Living in 6000 Square Feet in South Holyoke is an Adventure

We packed into a cozy, art-filled apartment on Cottage St. in downtown Easthampton last night, invited by my Facebook friend Mo Ringey to an Ethiopian food dinner party. Our hostess had ordered injera, the staple Ethiopian bread, from a Kansas City outfit, and as we arrived she was wrestling with the dun-colored flat loaves trying to heat them up in the oven.

She and her fellow cooks had made an impressive spread, one chicken dish was filled with hard-boiled eggs, another with strips of red cabbage, and a third a dice including eggplant and other vegetables. I had inquired earlier if I would be permitted to use a fork, thanks to the injera sponginess, these were offered to the guests.

Artist Amy Johnquest and fiance my old pal John Williamson were there, and a fascinating bespectacled tall woman who owns a large building in downtown Holyoke. She told me that her original living area was a whopping 6,000 square feet but now she’s created an apartment with walls and turned it into something like 1200 square feet. Still who has that kind of interior room anywhere but South Holyoke?

I asked her what it was like living in this industrial area, which despite the recent good news about the giant high performance computing center, is still a dicey and somewhat strange neighborhood to live in. “When we painted the building, we put up scaffolding, and so many people came by and talked to us. We got to know the neighbors when we did that,” she said.