From Dave Brigham:
A few weeks ago I drove with a friend from my home just outside Boston to Springfield, MA, to see a museum exhibit about art forgery. Neither of us knows the city very well, but we found the Springfield Museums without too much trouble, and drove around the corner to park. I got out of the car and looked across the street at a somewhat imposing building and chuckled to myself.
My dad, who was born in Orange, New Jersey but grew up in Springfield, had the YMCA running through his veins before he passed away earlier this month. I knew right away when I spied this building that he had spent a good amount of time there as a kid and young man.
Built in 1915, the former YMCA at 122 Chestnut Street, is now an apartment building. A new Y building was constructed years ago a short distance away. My father went to the YMCA as a kid, and over the years told my brother, sister and me all about the mentors he had there, and how he worked in Y camps as a young man.
When we were kids, my brother and I joined the Indian Guides, a Y-affiliated group similar to the Boy Scouts. After my dad retired from 34 years of teaching, one of the many volunteer gigs he had was teaching archery at a YMCA near my parents' house in Simsbury, CT.
When I saw the YMCA building, I thought, "What a cool coincidence," but seeing as how I found myself there two weeks before my father died, I've begun to think of it as something deeper. And I'm not the kind of guy who normally believes in signs of this sort.
After my friend Jim and I had lunch at the Student Prince Cafe-The Fort Dining Room, an oddly named place that has the most incredible German beer stein collection you'll ever see, we strolled back toward the museum.
On the way, we passed a cool old building that used to house the Worthy Hotel (aka the Hotel Worthy). Built in 1895, the hotel has been an apartment building for many years. I love this sign:
I hope to get back to Springfield in the near future to explore more cool buildings, and to learn a bit more about the city that helped shape the great man who was my father. Rest in peace, dad.