Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Small Town Girls

I was up at quarter of 8 this morning. Lauren didn't start stirring until around 9:30. I read Crocodile on the Sandbank and wrote in my journal for a while, then got dressed and had cereal and the last peach for breakfast. I was messing around with my cell phone when Lauren came upstairs and said she was ready to go.

Our first stop of the day (after Lauren made a quick run to an ATM machine) was Steve Valenti's Clothes for Men in downtown Pittsfield. Turns out Mr. Valenti himself is a long-time friend of Lauren's dad. He met his wife when she moved from the bank Mr. Miller managed in North Adams to one in Pittsfield. Lauren chose two nice lightweight robes for him, one in mahogany, one in navy, both with white piping. She also found a pale blue plaid nightshirt.

We strolled down North Street, first checking out a "general store" that had apparently just opened. It held toys, some books, sodas, coffee, and other basic sundries. Lauren wanted to take a look at a small consignment store down the street and around the corner. They were a bit like Frugili Consignment in Collingswood, a narrow store selling mostly used women's clothes. Though Lauren says she likes them and has gotten things there before, neither of us bought anything there today.

We next drove down to Lanesborough to check out the Berkshire Mall. They have a farm market every Wednesday and Saturday morning in the summer. We were mainly there so I could get some fruit for breakfast. Though they had piles of early summer produce like Swiss chard and green beans, the only fruit they had were containers of blueberries. I grabbed a pint. I'll eat them in my cereal and give Lauren and her mom anything that's left on Saturday.

The Berkshire Mall's JC Penney is closing, their second anchor to shut down in less than a year after Macy's. Lauren says they're a week from permanent closure. Many departments have already been removed or re-organized, but we were able to find the women's clothing. My friend had more luck than I did. They were mostly getting rid of winter clothes, thick skirts, heavy sweaters, and corduroy slacks. I do need a winter skirt, but winter clothes are really too heavy for me to carry home. She found a set of orange hand towels to use in the bathrooms upstairs.

It was about noon by this point. The Berkshire Mall's food court is small, with just a pizza parlor, a Chinese booth, and one that sells Mexican and burgers. Kept things simple and opted for pizza. I had mushroom and cheese; she had mushroom. It was the right choice. The slices were excellent, salty and greasy with a perfectly soft crust.

A small arcade is nestled on the end of the food court, near the Regal Cinema movie theater. They have a decent selection for the space, including an air hockey machine. Lauren and I played two games, one right after we came in, the other before we left. Lauren won both, but it wasn't for lack of trying in the second! The score on the first game was 7-2. The other game was much closer, 2-1. We laughed and slapped at the puck and had a great time. We also played their ice-themed skee ball machines (I've never seen white plastic balls before). I took a whack at Galaga on the double Ms. Pac Man/Galaga console while Lauren shot basketballs. Between the two of us, we won enough points to pick a slap bracelet (Lauren), a string bracelet (me), and a cherry-limeade Tootsie Roll (I ate that).

There wasn't much else to see at the mall. The Berkshire Mall's been dying for several years, thanks to high rents and poor management that doesn't understand the area. The only stores there that remotely interested us were Jay Street Video Games and a toy shop, Toy Giant. We finally opted to return to Pittsfield for our show instead.

The Berkshire Theater Group is housed in a series of restored vintage buildings in downtown Pittsfield, including the gorgeous Colonial Theater. The auditorium, with its elaborate architecture recalling a bygone era, was the perfect setting for The Music Man. I was impressed. I thought the group did wonderfully with the delightful score. The kids in particular were adorable, and the lady who played Mrs. Shinn was an absolute riot. Her husband was pretty funny, too. Even Lauren said she enjoyed it, and unlike me, she's not really a big musical fan.

Headed further downtown after it let out for dinner at the Highland, a long-time favorite spot of Lauren and her parents. We had a little trouble trying to figure out where to park. All those road construction projects followed us to Pittsfield, including a closed parking lot. She finally ended up parking alongside a Burger King.

Dinner was worth the parking fuss. The Highland is a small hole-in-the-wall just off the main downtown. We've eaten there before, but not in a long time. According to the mirror over our booth, they've been in business since 1936, and they feel like it, with dark wood paneling, ancient vinyl booths, and pleasant old waitresses who knew Lauren on sight and even asked about her parents. She had Veal Parmesan, a huge pile of spaghetti, and a slice of Oreo Pudding Pie. I had a hot turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I mainly ate the turkey and cranberry sauce. I'm not the biggest fan of gravy. The mashed potatoes were ok. I suspect they came from a mix, but they were at least nice and buttery. The turkey was yummy though, juicy and tender. My pie was a sweet, flaky Coconut Custard.

Unfortunately, we discovered when we came out that some idiot dumped ice cream across the front of Lauren's car, including on her windshield. She drove us to the nearest car wash to get it off. This ended up being kind of fun. A nice young fellow gave the car a good, solid scrubbing before we went through the literal ringers. The flashing lights in an arc around the brushes made the whole thing feel more like a ride at Wildwood than washing the car.

It was past 6:30 before we made it home. Lauren helped her dad try on his new sleepwear and passed on Mr. Valenti's greetings. Mrs. Miller and I snacked on blueberries. Oh boy, were they sweet! No wonder Massachusetts is a leading producer of blueberries, along with New Jersey and Michigan.

Lauren and I finished the night downstairs, playing more Yoshi's Woolly World. We went through the first half of World 4 tonight. We started in the jungle, dodging monkeys who couldn't be turned into yarn balls...and ended up dodging a massive catfish that could swallow Yoshis in one gulp! The hardest round was the Latiku maze. You not only have to make your way around the little yellow fellow who throws spike balls at you, you need to figure out how to find the end of the maze, too.

After much deliberation, due to iffy weather, we've decided we're going to visit Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George, New York tomorrow. This is one of our major, extra-long trips, and I always look forward to it.

1 comment:

Linda said...

If the winter deals at the closing JC Penney were really good, why not go back and buy things and then mail them home?

I remember that Six Flags park when it was Storytown USA. :-)