Author Archives: Gary Sanderson

A South Deerfield, Mass., native, Gary was the longtime sports editor at the Greenfield Recorder, a daily newspaper in Greenfield, Mass., where he retired in June 2018, having worked parts of five decades over 39 years. A 25-year, senior-active member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Association of America, his Thursday column "On The Trail" ran for nearly 40 years, ostensibly focusing on fish and wildlife, conservation and issues pertaining to them in the Connecticut Valley, where his roots reach deep into its oldest burial grounds. He and wife Joanne live in a historic Greenfield Meadows tavern today known as Old Tavern Farm, which has a rich history dating back to the mid-18th century. The home, which became a National-Register-of-Historic-Places building on his watch, served as a small, seasonal bed and breakfast from 1999-2015. Gary's other interests include history, anthropology, archaeology, literature, genealogy, Americana, country auctions, and early-American architecture and landscapes, as well as hunting, fishing and especially reading. His primary focus is the Pioneer Valley, its people, places and critters.

What Was Canterbury of Early Hatfield/Whately?

Canterbury came into existence as a place between places in early Hatfield-Deerfield lore, a perilous no-man’s land where only the brave dared linger, even then on high alert.Thus the confusion about the specifics of this place, named in the early days of Hatfield, that ultimately became the northeast corner of Whately. No one is certain […]

Looming Celebrations Stir Memories

Saturday, 6 a.m. Backyard brook rattling. Sparse, wispy-white clouds creeping eastward in the soothing, pale-blue sky. Perfect for pondering, allowing your mind to run free. Heavy overnight winds and rains have passed, leaving in their wake an ebullient-green yard, the rich, verdant base only enhancing ornamental trees and bushes to their happiest springtime splendor. There […]

Family Mattters

As Main Street merchants, vendors, restaurateurs and bar owners count their losses and struggle to stay afloat, the online genealogy companies must be riding high. A right-place, right-time scenario, they are the beneficiaries of a captive audience, housebound and bored silly, that’s searching for anything to break the tedium of COVID-19 quarantine. Count me among […]

Leather-Working Mecca

An old cliché tells us familiarity breeds contempt. So, how about ignorance? Does not familiarity breed that, too? Well, in my case, the answer is an unapologetic yes. Let me explain, focusing on boyhood South Deerfield. At the southwest corner of Pleasant and North Main, a short distance up the road from my earliest home […]

Shad Traps

It’s April, the month that ushers in our annual Connecticut River American shad-spawning run, a natural phenomenon that has for millennia pulled valley people – be they ancient, indigenous villagers, colonial families and commercial fishermen, or contemporary sportfishermen and women – to advantageous May fishing sites. So, what better for a longtime observer of this […]

Was Giles Weaver Really J.D. Salinger?

Who was that mysterious stranger occupying Room 34 of South Deerfield’s “Warren Hotel” in September 1970? His byline appears as Giles Weaver in the Winter 1970 revival edition of The Phoenix, a small literary magazine published after a 40-year hiatus by James Cooney at his West Whately Morning Star Press. Cooney introduces Weaver to his Phoenix readers as […]

Valley Fishing Calendar Has Changed Little Since Colonial Days

Friend Peter Thomas is back at it, nose to the grindstone. The good doctor of anthropology and archaeology is at his core an historian. These days the retired author of In the Maelstrom of Change: The Indian Trade and Cultural Process in the Middle Connecticut River Valley, 1635-1665 is photographically digitizing the Sylvester Judd Manuscripts at Northampton’s Forbes Library […]

Shaping Political Bedrock

I didn’t know Jimmy Cooney. He didn’t know me. But I did know of the man who was 20 years older than my father, and felt his strong presence at two or three social gatherings involving mutual West Whately friends. My most memorable Cooney encounter occurred at an afternoon May Day celebration, probably 1970 or […]

War-Club Speculation

Scholar Marge Bruchac filled the house. Standing room only for her January 26 presentation that kicked off Historic Deerfield’s three-legged Winter Lecture Series, “Captivated: Histories and Legacies of the 1704 Raid on Deerfield.” Who said the Happy Valley doesn’t give a hoot about our indigenous past? Deerfield Academy security officials would beg to differ. They had to bar the doors at […]

More on Mastodon Tooth

Back to the ancient mastodon tooth recovered nearly 150 years ago in a Colrain “muck bed” two miles up the hill from my upper Greenfield Meadows home and discussed in my last column. New information worth sharing has since come to light. To me, a retired newspaperman, it made sense all along that Elias Bardwell’s […]

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