Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Stone Chair

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, WILLIAMTOWN, MA – I spent most of my childhood in Williamstown. One of the things we used to do regularly is trek to the mysterious Stone Chair. This adventure was set in a perfect playground of trees and huge rocks. And then there was always the excited anticipation of reaching the Chair. Upon arrival, who ever the accompanying parents were would pass out ‘turn around’ chocolate as we climbed around the reason for our trip.

The chair itself, made entirely of stone, was installed during the early 20th Century in memory of George Moritz Wahl, a professor at nearby Williams College. Until the late 19th Century the Stone Hill trail was the main roadway from South Williamtown, where many farms were located, into town. Now it serves as a peaceful path where locals and tourists get some exercise and admire the untouched beauty of this forested wilderness.  Corn fields surround the wooded trail, and there is a point along it where you can see Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. 

Anytime I’m back in town, I always jog or walk to the Chair from my parent’s house. If my brothers are visiting we all go and drag our respective spouses along, although we don’t bring ‘turn around’ chocolate anymore. 

I happened to be in Williamstown a few weeks back when Tropical Storm Irene made its way to the Berkshires. After the storm cleared, I thought it would be nice to do my trek to the Chair. It was really muddy, ruining my brand new running shoes; and many trees had come down, requiring some creative detours. But like always, the trip gave me a sense of peace, as well as one of appreciation for this very special place -- a place remaining essentially unchanged since my childhood and others’ childhood long before mine.

Deirdre Oakley is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University and the Editor of Social Shutter. You can contact her at

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