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  1. As summer’s warmth gives way to the cooler days of fall, our thoughts turn to cold-weather projects, and that of storing food for the coming winter.  Without that process, our ancestors would be hard pressed to get through the bitter cold months, unless, of course, you could afford to purchase all your food supplies at the local general store. 


    Once upon a time, most families cultivated large vegetable gardens and raised a barnyard menagerie to put food by for the coming winter – a vital necessity.  How they accomplished it without our modern water-bath and pressure canners, and freezers, that we and our mother’s generation have used amazes me. 


    In 2003, I was concluding my empty-nest project of researching and writing an extensive manuscript which documented every family line of my mother’s parents back to the early 17th century settlers of New Netherlands.  And that was using only the pathetically slow dial-up internet for online research!  In asking for input from relatives on their memories of our grandparents, my aunt, Shirley (Tillapaugh) Van Duesen, shared how much she enjoyed working alongside her dad.  Her ties to her father don’t surprise me.  While growing up, I enjoyed time spent working with my dad, too, and that naturally evolved into enjoying time spent working with my husband on the farm and around our property.


    But, I found it especially interesting that, of all things my aunt chose to write about, she told me about fall butchering time on the farm.  I’m so glad she did, though, because in many ways what she wrote about is a lost skill.  Oh sure, we still have butcher shops in some rural communities, but gone are the days of farm and backyard butchering where neighbors helped each other with these chores.


    With permission granted by my cousin, Doug, to share his mother’s words, Aunt Shirley wrote, “What I remember the most was hog butchering time which was sometime in November, I believe.  It was a community project, usually two or three days.  Everyone who had pigs to butcher helped in the process, and they were hung in my father’s garage to cool overnight or until they were ready to be cut up.  Each one took their own [pig] home to process from that point on.  I always enjoyed helping cut ours up – to cut and skin the rind (or hide) off the fat, cut fat off the meat, grind and render it down into lard for cooking, cut meat into roasts, pork chops, tenderloin, and grind other remaining meat and scraps for sausage.  My father always cut and shaped the hams, then put them in large tubs with a salt brine to cure for several weeks.  Then he would take them out and smoke them in the smokehouse.  He would do the same with the sausage after grinding and stuffing it into the casings, and then shape that into links.  The hams were then put into large brown bags and hung in the cellar, and used as needed – and the same for the sausage.”


    Her description gives us a great overall picture of the process.  Further details on the butchering process can be found in the online Backwoods Home Magazine, Issue No. 23 from September/October 1993, with an appropriate article, “Slaughtering and Butchering,” by Dynah Geissal.  I enjoyed this very informative article in which Geissal gives excellent directions for the homesteader in butchering a variety of home-grown animals raised specifically for the freezer.  She describes how to cut the meat into appropriate sections, with photos to provide guiding details.  She even includes recipes for sausage, scrapple and other delicious fare.  


    Raised on a dairy farm, my husband was present twice when his father and uncles butchered cows on the farm.  Like my aunt wrote, Ed agreed that the best time to butcher is in the fall, typically November, because it’s cold enough to hang the carcass to avoid spoilage.  When cows were shipped to the butcher shop, he also said it was important to keep the animal as calm as possible before slaughter.  This helped keep the meat from becoming tough and unsavory. 


    On a smaller scale in backyard processing, my sister and I were the official assistants when it was time to dispatch designated unproductive chickens or specific meat birds to the freezer.  My father was in charge of swinging the axe on the chopping block.  And for those who have only heard the expression about someone running around like a chicken with their head cut off – let me assure you, it’s accurate!  After filling a 5-gallon bucket with boiling water, we sisters were given the honor of dunking and plucking.  With twine around their feet, we hung the scalded chickens from a nail in a barn beam and plucked those feathers clean off as best we could. 


    My mother was in charge of dressing the hens back in the kitchen.  Dressing is the more delicate term to describe the process of gutting and cleaning the bird.  I still vividly recall my mother showing us shell-less eggs from inside one of the hens – in descending sizes from the current large to tiny!  I was utterly fascinated!  I should perhaps mention at this point that once upon a time I had thoughts of becoming a veterinarian.  As science and math were not among my strong points, that dream soon fell by the wayside.


    We also raised pigs, three at a time.  And now I must confess that I had a tremendous fear of our cute little piglets simply from their noise and stench!  So, I refused to care for them, thus putting my younger brothers in charge of the feeding and cleaning of little piglets that grew into large hogs – really a good responsibility for my energetic brothers!  My dad knew when they’d reached sufficient poundage and sent them off to the butcher shop to become delicious pork in the freezer for us and our city relatives. 


    Our horse, chickens, ducks and one goose (appropriately named “Honk” by my toddler brother) were my charges with the Muscovy ducks providing entertainment.  Digging a hole in the fenced-in chicken run, we sank a square galvanized tub for their bathing delight, and they regularly enjoyed “swim” time. 


    Only one duck decided to set on about a dozen eggs.  Four hatched properly and soon waddled behind their Mama to explore the great outdoors.  Feeling sorry for the fifth duckling who was late emerging from its shell, this writer took it upon herself to assist the poor little thing.  Unbeknownst to her at the time (she forgot to study), fowl do not need, nor do they desire, our assistance to hatch from their shell.  They have a “tooth” on their beak which assists them quite well; but, they also must do their own hatching in order to survive.  So, you guessed it – this little duckling did not live long once it had been helped out of its shell. 


    Then, a few days later, this caretaker came home from school and eagerly went out to care for her critters only to sadly discover one little duckling had drowned in the 2-inch deep water dish in their pen.  That left three cute and fuzzy ducklings to follow the adults as they grew like weeds.  And, though a bit more greasy than chicken, they were absolutely delicious when my mother roasted them! (Yes, that was their intended purpose.)


    During the years that I stayed home to raise our children while my husband farmed with his dad, I grew a large garden every summer, canning and freezing a year’s worth of vegetables and fruit.  It sure helped save on grocery bills, wishing I had the time and energy to do it now, but cannot with working full time elsewhere.  It was only natural I delved into this venture since my parents raised a large garden every year for as long as I can remember, as did both sets of grandparents.  But, as children, when we were sent out to weed our garden, my sister and I opted instead to run and play between the rows!  Truth be told, we even tossed some of the green beans under the lilac bushes when we decided we were tired of the chore of snapping them.  However, when they were my own gardens with food to be put up for the coming winter, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the process.


    But, as mentioned above, I’ve often wondered how our ancestors put their veggies up.  They didn’t have the benefit of a freezer, nor could they efficiently use water-bath jar canning let alone the fine tunings of a high-pressure cooker/canner like I had available. 


