Monday, June 25, 2007

Whence I Came

"Whence I Came" really is proper English, although it sounds wrong. "Whence" means "from where" so if I said, "From whence I came" (which is what we're accustomed to hearing) I'd be saying, in essence, "From from where I came." Anyway, this is the view driving into Johnson City, NY from the west. The older I get, the more I seem to be fascinated by my hometown and its character. (If I still lived there, the opposite would be true.) NY State laws being what they are, I'm surprised I was not arrested for driving while photographing.

Here we proceed through downtown Johnson City. Young Betty walked these streets many, many times. Take note of the bike lane on the right side of the road. Ever so cool. Betty never drove a car here until now, and it's because pedestrians and bicyclists are expected and respected, unlike in the much larger city where Betty lives now.

This is one of the landmarks of downtown Johnson City- the Red Robin Diner. People who live here think nothing of it, but it is a valuable piece of history to outsiders.

Binghamton is right next door, and according to this stone arch, it's "Home of the Square Deal." There's so much old fashioned flavor here.

This is an old shoe factory, located a block from Betty's childhood home. Legend has it that German immigrants looking for work at the E.J. shoe factory in Johnson City would say, upon landing at Ellis Island, "Vich Vay E. J.?"

There are a few signs of 21st century life in the area, such as a thriving shopping mall. Here we can see its parking lot, with the hills in the background, along with the polluting electric plant smoke stack which inspired Betty to write an award-winning essay in high school.

This is another mall parking lot view which features a more striking example of the threatening sky which Betty is so fond of. Seriously. Betty's Irish ancestry, combined with being raised in this notoriously overcast part of NY, has resulted in a definite predilection for somber skies.

This is Betty's favorite cemetery. It's a stone's throw from her house of origin. It is also by far the most appealing location in the area. Betty has many pleasant memories associated with this cemetery.

Here's Betty's favorite merry-go-round, at C.F. J. Park. Besides threatening skies, this area is famous for its free merry-go-rounds which have been punctuating the local parks for many decades, probably since the Great Depression.

Here The Child is seen indulging in a free merry-go-round ride. Are they called "merry-go-rounds" elsewhere? I really don't know. We also refer to pizza as "hot pie" in this part of NY state. And "spiedies", unknown to most of the country, are a local specialty, first presented by Italian immigrants and now featured in most local restaurants.

And here, at last, is the house Betty grew up in, complete with father on the front porch. This photo doesn't do justice to the chipping lead paint.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I had a dream

This photo pretty much sums it up. I took this last month in the neighborhood where pedestrians and Victorian houses prevail, located adjacent to downtown on its northern edge. I've never liked driving. (I'm not too thrilled about other people driving either but I can't control that.) If we lived in this neighborhood, I could walk to work, and the child and I could walk to stores, restaurants, arena events, concerts, a gorgeous urban park, a huge farmer's market, an ice skating rink and even the child's school!

This is the house I had picked out for the child and myself. As of August 28, 2006, I was in contract to purchase this very house. The house we had been living in had just gone into contract, and I was planning to be moved into this Victorian house by Thanksgiving 2006. Then things went terribly wrong. The buyers of my original house changed their minds and backed out of the contract! I kept my house on the market for a few more months, then gave up after obsessively crunching numbers and deciding that I really couldn't afford the more expensive urban neighborhood.

Anyway, this is one of the landmarks we would have frequented had we moved. It's a historic farmer's market located just a few blocks from the above house.

Here's a peek at the interior of the farmer's market. Gourmet cooks love to shop here, where they can find everything ingestible, of the very highest and freshest quality.

Here's that urban park mentioned earlier. It's just around the corner from the house, and it's ever so cool.

Who says there are no kids in urban neighborhoods? The child looks mighty "at home" here, doesn't he? He's a natural born urban dweller.

The child enjoys some liquid refreshment at a hip coffee house just down the street from the park and the house.

This is my kind of place, for sure.