Yesterday, we headed back to Woonsocket. This time, to avoid the frelling tourists, we took back roads instead of going through Providence: State 2 to State 102, through West Greenwich (Spooky tells me there are actually people up here who pronounce that "Green Witch"), Summit, Clayville, past the Scituate Reservoir, through Chopmist, Chepachet, Slaterville. There was some thunder and lightning and very heavy rain, and we guiltlessly hoped it was soaking the beaches. We entered Woonsocket from the west late in the afternoon.
Sprouting from the banks of the Blackstone River, from the mills that fill the narrow valley, Woonsocket has impressed me as a town afflicted with the meanness that too often comes with fallen industry. Imagine a strange fusion of small-town suspicion and inner-city threat. There's a museum of "work and culture" (or something like that) downtown, and some half-hearted attempts at gentrification, but these attempts to foster myths of a heritage of proud workers only seem to underscore the squalor and poverty that one encounters at almost every turn. The big houses along South Main Street, before the descent to the river, have a similar effect. I can imagine nothing good in this place. It seems to radiate slow, smoldering hatred, this town. You can see it in the eyes of the people, especially the younger people. I would not live in Woonsocket for a million dollars. Really. Almost every place I go I see ghosts, but it's not often they seem to possess such a terrible despite.
We stopped first at the dam, a waterfall long used to generate energy for the mills, and I took pictures until Spooky began to complain that the fumes rising from the polluted green-yellow-grey water were actually starting to burn her eyes and throat. The river slips through spillways and thunders down onto the ancient Precambrian rocks below, flowing away beneath a stone bridge built in 1903.
After the Blackstone River, we got shots of the mills, the town in general, and St. Ann's twin bell towers, then headed south again. I actually felt relief at leaving Woonsocket, moreso than I'd felt when we left it Tuesday evening. Part of this was undoubtedly my mood and my need to be home again, but I think we saw more of the town, too, and in a clearer light than before.
Three days to go. I still haven't tried an Awful Awful, a doughboy, or Autocrat coffee milk. I still haven't seen the last house in which Lovecraft lived (originally located at 66 College Street, relocated to 67 Prospect Street). There's still a lot to do, really.
Here are three photos from yesterday:
The dam (or is that "damn"?) at Blackstone Falls, looking west.
Mills along the Blackstone River.
St. Ann's Church.