Hilltown Digest: Year after year it’s picnic table 63

  • A picture from the 2021 Memorial Day weekend picnic that was originally started by Helen Kagan, seated in the middle. Due to inclement weather, the picnic was held at the Mallory home rather than table 63 at Look Park. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/3/2021 4:27:30 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled many traditions last year, from big Thanksgiving get-togethers to the Cummington Fair. But one decades-long tradition that was called off for the first time last year resumed last Sunday: the Memorial Day weekend family picnic first started by Helen Kagan in the late 1960s.

“I never knew that it would be a tradition,” said Kagan, now 92. “But I’m so happy that it is.”

Traditionally the picnic has been held at the same table at Look Park, Table 63.

“She likes the table,” said Kagan’s daughter, Sharon Mallory, a former Worthington resident. “It’s across from the pond. The bathroom’s not too far away. There’s a playground on the left.”

Kagan provided some history as to why Table 63 was first chosen.

“The table started when the Pancake House was across the street from it,” Kagan said. “It was a close bathroom when everybody came.”

Mallory said that the picnic originally started with just her mother’s family. Now the picnic features both friends and family, and Mallory has taken over organizing it from Kagan.

One of the picnic memories Mallory shared was when there was a bear by one of the bathrooms.

“Course the kids loved it,” she said.

She also recalled the kids swimming in the old pool and feeding the ducks.

“They always went on the train,” Mallory said, referring to her children. “There was always a softball game.”

Mallory’s late brother also used to travel from California with his family for the picnic.

“They’re all special,” said Kagan, of her picnic memories. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

However, she did bring up a time when her grandsons Nathan, Chris and Rich discovered minnows and brought some to her in a cup.

The picnic has always been held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and the few times the weather didn’t cooperate the picnic was held at Mallory’s current house in Leyden.

The COVID-19 pandemic last year, however, caused the picnic to be canceled for the first time ever.

“COVID stopped the picnic dead in its tracks,” Mallory said. “That was sad.”

Bad weather prevented the picnic from being held at Look Park this year. But 26 people still gathered at Mallory’s Leyden home, including Kagan who drove herself from Greenfield.

“We had a wonderful time,” Kagan said. “It was just great to be together.”

She also said that she hadn’t seen most of the people in attendance since the last picnic in 2019, and that all adults at the party were vaccinated.

Mallory also said that the pandemic has made spending time together even more precious.

“Some of the people I hadn’t seen in over a year,” she said. “Some of them I hadn’t seen since the last picnic in 2019.”

Mother and daughter also said that they’re looking to have the picnic at Table 63 once again next year.

“That will be my goal,” Mallory said.

Cummington TM Friday

The annual Town Meeting for Cummington, which was postponed to give town officials more time to work on the budget, will take place Friday, June 4.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Pettingill Park at the pavilion.

The 17-article warrant contains no proposed bylaw changes. The total proposed fiscal year 2022 operating budget is $2,475,310 an increase of more than $35,000 from the fiscal year 2021 operating budget, which was was $2,439,516.

Kenneth “Trudge” Howes, a Select Board member, said that the majority of the accounts are “pretty much level-funded.”

“Not a lot of changes,” he said.

Raises for the town accountant, treasurer and tax collector are also in the budget, of $9,000, $4,000 and $1,500, which Howes said are being proposed to pay them more in line with neighboring communities.

“They’re important positions to keep the town running,” Howes said.

In capital requests, the big item that will be voted on is a $154,500 bucket loader for the highway department.

“The existing one’s 14 years old,” said Howes. “They need to have one that’s operable.”

Instagram marketing class

A class on marketing with the social media platform Instagram will be available to Hilltown residents this month.

The two-part class, which will be held June 9 and June 16 over Zoom from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. both days, is being taught by Robyn Lee Miller, owner of MorningBird Media.

“A lot of people are pivoting to the online space and they’re terrified,” Miller said.

She said the class will teach small business owners to post in ways that are meaningful and save them time.

“Providing them the tools to go and do these things on their own is going to give them a leg up in the social media sphere,” she said.

The class also will include a private Facebook group, which will allow the class members to talk to one another and have conversations outside of the class.

Miller is a former Hilltown resident who currently resides in Longmeadow, and she said that it’s important for her to help small businesses thrive.

The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center is organizing the class, and registration can be done online at https://bit.ly/3z3RPbU.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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