Saturday, May 29, 2010

Must be obvious by now that I have a lot more time to write here. My posting decreases to a trickle when I have a lot of other demands. I expected to be away this weekend, but it turns out I am home. I do have a lot of stuff I plan to do (the garden!!) but since it isn't beastly hot today, my office is very pleasant, and so the PC was calling. (Not that gardening is better at 90 degrees...
hmmm...rethink that maybe? Nah...)

A couple of weeks ago we attended a retirement party for a favorite professor of ours from undergraduate days. I wanted to make him something for the event, and so I went through a stack of old notebooks from that time. (Yes, I still have most of my college notebooks and even a few from high school, stored among cobwebs and dust on a shelf in the stairwell.) I photocopied some of the pages of notes, mostly things he said about the readings that were discusssed in class, found some pictures of campus and made a big card out of a new notebook.

During that process, I skimmed through several of my old journals. I was a prolific writer at that time. (Not that I don't write quite a bit now, but aging and years of education have changed my style.) I scribbled down journal entries, short stories and fragments, poetry, all sorts of observations, and illustrated some of them too.

Some things amused me, jumped out at me, things that I want to document electronically. I am not sure whether paper ephemera or its electronic cousin will last longer. Will I still be able to access this in 30 years? Some of Elwyn's diaries are 100 years old and they aren't in bad shape.

Anyway, here's a sample...

April 18, '78

We got a new television today, so we watched the Holocaust in real color instead of the pea-soup green that our other television broadcast in. My father hooked it up between commercials. It made us all feel really good to see a TV ad about two minutes later which said, “Panasonic is better than SONY…Panasonic is better than RCA…Panasonic is better than Zenith!” ‘cause our new TV is a Zenith.

August 31, ‘81

Today’s Chuckle: How not to do it

“My dear,” he said, “that’s a poetic name!”

“Thank you,” she replied, emotionlessly.

“Did anyone ever tell you that you have a moustache?” he asked.

“I think I’ve heard this routine before," she replied, leaving.

September 2, '81

“Please listen to what I’m not saying.”

“Don’t expect anything and you’ll never be disappointed.”

October 9, '82

As soon as I reached the age of reason, I rushed for the tweezers and plucked out practically all of my eyebrows. Or maybe that should be “eyebrow,” because I was, after all, only born with one.

Maybe it is time to join our “rebellious” sisters and let our hair all grow out. Truly, I despise the society which made sleek, smooth calves the prerequisite for femininity. But I am not among those who can break from tradition and proudly display what nature has given me intact. I admire those women, but I am somewhat too susceptible to popular opinion.


“I’m not a native,” she confided, and I smiled a little, because this statement puzzled me. “No, she continued, “I didn’t come here until I was married.” Then I was really amused, because Mimmie was born and raised in West Hurley, a town twelve miles south of where she now lives, though outside of our town borders. A trivial thing to someone not from the Catskills, but for a resident of my hometown, that meant you weren’t a native.

To me, though born and raised in the town of Olive, West Hurley is close enough. At my present location, some 85 miles northwest of where that conversation took place, I often encounter people who consider me still living in my area. As I enter my final year here, it is with regret that I acknowledge my time here is nearing an end.

In 1978, I viewed things somewhat differently. Oneonta, considered home to me now, seemed a booming metropolis, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. And indeed, from the vantage point of a girl raised in West Shokan, a mountainous hamlet boasting a population of 300, Oneonta’s side-walked streets and hilly surroundings filled me with fear, and longing to be back in the community which was familiar to me.

The other students surprised me, the majority of whom were from New York City and the metropolitan area. They considered Oneonta a boring “hick” town, a cultural vacuum, and a number of other uncomplimentary adjectives. I recalled that my mother once confided, “if anyone ever asks me ‘how can you live in this little hick town?’ I always reply “well, I am a hick! And I’m proud of it!”

I was proud, too. I challenged anyone in my dorm to display more town pride than I.

My mother’s family had lived in my town - well, for generations. (My grandmother, though, as I wrote before, doesn’t consider herself a native.) My father can’t claim that status either...for a very real reason. He’s only been a resident for 35 years or so (!), the place of his birth being Philadelphia.

Mimmie's recipe notebook, from 1926

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