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There on the Porch on an Evening in spring

By Phil Pothier ................................................................3

Southwick’s Curious Coop By Ross Haseltine ...........4

May 1951 By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr..........................8

Time to Plant By Michael J. Dubilo .............................10

Forever Dog of Southwick

By Heidi Parker Colonna ............................................ 14

You are Stronger than you Think By Jeff King ......16

How to Identify Early Spring Wildflowers

By Walter Fertig ............................................................20

Bulletin Board ............................................................ 22

Classifieds ..................................................................23


There on the porch on an evening in spring

I rest in my old, worn out chair.

It seems that the world cannot enter my mind.

I find peace and quietude there.

The dogs are curled up and asleep at my feet.

The work of the day has been done.

I sit there and ponder the issues of life,

Both problems and victories won.

The yard is alive with the sounds of new life,

The birds singing sweet in the trees.

I see the wild geese flying high in the sky,

And hear their loud song on the breeze.

It’s too early yet for the planting to start,

The snow lingers still in the wood.

Yet I feel impatient to get the thing done.

I’d do it today if I could!

The gloaming is here, and the sun starts to set.

The sky is a beautiful red.

But red in the morning will not be a warning,

And we’ll have fine weather ahead.

I’m peaceful and quiet alone in my chair.

I hear the sweet music of life.

The night sounds surround me and quiet my soul.

I’m free here from worry and strife.

Too soon will tomorrow my reverie end.

And the cares of the world will intrude.

But now I’ll just sit here upon my back porch,

Enjoying a brief interlude!


It was not the henhouse itself, so to speak, that sparked much curiosity among some Southwick residents in 1922, but more so the placement of it; and the fact that it had something other henhouses were lacking: a chimney.

Local carpenter Thomas Adamowitz was no stranger to authorities. He lived on Southwick Road in Westfield, and he constructed the cute, little henhouse about three-fourths of a mile away, on a property in Southwick, not far from the South-wick-Westfield town line.

He also set it back in the woods, roughly three-fourths of a mile from the newly constructed state highway. (College High-way was officially dedicated May 22, 1923.)

Nearby, a small brook that once trickled into the valley had been dammed-up using large boards buried deep in the sand.

Perhaps it was the chimney, or rather the smoke coming out of it, or maybe it was the townsfolk’s gossip, that eventually caught the attention of a suspicious deputy sheriff, who then

filed a complaint with federal authorities.

Acting on that complaint, federal Prohibition enforcement agents Edgar R. Davis and J. Albert Tomlin traveled to South-wick to investigate. Immediately seeing something was amiss, they raided the henhouse on the night of July 26, 1922.

Some 100 chickens were milling about as the agents, fight-ing off rats, took notice of other oddities besides the chimney. First, they thought it strange that the floor was concrete, quite a luxury for a chicken coop.

Second, they questioned why was there no stove to match the stovepipe? It looked like the stovepipe stopped and was level with the floor, yet smoke was pouring out of the chimney.

One of the agents suggested they dig around the hen-house. So, they obtained some shovels and started digging. With much effort, they dug and dug and dug before finally, one of them hit something hard: a piece of board.

Freeing and removing the board revealed that it sealed the stone entrance leading to a cave under the henhouse.

They were immediately taken by surprise when out of the pitch-black darkness of the cave came two dogs, an Airedale and an Irish terrier, each with a half-inch thick chain around its neck, rushing towards them.

Agent Tomlin was able to duck out of the path of the at-tacking dogs. He then turned, drew his gun, and fired a shot,

The Southwick Time Machine

- presents -


Curious Coop

The Southwick Time Machine

- presents -


Curious Coop

By Ross Haseltine


killing the Irish terrier. The gunshot startled the Airedale, who released his grip after having sunk his teeth into the rear end of Agent Davis, tearing his trousers in the process. As a precaution, they permanently silenced him too.

The agents got some lanterns to light their way. Once inside, they found a large, 25-gallon still, with double coils and several condensers, busy making the evil brew of Prohibition. Also found was the piping used in di-verting the dammed-up water of the brook.

Nearby sat five gallons of illegal whiskey. Scattered about were several barrels and containers filled with some 200 gallons of mash.

Confident they had their man, agents Tomlin and Davis headed to the Adamowitz residence to find Thomas.

Now, Thomas Adamowitz gave authori-ties the slip before. It was a move that boosted his self-confi-dence, but he became cocky. In a highly embarrassing situation about a year earlier, authorities had stopped him in Westfield and searched his trash only to find household garbage.