    In looking for books to study this subject, I recalled my bookshelf held my mother’s, “Putting Food By – The No.1 book about all the safe ways to preserve food.”  It’s a very useful book for beginners as it discusses all the prerequisites to canning and freezing vegetables and meats, including explanations of the old-fashioned methods our ancestors used to put up their food.


    Another excellent resource obtained through Spencer’s interlibrary loan system was “The Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories” by Barbara M. Walker.  What a genuine treasure this book is as Ms. Walker expands on Wilder’s descriptions of the foods they ate by explaining how their food was prepared with innumerable appropriate recipes.


    I thought you might enjoy a scrumptious old-fashioned recipe from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s day.  A special dessert which Almanzo enjoyed as a child was Birds’-Nest Pudding in Wilder’s book, “Farmer Boy.”  Barbara M. Walker includes a recipe in her book for this standard dessert of long ago with the apples “baked…in a custard, biscuit dough, or pie pastry.”  This is just one of many old-fashioned recipes found in Walker’s “The Little House Cookbook.”

    “For six servings you will need:

    Butter, ½ teaspoon

    Tart apples, 6 (about 2 pounds)

    Brown sugar, 1 cup

    Ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon

    Eggs, 3

    Homogenized milk, 1 cup

    Maple flavoring, 1 teaspoon

    Flour, 1 cup

    Cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon

    Baking powder, ½ teaspoon

    Salt, ½ teaspoon

    Powdered sugar, ½ cup

    Heavy cream, 1 pint

    Baking dish:  2 quart

    Butter the baking dish.  Peel and core the apples and place them in the dish.  Fill the holes with brown sugar, pressing slightly, and sprinkle half the nutmeg on top.  Place in preheated 350-degree oven to start baking while you prepare the batter.

    Separate the eggs, putting yolks in a 2-quart bowl and whites on a 12-inch platter.  Beat whites with a fork or whisk until they don’t slip from the tilted platter.  Beat the yolks until they change color; stir in milk and maple flavoring.  In a 1-quart bowl, mix flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, salt and remaining brown sugar.  Stir this mixture quickly into the liquid.  Fold the egg whites into this thin batter.

    Pour the batter evenly over and around the partially cooked upright apples, returning the dish to the oven, baking until the crust has browned, another 45 minutes to an hour.

    While the pudding bakes, stir the powdered sugar and remaining nutmeg into a pitcher of heavy cream.  Take the baked pudding out of the oven and directly to the table before it ‘falls.’  Turn each serving onto a plate so the apple is ‘nested in the fluffy crust.’  Pass the pitcher of sweetened cream.”  (Walker, pp.126-127)


    A classic from the 19th century, Housekeeper and Healthkeeper (available only online, not through interlibrary loan) by Catherine E. Beecher (sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe) discusses virtually every conceivable household dilemma for the housewife of the late 19th century.  Beecher’s own foreword is written to “My Dear Friends, - This volume embraces…many valuable portions of my other works on Domestic Economy…  It is designed to be a complete encyclopedia of all that relates to a woman’s duties as housekeeper, wife, mother, and nurse.”  Beecher includes five hundred recipes of which I perused a few.  She is completely thorough in all of her explanations to assist the housewife who often entered her new profession without foundational training.  I was impressed by Beecher’s ability to address every possible home situation from cooking and putting food by, to cleaning and caring for the sick family.  


    In our ancestors’ time a few hundred years ago, even through the turn of the 19th century, most rural families had a milch (milk) cow or two.  Not only was the family’s delicious milk and cream supplied by their very own favorite pet cow, but Bossy’s milk also provided them the ability to make butter, cheese and ice cream.  Things just didn’t get any better than that!  And, extras could always be sold or bartered for other necessities not readily available or too expensive at the general mercantile.


    Without electricity, one either had an ice house to keep foods cold, a storage area in the cellar, or a springhouse.  Root cellars were a popular place to store vegetables below the frost line.  Attics were often used to store food during the winter including hams, pumpkins, squashes, onions, and dried vegetables.  Perhaps the home had a storage shed just outside the back door.  Here, the family could conveniently store meat in a “natural freezer” during the winter months (though I’ve wondered about wild critters enjoying the free cache), along with stacked firewood, other supplies, and kettleware. 


    Then again, many homes had a large pantry just off the kitchen.  I remember well my Grandma Laura Tillapaugh’s huge pantry with shelves on all sides and a door to the cellar, which I never did get to explore.  It was in this pantry that she kept her big tin of large scrumptious molasses cookies that we could help ourselves to when she gave approval.  Try as I might, I was never able to duplicate her delicious cookies though!


    My mother shared with me that their cellar held crates of apples and potatoes and other root vegetables. Not a root cellar per se`, my mom said that what was stored in crates kept quite well through the winter.  She also recalls her mother did use both pressure and waterbath canners for fruits and vegetables, along with canning pickled tongue and other meats at butchering time.  As my Aunt Shirley wrote about butchering time, their meat was put into a salt brine and stored in large wooden barrels or the old pottery crocks.  This process meant keeping the meat well covered by brine, held below the surface by a heavy weight.  Smoking was another great way to cure and preserve the meat to prevent spoilage and bacteria growth during storage over the long winter. 


    Brine, made of sugar, salt, saltpeter or sodium nitrate, and mixed with water, covered and cured meats placed in large crocks.  After the curing time of up to two months, the meat was typically smoked and then hung in the attic or cellar.  Or, you could fry the meat, place it in a crock, covering it with a layer of lard, then a layer of meat covered by lard until the crock was full.  The homemaker had only to dig out the amount of meat needed for a meal and reheat it.  These ever-handy crocks preserved other foods such as butter, pickles, sauerkraut, and even vegetables.  Apple cider was fermented to make hard cider, often a staple on the old farms.  Lard or paraffin was used to seal a crock’s contents, keeping out contaminants causing spoilage.  


    Before modern conveniences came along, root vegetables were typically stored in the cellar, or root cellar – especially potatoes, turnips, onions, beets, cabbages, carrots and even apples.  Areas that are cool, dark and dry help keep vegetables from sprouting, and slow any spoilage that might begin.  It was also a wise idea to store apples, potatoes and cabbages apart from each other and other produce so their odors/flavors did not spoil each other.  It was also a must to keep an eye on everything for early signs of spoilage.  Vegetables and certain fruits being stored could be wrapped individually in paper, or kept in baskets covered in sand, soil or dry leaves. 


    Reading the requirements in “Putting Food By,” we need to know a lot about the root cellar process that, on the surface, seems like such a simple idea – but it’s really not.  There are specific temperature and dryness or moisture requirements for the various vegetables and fruits to prevent mold and spoilage.


    I recall that in the early 1980s, I had an abundance of good-sized green tomatoes.  After picking them, my dad and step-mother helped as we lay them out on the basement floor on newspaper to ripen, storing the greenest in a bushel basket with each one wrapped in newspaper.  They kept for a good while out in the garage where it was cold but not freezing.


