Luce Stellare ~ Starlight

A Journal reflecting on the softer side of life. A little mystical. Sometimes magical

Lafayette Returns to the Rider Tavern

by Frances Ann Wychorski
Charlton, MA
September 1, 2018

On September 3, in the year 1824, a party of four left Worcester, MA and traveled on the Worcester & Stafford Turnpike en route to Tolland, Connecticut. Upon reaching the Northside Village in the town of Charlton, they stopped at Wilson’s Coffee House for a meal and reception. The gentlemen in the horse-drawn carriage included Gilbert du Motier, known as Le Marquis de La Fayette, his son, Georges Washington, personal secretary André-Nicolas Levasseur and valet. President Madison invited La Fayette to return to the United States as the “Nation’s Guest” on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What was intended to be a four-month visit became a full year of celebrations as the retired Major General of the Continental Army traveled to all 24 of the United States. The entourage visited towns and cities along the way greeting local dignitaries, reviewing the militia and meeting old comrades from the battlefield.

On September 1, 2018, The Charlton Historical Society members celebrated the 194th anniversary of La Fayette’s visit with a full afternoon of activities. The event was ” Lafayette on the Stafford Turnpike; A Commemoration of Lafayette’s reception at the Rider Tavern on his farewell tour (1824-1825).”  The tavern, home of the Society, held an open house allowing visitors to tour rooms on the first and second floor of the three floored structure.

The tavern is a landmark building on Stafford Street. It has had several owners but the original where the Rider brothers. As stated by William O. Hultgren in his book, “A Bicentennial History of the Rider Tavern 1797-1997”, it was built by, “distillery operators Eli Wheelock and Leonard Morey and opened by brothers Isaiah and William Rider in 1801.” The Rider Tavern is “one of the least altered and best documented example of a wayside inn of the Federal Period in New England.” The Society acquired the tavern in 1975-76 and began extensive restoration of the interior and exterior. Renovations were completed in 1982. The building is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. The Italianate style entryways give it a distinctive look of style rather than substance. It sits back on the road with its tall windows glinting in the afternoon sun. The sage green painted exterior gives it an organic appearance.

Ballroom

Society Treasurer, Cindy Copper led twenty-minute guided tours through the house beginning in the restored barroom. In one corner of the room was a carrier filled with cutlery for the diners. Guests followed into the La Fayette dining room on the northeast side of the house. A table was set with period cutlery and plate in preparation for the meal later in the day. The room is well proportioned and returned to its 1824 appearance. In 1983, an Eagle Scout helped reattach the plastered ceiling to the lathe and removed layers of paint on the woodwork. The wallpaper was chosen based on research done at a similar house in Portsmouth N.H. The restoration work throughout the tavern reflects what would have been the norm at the time. The room is lovely to be in. On this warm late summer day, it was cool. The sea green woodwork is complimented by a white and green patterned wallpaper. The fireplace mantle and doors have white accented borders and striping giving it beauty and simplicity in artistic design. The black and white diamond pattern oil cloth floor covering was reproduced by a society member, as stated by Hultgren.

The tour continues through an upstairs ballroom that spans two-thirds of the second floor. The detailed stencil work around the doorways and walls give it flair. Copper told the audience, that itinerant painters would travel through towns and complete the work. The building has a function, but we see a turn to artistic expression all around the building. The coral colored plaster walls make the room feel large but friendly to be in. This space would have been used for public lectures and festive dances. The floors and walls betray an aged warp to the wood, but all is sturdy and comfortable under foot.

Widow’s Bedroom

Visitors are led into receiving rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, parlors and stairwells. A display case on the 2nd floor landing contains artifacts of glass, chinaware and tools found during site excavations. Portraits of prominent men in Charlton’s past are placed on the walls with Copper providing brief recounts of their contribution to local history. The detail of restoration is impressive in the widow’s bedroom with hand-woven rush matting on the floors. A rope bed with its tool necessary for nightly tightening before retiring. The extensive stencil work on the walls is restored to period design. The color combination in this room of powder blue woodwork, dove grey floor, pale green plaster walls with green leaf motifs, curved lines and natural garden colors is relaxing and pleasing to the eye. A small cattail within the stencil wall motif picks up the fawn tan of the floor covering. The painter brought balance to the room with the chosen color palette.

The tavern benefits from natural light pouring through tall windows along all sides of the structure. The ceilings are ten feet high and rooms are well proportioned. This was built to accommodate the public in large and small parties. The tavern has something to offer in every room. It carefully preservers history and knowledge of life in an American inn of its day.