This time would be different. But little did the agents know that the barking and growling of the now silenced dogs had alerted Thomas’ wife. However, the agents were still able to serve notice on her bootlegger husband that he must appear before the federal commissioner. (The commissioner was wrap-ping up a month-long vacation which delayed the case.)

The agents broke up the dam, and the little brook flowed again. They seized evidence needed for trial, and with the hen-house quiet, they went over to the Southwick Inn, where they recounted their exciting tale. And everyone got a good laugh when Agent Davis ruefully displayed his trousers with the torn seat.

But the agents’ laughter was short-lived after a United States commissioner ordered Adamowitz discharged on Sep-tember 9.

When Adamowitz was arraigned back in August, he pleaded not guilty to the illegal manufacturing and possession of alcohol. Agent Davis testified on behalf of the government at the September 9 hearing. Following Davis’s testimony, the com-missioner declared the raid illegal because it lacked a search warrant.

Tomlin, now a former agent, was not present at the hear-ing, for he had been arrested and charged with stealing five barrels of seized wine and hard cider from the government. The illegal drink was in transit to the Bay State storage warehouse when it went missing follow-ing a raid on the Jarry farm in South-wick. Agent Davis and another man, who posed as an agent during the theft, were arrested and later tried. Davis, who turned a blind eye after failed attempts to stop then agent Tomlin, was found not guilty and was able to return to work.

Thomas Adamowitz was arrested again, this time in 1925, for keeping and expos-ing liquor for sale. Massachusetts voters repealed state enforcement of Prohibition in 1930, but at the time, it remained a violation of federal law.




May 2011

By Clifton (Jerry) Noble, Sr.

My journal continues.

May 1, 1951, Tuesday Hester (my nickname for mother Minnie E. Noble) went with cousin Lester Em-erson to Brattleboro, Vermont, today while he deliv-ered repaired grandfathers clocks. He picked up one to work on at the Easthampton library. He gets about $35 a job.

I met spinster Maude Raymond in the Westfield Athenae-um (library) this morning. She confirmed the rumor that the (middle-aged) “Girls,” Mildred E Moore and Marion K Shaw, have moved from Roxbury to an apartment in Newton. They will be driving a new Ford out to their summer cottage in Montgomery.

We paid a brief visit to Kelso’s on New State Road last eve-ning. Myron was trying to telephone state engineer Carl Flynn to tell him that Percy and Ethel Helms and Huntington store-keeper Kyle are the abutters whose land will be affected by re-construction of Crow Bridge on Main Road.

Yesterday, Hester and I walked north on Carrington Road. Raymond Avery was just starting up Pomeroy Road with the scraper. At the little pond by Willistons the boys have made a water wheel by nailing tin cans to one side of a cable reel with a broomstick through the center for an axle. Water comes to it through a trough from a hole in the dam.

Lil Albrecht is renting the old house on Herrick Road this summer and has stored furniture there including a sewing ma-chine.

Evelyn Becket came up from her office at the Russell paper mill to eat lunch with Hester. They are having trouble at their house on Whitney Avenue in Holyoke. The septic tank was improperly installed and began coming up through the lawn. It cost $25 to fix.

Sun has shone on vacation from my Department of Public Works surveying job. I’ve been getting tanned on my little sun balcony at the well house.

May 5, 1951, Saturday. Louis Rivard, our neighbor half mile north, has just got his naturalization papers. His wife, Mary, wrote to school authorities in Ware for proof that he was in school there, and thus in the United States by a certain date. We saw the water mill Louis has built. The foundations are concrete, nine inches thick. The wheel, about eight feet in diameter, is inside the south wall. It is start-ed by opening the gate to the wheel pit when the pond is full. Then every piece of apparatus that has its belt connected to the overhead drive shaft begins to run. All firewood is sawed for next winter. He made a tapering device and cut old poles from the electric company into shingles for a new roof on the house. There’s a grinder for corn and apples, a stone for sharpening tools and a small lathe and table saw. He bought a gauge to es-timate the speed of the mill, and that can be adjusted by inches of water pressing against the wheel.

Head librarian Roland Wilcox thinks that Language in Thought and Action by Hayakawa which I gave the library is wonderful. He marked passages to use in speeches and bought

May 1951

The Old House on Herrick Road


another copy for the library as well as one for his sister-in-law in Vermont.

On our way home through Montgomery we stopped to see Walter Allyn. He was milking so I went out to the barn with him. He had cleaned the cow stable and spread manure on the meadow across the brook. He is over seventy. One cow was difficult and kicked, so I held her tail while Walter milked. At last he had fresh milk strained into the big can in the cooler.