    Another popular method was to dry fruits and vegetables, often simply by drying them in the sun.  Meat dried in this manner is called jerky.  If the home had a cookstove, drying could be accomplished on trays in the oven, or the vegetables and fruit could simply be put on strings and hung to dry in a warm area of the room.  The warm attic space near the chimney was another good place to dry food, using protection from dust and bugs.  Reconstitution by adding sufficient water for stewing was all it took to use these otherwise scarce foods during the cold and barren winter months.  Though they often lost some of the original flavor, dried veggies and fruits must have been a welcome addition to their diet during the cold winter months.  In the latter half of the 19th century, special driers with built-in furnaces became available on the market for home use in drying various fruits and vegetables.


    When thinking about the types of food eaten by our ancestors on the frontier, we need to remember that their salty and fatty dishes were necessary for their diet considering their involvement in extensive physical labor.  And to this any modern farmer can attest as their own hard work all day in the barn or fields contributes to a rather hearty appetite – I do remember how much Ed ate without gaining weight!


    Farmers and homesteaders had not only the typical farm chores to attend to in the hot summer and bitter cold winter, but they would hunt to supplement their meat supply, and put in a garden to reap the harvest of both vegetables and fruits.  If the homesteader did not have a ready supply of fruit on their own bushes and trees, searching the nearby forest often gave them a bounty of seasonal fruits and berries.  Yet, even in that venture, there was the ever-present danger of wild animals, especially bear.  The homesteaders’ hearty appetites and wide variety of unprocessed food allowed for a healthy diet which did not require today’s supplemental vitamins.


    My mother shared her memory years ago of pouring maple syrup (or cooked molasses and brown sugar) over snow which Laura Ingalls and her siblings did to make a delicious candy.  (Not recommended nowadays with the pollutants in our snow.)  As a teen, I remember making ice cream the old-fashioned way with a hand-turned crank – nothing tasted better when it was ready!  And my sister and I attempted to make divinity, once – it wasn’t perfect, but it was delicious!  Now, a favorite of mine is to make brittle with cashews – with the key being a candy thermometer which neither my sister and I nor Laura Ingalls’ family had available years ago.


    It required a lot of work on the part of every family member to hunt, raise and grow the family’s food, and then to put it up for the coming winter, year after year.  If they didn’t carefully follow the steps to properly preserve their food, a good deal of spoilage could and would occur due to various elements or critters.  And, at the time of which we write, the early 19th century, canning was not yet an available option for our homesteader.  Actually, the glass Mason canning jar with rubber ring and wire clasp was not available until 1858.  But then, of course, if you could afford it, you could simplify life and buy quality foods at the grocery or butcher shop in town to maintain a well-balanced diet throughout the unproductive winter months. 


    All things considered, we really do have an easier way of life.  But, what satisfaction our ancestors must have felt in putting by their own food!  I sure did when canning and freezing the produce of our gardens years ago.



    *The Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories, by Barbara M. Walker, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1979.

    *Putting Food By – The No.1 book about all the safe ways to preserve food, by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene, The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, VT, 1973.

    *The Way We Ate, Pacific Northwest Cooking, 1843-1900, by Jacqueline B. Williams, Washington State University Press, Pullman, WA, 1996.


    *Housekeeper and Healthkeeper, Containing five hundred recipes for economical and healthful cooking; also, many directions for securing health and happiness, approved by physicians of all classes; by Catherine E. Beecher, New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1873. 

  2. 5bbf858569704_ScreenShot2018-10-11at1_13_49PM.png.e9403f877457670ec283c7042111ca8e.png

    The Chemung County Matters blog exists to help promote discussions about local issues. The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect my own, but are rather shared here in order to provide information and hopefully stimulate ideas.

    Last night the Chemung County Legislature voted 14-2 in favor of a new sales tax plan, with only Peggy Woodard (District 8) and Rodney Strange (District 15) voting no.

    The old plan has been under intense scrutiny since it was passed in 2013 for taking resources from the towns, villages and City of Elmira, causing many of them to suffer fiscal hardships.

    Numerous candidates for local office have strenuously advocated for a change in the way sales tax monies are allocated between the county and its municipalities, something that is undoubtedly part of the decision of county leaders to change course.

    However, the new plan has many problems as well.

    Prior to the vote, I offered comments to the sitting legislature about new plan as it relates to the towns and villages. I intend to describe my position in a subsequent post within the next day or so.

    John Burin, a former manager of the City of Elmira and current candidate for legislature in the 9th District, offered comments about the new plans as it relates to the city. A copy of his statement is shown below.




    October 9, 2018

    Honorable Legislators:

    On September 24, 2018 I mailed each of you a letter with supporting documentation asking that you table this proposed plan to revise the reallocation of sales tax. I also referenced a process by which the 2019 county budget and budget message could move forward without the revised plan being in place. In my op ed on September 23, 2018, I pointed out in three months, newly elected officials should have the right to vote on this multi-year funding program.

    I fully support a plan to reallocate sales tax revenue however, I believe the plan should be based on more than fund balances and debt. For example, the County apportionment of real property taxes creates an unintentional double taxation for certain services. These inequities, which are common to most of the towns/villages in varying degree, should be taken into consideration with the allocation of sales tax dollars. Additionally, from 2013 to 2018 Chemung County expenses increased $15 million dollars. During this same time period five county budgets were passed with deficits that required $10.5 million dollars of fund balance to close the gap. Future estimates of county revenues and expenses should be projected showing the impact of a sales tax reallocation plan.

    In order for our county to realize desired social/economic growth, we must work together for a common cause. It was in this spirit that the City of Elmira allowed it’s Empire Zone Benefits to be used outside the City. The City’s willingness to share its zone in early 2000 produced economic benefits we still enjoy today and will continue to enjoy into the future.

    According to the Chemung County Industrial Agency report, Project Information, December 31, 2009 the City of Elmira Empire Zone;

    *Leveraged over $700 Million of private investment.

    *Generated new property tax revenue for the County in excess of $900,000 and $1.7 million local and school tax revenue. Each year as property tax exemptions expire, the real property tax revenue increases and therefore current tax revenue is significantly greater.

    *The City’s zone created 4,500 jobs and retained 10,000 jobs.

    *14,500 jobs with an average salary of $20,000 generated $290 Million of payroll.

    *$290 Million of payroll generates millions of sales tax dollars.

    This is a billion dollar infusion of economic benefits. If not for the City of Elmira sharing its Empire Zone, Chemung County finances would be quite different today.

