Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 21 - After 30 Years

June 27 - Almost everyone and every place I saw today was like skipping ahead (or back) in time by about 30 years.

We started by driving from the motel to Kirkville, NY where I grew up and to Minoa, where I went to school, both until 10th grade when we moved to Pennsylvania. To put things in perspective, I got married 22 years after 10th grade; my daughter Kallie is just now going into 10th grade.

The house on Fyler Road looked much unchanged. Some trees were gone; others were much bigger (though they were big enough back in the '60s). The neighborhood was also very familiar--corn field across the street; the same set of houses and streets in the small subdivision. Even Shady Lane trailer park (now Manufactured Home Community) across the street and down the road was still in business.

We drove through "downtown" Kirkville. Only two recognizable landmarks remained - the elementary school - which my brother attended; and Samar's Grocery Store, now converted into a residence. Missing were the post office (replaced by an Erie Canal park), another store and the infamous "Beehive" a large multi-family house where the "poor kids" lived who couldn't even afford the trailer park.

Next stop Minoa. My elementary school was new in 1965 and looked pretty much the same as I remember from almost 40 years ago. Not surprisingly, my middle school had been torn down (it was built in about 1910) and already abandoned for a new school by 1970. The site was occupied by a municipal building and a retirement home. The high school outside town looked about the same--I definitely remember the frigid bleachers of the football stadium.

The most recognizable Minoa landmark still standing was the footbridge over the railroad tracks. We loved to run and ride our bikes over this metal contraption. I also remembered the fairgrounds, home of the annual Firemen's Field Days, a late summer event that featured adult consumption of clams, corn on the cob, and lots of beer. We kids picked up empties and redeemed them for 25 cents a case---decent money for a kid in the '60s.

From Minoa we headed to Chittenango Falls State Park. The falls are beautiful and the descent to their base is challenging. The girls had no trouble. I almost turned back a couple of time, but made it to the bottom, and maybe more impressively, back to the top. My heart and lungs work better going downhill; my legs work better going uphill.

The much-anticipated picnic with the Zimmermans came next. Sac didn't know about Chapman Park, a Madison County facility on the south shore of Oneida Lake. We found it by sight, but not without an anxious moment that resulted in asking at a gas station just a mile or so from the park entrance. I was worried after missing Big Pocono State Park in PA. The Zimmermans served up a feast, even buying a new gas grill for the occasion. After eating we retired to serenity row, our name for the line of folding chairs overlooking the calm waters of the lake. Serenity only lasted so long as the youngest generation got some of us involved in a game of frisbee.
It was so great to see cousins I hadn't seen since 1978, almost 30 years since our grandfather died--along with their children and even grandchildren, and to be able to show off my wonderful family. To use an old phrase, a good time was had by all.

More photos of the day are at

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