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.

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 […]

Colrain Mastodon Tooth

Mastodon remains in the neighborhood? You betcha! Long ago. Just two miles north of my home. Then – presto! – the ancient remains move even closer in a genealogical vein. Surreal. Why does this stuff happen? I suppose such discoveries are bound to become more frequent when aging out in a place where one’s roots […]

Tail Feather Tickles Memories

A white carpet blankets the meadow as the sun rides low in the southern sky, freezing poignant memories of my finest gun dog, Chubby – registered “Old Tavern Farm’s Rabble Rouser” – who suddenly took ill in his eighth year and died well before his time on the final day of pheasant season … It’s […]

Chub-Chub’s Tragic Death

Chub-Chub died a horrid, preventable death. A spry, 8-year, 7-month-old springer spaniel of world-class pedigree, prowess, and stamina, he uttered his pathetic death groan at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 30, a Saturday, ending a tortuous, 3½-day ordeal that I believe could have been avoided. We buried him noontime the next day. Grey skies, an extended snowstorm […]

The Curious Case of Capt. William Turner’s Bones

There is but one published account documenting for posterity the tease that human bones unearthed by Judge Francis M. Thompson in the Greenfield Meadows could have been those of “Falls Fight” commander Capt. William Turner. Lucy Cutler Kellogg, on page 1,400 of her three-volume History of Greenfield, 1900-1929 (1931), wrote of her fellow historian and […]

North Parish Memories Fading Fast

Memories fade over time, and a half-century is a long of time in the local-history realm. Thus, I suppose it should come as no surprise that recollections of Greenfield’s old Nash’s Mills neighborhood at the beginning of Leyden Road are quickly sliding into oblivion. The church, the dam, the pond and other buildings did, after […]

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