The event moved across the road into the preserved militia lot used for muster drills in the time of La Fayette. Society President, Frank Morrill, addressed a large crowd of 150+ people spread out around the grassy field surrounded by dry mortar stone walls. The audience included members from the American Friends of Lafayette, on a two-day tour of central MA. Several WWII veterans, including Horace “Bud” Holland from New Hampshire, that had fought in Normandy and France were present. The Grand Master of the Masons Lodge of Massachusetts, Paul Fulton Gleason, sent a letter to be read during the ceremony. Gleason reminded us that La Fayette had been a Freemason and was in Charlestown MA on June 7, 1825 for laying the cornerstone at the Bunker Hill Monument.

State Senator Anne Gobi told the crowd “that his was the only bust of a foreigner in the State House.” Gobi mentioned the Lafayette Trail Project and the goal of herself and State Representative Peter Durant in seeking funding to support this joint venture with France. According to the web page for the Consulate General of France in Boston, “French historian and geographer Julien Icher, who manages the Lafayette Trail Project, has been traveling throughout New England, researching and documenting each of Lafayette’s steps, focusing specifically on the major landmarks Lafayette visited, the local people he knew from his service during the Revolutionary War, and the various plaques and memorials to honor his visit.” Icher attended the event and briefly addressed the crowd stating plans for today’s activities began one year ago.

Ben Goldman as La Fayette

Ben Goldman, an actor with the American Historical Theater portrayed La Fayette during the reenactment. He arrived at about four o ‘clock in the afternoon as did the real La Fayette so long ago. A flutter went through the crowd as he walked along Stafford Street, greeting citizens and entering the field as guest of honor. He was dressed in Colonial attire with fine leather shoes, a crest on the hose, brick-red breeches, a gold waistcoat, finely sewn light wool matching frock coat, silk cravat and black tricorn hat. The ceremony began with Reverend James Chase reading the same invocation given by Reverend Rich during La Fayette’s 1824 visit.

Gilbert du Motier (1757-1834) was born in Chavaniac, France. The noble family has a history of military service to the monarchy dating back to the time of Joan of Arc. At the age of 19, La Fayette saw an opportunity to continue this tradition by becoming part of the American cause. General George Washington pressed him into military service at the 1777 Battle of Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania. La Fayette took a musket ball to the thigh but managed to stay on his feet and rally soldiers into an organized retreat to a safer location. As La Fayette proved his ability to command troops, Washington eventually presented him a field commission as Major General to an entire division. La Fayette continued as a soldier and leader reaching the fateful 1781 Battle at Yorktown Virginia where General Lord Cornwallis surrendered after a twenty day siege by the French Navy at sea and American and French forces on the land.

Julien Icher, Frank Morrill and Veterans of Foreign Wars

La Fayette (Goldman) spoke to the crowd retelling the events of that day 237 years ago. “When the English were made to surrender at Yorktown, they were made to walk betwixt the two sides of American and French soldiers. ” The English would only look at the French, “they did not want to acknowledge that they had been defeated by an alliance which included upstart colonists which had so recently been their subjects.” Not satisfied with the conduct of the English, La Fayette asked the musicians to play a tune that in its time, was popular but used to taunt the colonials. He sang the familiar notes of “Yankee Doodle” to the crowd. It was the playing of this tune that managed to turn the heads of the English and look at the American forces. La Fayette spoke in French to the audience, thanking the patriots of Massachusetts for their hospitality. His journey now must continue, but the afternoon had been a great pleasure.

Upon news of his death, John Quincy Adams is attributed to have said of La Fayette in an address to Congress, December 31, 1834, “He devoted himself, his life, his fortune, his hereditary honors, his towering ambition, his splendid hopes, all to the cause of liberty. He came to another hemisphere to defend her. He became one of the most effective champions of our Independence; but, that once achieved, he returned to his own country, and thenceforward took no part in the controversies which have divided us.”

The reenactment reminded the audience of the support King Louis XVI of France gave to the United States at a critical moment during the Revolutionary War. France provided soldiers, commanders, arms and war ships to our cause. The World War II veterans in the audience reminded us of the favor returned helping France’s efforts toward liberation from German occupation. La Fayette said, “the success of the revolution was inextricably linked to the well-being of all people in all nations.”

The Charlton Historical Society members fulfilled their mission to “perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who have made such contributions to the history and development of Charlton, as to render them worthy of recognition.”

 

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TAG: Talk About Guns – Parent/Child Dialogue on Gun Safety

April, 25, 2018
West Brookfield, MA

One of the most challenging aspects of raising children, is helping them understand choices and the consequences to themselves, family, friends and community. On Wednesday evening, April 25, Linda McCoy, Director of the Senior Center in West Brookfield provided the setting for the launch of Ed Lapenas, TAG: Talk About Guns Program. The content of the program teaches parents and children how to talk about guns and gun safety.

