by
lighting the stores in Great Barrington. In 1893 the growing company
started by Thomas Edison, the general Electric, bought
Company and in 1906 named the company, the GE Pittsfield Works. The
company became the major industrial operation in the area and at one time had
in excess of 12,000 employees. Presently GE has a very small workforce in
the City where it houses its offices for its Plastics Division which
interestingly is for sale. GE has not been without its controversy in Pittsfield as
major PCB clean ups continue and most of the Stanley and GE buildings are being
razed. A new industrial Park on the site is being developed. Those
of you who have not been back to Pittsfield in
years will be shocked to see what used to be the General Electric Company along
Tyler, Woodlawn, Merrill and other roads near the plant.
Two other firsts for Pittsfield can't
The first Agricultural Fair in the US took
place in Pittsfield.
In 1807 Elkanah Watson, a New England patriot and
farmer, earned the title, “Father of US agricultural fairs” by producing a
small exhibit of sheep under an old elm tree on Park Square. Watson believed
that the fine textured fleece of the exhibited Merino sheep once manufactured
into cloth, would successfully compete with the best
wool imported from England.
In 1810 he staged a larger and more ambitious project, a Berkshire cattle
show. The event was successful beyond all his expectations; entries included
386 sheep, 109 oxen, 9 cows, 7 folds, 3 heifers, 2 calves and 1 boar.
Another lesser known first for Pittsfield was
the first gas balloon race in the US.
In the early 1900s Pittsfield had an Aero Park located at East and Newell
Streets where now sits a baseball park as a tribute to 1962 PHS
classmate, the late Mark Belanger, who was a star shortstop for the Baltimore
Orioles. The land was originally owned by the Pittsfield Gas Works
and offered for free use as a launch site along with good rates on the cold gas
used in the balloons. In November 1906 the first recognized balloon race
occurred with three passengers in the basket of a balloon racing against 35
automobiles. The balloon won, but luckily avoided a disaster. You
can read more about this race and ballooning in Pittsfield at:
The Library of Congress has available a 15 minute silent black and white
videotape, “Society Ballooning, Pittsfield, MA,” which was filmed in 1906, and
shows the filling of a gas balloon, mounting of the basket, and the flight.
And you might have thought your hometown never did much (LOL)! As I
close, here's a fun stroll back to the fifties. Those of you old enough
link your memory to Pittsfield
At the very end, there is a site
with dozens of old original recordings you can listen to!
Website courtesy of Clark W. Nicholls, PHS 1968 CWNicholls@aol.com