Shakers Discovered in South Berkshire County


Once thought to be long extinct, Shakers have been recently found in the town of Sheffield, MA.   Probably best known for failing to procreate, thus explaining their diminishing demise, the Shakers were also known to have inspired innovative thinking that led to such marvelous inventions as the clothespin, packaged seeds and sugar cookies. They would also gather together to chant in mumbo-jumbo and shake 'n quake with ecstatic dancing to ward off the evil jumbies.

Last week while bumping around the town of Sheffield, Sir Harry Chestwig, grandfather of local land-pirate Seymour Chestwig, came across a shop the likes of which he'd never before seen in the village center. The sign above the wide, grand picture window said "Neighborgoods"; the sign in the door said "Come in, we're open".

Through the window, Chestwig could see three incredibly serendipidous mobiles constructed of tropical shells, foreign silver coins and fragile wishbones. And little wee birdhouses and handwoven brooms. Lovely photographs and colorful paintings adorned the walls behind shelves of fanciful books, CDs and glittering jewelry. A clutch of lacquered boxes sat tucked together on the floor next to a handmade wooden bench and wide table. And then he saw THEM.

Right there on the wooden table in the middle of the floor sticking gaudily out of a handthrown pot were. . . three Shakers! And in another clay jar by the recordings of local musicians were four more Shakers! Sir Harry entered the shop, anxious with anticipation. Sweat beaded upon his beatled brow, trickling in moist rivulets down his scrawny back.

The charming, bespectacled shopkeeper greeted Sir Harry Chestwig cheerfully and welcomed him to Neighborgoods. She explained that her shop was conceived to offer to the public locally designed and created crafts and works of art and music. All work was for sale at very reasonable prices and this was her way of supporting a local culture.

"But the Shakers!" exclaimed a nearly apoplectic Sir Harry, "They've been gone for nearly a hundred years. Where did you find them?"

"Nae," she said, "they found me."

"But how. . ." Chestwig continued astoundedly, heart pounding and eyes bulging.

"It's true," the shopkeeper insisted, cutting off any further interrogation and hoping he'd mop his face and not drop dead in her shop. "One day the good Daktah Easy came into Neighborgoods bearing a scruffy cardboard box and inquired whether I might be interested in seeing what was inside. Curiosity stood right next to me and I quickly found myself agreeing to look. Well, imagine my surprise when he lifted the lid and there inside, nested perfectly still were seven beautifully plain Shakers, no two of them alike whatsoever. I had never seen anything like them! And then the Daktah gently picked two of them up and began to shake 'em and rattle 'em and roll 'em. I was spellbound by the sound, which was sort of like when Spanish flamenco castanets collide with tambourines held by dreadlocked tapdancers. I began to dance like a dervish and knew then and there that I had to have them. 'Mercy! What are they?' I inquired of Daktah Easy and he just grinned like a Cheshire cat as he continued to shake them.

'I call 'em Rattle-Caps,' he said, never missing a beat.

'May I have them for Neighborgoods? Everyone will love them,' I asked of the Daktah.

'But of course, you may', he grinned, eyes twinkling mischieviously, 'and I know where there are more to be found! Would you like to see what else I have in the box?'

"Well you can imagine my interest was feverishly piqued by now, and once again I agreed ro look. He then reached into the old box and brought out what at first appeared to be a tangled pile of sticks, all a-jumble with ocean shells and coral with blue eggs and wishbones and exotic silver coins all held together with copper wire and nearly invisible string. As he continued to pull this seemingly unruly knot slowly out of the box, it became evident that these strange objects and amulets were tied together in a perfectly balanced mobile. The Daktah hung one up from my ceiling. . .you can see it still right there. . .and I gazed in awe as it delicately revolved around and around itself, buffetted gently by currents of air coming in from my door. So graceful. So mesmerizing. The Daktah had four more mobiles in the box and he offered them to me, explaining that he made them from bits and pieces that he collected in his travels and picked up and put in his pockets. He started to ramble on something about his mobiles being a metaphor for 'having a life in balance', or some such nonsense. I wasn't listening anymore as the Daktah tends to become rather pedantic at times, sounding, you know, like white noise gushing from a faucet. I instead returned my attention to those glorious mobiles.

"But, nevermind. As you can plainly see, he has delivered to the world these lovely and lively works of art and he has returned the Shakers to continue to keep their groove-thang going, thus ensuring their rightful place in history."

Sir Harry Chestwig had to sit down. This discovery had unnerved him and made him very tired. His feet hurt. How would he explain all this to the Acadamy of Absolute Anachronism? What does this imply for Shaker history? Where does this Dr. Easy get those blue eggs? What's for lunch?

Sir Harry Chestwig thanked the kindly shopkeeper and stood up slowly and began to walk out of the shop. His trembling hand on the doorlatch, Chestwig pulled the creaking door open while turning to the shopkeeper, who seemed lost in a reverie of her own, and he said quietly, with deep intention , "Daktah Easy's Shakers have changed my life forever!"

And now you, too, can change your humdrum world and live a life of delicate balance and preserve the future of the Shakers at the same time. Daktah Easy's Shaker Rattle-Caps and Mobiles are available for perusing or purchasing for your very own, right on this website! Change your life. . .take home a Shaker!

Two of Sir Harry Chestwig's Discoveries. Now available from the TamPro General Store & Merchandise...right on this website.

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