Wednesday, November 26, 2008

our town

I'm currently stranded at my parents' house in upstate New York. I use the word "stranded" because I flew home instead of driving, which means I'm pretty much stuck at the house unless I can convince someone to drive me somewhere. While I'm here, though, I've been reminded by a discussion with Stan that I never finished talking about my June summer vacation, and now that I've got nothing to do but read and walk around the house taking pictures of normal objects on extreme closeup, I may as well address some of that.

(Stan is probably reading this and scratching his head, since the only discussion we had was whether or not "upstate NY" was the same town it had been in high school, but my brain took that and ran with it.)

My relationship with my parents' town, Philadelphia, New York (not to be confused with other, larger Phillies that may spring to mind when you hear that name) has always been sort of contentious, my impression forever colored by the one summer I spent there between freshman and sophomore years of college. That was the summer I tried to get a job in the village, and found out that the local gas stations, stores, and village summer recreation offices freely admit that they only hire females, relatives, or some combination of the two. Since then I've pretty much always viewed the town as a backward collection of prejudiced nepotistic inbreeders, and do my best to avoid interacting with actual townspeople whenever I happen to be here. I never spent a summer here again, and don't intend to.

Given that I view the village through a somewhat biased lens, it's surprising that I still find parts of it attractive. I have, for example, always been fascinated with the cemetary in the elementary school outfield:

outfield graves

It's not in the best repair:

fallen stone

broken stone

I've always wondered why, since the cemetary seems like the oldest part of that area, the baseball field and the neighbors' backyards are pretty much right in it:

trampoline

Wouldn't it have made some kind of sense not to build those things so close?

Besides my trip to the cemetary, I walked over to the boat launch, where I saw gorgeous views of the Indian River:

indian river

Not surprisingly, I also managed to find a hate crime:

hate crime

I'd like to point out that, while I expect the village to be filled with hateful, small minded people, I totally wasn't looking for that. All I did was go out for a walk and there it was. Given that the paint doesn't look especially fresh, I can only conclude that a number of village maintenance workers have viewed that and either agreed or at least not been offended, but that's to be expected from people whose minimum qualification for hiring was "cousin".

To make matters worse, I realized when I walked down to the launch that there was additional anti-Jewish vandalism on the side of the bridge, in much plainer view:

swastika

You'll need to click the picture to see it, but all I had to do was stand on the dock and turn my head. Again, it's in a pretty visible location, and it's not a small swastika, so I can only assume that the town either condones it, ignores it, or is somehow incapable of removing or painting over it. It's still a nice view, though, if you stand so the tree blocks that part out:

pedestrian bridge

I also saw a number of large tadpoles developing in the water, although my shadow kept scaring them:

tadpoles

me, with tadpoles

At least the river isn't poisonous.

My trip this summer was also the first time in years that I was in town for Quaker Days, the annual (except for one year that my mom says they skipped) festival celebrating our founding:

quaker festival poster

The Quakers, apparently, were big fans of cotton candy, games of chance, and a flashy midway. The people of Philly, on the other hand, didn't seem very interested when I stopped by:

quaker festival midway

There were random collections of people at the rides, but it was mostly deserted:

tickets

scat machine

carousel

Tiff and I were the only ones betting on the cake wheel:

number 4

cake wheel

And we still didn't win! Not that I needed a whole cake or anything, but it would have been nice to win just the same.

I'll just hold that grudge against my town for a few years, too, in case I ever forget about that summer when no one would give me a job because I was from out of town.

2 comments:

stanford said...

I go back so infrequently these days, that sometimes I imagine that I am visiting a quaint country town in North Dakota and everything is charming in its small townishness rather than alarming as who I am (minus the swastikas).

JMBower said...

Seems almost odd that that would be the prejudice of choice...given past issues with racial relations between townies and the army base...

I'll have to drive through Philly some day...I haven't been back in probably a decade. Wow. It's startling how many time I find myself saying " I haven't done (thing) in a decade" these days.