    In June 2016, the New York State Financial Restructuring Board commented on the City of Elmira’s Bond Rating. “Prior to June 2015, the City had a bond rating of A2 with a negative outlook from Moody’s. On June 1st, 2015, Moody’s released a new rating for the City’s General Obligation bonds and lowered the rating by five notices – to Ba1 with a sustained negative outlook. This is non-investment grade (junk bond) rating from Moody’s.”

    The reasons Moody’s cited for this severe reduction in the City’s credit rating are:

    *Significant loss of revenue from the County sales tax sharing agreement;

    *Health insurance overruns;

    *Recurring general fund deficits

    Moody’s will view new development positively however this plan that defers City debt will most likely not improve the City’s poor investment grade of bonds. The mixed use $14,000,000 development project in Elmira was granted a twenty year payment in lieu of tax agreement with the first four years being 100% exempt, after eleven years the project will pay 30% and in year twenty 60%. Property tax revenue from the affordable housing projects are restricted by law and proposed private developments have been given multi-year tax exemptions. It is for these reasons additional sales tax revenue to the City should be a part of tonight’s plan. Even if the revenue is restricted as to use, Moody’s may look favorably at a slight upgrade.

    Sound business practice would suggest that this proposed sales tax allocation is deficient of solid reasoning for the suggested allocations. Over the next three months, a cohesive legislature working together should develop a plan that addresses the needs of the community keeping in mind the future needs of county government as well as the social and economic challenges inherent with high poverty levels, effective tax rates that stagnate real estate values and the ever increasing cost of providing efficient public safety services.

    The plan before you tonight falls short in capturing these community needs. Lets take a step back, analyze the financial impact of what is being proposed and compare those findings to the needs of our community.

    Thank you,

    John J. Burin



  3. It is always amazing how quickly weather can turn from humid, hot summer days to cooler autumn weather --- and how quickly the leaves become colorful once they begin.   After days of temperatures in the nineties, I suddenly needed a wood fire for a chilly morning.  And now we are in the throes of a yoyo seasonal change; rain, mild, chilly, foggy, occasional sun, clouds, hurricanes.  October is probably my favorite month of the year, although if we have drenching rains or early snow, I may have to reconsider.  But October can be sunny and glorious with the pungent aroma of drying leaves and wonderful, crisp morning air.  It’s a good season for pumpkins, decorative corn and bunches of drying herbs.  My sons would say, if they were here, that the laundry is stinky right now, but I rather like the fragrances from basil, sage, and sweet Annie co-mingled as they hang from the old-fashioned dryer on the wall.

    The summer months have been full of family gatherings, dinners with friends, birthday celebrations and we’ve enjoyed those far-away friends who came to spend some time in the Finger Lakes.  I think we all have tried to pack as many good times as possible into the season, knowing that NYS weather could, at any moment, throw a sleety tantrum and thwart our outdoor reveling.   Rachel Peden said about cooler weather:  This is the chill that advises you to discard those plans for things you were going to do this summer and get a good start, now, on what you planned to accomplish last winter.” *

    Summer enjoyment is understandable, but I think one of our culture’s perennial problems is that we all continue to overload our days, year-round.   Kerm and I were given a good movie to watch way back in the spring, and by mid-September, when its owners came to visit, we still hadn’t watched it.   This is partly because we tend not to sit long enough to watch a whole movie, but it’s also because our over-done brains don’t stop buzzing long enough for us to indulge in recreation for recreation’s sake.   We are really expert at filling the calendar with good and useful things, but very poor at finding fun ways to renew our spirits.  And we start our children on the same path when we overload them with activities.  In the midst of the luxurious Roman Empire, Ovid** said: “Take a rest.  The field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”  I don’t think Ovid meant only our nightly sleep.  I think he meant that we really need to find refreshment and renewal during our waking hours.  Farming is a good example.  Some farmers use and reuse their fields, putting on high-powered fertilizers to grow high-powered corn or grain, year after year.  Eventually, the soil becomes exhausted; lifeless!  It may seem less efficient, but the land prospers when crops are rotated and the soil is given times of rest.  So do we humans need whatever it is our souls crave: music, painting, gardening, spiritual retreats, martial arts, dancing, creating beautiful things, reading or simply times of quiet reflection------ activities that have no part in the daily must-dos.

    I find that as I age, I need more quiet transition time too.  I can no longer come in from gardening and race right into cookie-baking.  I can’t return home from an event and immediately involve myself in another equally busy activity.  I need to sit between things and re-center myself.  Once centered, I make fewer mistakes.  It isn’t necessarily that I am so physically tired; it is more of a mental need for space between engagements of my brain.  Music needs rests to be the kind of music to which we enjoy listening; my brain increasingly needs whole-note rests instead of eighth-note rests.

    Watching summer birds diminish and a very chubby woodchuck stuffing himself with apples, I am reminded that, especially in the fall, we humans have a major impact on the fauna around us.  As summer transitions into autumn, some wild life will go into hibernation; some will be in and out of deep sleep and others will switch to their winter mode of survival.  Around here we often see turtles migrating to their ponds and in doing so, crossing roads.  I’m not sure why they find road-crossing a necessity, but when they do, they become a hazard, to themselves and to human drivers.  I just learned, if we are unfortunate enough to hit a turtle, it need not be fatal.   A cracked shell can be fixed.  Last week, a friend hit one --- was devastated because she had done so ---- and picked it up, bleeding, taking it to a vet close by.  The vet was quite matter-of-fact in saying that Oh yes, she could mend the turtle and quite easily. *** In autumn, we need to be extra careful as we drive, and not just for turtles.    Deer are beginning to mate now and are running blindly hither and yon, other creatures are trying to get ready for whatever they do over the winter.   With more and more people building on natural habitats or --- around here --- logging them off, animals are often found in our paths, our gardens, and ----speaking of bears---- on our gazebo steps.  We do need to remember that creatures were here first, cut them a little slack and try not to be the cause of injury or death; instead, do our best to live in détente.   

      There is an energy that comes with cooler weather; we all find ourselves getting ready for the long winter in some way.  Whether you fall -house-clean, complete all your gardening chores, squeeze in a late vacation or pull out your flannel shirts and wooly socks ---- take deep breaths of October while it is here!!  Soak in the sunshine!  Here is the last canto of “A Vagabond Song” to remind us to enjoy all the wonder of fall:  “There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir; we must rise and follow her when from ever hill of flame, she calls and calls each vagabond by name.” ****

    Carol may be reached at: cpeggy@htva.net.

    *-Rachel Peden --- American writer who wrote farm columns for the Indianapolis Star and the Muncie Evening Press.  This quotation came from her book: Speak To the Earth.  1901-1975

    **-Ovid ---Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.  Born 43 BC.

    ***In an effort to be helpful, we should also be careful.  Our compassion should not endanger ourselves.  Some turtles are snappers, and can bit off a human finger with no trouble at all.  And when hitting a deer, it’s probably not really safe to jump out, hold the deer’s head on our laps in our grief (as one good and compassionate friend did).   Slowing down on the roads and paying attention might actually lessen some of our co-existence issues.

