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Around South Hadley: Chronicler of nature dramas to present library talk

When Michael Tougias would hike past an old road that seemed to disappear into the Quabbin reservoir, he wondered who lived where these now dead-end paths once led.

It was this fascination that led him to write the book “Quabbin: A History and Explorers Guide,” on the four “lost towns” of Dana, Enfield, Prescott and Greenwich that were flooded in 1938 to create the Quabbin reservoir, which provides drinking water to the Boston area.

Tougias will present a narrated slide show at the South Hadley Public Library July 31 at 6:30 p.m. about the lost towns, the construction of the reservoir and its function today.

The “silver lining” to the loss of the towns, he said, is that today the Quabbin is left in its natural state. It is for this reason that, in the second part of his presentation, he will provide a visual tour of the Quabbin with suggestions of “hidden” places to visit.

“It’s always great to surprise (viewers) with information or even a new place to go for a walk or a bike ride,” he said. Having grown up in Longmeadow, he first began hiking in the area with his father and brother.

Now a resident of Plymouth, several of his recent books have been true stories of survival at sea. Also at the presentation, he will talk about the book he co-wrote with Casey Sherman, “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the Coast Guard’s Most Daring Rescue” — which Walt Disney Pictures is making into a movie. The book is about the U.S. Coast Guard’s mission to rescue 84 men caught in a nor’easter off of the coast of Cape Cod in 1952. Filming is expected to begin on Cape Cod this winter.

Tougias will also briefly discuss his most recent book, “A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival and an Incredible Rescue,” released this January, about a crew rescued after its sailboat capsized in a storm 225 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

Following his talk, which is free, Tougias will be selling and signing books.

For more information on Tougias, his books and the upcoming Disney film, visit his website, www.michaeltougias.com.


Fun food shopping

To keep kids entertained while parents pick up their fresh fruits and vegetables, the South Hadley Farmers Market on the Village Commons Town Green will be holding a “Kids’ Day” Thursday.

The free event will feature acts by two local musicians who will teach children about food and farming through songs and activities.

“It’s never too early to educate children about food and farming and healthy eating,” said market manager Nora Murphy.

When the market opens for the day at 1 p.m., Jay Mankita of Amherst will perform his act “Eat Like A Rainbow,” where he sings songs about food and ecology while strumming his guitar and tapping his foot percussion contraption, which he assembled from broken down musical instruments, pans and recycled materials. He will also bring a variety of percussion instruments such as drums, triangles, tin cans and tambourines so children can play along with him.

Mankita said he is donating this performance because he supports the mission of the farmers market to bring local food to the community.

A father of a 5 year-old, he said he believes going to the farmers market is more fun for kids than going to the supermarket.

“These days, going to a farmers market is more like going to a party than going to a store,” he said.

From 3:30 p.m. until the market closes for the day at 6 p.m., Shiprock and Anchordog, featuring local school teacher Evan Curran, will be singing about food and farming, performing renditions of popular kids’ songs and playing theater games with the children.

At 3 p.m., children can also make garden-related crafts at the Center Nursery School’s arts and crafts table, which comes to the market every other week.

The South Hadley Farmers’ Market is held on the Town Common every Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. from June through October. The market is sponsored by Easthampton Savings Bank and Chicopee Savings Bank.


Joining forces

Book lovers soon might not have to carry two library cards to use both libraries in town.

Trustees from the public library and the Gaylord Memorial Library have gained the support of the Select Board in applying for a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to help them integrate the services of the two libraries.

At the Select Board meeting July 16, the board passed a motion to write a letter in support of the trustees receiving a grant of up to $10,000, which would allow them to hire a consultant to evaluate and guide them in the plan. The trustees will include the Select Board’s letter in their application to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

The trustees started working toward integrating the services of the two libraries last March. Ways the libraries could further work together include a shared staff, joint Web and social media pages, and centralized cataloging, according to a handout from the library trustees.

“I think the two libraries have a lot of common interests,” public library director Joseph Rodio said in a phone interview. “We share a lot of the same patrons. I think we both contribute to the quality of life here in the town.”

Rodio said he is looking forward to the libraries doing more joint programming, such as the book discussion program South Hadley Reads, which the libraries have held for 10 years.

In a phone interview, Select Board Chairman John Hine said integration of services provides opportunities to improve the town libraries while reducing costs.

“I think we owe it to the town to look at how we can provide services better,” he said.

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