About five years ago I started writing a memoir. I kept at it for a little while, writing about 1,000 words a day for a few weeks. I hadn’t yet been to therapy and there were many things I didn’t really understand about my life, but I still find the unfinished memoir to be a fascinating look into my own past. I’ve decided to post it in installments here, with only a few redactions. You can find the other sections by clicking the Memoir category.
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I was born in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. There was no hospital in Lenox, my hometown, so I came into the world in nearby Pittsfield in early September of 1973. Pittsfield was the home of General Electric, started in the 1890â€™s by William Stanley (although it was called the Electric Manufacturing Company at the time). At one point, more than 10,000 people worked in the GE plant in Pittsfield, my grandfather and mother among them.
At the time of my birth, GE was still a major employer in the town, although by the turn of the 21st century, Pittsfield was mostly famous for having a faster rate of flight out of the city than any other metropolitan area in the United States.
Baseball, that most hallowed of American sports, is mentioned in a legal document in Pittsfield in 1791. That document prohibits anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the newly built meeting house. This is the earliest known reference to baseball in America, besting Abner Doubleday and his Cooperstown fable by nearly half a century.
Moby Dick was written in Pittsfield, which was the home of Herman Melville for 13 years. Nathaniel Hawthorne also lived in the area, as did a large colony of Shakers â€“ makers of fine furniture, embracers of technology, and somewhat egalitarian creators of a peaceable cult. Other famous folks who were born in â€“ or spent a considerable time in â€“ Pittsfield include poet Oliver Wendell Holmes; Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks; and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.