Sunday Song Lyric:
Seventy years ago today, the Massachusetts towns of Enfield, Greenwich, Dana and Prescott held their last annual Fireman's Ball before they were disincorporated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir. Several years ago, Boston musician Mark Erelli wrote a song commemorating it, "The Farewell Ball." It begins:
The government man
Started building his dam
Then he told us it was all for the best
'Cause they were tearing it down
They were drowning our town
In the name of progress I guess

We held our heads proud
'Til the state bought us out
And there wasn't much else we could do
But go down to Town Hall
To the last firemen's ball
It was decked out in red, white and blue

Come, come take my hand
Twirl to the band 'round the old Town Hall
Come, come take my hand
This is our last chance
Down at the Farewell Ball
The full lyrics are here. There's more history here.

Thanks to reader Steven Jens for the suggestion.

As a resident of the Metro West area, I am rather thankful for this particular public-works project. It's mighty tasty water.
4.27.2008 10:36pm
Bender (mail):
This was the kind of taking envisioned in the Constitution. The Quabin reservoir was an essential public works/public health project. It's ironic to think that today it would be almost impossible to build the Quabin: Litigation would tie it up so effectively that the Commonwealth would probably just give up. Yet completely illegitimate takings like Kelso that are designed by government agents working in collusion with private agents to "legally" steal property are relatively easy to get away with.
4.27.2008 11:11pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
When I was a kid, Quabbin provided not only our drinking water, but superb fishing as well.
4.27.2008 11:35pm
Kolohe (mail):
It's mighty tasty water.

superb fishing as well.

This sequence reminded me that the saying about bears and woods applies to fish and lakes also. :)
4.28.2008 1:18am
Next week you should post the lyrics for Disturbed's new song Inside the Fire.
4.28.2008 1:34am
Another Kevin (mail):
I've always seen the Quabbin Reservoir as the final vengeance for Shay's Rebellion - drowning the town where it was plotted. At least some good came of it, as opposed to, say, sowing the fields with salt.
4.28.2008 10:41am
Bender, it is indeed quite amazing that we've come up with an eminent domain system that is at once too loose and too restrictive. That makes it hard to support those crusading against the excesses of Kelo (though those excesses are indeed tragic) when there is a legitimate fear of exacerbating Quabbin problems.
4.28.2008 10:51am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Discussion of Depression-era reservoirs in New England invariably makes me think of the end of Lovecraft's "The Color Out of Space".
4.28.2008 11:41am