    ****A Vagabond Song by Bliss Carman (the last segment).  Bliss Carman was a Canadian poet who spent most of his life in the U.S.  In his later years he was Canada’s Poet Laureate.

  4. Before I submit to my readers the recent news taking place in our fair town these past couple weeks, I would like to update you on a matter discussed in a previous column.

    You’ll remember on 9 September I told you the story of Mooch Mitchell who, while having lunch with the McNaney boys, inadvertently found his burger contained not USDA Grade A beef but a Gaines-Burger. This prompted a hasty visit to the health clinic where staff assured him the scamps that prepared his sandwich hadn’t, in fact, poisoned him.

    The story takes an interesting turn however. A sharp eyed reader wrote to tell me that The General Foods Company had ended that line sometime in the 1990’s. With that knowledge, it’s a testament to the quality of the dog food’s packaging to have lasted, as well as the strength of Mssr. Mitchell’s intestinal tract. Sadly, it’s also a testament of the McNaney family’s pet care, but who am I to judge?

    Constable Smith would like to remind area grocers to please refrain from selling eggs to anyone under the age of 18 as Halloween approaches. However toilet paper is okay to sell. This is a slight change from last year’s policy after the clerk at Mary’s Mercantile and Tax Preparation refused to sell a roll to the constable’s daughter during a particularly rough bout with a GI bug.

    Speaking of Halloween, Constable Smith says the hours for “tricks or treats” will be 6-8pm. Residents are encouraged to leave their lights on to let the kids know where the treats are. The constable said if you choose not to partake, don’t call him to complain about “tricks”.

    Willie Johnson down at Willie’s Bait, Tackle, and Trapping Supply tells me he has a new venture he’s all kinds of fired up about. Despite America being great again, fur prices are still at rock bottom and Willie plans to make better use of his raccoon catch by selling what he calls a “Coon Pr*ck Toothpick.”

    Yes, you read that right, Willie plans on selling ‘coon willys to use as a toothpick. Willie assured me he hasn’t forgotten to take his medication; apparently it’s something his family in Virginia made for generations. According to him, back in the day people would save a raccoon's penis bone, boil it to render it truly clean, and sharpen one end to use as a toothpick. Skeptical, I went to the library on a trip to town and checked in the Foxfire Books. They truly used the whole animal back then. 

    I reminded Willie we’re several states and at least one bloodline away from Old Dominion, but he’s sure it’ll be a hit, and asked me to let you all know you can get yours by sending $5.00 to:


    Willie’s Bait, Tackle & Trapping Supply

    RD 1

    Wipjibber Mountain PA, 16000

    Folks, skeptical as I am I haven’t seen Willie this excited since he come to town telling to show off the first bobcat he ever caught. Of course said bobcat was actually Marge Tillinghast’s cat, but in Willie's defense she always did over feed the feline.

    Well that’s about it for now, until next time. Drive safe and watch for deer.

  5. Linda Roorda
    Latest Entry

    It seems we often want our way regardless of how anyone else feels.  That old “give-and-take” attitude I remember growing up with seems to be lacking... all too evident among those who mock and bully others, even within today’s world of politics… where a war of words has erupted yet again.  It seems like absolute truth and moral or ethical standards have become a negative, cause for ridicule… while relativism, or determining our own truth as we want it to be, is more often revered. 


    Authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens are now suspect, apparently not worth our reading in today’s political correctness.  They, like many others, wrote about the way life was as experienced while they walked upon this earth.  The Wilder Award in literature has been renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because Wilder used words of a different era, inappropriate for today.  We were appalled at censorship, banning and burning of books many years ago, yet even now we walk a fine line of what is appropriate.  We disallow our children to read of life in other times when words or language we now recognize as inappropriate was used.  Even our Holy Bible is not accepted at times because it might offend.


    Yet, as discerning parents, we did not allow our children to read a few certain books in high school.  We discussed why they were inappropriate reading material with both our children and school personnel.  We were told by the principal that, because we calmly explained our objections, the school graciously saw our valid points and gave alternative reading material.  In Jenn’s case, after giving one particular oral book report, two classmates told her they wished they’d read that book instead, too.  A true story, it showed a quality of character in the challenges a young man faced as an Olympian runner diagnosed with cancer.  Unable to compete, he turned to helping inner city under-privileged kids. 


    The book read by the rest of the class, however, was filled with gratuitous sex, filthy language, and mocking of parental/family values – found when I simply opened the book at random junctures.  Actually, the teacher told his students to seek their parents’ permission to read that book!  And, apparently, if the kids actually showed it to their parents, I was the only one who said “no way!”  Even the school board was shocked to learn what that book held, and it was pulled from the school’s recommended reading list.  There truly is a time for discernment of right and wrong with respect. 


    My poem here began to flow with news of the violence and tearing down of our nation’s historical monuments in the summer of 2017.  Removing such historical memorials does not erase or change history.  There are lessons learned in those memories earned.  We’ve come so far.  We’ve grown in understanding and acceptance.  Isn’t that cause for celebration rather than condemnation?  Our differences can be teachable moments.  That’s what Freedom of Speech is all about… with a chance to show love and respect even in our disagreement, revealing true tolerance.


    Tolerance, by definition, is an ability to be fair, to accept a viewpoint which is different, and to bear with another in realizing that the opposition also has rights… without approving wrong by our silence.  Perhaps we remember that society’s Golden Rule (which promotes tolerance, when you think about it), actually comes from the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law…” (Matthew 7:12a) 


    Yet, tolerance is not a license to do anything we want at will.  A moral society adheres to absolute truths of right and wrong, or it breaks down without this solid foundation.  We should certainly be cognizant and tolerant of others’ opinions or beliefs, respecting our differences… but, that does not mean we have to tolerate rude or foul language, or abusive, bullying, or violent behavior.  Tolerance is not freedom to persist in traveling down a wrong path.  There are consequences for everything we do... and there is a time and place for speaking out respectfully against inappropriate words or actions. 


    So, where did tolerance go?  Too often, it seems tolerance is relegated to that which accepts and promotes a particular politically-correct agenda to the exclusion of the opposing view… and regards differing perspectives as not having validity to be honored.  What happened to our ability to show respect through appropriate discussion?  What happened to true Freedom of Speech?  Why the hate-filled, foul-worded, disrespectful language?  Why violence with riots and angry rhetoric to disallow conservative or religious speakers on college campuses?  What is there to be afraid of?  That others might actually have valid points, different than your own perspective?


