Monday, August 31, 2009

Hurricanes

Otsego Lake. Cooperstown is on its southern shore. It was called Glimmerglass in the Leatherstocking Tales. There is a castle built on its Eastern shore resembling a German castle.


The church in Corning I went to as a young child. I remember it being dark and dingy. 48 years later, it still looks dark and dingy.

The elementary school I went to, now known as a "gap closing " school. Corning has few minorities so I am not sure to what gap they refer.


My old house that my parents had built in 1950. It is now lilac colored instead of white and has an ugly chain link fence around it instead of the barberry hedge my dad planted to keep the high schoolers from cutting through the yard



The honey-combed molding used to cast a huge mirror for the telescope at Mt Palomar, CA. This was a huge technical achievement at the time putting the Corning Glassworks on the map as a place of innovation despite its remote location in the Allegheny Plateau. Scientists were then attracted to come to develop TV picture tubes in the late 40s, which led to prosperity and the hiring of even more scientists, including my father.


The Veranda where we sipped our wine at night listening to crickets. Our red car can be seen.





While we were in Boston, two different hurricanes threatened us: Bill and Danny though the former went out to sea right before coming near Boston. Danny was downgraded to a tropical storm and caused a very rainy Saturday for us. Of course when we finally got home yesterday, it looked like a hurricane had hit inside our house. That would be Hurricane Naomi with some help from Tropical Storms Spud and Sunny.

One of the most devastating hurricanes to hit inland was Hurricane Agnes in 1972. It had gone out to sea then headed back inland with renewed strength with torrential rains into central PA and the southern tier of NY. It was the first Category 1 (low winds) named hurricane to be retired due to the death toll from flooding (248). Eighteen of the dead were from Corning, NY as the excessive rains caused the levees to be breached and a wall of water hit the low lying areas of the city. People died in their attics in some cases. (they were warned ahead of time to evacuate). The house I grew up in was in a low lying area and was badly damaged. In the spring of 1973, I visited a friend in Alfred, about 50 miles away and hitched a ride to Corning ( I lived dangerously back then). I had not been there since I moved to MI in 1961 but was able to remember where everything was due to my constant roamings as a young child (never would I have let a 4 year old wander around for hours by herself but I guess my mom was busy with my brother). Almost everyone that lived in my neighborhood were living in army trailers, including the people in my old house. All the damage was repaired by that time to the Glassworks (right next to the river but protected by a concrete levee). I took a bus back to Hornell but then had to hitch a ride to Alfred, 10 miles away. Fortunately a Hornell family gave me a ride enthusiastically telling me about the devastation there. 11 inches of rain caused this small creek we drove by to become the torrent of death. They pointed to tops of trees where bodies were found.

We took the kids there in 1990 to visit its very cool glass museum (they did not agree with this-whiners as they were). I had spent many days there as a young child and remember each exhibit: glass that one could burn, bend, pound on, etc. My father was a researcher for the Glassworks, which was involved in many projects other than making Corelle and Pyrex. My father was on 2 projects there, developing picture tubes for TV and experimenting with different inks for the Corningware collections other than cornflower blue. All of our baking dishes were test pieces with codes inked on them. My father thought Corning was in the middle of nowhere and left as soon as he could to deal with windshield glass for Ford. It has been rated either in the Top 25 or Top 100 (depending on whose doing the ranking) art small towns with its numerous galleries, most featuring glass. The downtown area has been considerably gentrified since I lived there. Now Corning (the company and thus the town as it is the main industry) survives due to, in part, fiber optics. The museum has been expanded and improved considerably since I was a child. Also it has very cool stores where I couldn't help myself from buying some glass. I love glass! We stayed in a very nice B&B (the Rosewood) a block from the hospital I was born in. The house was built in 1854 but must be on higher ground than my old house as it only received basement flooding during the deluge. The owner had it full of local history books, which I love and tried to speedread.She also had lots of Katherine Hepburn stuff as she was the granddaughter of the founder of the Glassworks. The rain had stopped by the time we reached Corning so we were able to stroll along the historic houses and eat next to a plaza with twinkling lights and a lighted water fountain. Afterwards we had wine on the Veranda of the the B&B, a nice night. We haven't had too much special time together since cancerfest began. We had a formal, candlelit breakfast in the morning with interesting people, one of whom was a Chaldean man who had worked in Detroit for many years as Louie the Lightning Bug, the mascot for Detroit Edison (have to look this one up-I did the next day-it was not Freddy the Firefly as I miswrote). Steve in general hates B&Bs as he hates speaking to strangers but he was humoring me in part because earlier in the day we had finally made it to Cooperstown, NY, his dream town. Steve loves baseball and its statistics. The Baseball Hall of Fame was a place that he could spend hours in (we decided that 2 would have to do). The town itself was very nice capitalizing on its baseball roots (Abner Doubleday, who allegedly invented baseball came from there) and its literary roots-James Fennimore Cooper was the son of its founder. The whole area is called the Leatherstocking area (for his tales, the most well known would be the Last of the Mohicans) and Otsego Lake is known as Glimmerglass from Cooper's stories. Otsego Lake is very pretty and looks like a Finger Lake (Corning was just south of the major Finger Lakes so I visited them alot as a kid) but probably is too far east to be considered as one. I sat awhile at its base while Steve was in the museum until the rains came back. I visited a herd of European Fallow deer that according to the guidebook would feed from your hands. All I had to feed them were my macaroons and rainbow cookies from the Italian bakery back in Boston. Anyway, we have plenty of deer back home. I only saw one of the herd. I also drove around admiring the Italianate houses. Rich people must have settled there.

So our minivacation in NY was successful though the path was much longer than the trip there. Naomi had only one class today and was able to buy books. Steve convinced Blockbuster not to charge us all those late fees as we had a medical emergency. We've cleaned up the house, I dead-headed lots of my pathetic flowers-only a few might have died from lack of water. Some look like they died from too much water. On our last day in Boston, we had lobster rolls. Tasty but pricy. We watched the babies as Ramy and Shanna went out for a drink (she planned to pump and dump-she has filled the refrigerator with zillions of her pumpings so she can afford to throw away some of her milk). Oliver got up shortly after they returned and refused to sleep. He also learned to open all doors, not just the ones with handicap handles so now there is no confining him. Ramy started his paternity leave so he will entertain Oliver while Shanna tends to Daniel.






1 comment:

Sara Williams said...

That sounds like a great trip. Thank you for sharing on the information and history and the pictures. Your house was pretty but I dont like the chain link fence!!!

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