I am part of the team from our church (The Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church) that is working to find a new settled minister. We had a wonderful minister for eleven years, Rev. Sara Ascher, but about a year and a half ago, she announced that she was leaving for another ministry. We were just grateful to have had her as long as we did as she served us very well, but most of us realized that it was the right time for a change. So for a while now, our search team has been doing the work of finding a new minister.
As it happens in our denomination (and in others, I imagine), we present ourselves and our church in a packet of information that goes out to interested candidates. One of the things we want to show is the nature of the area that this new minister is going to serve. We live in a rural part of Massachusetts and the church is located in the town of Brookfield, a town with one gas station, a couple of liquor stores, a terrific natural food store, one of the last REAL video stores in the Commonwealth and little else besides people. I am sure that Brookfield natives and residents would be glad to point out more of the town’s assets and charms because it is a very charming town. It is the birthplace of Elsie the Cow. If you are of an age, you might just remember her.
In any case, as I said, part of the packet will be showing the candidates what the area is like. So with that in mind, I went out yesterday to take some photos of the Brookfields. There are four, by the way: Brookfield, East Brookfield, North Brookfield and West Brookfield.
My first stop was in East Brookfield. East Brookfield, incorporated in 1920, happens to be the youngest town in the Commonwealth. It has a population of a little over 2,000 people and is the birthplace of Connie Mack. You might have heard of him if you are a baseball fan. On Main Street in the middle of town is Lake Lashaway and that’s what I decided to picture. But on Sunday nights, Dunny’s Tavern on Main Street has a fantastic live Blues Jam and some of the best live music in the area. I know. I’ve been there a few times and have enjoyed the music and a Guinness or two.
Next I went off to North Brookfield. This town was settled in the 1600s but officially broke off from Brookfield and was incorporated as a town in 1812. I took a few photos of North Brookfield's venerable Town Hall all spiffed up for the bi-centennial. North Brookfield is a little over twice as populous as East Brookfield. George M. Cohan used to summer there with his grandparents.
Then I headed to West Brookfield. This town, which split from Brookfield in 1848, is said to be the birthplace of asparagus in the New World. Hey, I don’t know about you but that’s a pretty nice legacy in my book. There is an Asparagus Festival there every year that I have yet to manage to get to as we are usually either busy or out of town when it happens. But one of these years I will make it and will take my camera. On the beautiful, large West Brookfield Common stands the Rice Fountain. I have stopped to photograph this fountain a few times. Right now, it looks as though it is being restored or at least that they may be planning to restore it and someone has decided that the main figure at the top of the fountain needs to be wearing a few more clothes. I am also including a photo of the bottom figures that I took a few years ago when the fountain was operational. Right now, the figure on the left is wearing a string of pearls. Go figure.
Lastly, I stopped in Brookfield. Here’s a photo of our church, The Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church, aka “The Little Stone Church that Rocks.” This particular building was built in 1912 so we are celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the building but not of the church, which actually has roots all the way back to 1675. The previous church building, which was a standard white clapboard church typical of New England churches, burnt down when struck by lightning in 1911. My thought is that the members decided that was never going to happen again and they built this church made of Monson Granite. Stone churches may not easily burn but they do wear out and that is why the building is looking a little raggedy at the moment. It needs some work and unlike churches made of wood, the repairs are extensive and very expensive…oh, well. Though our mortar may be a bit on the crumbly side, we still rock.
And that is what I did yesterday.