Thursday, January 29, 2015

The other New York

Me overlooking Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. I identified it as the only one with a big fork in it

A door my father loved to photograph in Hammondsport at the base of Keuka Lake

Countryside somewhat north of Corning

The road to Ithaca. My father loved this stand of poplars

We were just south of an area known as the snowbelt which covered the Finger Lake regions I remember being driven through snow tunnels as my dad went to Rochester. Plenty of snow in our area too.

I believe this is Watkin's Glen at the base of Seneca Lake, the closest finger lake to us

World's End State Park. Technically this is in Pennsylvania right across the border. I took the name literally as a kid as it was so totally desolate...The World's End
People sometimes ask us as a couple where we are from. Steve immediately says he's from Brooklyn or NYC. In many ways, he has never left. He won't watch the local sports teams or learn what is going on locally but still follows, rabidly, NY teams. He makes fun of the local Midwestern 'accent' thinking it's evidence of our 'rubeness'. I will pipe in that I am from New York too but Steve will snort and say, not really. Where I came from is not really New York. Yeah he had lived in the state 12 years more than I did (he moved to New Jersey when he was 20) but to some city folk, there is the City and then there is somewhere else (99% of the land) that just calls itself New York.

Corning is a small town of about 20,000 in Central New York (east-west ways) just north of the Pennsylvania border. It is in the Allegheny mountains that extend all the way through Pennsylvania  down to Maryland (so my bike ride on the GAP in June 2013 went through some similar landscapes) The 'mountains' surrounding Corning are more like Big Hills. The area was settled along the banks of a very often flooding Chemung River. The town spilled over to the hills surrounding it, which needed chains in the winter to visit (the library was up there for instance). Our house was in the flood plain, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the most deadly force one hurricane ever (force was determined by its very weak winds, the floods are what killed people). We were long gone leaving at the very end of 1960 but I had visited a friend in somewhat nearby Alfred College and hitched a ride back to Corning in 1973 6 months later.

It was a one industry town. The Corning Glass Works where my father was a chemist. Despite ';being in the middle of f88ing nowhere' (my father regularly plotted his escape, he was not happy there), the Glass Works was a place of innovation bringing the world pyro-ceram (aka Corning ware and Corelle), fiber optical cables and Gorilla glass among many other things. It also had an art glass division, Steuben ware (after the county it was in) handcrafting expensive glass objects marketed on Fifth Avenue, NY. One could watch the artisans at work. Pieces from it still command a huge price when unearthed on Antiques Roadshow. They also manufactured 'pyrex', heat resistant glassware used in the laboratories (like where I worked). The Glass Museum, which I went to regularly if we were snowed in featured all types of glass, shatter resistant, bendable,optical, fiber glass which was flame resistant. I could recite everything that had in 1960 as we were there so often. They also have a world class museum featuring the history of glass containing Venetian glass. We spent zero time there. I went there in 1973 and dragged my reluctant children there in the 90s. Whatever project my dad was assigned to was failing and he believed that they would blame him so he took a much more pedestrian job as an auto window glass chemist for the auto industry located in **Michigan***where he wanted to be. We went back to Ann Arbor twice a year where my grandparents lived.

He hated being confined to Corning so on weekends we were constantly driving around the state with him photographing everything.

It would have been his 88th birthday today. He died almost 11 years ago of mostly stubbornness and magical thinking leading to probably fixable health conditions that killed him. As you can see, he took me on his various escapes from Corning. My mom opted to stay home much of the time. He saw me as his 'mini-me' but then I betrayed him shortly after my marriage. I was not forgiven.

Many times I was told that once I became five or so, I ceased to be 'photogenic'. Maybe that's why I am only seen in the distance in these photos. And as he told me, I only became 'less and less' photogenic as time went by to the point that it would be impossible for me to attract a husband later in life and that I must depend on my brains, which he diagnosed me as being especially smart so at least I had that. Fortunately once I hit junior high, I became less 'ugly'. By freshman year in college, I found myself surrounded by men who didn't share my father's vision or maybe the hormones made them blind to my unattractiveness. Still some of these photos, which I am too vain to put up here, do show a homely child.

Work very slowly continues here. As you can see, I am distractible and Steve isn't progressing much faster. Maybe we will move out next week. We really don't have a plan....

No comments:


Blog Archive