Monday, October 26, 2009
A Visit to Central New York
There's nothing like a visit back home during the month of October. I had worried the leaves would all have fallen, ground to mush in the onslaught of pre-winter rain by the time I arrived on the 13th. My fears were unfounded. Driving along Route 20 on my way to a luncheon with Cherry Road School alumni, the second day of my 10-day visit, I could hardly keep my eyes on the road. The explosion of fall colors blanketing the rolling hills of my beloved homeland reminded me, once again, of why I risk life and limb and infectious disease to ride on the silver bird in order to come back one more time.
During my visit I took my parents on rides through the countryside of each Finger Lake. The day we drove all the way around Cayuga Lake, we visited McKenzie-Childs, treated ourselves to lunch at the Aurora Inn. The day we drove around Seneca Lake, I asked my dad why there are so many brick houses in this part of the country. He wasn't sure. If any of you have an idea, or know the answer to this question, I'd love to know. (Even in Westvale, many of the first houses, at least two of the Parsons/Jerome houses, were made of brick.) It was snowing in Penn Yan when we stopped there on a visit to Keuka Lake.
During our rides, my father, who grew up on Cherry Road, running through the farm fields to his grandparents house on the corner of Parsons Drive and W. Genesee, shared some of what he could remember about Westvale in the 1930s. He remembered his older brother, David, plowing the potato fields with a team of horses; he remembered his grandmother Allain Parsons holding him on her lap and reading him the comics; he remembered the times right before they all signed up to fight in the war, hanging out with the MacArdle boys and Eddy Vynal at the gas station on the corner of Maple Drive and W. Genesee.
I, too, remember hanging out at MacArdle's as a small girl with my dad and his buddies. This would have been after the war. Thankfully they all made it back alive. I'd sit on the soda pop machine and drink orange Ne-hi, while my dad and the others talked upstairs. They'd climb the rickety old stairs above the "pit." My father would tell me to stay right there. So happy to be with my Dad, I'd do what he said.
The next corner over, on Cherry Road, my friend Vicki lived in an upstairs apartment with her parents over her grandmother's house, Lydia Hicks. Lydia and my Grandmother, Grace Parsons, had been friends and playmates as girls. When I was a kid there was a dirt sidewalk that ran along the edge of W. Genesee. We kids were always warned to stay way over to the side of the road. Nevertheless, I remember we pretty much had free rein to wander around the neighborhood. One day my younger sister, at the age of three, pushed the giant baby carriage over to Aunt Marion's house on Cherry Road, giving everyone quite a scare and a story to tell for fifty-some years.
If any of the followers of this project have any of your own neighborhood stories to share, please feel free to share via a "comment" or contact me directly:
---Put "Cherry Road Project" in your subject line.
Work on the Cherry Road School history book will begin in January.