ID: Lucy Pickett, food columnist and design guru

  • Lucy Pickett, photographed Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

  • Lucy Pickett. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lucy Pickett, photographed Tuesday, June 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lucy Pickett, photographed Tuesday, June 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 6/28/2019 1:55:35 PM

Editor’s note: Since I started working at the Gazette a couple of years ago, longtime designer Lucy Pickett — who retired last week — has told me about how much readers love the “ID” column that used to run in Hampshire Life. Well, having spent 37 years at the paper, Lucy knows what she’s talking about. Born in Northampton, she is a local treasure who readers have gotten to know through the food column, “Lucy & Lou’s Leftovers,” which she co-writes with Lou Groccia and will continue to write (hooray!) in her retirement.

Readers may not know that Lucy was also the design guru responsible for making the Gazette’s feature pages look so good, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. For editors on staff, Lucy was an integral part of our process in everything from conceptualizing to putting the finishing touches on stories.

I know I can speak for the whole newsroom when I say that we’re so lucky to have worked beside her, and we hope she is enjoying reading this very article in her first days of retirement. If you like it, too, send us ideas for future ID columns at dhgnews@gazettenet.com. And if you see Lucy in Florence, you can thank her for bringing back a time-tested, readers’ favorite.

Full name: Lucy Pickett

People know you as: Lucy. Nicknames: Lu. A friend calls me High Pockets for my fondness for betting on the ponies. My father often called me Lulubelle, Lulubird. In college and my younger years: Wilson (as in Wilson Pickett, soul singer), and Mad Dog Pickett. Not sure how I picked up the last two.

Date of birth: October 10, 1954

Place of birth: As a young child, my parents, because my Ls came out as Ys, would always make me recite “My name is little Lucy and I live in Leeds under a leaf in the forest.” So maybe I was born there, under the leaf, but I’m pretty sure it was Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.

Town of residence: Florence

First concert: I think the first big concert I went to as a teen was Janis Joplin at the Springfield Civic Center. My friend Liz and I had nosebleed seats, but when the lights went out we swooped down and stole third-row seats. Janis was incredible! She was doing shots of tequila on stage the whole time. We were impressed, and when we got home, we practiced doing shots with water. We thought it was cool as hell. A few years later, I experienced real tequila shots. Didn’t end well. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Favorite way to unwind: On vacation, ocean swimming and beach, beach, beach! At home, a walk or bike ride and wine, wine, wine!

Favorite local restaurant: Can’t whittle that down to one. Galaxy in Easthampton is one of my go-to’s. I like Bombay Royale in Northampton and Great Wall in Florence. I haven’t tried some of the new arrivals like Daily Operation and Homestead. I really miss Side Street Cafe that was in Florence about a two-minute walk from my house. Florence could really use another place like that. Preferably within walking distance.

Best meal you’ve ever had: I have had a lot of great meals. Perhaps one of the most memorable was at Ming Tsai’s restaurant The Blue Ginger in Wellesley. It was for my sister’s 50th birthday. We had a seven-course tasting menu. Each course paired with a different wine. Ming came out and talked and joked around with us and signed my menu. It was really an amazing night.

Best gift you’ve received: Probably a trip to New Orleans for my 50th birthday. Also an original painting by Michael Mactavish, a local painter, of a sunset on the Cape. But, of course, I feel pretty lucky to have the gift of such great friends and a great family.

One little-known fact about you: I worked in a casino in Lake Tahoe area. I was the person who made change for people playing the slots.

What do you listen to when you’re in the car: Locally, WRSI. Other than that, whatever I can find. I haven’t gotten around to syncing my phone to my car since I got my new one three years ago; otherwise, I would probably listen to all kinds of things when I travel. I don’t know what is wrong with me, seriously.

If you could go anywhere: First choice, probably France or Italy. Then Spain, Greece.

Best thing about where you live: Florence rocks! Bird’s Store, Cooper’s, Wednesday farmers market and all the quirky things that make up Florence. But Rag Shag Parade night can’t be beat. The little borough comes alive with Halloween. It is so great.

Most interesting part of page design: Every day a different challenge.

Most tedious part of page design: Every day a different challenge.

What will you miss the most about the Gazette? The people — and their dedication to getting the local news and getting the paper out every day. Except Sundays and Christmas Day of course.

What will you miss the least? Sitting at a computer.

Immediate retirement plans: Explore what being free after 37-plus years of working is like. Getting my act together for my future. Yikes.


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