The sources of information in "Looking Back" include "Williamstown: The First 250 Years 1953-2003," the archives of the Williamstown Historical Museum, and personal recollections of town residents.
* One of Williamstown's best-known citizens was left homeless after fire destroyed her Oblong Road house 97 years ago. The May 17, 1916, blaze "came very near being a tragedy for ‘Mandy' Crum and for the rest of the town," reads an account of the event. Miss Crum, who made a living selling postcards, cats and eggs, "never lost an opportunity to be charitable to others, and came into prominence through her efforts for Mrs. Silas Phelps of Monroe, during the trying times that followed the arrest and execution of Mr. Phelps."
* A Spring Street landmark faded into history 50 years ago when the Square Deal grocery store closed. Alyce Moon, who had operated the business with her late husband, Howard, closed the store when Williams College advanced plans to demolish the Bastiere Block, which housed the Square Deal. The block was situated on the east side of Spring Street, roughly where Pappa Charlie's Deli stands today. The Square Deal, which first did business as Neyland & Quinn, opened in 1878. It was originally located farther south on Spring Street until Howard Moon bought it in 1929.
* A report of the Square Deal's closure appeared in the same issue of the Williamstown News that described the dedication of the college's new "service building" at the corner of Latham and Meacham streets. Local architect William Kirby designed the building; Vincent Pizzano of Pownal, Vt., was the general contractor.
* A new source of fast (or, at least, semi-fast) food appeared on the scene in May 1963 when Dante's Inferno opened on Main Street in quarters now occupied by the Moonlight Diner and Grille. Patrons could get a steak, baked potato and a bowl of salad, served cafeteria-style, for $1.69.
* Steak-loving shoppers could find porterhouse steak in the local A&P store for 85 cents a pound; sirloin was going for 79 cents a pound.
* "Truce at Greylock" read the headline on an editorial in The Advocate 25 years ago. Referring to the settlement of a new three-year contract with teachers, the newspaper declared that the ratification "ends a cathartic year at the school, which opened full of promise and full of students in 1961, only to peak a few years after that and go into a slow decline in enrollment - and, some say - in quality." The editorial cited the school's "drift" from its core mission, the formation of factions, the development of disputes and bitterness as causes of Greylock's troubles. It called for community involvement in the work of creating a "new set of guiding principles its riders can climb aboard."