I still remember the first good latte I got in Beacon. At the time there had been one or two places that had popped up on Main Street serving “European-style” coffee beverages on what was then a very young (or better yet, newly renewed) Main Street business district. But every time I stepped inside and ordered up a hot latte, what I got was scorched milk dumped onto two shots of tepid espresso.
Not, in my opinion, a very good way to spend nearly three of my hard-earned dollars.
The shop’s owner was a cherubic young woman with rosy cheeks who seemed to have been sprinkled with a bit of Pixie dust.
Then one morning I noticed a new “Open” sign hanging in the window of a coffee shop with a name I couldn’t quite pronounce.
Was that “ch” like church?
Or “c” like cat?
Turns out, after receiving an answer to a slightly embarrassed query, that the “ch” was silent like “-“, making the letters “th” the dominant consonants and the name of the shop the TH-onic Clash.
The latte I got that morning was excellent. The milk was frothy and thick and had a distinct sweetness to it. The double-shot of espresso was creamy and delicious and the milk and espresso were perfectly mixed together and topped with a whorl of milk-foam and espresso.
Not long after making several regular trips into the “Clash” I began talking with the shop’s owner, a cherubic young woman with rosy cheeks who seemed to have been sprinkled with a bit of Pixie dust. She was charming and bright and had a real interest in making her business into something more than a money-making venture. She saw her shop as a place for meetings, music, and gatherings of every sort. She hoped her little business would help to draw more people to Main Street. Her name was Nell.
Late in the spring of 2004 I received a cryptic but intriguing email requesting my presence at a meeting at the Clash. The subject line of the email read, “Take-over of the Beacon Free Press,” but the gist of the meeting was simple: Nell didn’t feel that the Beacon Free Press was covering news in the City of Beacon with any kind of depth or care. She wanted to start an all-volunteer newspaper that covered the City and its goings-on. She wanted to know if the group she’d gathered would be interested in being part of her plan. Five of us (including Nell) agreed to give the paper a go.
My daughters, who were quickly growing toward legal working age, began discussing how they would get Nell to hire them.
That meeting took place on May 4th, 2004 and after a few more meetings and several decisions regarding what our first stories would be, we set a goal for ourselves to have our first issue on the newsstands by the first Saturday in June. The first issue of the Beacon Dispatch was little more than a newsletter when it hit the stands. But it was built around the idea that Beacon needed a paper to call its own. One that extolled the City’s benefits, challenged its politicians, and hopefully gave its readers something worthwhile to read. The paper and the ideas behind the paper were birthed at the Chthonic Clash by the pixie dust cherub who’d made me my first good latte.
Coffee at the Clash became a social occasion. I’d arrive at the shop after dropping my kids off at school, order up a cup of coffee, and proceed to spend the next 20-30-40 minutes talking, with friends too numerous to name, often arriving at work 10-20 minutes late. My son, who ordered his first cup of coffee before he could see over the top of the counter, asked to go there often. My daughters, who were quickly growing toward legal working age, began discussing how they would get Nell to hire them. My wife and I would ride bikes, stopping near the end of our trip to sit and have a cup of coffee and dessert. the Clash became for us a destination. The place you were or the place you wanted to be.
The Chthonic Clash has been closed now for quite some timeâ€”My name is Jeff, it’s been two months since my last decent latteâ€”so I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m waxing so nostalgic so late. The answer is simple: I just received an email that puts a nail in the Chthonic coffin for me. An email that confirms what I was hoping wasn’t really going to be true.
Starting today, Thursday April 10th, and ending on Sunday April 13th, the Chthonic Clash is having a “Garage Sale.” An “everything must go” event that for me marks the end of what was once, not just a good, but a great thing.
No more Malawi.
No more hot latte mornings.
No more great conversations that make me late for work.
No more children’s queries about when we can go there or if I can get them a job.
No more pixie dust greetings to help me start my day.
The Chthonic Clash is gone for good.
Long live the Clash.