Sunday, June 23, 2019

First date

A few days ago a long time friend and published author of some repute, Barbara Briggs Ward, posted on face book a story to commemorate icecream soda day.  Reading this sparked a memory from my distant past and I felt compelled to jot down that memory:

Ahh, Barb, thanks for the stroll down memory lane!  You missive compels me to relate a favorite memory, from the “Busy Corner,” of my own.  Dad was a frequent visitor and often let me tag along. While he commiserated with friends and relatives I would plop myself down on the floor in front of the magazine rack and devour the comic books there.
I, too, remember the aroma of cigars, and newsprint.  Dad told me once that Mr. Lynch and Mr. O’Donahue were relatives of our family; I think he referred to them as “touch hole” relatives 😂.  But I digress.

Only a few times in my life did I partake of ice cream sodas, but this one time is particularly poignant for me. It was the site of my first date with my first girlfriend.

The year was 1957.  I was 12 years old.  Judy Smith was the girl.  I doubt if anybody from the ‘Burg will remember her.  Her family moved here, to a little 4 trailer trailer park across from our home at 425 Oak St., because her dad worked for a company working to build the “Seaway.”   She only lived here for one year, but I was smitten from the first day we met.  Being a self-employed business man; two paper routes (Ogdensburg Journal an Syracuse Harold American) and I washed cars in my back yard. So I had money to burn in my pocket.

With trepidation and fear of rejection, I asked Judy if she’d like to go out on a date with me.  My heart kept with joy when, with a bright smile surrounded by her white blond hair and without hesitation, she nodded and said yes.

We went to the soda fountain that you have so eloquently described, at the “Busy Corner.”  We sat at one of those small round tables on the wrought iron chairs.  The waitress was super attentive and teased me about having a girl friend.  We ordered vanilla icecream with rootbeer sodas and grilled cheese sandwiches.

After our lunch we walked down the street to the Strand movie theater to see the matinee.  I’ve forgotten the movie, but remember that we sat in the balcony and I put my arm around her shoulders for the entire time.  My arm “fell asleep,” but I didn’t notice ‘til the movie was over.  We walked home afterward, holding hands.

Thanks for bringing this delicious memory to my consciousness Barb.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Ogdensburg Journal dies. Whittling away at rural America

Often the question arises; when is the actual moment of death?  Is it when all brain activity ceases or when the heart stops beating?

Without delving into the legal definitions I like to think death occurs when the heart is silent; stops beating.  To be sure there is a short segment of time that intervention may re-start a non-beating heart, but that time is infinitesimally short; minutes.

The heart as a descriptive word doesn’t always refer to the organ which pumps blood.  It is also used to express when something is central to the life of a community or an organization.

I’ve always thought that a local newspaper is the heart of a community.  It represents the matrix, from birth to death,  through which every aspect of a community flows; from the political to the athletic, cultural, and economic happenings.  Each member of a community will find some topic of interest in their daily newspaper.  From the kids whose interest lay on the comics page and later on the sports pages to their parents interest in the editorials and letters to the editor which expose the feelings of the community at large about topics far ranging that affect our lives.  Businesses rely on newspaper advertising to get their message out; what’s for sale and what’s on sale.  World events and politics splashed across the front pages to keep us informed of life beyond our region.  Last but certainly not least was the obit page.  Maybe it was the most important page for the older, aging members of the readership, as well as an invaluable resource for those doing genealogical research.

I still have the clipping my mother saved of my birth announcement.

The death knell is tolling for our local “Ogdensburg Journal.”  The heart of our community is being laid to rest.  Of course there will be other avenues to bring us “news,” school activities, political discourse, advertising and opinion.  But nothing will take the place of our newspaper.

The death of a parent or child can never be replaced by well meaning, caring friends and relatives.  And nothing will replace The Journal!

I remember when in 2014 the Journal announced it was transitioning to a Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday publication.  I heard the death knell beginning then and wrote the following piece to mark the announcement;

It’s pleasant to look back and remember the wonderful pleasures brought to our doorstep every day in the form of our daily newspaper.  And while you are remembering note this; just as my grandchildren do not remember my parents, your grandchildren will have no fond memories of a local newspaper and how it tied a community together.

River life

Finally made it to spend the night at the camp by the River’s edge.  We are about 3 weeks late; what with the cool spring nights and rising river levels,  but still here we are enjoying one of my favorite times at camp; the hours between 4 AM and 6AM.  Especially this morning with cloudless sky to view, unobstructed, the hugely full Strawberry moon as it migrated in a westerly direction being chased by the sun rise in the east,
As a bonus, around 5 Am, I watched as a mother fox trotted along the sea wall from Bonnie’s to Nancy’s. And then at 0530 catch the skittish Blue Herron land just this side of the wall and stealthily tiptoe to the wall’s edge to peer endlessly into the water seeking breakfast.

I love calm, brisk, early mornings by the river.