Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homerites in Upstate New York

My Homer friends Bob and Emily are currently "displaced" in Upstate New York, living near the quaint community of Oneonta. 

The bus ride here from the city afforded fabulous views of the small towns nestled along Highway 28, as well as the beautiful Catskills. 

As my friends work during the day, I spend time exploring this College and University town, tucked along the Susquehanna river, with its interesting blend of old homes with large front porches and new apartment complexes.

Oneonta, nicknamed City of the Hills due to its grand view of the surrounding Catskill mountains, boasts a population of around 15,000.  Church Street is home to several, well, churches, including Baptist, Episcopal, and Unitarian Universalist, all housed in cathedrals dating between 1895 and 1989.  My favorite haunts to date include the Latte Lounge coffee shop, the local artist's guild and the used bookstores, usual places I devour.

Emily works at the Huntington Memorial Library, aptly named after Henry Huntington who owned, among many other businesses, the Pacific Electric Railway.  A collector of rare books, Huntington donated his homestead and accompanying land to the City of Oneonta in 1917, stipulating it be used as a permanent home for what was then the Oneonta Public Library, and endowing it with a trust fund for ongoing support.  

The building is magnificent, boasting three floors, endless windows on all sides, affording views of the nearby Cathedral and Chesnut Street, the original staircase, an incredible collection of maps, atlases, photographs, postcards and of course, books, some of which visitors have to book advance viewing and wear white gloves to handle.  Marie the Librarian proudly shared that the ghost of Henrietta Huntington visits regularly.  Em's not met Henrietta, and judging by the look on her face while Marie shares her stories, I don't think she's too keen for a personal introduction.

Bob works for the Post Office as a rural mail carrier.  Proudly displaying his new Rural Mail Carrier sign on the back of his 4x4 pickup, he's currently doing this work part time while also helping the owner of a local bbq restaurant with building renovations. The building renovations job came through the side door, when Bob approached the owner offering his services as a bartender, work he's never done, but is eager to explore.  With his outgoing personality and quick wit, I've no doubt that Bob will excel at serving drinks, lending his ear and dispensing advice regulars and visiting patrons alike.

From the warm welcome of my friends and their four-legged kids, to the librarian who knows the father of a Homer couple, to the bank employee who was raised in Homer and whose mother still lives there, to the bus driver who lived in Anchorage for twentyf-five years, to the long, windy road I walk each morning the five miles in to town, I feel quite at home here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool to hear an update on Bob & Emily! Say hello from Bree.