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The wounds of war: a Memorial Day saga

This story was first published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 24, 2019. Private Thayer Greene had just turned 19 when he entered the city of Nordhausen as his regiment’s lead scout. It was April 11, 1945. He had already experienced the terror of enemy soldiers shooting at him, and on this day he would witness the horror of mass murder. He expected to get machine-gunned at any moment. As he carefully entered the city, he saw a man coming toward him in a uniform he didn’t recognize. He raised his rifle, but lowered it after seeing no weapon. …

DPW, Jones Library also need attention

The problems of Amherst’s elementary school buildings are widely known, and town officials have been trying to locate a fire station in South Amherst for at least 35 years. But the physical problems of two other public buildings have been less publicized. In this blog post, Nick Grabbe addresses the problems at the Department of Public Works building, and Kent Faerber looks at the Jones Library’s issues. There is a public building that is twice as old as the elementary schools, and its employees – whose work touches every Amherst resident, every day – are also affected by poor conditions. …

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Why are there so many potholes?

A resident wrote to the Department of Public Works that he’s lived in a Third World country that has better roads than Amherst. Everyone notices the number of bone-jarring potholes on our roads. Many of us swerve to avoid them, and some of us damage our cars by driving too fast over them. Why are the roads so bad in a town with such high taxes? Many towns have a bumper crop of potholes this year. The rainy weather in 2018 raised the water table, and the freezing-and-thawing over the winter has caused the problem. The short-term solution is to …

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When the Amherst Bulletin police log got national attention as ‘found poetry’

The Amherst Bulletin’s police log received national publicity in 2002. With its mini-tales of a frozen turkey plunked in the middle of North Pleasant Street and a man licking the pavement on Main Street, it was the subject of a national magazine article. And yet the police log, whose quirkier items are still read aloud in Amherst living rooms and posted on Facebook, was conceived with the most modest of journalistic ambitions: to fill space. Harper’s magazine ran a feature on the Bulletin’s police log in the February 2002 issue. It was called “Gone When Police Got There,” and spanned …

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Brown girls on the ramp

I’ve had a foot in two worlds most of my life. I am Bangladeshi-American, although I was born in Pakistan and grew up in India. As Toni Morrison put it, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” When people ask me where I’m from — which immigrant hasn’t heard that? — my usual response is: “I’m Bangladeshi but I grew up in India.” I’ve been in the U.S. for over two decades now, having lived in New York most of that time. Even if this is “home” to me, I have never quite felt I belong. …