90 Northampton, MA: Sylvester's


Despite 40-degree weather, the customers waiting to get into Sylvester's, the local breakfast fave in the former house of Graham cracker inventor Sylvester Graham, hung around out front, leaning on the fences siding the property or resting on weathered benches sprinkled with bright orange leaves. I approached three young women who were Smith students. One had olive skin and an elfin nose that flaunted a nose ring; she was from Boston and majoring in neurosurgery and wanted to work with the brain. The second was dark black with short dark hair; she was from Brooklyn and didn't have a major or a direction. Lastly was a young woman who had kinky hair and café-au-lait skin; she was from the Bronx and wanted to go into social service. Her East Indian father was visiting and treating the three to breakfast. He listened, curious, as I asked his daughter and her friends questions. His daughter, however, asked why I was asking the questions. After I told her, the girls said that people aren't isolated here; they were more isolated in their big-city hometowns. They all insisted that people are only as isolated as they want to be.

When they got called to table, I interviewed a barrel-chested, white-mustachioed man and his pasty portly wife. She wore a sweatshirt with flowers on it. He was balding and wearing a black turtleneck beneath a black Greek fisherman's cap. He said that the people around here were mostly university people or farmers. Northampton lies in a valley that gets runoff from mountains, making it good for farming. Whatever their work, he implied, most locals make a pretty penny.

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