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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Storrowton Village, the quiet place at the Big E

Anyone who has seen the movie "The Village" can relate to the few of us who escape from the hectic world of the fair to live in a world set apart from the noise and chaos for 17 days every September... this little spot of land nestled inside the 175 acres of the Eastern States Exposition.
Helen Osgood Storrow
Every September, I and several others don our early American garb and go to live in our Village. This years escape was my 9th year. I demonstrating pottery making in the Village. The Village of Storrowton, is a collection of 18th and 19th century buildings abandoned or set for demolition on their original sites throughout the area and brought to this spot in West Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1927 Helen started moving these buildings to the Exposition site. A church, a village hall, a country store, a tavern, a smithy, a lawyer's office and several homes and carriage sheds make up the little village today. Perfectly restored to their original use, they make this spot a wonderful place to enjoy the quiet life of times gone by. 
Tradesmen and women have been demonstrating pottery, broom making, paper marbling, wood carving, tools, bowl turning, spinning, tinsmithing, blacksmithing, quilting and cordwaining here for many years. The buildings are filled with treasures from the past. Interpreters will tell you all about rope beds, candle making, cone sugar and herbs. Members of the friendly staff will be cooking and baking on a kitchen hearth. Children will be hoop rolling and sack racing on the Village green where lots of folks picnic, relax and enjoy this little bit of peace with us. 
The Potter House in the center of  The Village... 1929
I drive up from Connecticut every morning and open up my demonstration tent on the edge of the Village green. The Village is especially quiet at 9 am and I breath in the morning air as I meander across the green to the Potter house. The 1760 Captain John Potter house, originally a private home where John raised 15 children, has a ballroom on the second floor. I know of two other old homes that had an upstairs ballroom where our ancestors entertained guests, the Burlington Tavern in Connecticut and the New Boston Inn in Massachusetts. Here my fellow early New Englanders' and I can entertain each other too, share some tasty morsels and enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation before we get ready to let the outsiders, the public, into our domain. 
Four pretty mini pots about 1 inch tall
I am a potter. I have been making pottery for over 30 years. I make beautiful mocha ware, but lately I have been making literally thousands of mini pottery to sell every year. People come back to buy more and more of these tiny pots and I just can't seem to make enough. Everyone's favorites are the tiny piggy banks and the tiny face jugs. Half gallon to gallon face jugs have become very popular too. 

I have two daughters who come to visit. My eldest brings her three girls. The girls dress in their own early costumes too and you can image how many "oh how cute" comments are made as cameras click away at the little ones' quaint appearance. Children really add an extra spark of realism to our village life. My little ones demonstrate too and get the visiting children to make clay marbles and weave. Isobel is almost 6 this year. She and Meta, three, help make pots, wrap and bag little pottery and help to rearrange my shelves. Isobel has started making good little pots herself and sold her first mini at this years fair for $3. 
Days are long in the Village. I greet visitors all day. I teach them about pottery and weaving. They teach me about potatoes, horses and gardening. We share a million other interesting bits of information about each others lives in the outside world, outside the Village. I learned some new things this year. I met old friends and made some new ones. I jotted down ideas for next year's 17 days in the Village.  I have lots to do in the next 12 months, but I look forward to my 10th year at the Village and I can't wait!

An interestied friendly visitor to the Village


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