Loren and I began this week taking leave of our AirBnB in Ohio, where reminders of the Arctic Blast decorated unharvested corn fields. We drove further east to see a dear friend of ours who lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed a few rounds of the rummy game, May I, with each of us reigning as champion in the end, though point-wise our friend was the ultimate winner, while devouring her wonderful homemade eggplant parmegiano.
While visiting with her we went to Lancaster to see President James Buchanan’s Wheatland estate. We learned that he reluctantly served just one term in the White House after a successful career as a Representative, Senator and Ambassador, but his legacy as our 15th President serving just before Abraham Lincoln, was second to that of his niece Harriet Lane, who competently and confidently stood in as his “Hostess,” or First Lady. During Buchanan’s term, seven southern states seceded from the union.
From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to near Albany, New York, to visit special friends. We saw the new home of our friends son and his wife, then enjoyed a delicious dinner together. The next day we celebrated our friend’s retirement over a memorable lunch. That evening Loren and I had a meaningful conversation over dinner with our niece who is in collage at SUNY-Albany, but I neglected to take a photo. Loren and I stayed overnight nearby in Colonie and awoke to a thick, wet, heavy coating of snow over our car, the roads, trees, everything. But it didn’t deter us from heading further north to Canajoharie, said Cana-(as in Canada)-jah-hairy. In native Mohawk language that means “The pot that washes itself,” referring to a gush of Canajoharie Creek that circles in a Boiling Pot before it cascades into Mohawk River.
I visited Canajoharie’s village records office to see if I could learn more about the great-grandfather on my father’s side whose name and birth location I had discovered the last time Loren and I were in New York. I am still hopeful the clerk will uncover his records… While I was in the office, Loren discovered the village history of a 2006 flood, and learned that the massive abandoned plant we saw across the street was formerly used by the Beechnut company. At the suggestion of the town clerk we visited their library, where a section of reference books related to local history proved interesting – I found listed a few names of ancestors on my mother’s side with whom I’d previously been familiar.
We stopped back to have a fun lunch with our friend near Albany at the farm store where she manages the kitchen. A surprising exchange occurred when Loren was practicing his Spanish language with one of her coworkers who is originally from Mexico. I usually follow along a little with his Spanish, and was smiling as I tried to understand the pleasant conversation. I realized I didn’t follow at all when she kindly said something about palabra mala, which means bad word. Our friend and I could hardly control our laughter when Loren then explained to us that in trying to say he would like to someday come back to “pick” apples at the farm, he actually said he would want to come back to fxxx the apples, where fxxx rhymes with pluck…
That evening Loren and I arrived at my brother’s lake house where we will stay with much gratitude through Thanksgiving weekend. The next day we were off again in search of my ancestry, this time a great-grandmothers who was born in High Falls, New York — wife of the man from Canajoharie. We had no luck with the town clerk as their records only go back to 1881, but, we made a stop anyway at the local cemetery where her maiden name is well represented, I just an unsure which, if any, are my ancestors.
From there we returned to Walden where I had been successful last time we were here and thanks to the Canajoharie village clerk making a couple of phone calls, I now knew that Walden’s Clerk has the record of one of my great-grandfather’s death, which record has given me names of my father’s ancestors still further back – all the way to one of my 5th degree great-grandparents.
This week we also enjoyed a day with another special friend. From having brunch together, we visited the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. What attracted us was the exhibit of artist James McElhinney: Discover the Hudson Anew.
We also enjoyed the rest of the museum, including a tour of the Glenview Mansion all decked out for the holiday season, a permanent children’s display, as well as
an exhibit of photos from lunar landings.
One showcase especially caught my attention – it is of photos from Lick Observatory which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. My story is that I made a point to visit this site in 1991, because it was 100 years after the one great-grandmother who I had the privilege to know until I was 12 years old had visited this same place in 1891 with her parents.
Other than my joy at seeing loved ones and researching about ancestry in New York, I have not enjoyed the early cold we have experienced from as far back as Nevada, that causes static electricity, dry skin, finger chapped and raw, with tiny cuts so that they feel like sandpaper… Ok, enough complaining. I’ll conclude with my further reflection that as Loren and I have traveled east across the country I have been disappointed to have had to pass by so many appealing brown signs along highways and interstates that advertise historic sites, local parks and recreation areas, nature preserves, points of interest, and other venues that I would like to visit, but cannot, because we need to push on to arrive when we are scheduled to be someplace. Such is the yin and the yang of life, huh?