A small crowd participated in an hour-long discussion on a program created by Lapenas which brings the dialogue on gun safety home. Lapenas discussed the public school format of presenting complex social topics to children in a lecture format and wondered what do the children understand. Is the child given a opportunity for a give and take on the topic so that an adult can assess the child has comprehended well enough to apply the given knowledge. Lapenas asked, “Unless you engage in a one on one conversation, you don’t know what is a misconception and what is actual knowledge.”

Ed Lapenas TAG presenter and Linda McCoy Senior Center Director

The program revolves around the question put to the audience by Lapenas, “What do you know about what your kids know about guns?” The TAG program offers an opportunity to ask questions so a parent can understand their child’s attitude, knowledge and beliefs about guns. The conversation takes place in the home and is completely confidential.

Lapenas gives parents and children a tool to work with on gun safety. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in their 2014 report on Deaths in the U.S., accidents are the 4th leading cause. Guns are in the home, as the Pew Research Center reports 3 in 10 adults own a gun. The reasons given are for protection, hunting, sport shooting, gun collectors and/or required for a job. A 2008 CDC report on Childhood Injury stated 12,175 children in the age range of 0 – 19 died by accident. The accidents include death as a result of auto accident or encounter with autos, drowning, poisoning and discharging guns in the home.

TAG provides parent’s a guide to start the discussion. A Gun Safety Survey of 35 statements is included with parents encouraged to select two or three for each dialogue session with their child. An example of statements are:”I can load a bolt action rifle. Yes or No” “Önly adults should be allowed to use guns. Yes or No” and “I have been on hunting trips with a friend. Yes or No”. The child is asked to respond for the parent to gain knowledge on what they know and don’t know about guns. According to Lapenas, “The long-term goal is to develop a sense of responsiblity in your child that will carry them safely into adulthood.”Lapenas emphasized the program teaches the child to pause in certain circumstances and make choices that result in their safety. The child is educated and empowered to stop and think of consequences to them or others with whom they interact daily.

Lapenas is a Brookfield resident with a Master’s degree in Education and BA in Psychology. He states he obtained law enforcement experience with the Oregon State Police and several private security firms. Lapenas said that the brain development in children is not enough at the age of 7 or 12 years old, to understand guns and gun safety. “Kids engage in risky behavior because they are kids. That’s what they do, experiment with the world around them, touch things and try to figure things out.” Children are naturally inquisitive and curious. They learn by watching and listening to the adults around them and modeling behaviors.

Lapenas said, “the interaction between a parent and child will help the parent assess comprehension by observing the child’s actions. If the child begins to exhibit behavior that is undesirable in thoughts, or other verbalization, there may need to be an intervention by the parent.” He gave insight into the topical discussion on gun violence in our schools, theaters or other public places. The lack of dialogue, knowledge and intervention may be a reason for “the crazy things that are happening in our society. They {signs] are there for people to see and people have seen them and unfortunately been ignored. ”

Lapenas said, “gun safety starts with us individually.” Discovering a child’s beliefs about guns and gun safety can be surprising to both parties about what they know and what they think they know.”

Lapenas stated there is no fee for individual service. His goal is to find agencies and foundations who might like to support TAG. He may be reached at tagne2018@hotmail.com

Soul Stirrings

A soul weighed down by cruel fate
In vain thinks of lessening its grief
With love, which is another grief.
Collect your thoughts,
And if you are not foolish then let your pain
Come from chains around your feet, not your heart.

In Italian

Alma Oppressa
Alma oppressa da sorte crudele
Pensa invan mitgare il dolore
Con amore, ch’ è un altro dolor.
Deh raccogli al pensierio e vele,
E se folle non sei, ti dia pena
La ctena del piè, e non del cor.

Scipione Maffei (1675-1755)

Duddon, the River The Stepping-Stones

The struggling rill insensibly is grown
Into a brook of loud and stately march,
Crossed ever and anon by plank or arch;
And, for like use, lo! what might seem a zone
Chosen for ornament,—stone matched with stone
In studied symmetry, with interspace
For the clear waters to pursue their race
Without restraint. How swiftly have they flown,
Succeeding,—still succeeding! Here the child
Puts, when the high-swollen flood runs fierce and wild,
His budding courage to the proof; and here
Declining manhood learns to note the sly
And sure encroachments of infirmity,
Thinking how fast time runs, life’s end how near!

by William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

 

Stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river,
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed.
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star charts
On the inner walls.

by Charles Simic, 1938

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