Friday, April 8, 2011

Worlds End

From wiki..These mountains are also known as the "endless Mountains"
Worlds End is the name of a park near my hometown that we went to several times when I was young. I, not knowing better, took the name literally. This must be where the world ends. It was surrounded by forests and the Allegheny Mountains. I think we could drive there and not see any towns whatsoever. Why the name?

Of course I was easily fooled. Our town was surrounded by these mountains or at least the foothills. On the top of the highest hill, there was a cross. Why the cross? I asked my mom. She said that someone had died up there. This puzzled me for a while. Why would someone die up there? Why would anyone even climb up there? After a while, I assumed this was again something my mom made up.

The town depended on one company: The Corning Glass Works where my father was a research scientist. One of his projects was to develop a color other than cornflower blue for the Corningware. Much of our cookware consisted of 'culls' with test dates baked in. The Glassworks had an employee activity center. I remember the bowling alley which did not have automatic pin setters. One could see people scurrying behind the lanes placing the about a sucky job. There was also a glass museum (still is though now it is much fancier). I remember most of the exhibits: glass that you could bend by pushing a wheel; glass (fiberglass) you could light a burner to it and all that would happen is that it became sooty; glass you could hammer but not break; 3 inches of
window glass compared to 10 feet of optical glass(you couldn't see anything through the window glass but the optical glass was flawless); a periscope in which you could see what was outside the museum. You could watch the Steuben artisans make their art glass.

I spent a lot of time with my friend Michelle who lived with her grandmother and younger brother. I wasn't sure what happened to their father but her mother's new husband had no interest whatsoever in raising someone else's kids. The mom was starting a new family with this new man but would occasionally visit her first kids. I didn't like this mom but the grandmother was very kind to me. I have lost track of Michelle but there is a Michael of the right age and with the same unusual last name who is a chiropractor in Syracuse.

I spent a summer at a Seventh Day Adventist Bible school. What I remember most was that the teacher was born missing a forearm. Where her elbow would have been were these fleshy lumps which I assume were like fingers but they had no bones. I have a picture in my mind of her gluing pictures to a poster board and smoothing out the bubbles with her stump with those flesh balls oozing out.

My parents were clueless. At one point my mother had to be hospitalized leaving my especially helpless father in charge of us. An older woman stopped by: my brother's diaper had not been changed in hours. Mrs. McMillan screamed at my father saying how useless he was.

The town was like a bowl with the hills as its boundary. Most of the town was in a flood plain. When Hurricane Agnes hit NY in 1972, it wasn't the winds that killed people but the torrential rains that breached the dikes and swept away these trailers that were along side of the river. The water reached the 6 foot mark inside of the museum destroying lots of its art glass.

My father felt he was in the middle of no the end of the world. He constantly was driving to  the bigger towns. When I drive along 1-90, I am reminded of these towns. We left NY for good at the end of 1960.

We are in the process of fattening Ms. Maya up. Even thin Oliver outweighed her by more than 3 lbs at the same age. Fortunately Ms. Maya is co-operating by eating most of what is offered her. We'll see Monday if she has gained some weight.

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