Yesterday I received this book in the mail. I don’t know how we missed it when cleaning out my mother’s home but apparently we did. This is the story of the town where my mother’s family has lived for well over one hundred years. It’s also the setting for the flashback scenes in Flipka 2 which I’m currently working on and so its arrival was mundo fortuitous.
I could say Monson is your typical small town in New England and in many ways it is, particularly back when I was growing up.
During summertime visits, I’d run wild through the town, picking blackberries and scoring free cokes at a garage owned by the town’s wealthiest man whose hobby was stock car racing but whose son had been “born bad.” On his estate there was also a baseball diamond, a swimming pool and a pond with a boat and so the gang of poor locals I ran with happily tolerated the murderous son.
In the evenings the sticky heat of the day was generally alleviated by cackling t-storms and regretfully we’d head inside to get chewed out by Gram.
However idyllic as it seems, the town and the surrounding area were also the setting for the Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft, one of the core stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Lovecraft felt that area of Massachusetts was a “lonely and curious country” whose residents had “come to form a race by themselves, with the well-defined mental and physical stigmata of degeneracy and inbreeding.” There were a couple of reasons why he felt that way. First, the original settlers were from Salem Massachusetts and were therefore the descendants of witches.
Second, there are many mysterious rock piles in the hills. Preachers of the 1800s postulated they were “the unhallowed rites and conclaves of the Indians” who “made wild orgiastic prayers” which were in turn answered by “loud cracklings and rumblings” in the earth. According to Lovecraft, they were the ancient ones demanding to be freed from the bowels of the earth so they could rape the locals and create monsters.
Hum, I wonder if the Monson library stocks any of Lovecraft’s books. Somehow I doubt it.
What is your hometown’s claim to fame that the city fathers probably would not include in a history book?