Visitors come to Stockbridge, Mass., to see the foliage or catch folk singer Arlo Guthrie perform in the church where Alice of
Visitors come to Stockbridge, Mass., to see the foliage or catch folk singer Arlo Guthrie perform in the church where Alice of "Alice's Restaurant" served up her Thanksgiving meal in 1965.
Berkshire Visitors Bureau/DCR
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Arlo, at the Scene of the Crime

There's more to Main Street in Stockbridge than New England charm: good food, lodging and stops along the trail that traces the story of
There's more to Main Street in Stockbridge than New England charm: good food, lodging and stops along the trail that traces the story of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree." (A. Blake Gardner - Berkshire Visitors Bureau)

The site off Glendale Middle Road remains shut, this time for good. The landfill is now punctuated with small lumps of rubble and wildflowers. Wild turkeys dash about, as if they know Thanksgiving is near.

To follow the song to the letter, the next stop would be the scene of the crime, where Guthrie dumped heaps of garbage off an escarpment.

Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another 15-foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage.

And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles,

And rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down.

Unfortunately, a house now stands in that spot, so it's best to skip ahead to the Stockbridge lockup, where Guthrie did time.

. . . When we got to the police officer's station there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon,

And we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed.

And I said "Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on."

The police station and the town hall are housed in the same stately white building, so locals can do all their legal errands at one time. To see Guthrie's cell, you don't have to get yourself arrested: His blue cell door sits outside, at the bottom of the stairs of the police station. Guthrie's jail sentence has become a tourist attraction.

The final stop in Stockbridge is Alice's Restaurant. For a short time, the real-life Alice ran a restaurant off Main Street, along a narrow alleyway. Now a sign reads "Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe, formerly Alice's Restaurant." It is temporarily shuttered, but the connected Main Street Cafe is open -- and crammed with tourists lining up for ice cream, home-baked goods and scented candles. The restaurant and gift shop sell Alice's Restaurant T-shirts, but the apple bread pudding is much more filling. Down the block, the public library has in its files clippings of the arrest and the police photos of the crime scene -- black and white, not color, despite what the song says.

As a bonus attraction, fans can venture about six miles east to the town of Lee and the courthouse where Guthrie was fined $50 for some major littering. The red-brick building was closed the weekend I visited, but a kind cop opened the doors and pointed out where Guthrie stood (back right, on an enclosed podium) and where the blind judge sat (center seat).

There are no relics of Guthrie in the courthouse, not a name scratched in the wood or a peace sign inked on a chair. But Guthrie did leave behind one lasting memento: a legendary song, which has become an anthem of sorts to Stockbridge.


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