Monday, October 18, 2010
Successful Syracuse Visit
Home Again, Home Again...
Hard to believe the long-awaited visit to Syracuse from my perch in Portland has come and gone. It was rush, rush to get there and be ready for the Historical Society presentation. My heart raced all day the day of and then it was over and people were raving about how interesting it was. Indeed, how often do you get to listen to oral histories told as though the pranks and the good times and the paper routes were just last week instead of seventy-some years ago and more? The twinkle in the eye of a man who has long retired from a bank job is the precursor to a good story and a life well-lived and not forgotten. So my research visit was off to a good start.
I stayed in an ancient Victorian farmhouse, once the target for everyone in the Marcellus-Skaneateles area in search of apples in the fall. Now the owners are struggling to restore the house, to find the history destroyed in a fire. That setting staged my visit. I woke up early each morning with a list of appointments and interviews and obligations. Clearly I overbooked my time, but it was worth every exhausting day.
I've returned to the office with hours of conversations to listen to on the digital recorder, copies of ancient pictures and newsletters, memories of times spent with cousins I've learned to appreciate. So much fodder for the story. I found an album I thought I'd lost. My cousin uncovered letters written to Marion Parsons by our Great Grandfather during a time she had gone west, during a time he thought she might not return to Westvale.
Since returning to Portland I've read and re-read the letters and have come to the conclusion that Willis was treading lightly with Marion in these letters. He dare not demand, yet held her interest and involvement with newsy letters, filled with stories of home that must have pulled at her heart and the ties that bind one to home. In a letter dated Sept 13, 1924, Willis Parsons writes: This has been a week of almost continuous rain bad for the State Fair as well as for farming. Sowed six acres of winter wheat yesterday and have five more to sow when the ground gets dry. Got the seed wheat (Junior No. 6) from a Mr Joroleman who lives on the Weedsport-Cato road. This wheat took first prize at the State Fair. When I went to look at it, I took Mother Grace and the babies. Two young couples from Interlaken came to the Fair, and camped at the lower end of the orchard. This was the sixth time they had been here for the Fair and same camp.
(I'm guessing Grandpa made a little extra on the side at Fair time, renting out camping spots in his orchard. "Mother Grace" was Marion's sister, my grandmother, and "the babies" would have been the twins, my Uncle David and Aunt Helen. Helen died just two weeks ago and would have been 89 next month. David died earlier this year and I will miss them both more than I can find words to describe.)