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I Love (upstate) New York ...

We took a weekend trip to New York to visit Peter's brother David & his partner and to see their land in Clemons, NY.

There's something about upstate New York. As kids we took family vacations to Geneva and Waterloo in the Finger Lakes region every summer. As an adult I've been back many times. It's so familiar, so beautiful and very nostalgic for me. My father was born and raised in Geneva. Mom grew up in Troy, then East Aurora, further west. They met going to Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

On our vacations we'd stay at my grandmother's house at 12 Avenue B; the same house my dad, his older brother and younger sister were born in. It was on a street with small, closely spaced houses, some areas a bit downtrodden, where weeds grew from between the cracks on crumbling sidewalks. Alongside the house was a small wooden back porch in which my dad and his siblings had carved their nicknames/initials in the 30s and 40s. (How I wish we had those old boards today.)

We'd hang out on the front porch, watching the neighborhood kids play ball on the dead-end street. Sometimes we'd join them, or walk to the rundown playground across the way. And we'd always be asking to walk to Mulvey's market on the corner of Avenue B and Genessee Street to get an ice cream (by ourselves!).

Directly behind the house on a hill were the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks. In the middle of the night a freight train would approach, with growing thunder. While the train passed — seeming like it would never end — the little house would shake to its foundation and the deafening roar was frightening: will the train barrel or tumble right into the house? (My great-grandfather was killed by a train on the same tracks walking home from work.)

Avenue B was a place that meant family — where our Italian roots took hold in the U.S., where Dad had to grow up fast during the Depression, where my brothers & sister and I had fun every summer. The feelings of love and belonging were palpable every time we arrived in Geneva and turned that corner, on our way to #12.

12 Avenue B (white house in center) in 1996, no longer the family homestead.

Dad with his dad, in front of 12 Ave B porch on college graduation day in 1949 (after his war service).

On the same porch, ~1959. Top: Mom, John, Dad, Grandmother.
Bottom: Uncle Pat, me, Benny & Carol (cousins) and Aunt Tess (Dad's sister)

More porch scenes.
Uncle Dominick and me (undoubtedly looking at the Cubs box score), 1969.

Krisanne, 1969.

Then there were the waterways, everywhere, that defined the area, then and now. My Aunt Tess lived in Waterloo, a few miles east of Geneva. As soon as we'd arrive at her house, her running joke was, "Do you want to go see the lock?" One of Waterloo's main "attractions": Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock CS-4. And Seneca Lake was Geneva's pride ... the colleges and nicer homes in town sat on the hillside above with beautiful lake views. Traveling south along the lake, you find wineries, and at the southern end, Watkins Glen.

Visiting the Lock in Waterloo, 1985.
L to R: me, Tina, Kurt, Benny & Carol.
(Krisanne's photo, and below)

Thanks to Mom, Uncle Dominick & Carol for
memory jogs.

With my cousins (topless!) at Seneca Lake, 1955.

At our memorial golf tournament at Seneca Lake Country Club, 1988.

We all stayed at the Waterloo Motel.

Family & friends get together at Aunt Tess' in Waterloo after the tournament.

We've had three of our Carnovale Memorial (for Dad) golf tournaments in the Finger Lakes area, and Dad's grave is in Geneva. It'll always be a hometown of sorts.

So those are some memories triggered by our recent trip. I guess it's a function of age — the older you get the more you want to go back ... to relive and remember.

But I Digress ...

Back to the present ... instead of continuing west on the Thruway, we turned right at Albany and went north, following the Hudson River. (I love the upstate NY names that roll off your tongue: Watervliet, Canajoharie, Schenectady, Canandaigua, Oneonta, Cazenovia, Oswego, Ossining, Penn Yan, and of course, Waterloo.)

We stopped for lunch, fortuitously, in Fort Ann, at Mernie's Pub. Mernie made a mean grilled ham & cheese sandwich. When I complimented her she said, "Oh, that's just 'cause I've made so many." She's in her 70s and full of spunk and energy; she runs the pub, does volunteer work and feeds the deer in her backyard. A salt-of-the-earth lady.

Further north, we also had to stop for a few minutes in Whitehall ... it was too enticing with its old brick buildings, the Champlain Canal and lock, and Skene Manor. And, who knew? — it's also the "birthplace of the U.S. Navy."

Mernie behind her counter in Fort Ann.

Anyone wanna buy Lake George?

Peter at his alma mater, RPI.

We visited the guys' property in Clemons, on a plateau with views of the Green Mountains in Vermont. Defying the laws of physics, they just had a large construction trailer hauled up there, along a narrow, steep dirt road. They'll be living there with four cats while they continue their adventures in house-building and permit-getting.

They are just a mile or so from Lake George ... we drove into little Huletts Landing, a vacation area sitting right on the lake shore. Peter has his own memories of the Lake George area. With his parents & brothers he spent many summer vacations around the lake, renting a boat and camping on the islands. (More Pictures Here)

We were staying in Glens Falls, a picture-perfect town on the Hudson River. After checking into the Queensbury Hotel we took a walk on a 96-degree day — pretty much guaranteeing we'd have the streets to ourselves. We wanted to see what the Falls were about, so went to the bridge over the river. As we stood looking down at the interesting sites (dam, waterfall, cave, rock, lock) it felt like a flame was put to the back of my leg. Wow, and this was around 5:30 ... I ended up with blisters from the intense heat.

On our way back the next morning we took the Hudson River route, travelling Highway 4 all the way to Troy. It's a great scenic drive with the river and locks on one side and sweet towns on the other. In Troy, it was nostalgia time for Peter as we visited RPI, his alma mater. He showed me the dorm he lived in and places he hung out.

A fun weekend ... hmmm, we may have to go back with Mom when she arrives in August. I want to know more about the Rippey roots in New York, which go back to Revolutionary War times.

Summer Blossoms

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