CONCORD, New Hampshire. For Tori Alcott, author of a monthly column on quirky, out-of-the-way places for New England magazine, her job is a labor of love. “There’s nothing I like better than stumbling upon some cute country inn, or a lively neighborhood pub,” she says as she checks her car’s GPS for a back road she hopes will lead to secluded waterfall.
Cuteness so thick you can hit it with a stick.
But her occupation is also her occupational hazard, as every article she writes draws a crowd to a hitherto unknown gem, spoiling her ability to enjoy it with her husband and friends. “I became so upset about it I started going to a psychologist,” she says of a period of depression that didn’t lift until she had a breakthrough she describes as her “Eureka” moment.
“A splendid example of traditional New England car-crushing.”
“My job is to tell a story,” she says of the realization that enabled her to once again balance her work and her life as a whole, “not turn a bunch of blue-haired old ladies on to the best bed-and-breakfast in Ogunquit, Maine.”
So Tori began writing about places that repulsed her, but with a florid style that made them seem like ideal spots for a romantic get-away weekend.
“The twin stacks of the Shirley, Massachusetts, waste-to-energy plant bestride the countryside like a benign Colossus.”
“Why should I have to spoil the unspoiled wonders of the world for myself and my friends just to earn a living?” she asks. “After awhile I just said to myself–’Tori, you need to look out for number 1!’”
“A charming example of Worcester’s many boarded-up 19th century sweatshops.”
Last month, she profiled a car-crushing facility in Manchester, New Hampshire, a waste-to-energy plant in Shirley, Massachusetts, and a boarded-up factory in Worcester, Mass., whose primary tenants are rats and pigeons.
“It’s great to see you guys, too!”
“That review that gal wrote there was a big help to us,” says Richie Guertin, owner of Guertin’s Pub down the street from the factory, which has seen an influx of business since the article appeared last month. “Some of the regulars here don’t spend no money after their food stamps run out,” he says with a laugh as Colleen MacGough waves her hand dismissively at him. “Whadda you got to eat,” she says as she nods her head at a large jar of hard-boiled eggs that sits on the counter. “Andy Capp Pub Fries and pigeon eggs–that’s about it.”
But Guertin says he’ll expand his offerings in response to the increase in tourist traffic he’s experienced. “My new menu is gonna feature heat ‘n serve quahogs,” referring to the tough, hard-shelled clam that rarely appears on the menus of finer dining establishments. “If people go for that, maybe we’ll try hot pockets.”