We paid Uncle Ralph Emerson an evening visit on Mort Vining Road in Southwick. Saw Ken Murray’s “Wide Open Spaces” show and part of Sid Caesar on television, also song and dance “Board Walk” which ended with two Mr. Americas doing acrobatics.

May 6, 1951, Sunday. I left Hester in car near Sperry Road where she could enjoy a breeze and view and hiked 6.2 miles in 67 minutes. I kept feeling we ought to get home. When we did we found Aunt Lina and Uncle Dave Hallock waiting. She had written that they were coming Sunday at one, but we did not get the letter because I did not pick up mail at the Russell post office Friday or Saturday.

May 7, 1951, Monday. District Supervisor Tattan suggest-ed my taking Larry’s son, Bill, with me to help getting equip-ment for running my own survey party. Bill drove to Worces-ter, and I drove into Boston. It was 11:30 before we reached 100 Nashua Street. Mr. Hebert’s office had been moved to room 715. He wasn’t there. A Mr. Carter told me all I had to do was sign for my equipment which was ready for me in the stock room. It didn’t take over half an hour to get stuff packed in the car. We left Boston through Cambridge and zipped back to West Springfield by 3:30.

May 9, 1951, Wednesday. We took detail (to map houses and everything of value) on Cottage Street, West Springfield. A lady who gave us glasses of apple juice was from Nova Scotia. Her elderly son reported this incident.

“At the local pub a fellow bragged how well trained he had his wife. ‘I’m king in my own house.’ ‘Yes,’ drawled a crony, ‘I was there when your wife crowned you.’”

In the evening I surveyed for Dr. Arenstam’s wife on Main Street Russell to set the pin for her southwest boundary adjoin-ing the old Parks place. It rained and got dark as I was finish-ing. I undercharged, only took two dollars. While there Jack Skerker, who bought my grandmother’s house in Westfield, vis-ited the Arenstams and recognized me before I did him.

The rest of the week, with my new survey party, I took

detail to map the four acres belonging to Immaculate Concep-tion Church on West Springfield’s Main Street—convent, rec-tory, school and church. The Rectory, before becoming church property, was the birthplace of Clarence Day who wrote Life with Father. Across Main Street is Day Street named for the family. There is probably a con-nection with the “Old Day House” museum on Park Street.

The Sister Superior of the convent was sit-ting on the back porch. She said she is 83. She remembered the 1938 flood before the Con-necticut River dike was built and they had to be taken out in boats dodging ice cakes. The old priest, who got the church built in 1912, said that the finished cost, without the organ, was $50,000.

Next week when John Driscoll and Bill Kelly came out to work from Boston, Bill lost no time getting a date with Mary Flannagan, the Rectory maid, who is from Ireland.

May 13, 1951, Sunday. We drove to North Blandford. Hes-ter waited in the car while I explored the lonely Beulah Land Road. The sun was warm. I left shirt and dungarees in a hem-lock thicket to hike in briefs. I met a fox. A little way in was a round pond about 20 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep with vertical sides neatly stoned up.

Back at the car we rode on through North Blandford. Old wooden ties showed where the abandoned Lee trolley line crossed. We met mud and daring drivers. As one with a Chrys-ler passed me on an outcrop of ledge, I asked, “Did you come all the way through?” He nodded, “Kind of a country road isn’t it?” The lady beside him looked as if she were sitting on pins.


But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings.  Still other seed fell on good soil and pro-duced a crop.  Seed, the essential element of transmit-ting life. Declaring the gospel message to receptive ears, are seeds that yield the most. The word of God can be planted and grow to abundant life.

The mystery of seeds taking root and producing. I read about a mustard seed that a man planted in his field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come nest in its branches. Hey, there is Michael peering out from the young branches.

Imagine a small seed can grow to be a home to birds. Lessons to apply.  You start life as a tiny infant and grow to physical maturity, hopefully to become a blessing in the life of others. 

Now, let us get to the invisible floor of the garden. See a vision of hungry worms dancing with delight, as they eat organic matter--vegetable scraps--digesting and excret-ing high potency fertilizer into the ground. Love it when overturning the composite, we find tiny red worms in un-countable numbers.  You can sooner count the hairs on your head, or the grains of sand on a beach, than you shall be able to estimate the number of these wonder worms.  A factory, where all workers are happy and productive. Care for those hard workers.  Keep them moist.  Like the human body, without water, well you know, we all need that nutrient.

