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"You know you’re from Western Mass. when..."

Date: 8/15/2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I offer a brief respite this week from posturing politicians in Washington, over-paid school superintendents, non-transparent transparency, the realization of a fleeting summer, contractors that can’t give people an estimate and people who don’t understand what green and red traffic lights mean.

Let’s seek some comfort in the ways things once were and, in some cases, still are.

The latest use for Facebook is one I find more entertaining than any of those games — I don’t care about Farmville — or posts about how someone answered a question about someone else. I’ve been noticing more Facebook pages with the title “You Know You’re From …”

On my “wall,” one of my high school classmates — thanks Linda — alerted me to the “You Know You’re from Granby” page. A quick search showed there is “You Know You’re From East Longmeadow” and pages for Western Massachusetts, Holyoke Chicopee and Springfield.

What I like about these pages is the strong sense of community, time and place. In this increasingly homogenized world of malls and chain stores, I enjoy when people are celebrating the little details of living in a specific place.

On the Springfield page, the exercise was started with a long list of qualifications, that included: “You really think that ‘The Simpsons’ should’ve been premiered here and you can’t believe Vermont won” and “You’re so used to the sound of sirens in the distance that when there are none, you realize that it’s unusually quiet.”

One poster to the Springfield page, noted, “You remember Lechmere in the Springdale Mall, across the street from the Eastfield Mall.” Another wrote, “If you remember the acres House of Television Sign.”

From the East Longmeadow page, there was “If you remember that Jumbo’s Supermarket was there before Big Y and Stop & Shop was where Kelly-Fradet Lumber Mart is” and “You remember when the train actually did run through town.”

Among other posts, two Holyokers wrote, “When the ‘baggers’ at Food Mart actually loaded your groceries into the car” and “The Log Cabin before it became a banquet hall.”

On the Chicopee page, there were “If you can remember when BJ’s was a drive-in movie theater” and “You’re a little sad the ‘singing bridge’ doesn’t sing anymore.”

The more generic Western Massachusetts page included “How about you know you’re from Western Massachusetts if you know what Abdow’s was but were a double-digit age before you found out Big Boy’s was a chain?”

And from the Granby page, the community where my family lived while I was in high school and college, there was “You can remember having a ‘late bus’ for those students that had extra curricular activities, extra help, or detention” and “If all your teachers had your mom first.”

Allow me to offer a few. You know you’re from Holyoke if you… can tell me who Richard Lavigne was and if you know how they cook the hot dogs at Nick’s Nest.

You know you’re from Chicopee if you ever saw “King Keilbasa” up close and personal.

You know you’re from Western Massachusetts if you get nostalgic about “The Admiral and Swabby” and if you remember going to A&W Root Beer and bringing home gallon jugs of the soda.

You know you’re from Springfield if you remember how much of a big a deal it was when Eastfield Mall opened and if you miss Johnson’s Used Books as much as I do. I wonder how people would finish that question 20 years from now.

A tip of my Moody Diner’s baseball cap to Mayor Michael Bissonnette who was featured on the great National Public Radio business show “Marketplace” speaking about the Standard & Poors assessment and how it relates to communities seeking funding for infrastructure projects.

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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