Monday, April 19, 2010

My Marathon Monday

Today in Massachusetts is Patriot's Day. A celebration of the first shot of the American Revolution against the British on the Battle Green in Lexington Center.
Mean while, about 20 miles southwest, the town of Hopkinton hosts and annual event called the Boston Marathon.
Run by the Boston Athletic Association, this year will be its 114th running. The Boston Marathon is the worlds oldest annually run Marathon. Attracting over 20,000 runners each year, rain or shine.
"Patriot's Day" has taken Second stage to Marathon Monday as Boston's right of Spring. Thousands of spectators line the streets to watch men and women,(not allowed to officially compete until 1972) run the 26 miles 385 yards, 2 feet and 3 inch's to Boston.
As a cyclist I could never understand running. As far as I was concerned, everyone running was doing it as a personal challenge and that at one time told themselves that the couldn't do it. The beauty in the 'Run" was clear, but bicycles would offer a smoother, faster method of exercise and personal challenge. A tool for exploration.
Every year hundreds of cyclists show up in Hopkington to ride the route. The roads close to cars before the event starts and as of this date, Bicycles are at least not stopped before the Marathon begins. I have never wanted to ride on the sacred grounds of the event, but have for years gone to the start line and watch it begin.
Afterwards, I short-cut to Wellesley and watch the runners come through the center of town. I then go for a longer ride, followed by a great lunch at a place that has the finish on TV.
Hopkington also hosts a town green fair with tables and groups showing off there projects and charitable foundations for this and that.
Years ago after watching the start, I headed away from the crowds, East on the back roads toward Boston. I was about 3 miles out of town on a country road when a Man in work cloths came out into the street and stopped me to let me know that I had, in fact, Arrived.
I asked, "What?" He said, "Your here, your here!"
"Excuse me?" "Your here" he insisted.
"OK?, Where's here?"
The man asked if I had just come from the Hopkinton green and when I said yes, he again insisted that I was here and I did not have to go looking any further.
Wow, There was ether a story here or this guy was a nut, Turned out both, but not any more then me or you for you continuing to read this.
The man was Don Perham. Don's job and love in life was old mills. Where I had arrived was an antique water powered mill that had been built by one of George Washington's aids. The aid had been given the surrounding land as payment for his work. It was the basis of the town and played a major role in establishing Hopkinton. There were the ruins of a saw mill foundation, and blacksmith shop.
People were being sent down from the Hopkington Green that day to get a tour of the site and learn about the project Don was leading. That's where I was.
After getting the whole story, He stopped talking and looked at me as if I was to say something, like well, how much money would you like Don? Instead, I asked. "Your looking for money aren't you?"
"Yes" he said. I laughed and said, "Funny, your asking the wrong person, But I will work for you one day a week as long as you buy me lunch."
He liked that a lot, smiled and we shook hands.
Wednesdays were my day with Don. I would arrive at the mill and we would begin our day.
Over the next year and a half we spent many hours together, like going back in time, cutting stone, moving large timbers for the frame of the mill and telling stories. Lunch was always special. Don had no money so we would go to places like Peach Orchards and pick and eat. He knew the land quite well and his stories how history wasn't as written were fascinating. He could back up everything with fact and prove things wrong in a second.
We traveled by way of his car to mills he had restored and looked at how things were done. His wooden gears were a marvel. Machine by wood. Just wonderful.
In conversation, I told Don how I shoot movies and would love to do a film about his projects. He said it would be great for fund raising and we should do it.
Over the next 6 months we did a Super 8 film about Wooden Water Powered Mills and there importance in Southern New England. The film was used for showing at fund raisers around town.
It wasn't long before the money ran out and the project in Hopkinton ended.
I learned a lot from Don. A journey back in time and seeing the way things were. How you can do quite well working with what you have. Selecting wood form trees and buying it before the tree was cut. Moving huge rocks under water with ease rather struggling with trying to do the same above. Making due with what you have and not what you want and cant afford. Don taught me you really don't need to have, but you really need to know. A lesson I found one day on a bicycle ride with my head up.
I think about Don often. A special person from a special time. The Old Mill remains in the fashion it did that day he walked out of the woods, but I have changed.
That day I had arrived.

The Mill in Hopkinton,Ma.


  1. Scott,
    Beautiful story. Do you still have the film?

  2. Scott,
    Beautiful story. Do you still have the film?

  3. I enjoyed the story but it left me wondering, what happened to Don?

  4. I used to live up the road from that mill when I was a kid and a few times biked over to it and explored. I used to wonder what the story was about but never looked into it. Very interesting!


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