Turn of the Century Pittsfield in Purple Prose

Postcard @1910.  Source: Wikipedia

Postcard @1910. Source: Wikipedia

My GG grandmother, Adele Charbonneau, moved to Pittsfield in 1896.  Her eldest son, Edward A., was starting a new life with Julie Gironard in Manchester, NH — but her youngest four children: Minnie, George, Eugenia, and Arthur moved with her. I do not know if it was the scenery or the manufacturing jobs that drew her.

What was Pittsfield like then?  Katherine F. Mullaney starts her 1897 book, Catholic Pittsfield and Berkshire, with this description:

Amid a vast amphitheatre of Berkshire’s famous hills, like a queen upon her upland throne, sits Pittsfield, fairest of cities.  Gem-like lakes gleam with dazzling radiance upon her bosom, and the wilful Housatonic rippling its mazy way to the “mighty deep,” broiders the emerald velvet of her robe with liquid silver.  The graceful outlines of the circling hills are carven against the misty blue of serene skies with cameo clearness, whilst distance drapes their rugged forms with a royal robe of purple mist.  Upwards, against the sunny glory of the Summer heavens, the smoke of Progress ascends from towering chimneys and speeding train, bespeaking the onwardness of this our thriving city.

This description is a classic example of overwrought purple prose today — but I imagine that my GG grandmother (who changed her name to fit her circumstances frequently) would have felt similar to Ms. Mullaney about her new hometown in 1896.

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