"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

November 21, 2007

A Look Back At Northampton. Have A Great Holiday!

The Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature on page two called 'A Look Back'. (sub. req'd) It consists of news from that day 50 years ago, 25 years ago, and 10 years ago. I enjoy that section, and in particular the news from 25 years ago. As I understand it, Northampton was like the wild west during the 70's, particularly the mid to late 70's, and maybe even the early 80's. These 'look backs' from 25 years ago now sometime document the tail end of that free wheeling era. In today's Gazette 'Look Back' section from 25 years ago,

About 20 Northampton-area residents, including many described by one investigator as prominent "professional types," face indictment soon for allegedly being customers of a multi-million-dollar cocaine ring which has been operating out of Massachusetts since 1979. The operation reportedly supplied Northampton with more than a quarter-million worth of cocaine per month for the past three years.
I tried a quick search online for more news reports on that story or similar ones, but was unable to find any. But I have heard many stories about Northampton during these years. For instance, I've heard that very large amounts of drugs used to run through the old LaFleur Airport in Northampton, and that there was a large drug bust there by the DEA sometime in the 70's. Maybe the piece in the Gazette today was the actual story I heard, or maybe it was a part of the story, or I have a convoluted recollection of history and changed the facts in my head. I also understand that in the movie Blow, a movie based on the life of American cocaine smuggler George Jung, there is a scene in the movie where the actors are supposed to be flying into the Northampton airport to make a drop. I def could have that wrong though, I would have to watch the movie again.

Any of you reading have experience with these years in Northampton? The late 70's, early 80's? Maybe you want to talk about the airport at that time? Or the rogue police who protected the public during the day, and were cat burglars during the night? Just for posterity. And just generally. It doesn't even have to be about drugs and crime. It could be about the events held at the Spider Ballroom, which existed on Pleasant St. long ago. The boarded up storefronts in town. Portofinos. What was Rajar's (sp?) on Old South St like? etc...The historical accounts of individuals who lived here in the 1970's have always fascinated me, as I am under the impression that it was during those years and immediately after that much of the heavy lifting was done in creating the Northampton we all know now, and I hunger for more.

I for one find that information incredibly intriguing, and it really helps me to have a context of Northampton in regards to then and now. It goes without saying that history is incredibly valuable and important in any story, no matter what kind of history it is. Were any of you here in the 70's? What was your experience? What were your favorite restaurants and coffee shops? Were there even any coffee shops on Main St. back then? What was the gossip in town circa the late 70's? I hear whispers about an artistic and criminal underground that operated just below the surface, what was that like?

LABELS: northampton in the news, northampton history, community notes, downtown