A good friend, Rick, is a specialist in yard maintenance. He composites grass clippings and leaves unto a designated area in the rich fields of Granby, MA.  They remain in large piles for years, allowing weather, air and the “birth” of worms to do their job.  A chicken coop nearby, is also under opera-tion. Chicken manure is an added benefit for the fulfillment of healthy, color loaded, vegetables.  I am blessed to have ac-

By Michael J. Dubilo

A story is told of a certain man and wife enjoying the freshness of spring. Mind, body and spirit engaged in the natu-ral warmth in the air.  A time to plant ideas, seeds and kind-ness.  All productive gardeners know the value of soil prepara-tion.  After all, good soil is symbolic of good food. No artificial ingredients, no pesticides, just natural products provided by our creator. The ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it, produces herbs, vegetables and flowers. The farmer that cultivates, receives a blessing from God.

A gentle man went out to sow his seed. And as he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Some fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. 


cess, for the taking.  Fill the back of my pickup and unload in Westfield.  The process of adding vitamins and minerals. 

Springtime is a season to enjoy the outdoors. “Party hardy” with a positive purpose in mind. Creatures such as chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, blue jays, morning doves and robins, take notice of spring weather operations and inter-nally plan strategies. They are ready to party. Yes, they have a purpose, nibbling and tasting the harvest. There is nothing I can do but watch them be an in-tegral part of nature. A sight to see, every morning and evening. They all seem to intermingle in peace and knowing one’s place in the food chain.  Kindness in action, modeled by creatures of the same animal spirit.  Can we learn from these observations?  We can, by doing unto others as you would want done unto you.

Now, let us install some thin metal fencing along the gardens perimeter. Cu-cumbers love to climb the fence with their natural tentacles.  Fresh cukes are a 5-7 week away dream. Susanna, my Italian beauty, is busy planting sunflow-ers at garden’s edges. They will be tall, statuesque and loaded with seeds.  What a visually stunning back drop. My help mate is blessed with a “green thumb.”  The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.

We know that God delegates the weather and the rains will descend from above at His command.  Natural resources, that jump start our mystery garden.  A provision of food will be provided at harvest time.

Now, we need to explore how flowers create an atmo-sphere of serenity.  As I write, no place other than Stanley Park in Westfield better illustrates the mood. Vast spreads of flowers and evergreens gleaming in the sun, bring on smiles. Sounds

from a generous size water fountain appeals to our audio sense. Youngsters dance around, gazing at the shiny coins laying at the bottom of the pool. Visually delightful. Back at the home-stead, Susanna’s colorful gems are attracting bees and hum-ming birds. The bees serve value to crops and humming birds become a special sight. People that do not have op-portunity to grow plants, receive gifts of flowers from my wife’s kind heart.

You can touch someone’s life in a positive manner.  We were made on purpose for a purpose.  Plant the seed of Love and Care.  Someone needs good uplifting words to-day. Just like seed requires good soil to grow, build up that person with encouragement. Planting seed with rewards. 

Today, you to can en-gage in the joyful adventure of planting. Any form will bring pleasure.  A container or two filled with fertile soil can be a start.  Placed in a sunny exposure with water and daily commitment of Love, sets the path to enjoy-ment.  Pick out your choice of seeds and watch the mys-tery unfold.  In a garden or in another’s life, the branch that abides in the vine pro-duces fruit. Praying for oth-ers will enrich your soul.  Some have needs that are vi-tal for survival. Be that seed, helping people learn that our future is saturated with hope. The bible tells us, that “Job” was blessed, when he prayed for others. Therefore, we cheer you on to action, keeping your eye on the way, the truth and the life.




By Heidi Parker Colonna

“Dogs don’t live long enough.” Of all the life truths I’ve racked up, this one stands out. The quote comes from my diary, December 29, 1999, several months after my beloved dog, Gretchen, passed away.

Twenty-two years later to the day, a book I wrote, Dear Gretchen: Letters to My Dog, ar-rived at my doorstep.

You really loved that dog, my step-father Bill said as I toiled over the man-uscript. I’ve thought a lot about why my love for Gretchen went so deep. I know that when we found each other, I really needed her. I was a grieving, angry 9-year-old, newly moved from Longmeadow to Westfield (a place I’d never heard of, known for whips!). I

struggled with school and family changes: our new home had a new stepfather and stepsisters. And, last but not least, I had recently lost my first puppy, the one I loved to take care of. I was, after all, the youngest in my family who had no one else to dote on.

I was in utter distress when my mother miraculously took me to the animal shel-ter in Springfield and let me have my pick. While I knew to go for the older dogs in need first, my gut pulled me to an 8-week-old black-and-tan German-shepherd-looking pup who was fast asleep, a tiny black triangle ear flopped over an eye. There was a peace within the depths of her tiny cage that was like a world of its own in the chaos of the barking kennel.