    Fear of a differing opinion by engaging in anger and wrath toward that with which one disagrees serves no good purpose.  We have heard violent mobs calling for their rights… while proclaiming how tolerant they are.  Seems to me that violence as a coercive bully tactic is anything but tolerance.  Perhaps it would be wise to observe that true tolerance… the courtesy to listen, even agreeing to disagree… comes by respecting another’s viewpoint, their freedom of speech, without the backlash of vitriolic speech and/or destructive violence.


    When morality steps up and extends a hand in true respect, we’re living out the ancient Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Given by God to Moses for the Jewish nation during its exodus from Egyptian slavery, these words serve us well as a moral foundation even in today’s modern society.  Doing our best to live out Jesus’ words in what we call the Golden Rule, we show great love and respect for others… just as we wish to be treated.  With this love, and acceptance of those with whom we disagree, we embody Christ’s love, for “love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.”  (I Corinthians 13:6 NIV)


    Linda A. Roorda


    Could I but live a life that was safe

    I wouldn’t question the wrongs encountered.

    I would not wrestle with problems I face

    Or troubles inherent with consequent strife.


    For if I the bad from this life expunged

    I’d then have left the best for display.

    My life would exist by my design

    For my benefit and pleasure alone.


    Remove the memories and mask the failures

    Fashion the remains to what I deem fit.

    Let visible be selfish ambition

    My life according to myself and me.


    I have no tolerance for views but mine

    My way is right and suspect is yours.

    I demand my way and fight you I will

    If only to prove entitled am I.


    Yet what I now see is your hand held out

    Bearing a gift, tolerance by name.

    You’ve come to my aid and lift me up

    To help me stand with dignity tall.


    There’s a price, you see, for this freedom shared

    It’s a cost in red that flowed for us all.

    And it grants relief from oppression’s fist

    That your words and mine comingle in peace.


    08/18/17 – 08/30/17

    All rights reserved.

    May not be reproduced without permission of author.



  6. Not long ago, I welcomed the opportunity to join local Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to announce a package of state grants to many of the region’s public libraries. These grants, we both have long agreed, are among New York State’s smartest and most effective investments. This specific funding is distributed through New York’s Library Construction Grant Program. 

    The 2018-19 state budget increases funding for this vital program to $34 million. Overall, this year’s state budget is a strong one for libraries. Although Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed to cut state library aid this year, the Legislature rejected the governor’s cuts and, instead, increased funding. The final budget provides $96.6 million in state aid to libraries, including the $34-million investment in capital and construction aid. 

    I have also worked over the past three years to secure additional funding totaling more than $380,000 that has been allocated to individual libraries comprising the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Library Systems. A public library is a vital community resource. I’m hopeful these grants will help local libraries in the face of difficult fiscal challenges.

    According to the New York State Library, which administers the construction grants, surveys have estimated that the cost of public library construction and renovation needs statewide totals more than $1.7 billion. More than 51% of the over 1,000 public library buildings across New York are over 60 years old. Another 33% are more than three decades old. Many of the state’s local public libraries are unable to accommodate users with disabilities, and cannot provide Internet, computer, and other electronic technologies to users because of outdated and inadequate electrical wiring. They also do not have sufficient space to house the library's collection and lack sufficient space for public access computers.

    Construction grants are critical to the mission to help individual libraries and library systems make renovations and upgrades, update electrical wiring to accommodate computer technology, renovate facilities to provide wheelchair accessible entrances and become fully accessible to persons with disabilities, and provide community meeting spaces.

    Three years ago, Assemblyman Palmesano and I sponsored a new law (Chapter 480 of the Laws of 2015) that, for the first time, included “installation and infrastructure of broadband services” as a specific project category eligible to receive funding through the Library Construction Grant Program. Prior to the law’s enactment, libraries were unable to access funding through the popular grant program specifically for broadband purposes including cable, wiring and modems, and network terminals and access points.

    A public library is a fundamental resource for area families, seniors, and countless other community residents. We are always hopeful that these grants will help local libraries better afford and address their renovation needs. Public libraries, especially in many rural, upstate communities and regions, are New York’s leading digital literacy educators, just one of many vital community roles our libraries fulfill. This role is likely to expand in future years. These ongoing investments will help more and more public libraries stay ahead of the curve to continue meeting the increasing demand. 

    In recent years, I have been particularly proud to receive the New York Library Association’s “Outstanding Advocate for Libraries Award” and to be one of only seven state senators to receive the “Library Champion Award” from New Yorkers for Better Libraries.

    Most importantly, these recognitions are reflective of the strong commitment that’s needed in Albany for libraries – a commitment that must keep growing. It’s why I have been especially supportive of library aid, which is fundamental to helping libraries and library systems make renovations and upgrades to their facilities. Library aid is an investment in economic growth and workforce development, overall educational quality, and it produces a substantial return by making an enduring, positive difference for many local communities.

    Here is the key fact from the state Education Department that makes the case: Every dollar invested in state library aid returns seven dollars in local library services

  7. The set of articles in this story were located in The Elmira Telegram and The Star-Gazette, Elmira, N. Y.  If anyone is offended by this article due to proximity of location or relationship to those in this story, please contact me. I find the article very interesting. It not only tells the sad story of this family but also gives us a snapshot of a families life back in 1917 in the Town of Chemung.  - Mary Ellen

    The stories were transcribed verbatim. Special Thanks to Mike Tuccinardi for uncovering this unusual piece of history of the town.


    Elmira Star-Gazette   Wednesday January 10, 1917 

    Murder in Second Degree Charge Against Bentley

    Evident That District Attorney Is Convinced William Bentley Did Not Premeditate Slaying of John Albee – Victim Buried in Cayuta but Son Does Not Care to Attend.



