Empty, Pretty and Rich

Friday, 24 September 2010 08:15 AM Written by 

GREENFIELD, MASS. – Mile 188

Steinbeck’s first stop in the fall of 1960 was the Eaglebrook School, the boarding school in Deerfield, Mass., that his youngest son John was attending.

Steinbeck didn’t divulge much about his visit to Eaglebrook in “Charley.” He said he got there too late on Sept. 23 (a Friday in 1960) to rouse his son, so he drove to the top of a hill nearby and camped overnight on a farm under an apple tree.

Though he actually stayed in the Deerfield metro area until Sunday afternoon, he said in the book that he visited with his son the next day and then drove north into Vermont.

Before I do the same, I’ll drive over to Eaglebrook’s campus and check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the luxurious amenities of the Days Inn I treated myself to last night to make up for my night sleeping on Sag Harbor's Long Pier in the back of my RAV4.

The nicest part of my $71 stay here so far? – the generous wall plugs that have replenished the juice in all my batteries.

Road Report: The drive from East Hartford to here on Connecticut state routes 85 and 2 and then on two-lane US 5 reminded me yet again just how empty America is and how rich it is.

US 5 north pierces some small towns like Enfield, Conn., – founded in 1683. Then it leads to Massachusetts college towns like Springfield, Holyoke and Northampton, where the spectacular historic downtown buildings, the thriving retail scene and the sidewalk mobs of young people on a Thursday night at 8 were surreal.

DSC_1853

Mostly, though, US 5 was undeveloped and timeless. The “Purple Heart Memorial Highway” made Connecticut look as un-peopled as Long Island and Pennsylvania.

And when there were houses along the road – and there were hundreds -- they were usually big, white, pre-Teddy Roosevelt-looking beauties on large and perfectly landscaped lots. 

Steinbeck may or may not have noticed this impressive gauntlet of affluence. But he would have passed 99 percent of the same homes I saw as he drove to Deerfield, which is about 160 road miles from Sag Harbor.

A fuzzy picture of a typical house that I snapped as I drove by:

house_on_us_5

 

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