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.











24 comments:

Loving Annie said...

Welcome home, Betty !

My, my, the pictures look like they were taken from back in the 1950's - they make me nostalgic !
Red robin diners, ohhhhh, I bet they still have great milkshakes !

I'd have liked to have read your essay.

I like somber skies too. England has always held an allure to me for that reason (among others).

Cemetaries always seem so peaceful... As though people have let go of their anger and their worries and heartaches and finally their souls are at rest...

We call them merry-go-rounds in California too ! Did the child totally enjoy riding HIS horse ?

Your childhood home makes me long for the days of covered front porches everywhere... They just seem so inviting....

Hugs to you ! I'm glad you are back ! I cyber-missed you !

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

Yes- I bet the area really hasn't changed much since the 50's! Except for the addition of bike lanes. You may have read this before I added the bit about the bike lanes!

The Child did enjoy his horse, and rode several times. I was in a hurry, and wanted to take photos, so I didn't ride!

I wish I could read that essay again, but it's lost. I was a very idealistic teenager. I'm still that way, but reality sometimes creeps in to ruin things...

I think those porches, and the pedestrian and bike friendly aspect explain a lot about the way I am today.

I cyber-missed you too!

Hugs,
Betty

Desiree said...

I'm so glad you're back! I live in NY myself I didn't realize our traffic laws were stricter than other states but now that you mention it I guess they are. I guess I never noticed because that's all I know. Your hometown looks quite charming. It must be nice to go home! The bike lanes are awesome!! I'm always wishing we had those around here!
I missed you Betty! Glad you're back!

Betty said...

Dear Desiree,

I was told that it was unlawful to talk on a cell phone while driving in NY! I think that's a great law and should be applicable everywhere. But where I live now, every driver is on the phone. Crashes are common, as you might expect.

My hometown is charming, but it's also very run down. I still like it- the longer I'm away, the more I like it.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Hi Betty ! It's Thursday the 28th - just stoppedby to say hello -

simply me said...

Hi Betty - That sounded like a lovely trip back home. It was lovely to see. My husband will be doing the same thing next week when we go back to his old neighborhood in South Bend IN for a family reunion. I am looking forward to seeing where he grew up.
Thanks for the Photos. Stay well.

Betty said...

Hi Annie! Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to stop in to see you, too...

hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dera Maria,

I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I bet your visit to your husband's hometown will be revealing- I think my place of origin explains a lot about me!

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

...Many pleasant memories in a cemetery?? I'm still trying to figure that one out, although it does look pretty!! ;)

Love the adorable home with the dad fixture on the porch. That's timeless. It looks like a wonderful place to grow up!

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

It's great to see you again! Well, I thought it was the pits while I was growing up there. Only after seeing the rest of the world have I come to appreciate the charm of the place. I so wish I had appreciated it more when my mother was still alive. Let that be a lesson to me.

I did appreciate the cemetery though. We used to walk through it- it was the best green space around, and of course the creepiness added to its allure. There was (is?) a large "cow pasture" beyond the gravestones on one side, and that was cool too. No cows, but there was a creek where my friend and I found a frog once! Who knew that a cemetery could have so much to offer? My dogs loved it too.

Hugs,
Betty

Desiree said...

Yes we're not allowed to talk on a cell phone and drive. Everyone still does though. A lot of people use ear pieces while others just sneak and hope they don't get caught. I have mixed feelings about the law. On one hand I suppose it would be good if anyone really adhered to it. On the other hand there are so many things that distract drivers, kids, spouses radios and cd players. One can't outlaw being distracted. Oh well! No easy solution here!

Betty said...

Dear Desiree,

I agree with you about all the distractions available to drivers! Cell phones are just one item on the list. I try to think about that every time I drive. I even tell my passenger sometimes, if the driving gets tricky, that I have to stop conversing until the traffic eases up.

Hugs,
Betty

Kacey said...

After reading your post (and it is a lovely post), I come away with the feeling that what you have been looking for in a house is your old hometown. Sometimes the things we always wanted, was everything we had. (That's a line from the song, "The Hungry Years" by Neil Sedaka)
We call merry-go-rounds the same thing in Ohio, but tonier places call them carrousels. And, we finally got a "Red Robin" in Toledo about five years ago. We must really be backward here!

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

I was wondering if anyone would make the connection between my hometown and my current search. You win the prize! I have been strongly aware throughout my attempt to move downtown of wanting to go back to my roots. Walking and biking are in my blood. I will always crave pedestrian, self-sufficient neighborhoods because that's what I knew before I grew up and moved away. I miss it profoundly.

And I know the Red Robin chain you're speaking of! We have at least one of those where I live now. It's a far cry from the Red Robin Diner in Johnson City, which is one of a kind- no chain!

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Happy Sunday July 1st to you, Betty ! Hope all is well with you and the Boy...

Betty said...

Thank you for checking in, Annie. I've been feeling very alone, but I know you've been thinking of me.

Thank you.

Hugs,
Betty

simply me said...

Betty and Li - I've heard many tales about teenagers and cemetaries. One in particular stands out....heeheehee

Hope you are enjoying your summer with your little boy...

Betty said...

Dear Maria,

Thank you for the reminder! That's exactly what I should be doing- enjoying the summer with my little boy!

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Hi on Monday the 16th, Betty ! How are you ? What's new with you ?

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

Hi! This is a crazy time in my life- very challenging- trying to figure out how to do the court thing, and still take care of work, parenting, etc. Can't wait for that clam at the end of the storm.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Betty,
what's the latest with what is going on with the court thing with Boy ?

They make it so confusing and it takes so much time.
I wish for you that the decision is clear and in your favor.

Loving Annie

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I hardly know what's going on with court. It drags on and on, and won't be resolved for months. I have an appt. with the Guardian ad Litem next week. That lawyer is supposed to figure out what is in the best interests of the child. The next court date is Sept. 25. It's kind of like an endless nightmare. Thanks for asking!

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Good Sunday morning the 29th to you Betty !
Just came by to say hello and see what was new with you !
Today is "thank-you's" on my blog, and you are mentioned with a link !
*cyber hugs and smiles*
Loving Annie

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