    Murder in the second degree will be the charge against William Bentley, the aged slayer of John Albee, so stated District Attorney Personius this noon.
    “I am going to put all the facts before the grand jury,” continued the district attorney. “When the grand jury sits on January 22 I shall summon all the witnesses before them and after they have told their stories I shall leave the matter in the hands of the grand jurors.”
    “The stories told by the witnesses conflict on a number of important points. After listening to each of the witnesses I cannot now say which story is correct.”
    Coroner Hammond this afternoon said he would hold an inquest either Friday or Saturday.
    Attorney Michael O’Connor representing William Bentley, today said he had no statement to issue regarding his client other than he issued yesterday when he said the public would get a different impression of the case when all the facts are known
    David J. Albee did not express a desire to attend the funeral of his father, which was held this afternoon at the homestead in Cayuta. He remains in a witness cell in the county jail.
    It is said that David Albee has been on two occasions in a hospital for the insane and received treatment. Those who have recently talked with the young man were impressed with the evidence that his mind is not as clear as it might be.
    District Attorney Personius, his assistant Attorney Leo Waxman, Sheriff Hoke and a stenographer were present this morning about two hours while Mrs. William Bentley related her version of the affair in detail. The statement made by Mrs. Bentley was recorded by the stenographer and later will be transcribed. As soon as Mrs. Bentley left the district attorney’s office she was interviewed by Attorney Michael O’Connor representing the defendant.
    It was learned today that the bruises on the right side of David J. Albee’s face were not caused by the encounter with William Bentley on the night of the slaying, but were inflicted on Saturday afternoon. It was while William Bentley and David Albee were driving home from Springs Corners, Pa., where they obtained liquor, that Bentley struck his horse a blow with his whip, the horse darted forward and David fell from the wagon, injuring his face.
    "DID HE CRY 'HALT'?"
    Information also comes in a round- about way that William Bentley is claimed to have warned Albee to halt before the shot was fired. This is a matter which probably will be brought out at the coroner’s inquest.
    William Bentley has told his version of the case for the last time, until he is called to the witness stand in his own behalf. Attorney O’Connor after talking with Bentley yesterday advised the prisoner not to discuss the case with anyone. The man has told his story to the district attorney and to his lawyer. Mr. O’Connor does not wish him to discuss it with anyone else.
    The fact that District Attorney Personius will place only a charge of murder in the second degree against the prisoner shows that the authorities are satisfied that there was no premeditation before the shot was fired.
    Attorney O’Connor today was unable to say whether he would be able to offer bail when Bentley is arraigned before Judge Swartwood.
    Elmira Star-Gazette Thursday January 25, 1917

    William Bentley Is Given Liberty 
    Walks From Jail a Free Man Today
    No Indictment For Killing Albee

    Chemung Man Weeps When He Hears of His Release –
    Says He Had No Reason to Kill His Old Friend and
    Blames the Victim’s Son for What Happened –
    Intends to Leave Whiskey Alone – Hopes to Save His Home
    William Bentley, of Chemung, walked from the county jail shortly after 1:30 o’clock this afternoon a free man. The grand jury which considered his case reported at 10:30 o’clock this morning to Justice Kiley in Supreme court that they had found no indictment against the man who killed John Albee, of Cayuta, two weeks ago last Sunday morning. Thus did William Bentley satisfy the grand jurors that the shooting was an accident.

    Shortly after the grand jury reported, Bentley was visited in his cell in the county jail. When informed that he would shortly be a free man the tears flowed from Bentley’s eyes and for a few minutes he sat weeping on the edge of the steel bunk he has occupied for nineteen nights and days. 
    Recovering himself he arose and said, “I had no reason to kill John Albee. We had always been close friends and if there was any way to bring him back to life I would be only too glad even to give my own life for him. When it was said that I stood and waited for him to come down the stairs and then shot him it was a lie. It was that woman, that Mrs. John Albee, that was the cause of all the trouble. She has been to my home several times and made trouble. When I was living in Lockwood she came to my house to see her mother, who is my wife, got drunk and had trouble with a man named Miller. Some time ago she left her home in Cayuta and said she was going to Binghamton to see her daughter, who was sick, but she came to my house at Chemung, went over to the hotel and got drunk and the hotel keeper brought her to my house along in the night.”
    “She wants to get my home from me in Chemung which was deeded to me by Aunt Martha Rorick. That’s what the trouble was about that night. She has fixed it up with the Crispins to get hold of the place and sell it to them, for Crispin wants to buy it. I took Aunt Martha to keep for the place and she deeded it to me if I would keep her. She has been sick since I took her and I have had to pay doctor bills and in lifting her I got a bad hernia so that I now am not able to lift hardly anything. The night of the trouble she wanted me to let her take Aunt Martha and keep her and have the home where I live. She did not want to pay me anything for keeping Aunt Martha for two years and I have gone on and improved the place, hauled stone to lay a foundation and improve the house and I have set out fruit trees and done a lot of work about that place. She is the one who is responsible for all this trouble and she goes free.”
    “Since I have been here in jail I have had other trouble. I had a fine horse that I was offered, $65 for just before I was brought here. The other night the man who was taking care of it for me tied it too long and it cast itself and lay there all night in the stall and a part of the next day. When the horse was found down it was so bruised and injured that it was sold for $10. Now they are trying to take my home from me, but I guess they can’t do that.”
    “I don’t blame that David Albee for anything. He is not just right. On that night when I went to the top of the stairs before the shooting he jumped from bed and I guess he would have punched out one of my eyes, if his father, John, had not got out of bed and stopped him. John pulled David off me. They said I was not upstairs, but they found my hat up there after it was all over. The district attorney found it and that proved that I was upstairs. Some of the others said I was not up there. If John Albee had come down stairs first there would have been no shooting, for he would have kept David off me, but David grabbed me and pulled my coat over my head. That’s the reason I did not see John or know the shot had struck him when the gun went off.  John would have stopped that fight if he had been down stairs before David. Let me tell you, David is responsible for his own condition now, so I don’t blame him.”
    “What about leaving whiskey alone, now that you are out of this trouble?” was asked Bentley.
    “I said that if I get out of this trouble whiskey will never bother me again. This has been enough.”
    Attorney Michael O’Connor, representing Bentley, was pleased when the grand jury reported no indictment against his client. “I was satisfied that when all the facts were told Mr. Bentley would be freed,” said Mr. O’Connor. “From the very first I was convinced that the unfortunate shooting was accidental.”
    Mr. Bentley this afternoon started for his home in Chemung to join his wife.  He intends to pay for keeping Mrs. Rorick during the time he has been in jail. Bentley will live at his Chemung home for a time at least.
    At no time has any formal charge been placed against Bentley who is now in his sixty-third year. Brought to this city from Chemung by Sheriff Hoke within a few hours after the shooting he has been held in the county jail on an open charge.

  8. by Erin Doane

    On August 4, 1904, a 14,920-pound siege gun arrived in Millport. The artillery piece was made by the Fort Pitt Foundry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for use during the Civil War. The army shipped it to Millport from Liberty Island, New York to serve as a monument to the local soldiers and sailors who had served in the war.


    Dozens of men from Millport served during the Civil War. Many enlisted in the 50th New York Engineers. Company G was almost entirely recruited from village. The regiment built roads, battery position, forts, and bridges. It was attached to the Army of the Potomac and saw action at Yorktown, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Rappahannock Station. The men of the 50th were at Appomattox Court House to witness the surrender of General Lee and his army.  

    In 1883, veterans of the war established Post 416 G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) in Millport. The post was named for Private Wilson Dean who was a member of Company A, 89th New York Volunteers. He had enlisted in Catharine in 1864 at the age of 27. He was captured in Cold Harbor, Virginia and died at Andersonville. In 1904, members of the Wilson Dean post arranged to create a monument to honor its namesake and all the others who had fought during the war.