My 9-year-old gut was 100% correct. Gretchen was exactly what I needed. Her peace never waned. And when the sad wail of the train made its way through our backyard woods—the train that had just come around the bend from my lost home—Gretchen let me lay my head on her side, and rocked it with swells of black-streaked-brown fur. She’d sit next to me on the steps of our new front porch as I sized up a new maze of pave-ment and new people. She was one of those rare friends you could sit next to doing absolutely nothing and be completely at ease.

Just before my senior year in high school and seven years after Gretchen came into my life, we moved to Southwick with Mom and Bill. It was the perfect place for Gretchen’s golden years. She loved our new digs: a bright and spacious Tudor-Style ranch off South Longyard with an open floor plan, window seats she could rest her head on to watch us come and go, and a dog bed next to every place the humans slept or napped. I think of Southwick as a place Gretchen graduated to after years of restriction to the first floor of our two-story house in Westfield. Her fur now turned red, she’d become an older, more respected family member in a newly-reduced pack of four. In Southwick, she had more room to


wander and drop to nap anywhere. Her fur went from red to gold. She put on some pounds. In winter, she’d use the trails snowblown by Bill to take a quick pee and get back by the fire. On summer’s hottest days, she’d prance over to the tiny pond across our little side street to wade in and scatter the frogs. She’d have to bake in the sun of the back deck that ran the length of the house before getting back on the oriental rugs.

In Southwick, I became a career-oriented young adult inspired by Gretchen to work in animal welfare and help animals like her. I can almost still feel the sun-baked ce-ment of Mom’s front porch where Gretchen sat beside me as I studied, book on my lap, Mom in the house with some-thing on the stove.

The cushy qualities of Mom and Bill’s sprawling ranch house in the country are part of the reason I had left Gretch-en there when I went to graduate school down the pike at Tufts, got a house outside Springfield, and got married. I came back to Southwick when I knew her last breath was near. Yes, Southwick is where we had our most peaceful years, and it’s also where we had to say goodbye. It was the tragedy of my young life. Dogs don’t live long enough. I grieved hard for five long years. How was I supposed to go on and do joyful adult things like have a baby without her?

Southwick is the place I went to mourn Gretchen. Her grave behind the woodpile was where I’d place flowers and curl up to cry. When the grief went on too long, I de-cided that I needed to know she was OK. I prayed for a sign: something from nature to show me she was safe and well. I looked for a wildflower sprouted in the woods behind my new home where I went for solace, but nothing came.

Southwick is where Gretchen returned to me. On one sad-as-ever visit to the grave on a late August Sunday in 2004, I found no wildflowers sprouted, but something bet-ter: Gretchen’s spirit prancing alongside me like she always did, looking up at me. I wouldn’t have known it if not for my mother’s keen senses. My prayer was answered, and I was given the ultimate comfort, right there by the woodpile.

I never again bawled at Gretchen’s grave. I moved for-ward in life knowing that she was with me still. Maybe she never left.


We all face pressure in life and at times we feel over-whelmed. You never dreamed you’d be dealing with this health issue. Or you thought that trouble at work would be over by now. Or you never thought you’d be going through a divorce and starting over again at your age. It’s easy to feel like it’s too much and we can’t take it anymore.

But let me tell you what I know to be true about you When God designed you, He took into account everything you would face in your life every struggle, every unfair situation, every setback and He put in you the strength, the courage, and the determination to withstand it.

When you feel overwhelmed, when you feel like the

pressure is too much for you, remember you are stronger than you think! You haven’t discovered all that’s in you!

You will never know how strong you are until you face pressure that you’ve never faced. It may seem unbearable, but the fact that God allowed it in your life means you can handle it.

One day you’re going to look back at those times when you didn’t think you could go on, when the pressure seemed unbearable, and you’re going to realize that somehow it didn’t defeat you.

Why didn’t it break you? Because you are stronger than you think! God wouldn’t have allowed you to go through that pressure if He didn’t already put in you what you need to handle it.

You are designed to handle the pressure.

I read about a little fish called the Mariana snailfish. It lives at the very bottom of the ocean, almost five miles be-low the surface. No other fish can survive at that depth. The pressure at that depth is more than a thousand times the pressure at the surface. It would crush any other fish.

But when God designed the snailfish, He designed it to handle the pressure. He made its bones flexible, so they wouldn’t be crushed. He gave this fish special cells and a unique digestive system. Most fish have one gene to stabi-lize proteins, but this fish has five!

Because they’re designed to handle the pressure, they don’t live burdened, or struggling, or overwhelmed they thrive there.

In the same way, when God designed you, He knew what pressures you would face financial pressure, rela-tionship pressure, raising children pressure, dealing with an illness pressure.

If that pressure was going to crush you,