    The siege gun was brought to Millport on a flat rail car which was shunted onto a Pennsylvania Railroad siding. From there, it was up to the people of the village to get the gun to its final location in the Millport Cemetery. The cemetery was almost a mile from the railroad siding and some 400 feet up a steep dirt road. The cannon was moved onto a low wheeled rig provided by the Reeves Machine Works. It took ten teams of horses and additional men hauling on ropes to move the piece to the cemetery. People cheered the workers along the way and, after several pauses to rest, the gun was placed on a concrete base in the northwest section of the cemetery near the graves of several Civil War veterans. Its barrel was pointed toward the south.


    The monument was officially dedicated on October 13, 1904 at a daylong celebration. At 11 o’clock in the morning, G.A.R. members and other citizens marched to the cemetery. Post commander R.B. Davidson delivered opening remarks which were followed by the singing of a patriotic song and a prayer by Rev. E. Burroughs. Several young Millport girls then pulled strings which let the drapery that had been covering the cannon fall way. The crowd sang another patriotic song then listened to an address given by Dr. Robert P. Bush, a distinguished orator from Horseheads and a Chemung County assemblyman.


    The festivities did not end there, however. At noon, the G.A.R. members and their guests returned to the village and had dinner at the Baptist Church. At 1:30pm, additional dedication exercises and speeches took place at the masonic hall. Sherman P. Moreland of Van Etten gave the keynote address. There was then a reception held to honor the surviving members of the famous 48th Regimental Band. There was singing, addresses, music, and stories by veterans. Coffee and hardtack were served at the close of the evening.

    For almost 90 years, the cannon stood guard over the Millport Cemetery. Over the years, however, the monument suffered from the effects of weather and the occasional vandal. The concrete base had begun to crumble, and the gun and pyramid of cannonballs, which had been painted silver at some point, were looking worn.


    In the summer of 1991, Duane Hills, commander of the Elmira Sons of Union Veterans, and a crew of his men went to the Millport cemetery four time to restore the monument to its former glory. They patched the concrete, removed graffiti, and repainted the gun and cannonballs. On October 13, 1991, they hosted a small ceremony to rededicated the memorial. At the conclusion of the event, fifteen men dressed in Union uniforms fired a rifle volley in honor of those who had served during the Civil War.


    Erin Doane is the curator at the Chemung County Historical Society. To read more of their blog, go to http://chemungcountyhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com

  9. If someone told you that you could go back in time to a day of your choice and change it, would you? 

    I asked one of my sisters that question and she immediately answered "No, I have no regrets".   "I'm not talking about regrets" I said, "Is there any one day or incident that you would change if you could"?  Her answer remained a firm "no".   

    For me one moment in particular came to mind, a snowy day in January, 1978.  "I would have left the laundry soap in the car" I told her.   "Regret is a waste of time" she said.  I didn't see it that way at the time but Sis was right, I was talking about regret.

    January, 1978, was a very snowy month and another storm had hit the area two or three days prior to that day so there was still a foot plus of snow on the ground. I was unloading the car after shopping for our second son's first birthday celebration.  Maintainence for the apartment complex where we living had still not cleared the sidewalks so I was being careful.  All bags were in the house except for the laundry soap.  

    "Leave it" my husband said, "I'll bring it up later".  

    I should have listened.

    While carrying that single bottle back to the apartment I slipped and fell.  I don't know what happened because I didn't feel anything.  There was enough snow to cushion my fall and all I was aware of was the loud pop I heard echo through the apartment buildings.  Evidently, that was the sound of breaking bones.  When I tried to get up I found I couldn't move.  I tried a couple of times but I just couldn't move and I didn't know why.  Luckily someone saw me fall and my struggle to move and the next thing I know Hubby's kneeling by me telling me not to move.  My ankle was shattered and the two bones above the ankle were broke.

    I can still see the faces of my two little boys watching from the bedroom window as I was loaded into the ambulance.  Their tears broke my heart.

    In the operating room they told me my toes were where my heel should have been.  I was in a cast up to my hip from January until July and then a cast from the knee down until September.  That was nothing compared to the fact that I missed my son's first birthday. 

    To add further insult to  injury, two weeks prior to the accident I had interviewed for a position as a nurse at the Elmira Psych Center.  The call that the position was mine came while I was in the hospital so I had to decline the offer.  

    Thinking about the four surgeries, bone grafts, many, many casts and knowing I have not had a pain free day in 40 years because of that accident I was positive.  "Yep, the laundry soap would have stayed in the car that day", that's the moment I would have changed.

    But then I started thinking about how my life and that of my family's might have been different if I changed that moment all those years ago. 

    Working at the Psych Center meant I wouldn't have taken the various jobs through the years working with several different lawyers, which in turn eventually led me to my last position as a Court Clerk.  I would have met and worked with different people.  I wouldn't have met my youngest son's wife who also worked at the same municipality.  If I hadn't met her my son wouldn't have either and we wouldn't have the two wonderful grandchildren they gave us including our only granddaughter. 

    So many little things that would have changed that I couldn't even realize or the effects those changes would cause.

    If I had been able to accept that position at the Psych Center I believe that eventually the home we bought would have been a different home.  Our boys would have grown up in a different neighborhood,  met different friends, probably worked at different jobs.  It's also possible my other sons may not have met the wonderful women they would eventually marry.   

    So many things probably would have changed, some minor but some could have been major and definitely life altering, possibly not at all positive.  Changes that could have been much worse than a few broken bones.

    The difficulties we have dealt with through the years resulting from that snowy January day have made us the family we are now.  My sons grew up seeing their father cooking, cleaning, doing dishes and laundry every time I was  recovering from another surgery or was in a cast.  He has always been and continues to be my helpmate.  To this day he's always concerned about me falling.  I'd like to believe that in some small way my sons are the caring, loving, hands on husbands and fathers they are because of the example set by their Dad through the years.

    I will admit to having many "why me" moments through the years and will probably have more of them in the years to come.  I try to keep to myself during those moments because I will admit to sometimes being a bit irritable.  Hubby always knows when I'm having a bad day.  On the plus side I always know when it's going to rain or snow and that can come in handy.  I have often joked that in a past life I was a very mean, unpleasant diva ballet dancer who is paying for her actions in this lifetime.  

    Was that day just a random accident or did things happen exactly the way they were supposed to happen?  A long time ago someone once told me that everything happens for a reason and I've come to believe that is true.  I was wrong when I told my sister I wasn't talking about regrets because that's exactly what I was feeling.  Regret for a choice I made on that long ago day and the consequences of that decision.  

    I will admit Sis had more wisdon than I did at that time.  Regrets are a waste of time and I now try not to let that emotion into my life.  Despite the daily aching joints and difficulty walking most days, I wouldn't change that day or any other.   All those days, moments and choices through the years have led me to where and who I am right this moment.  It may not be a perfect life but it has been and continues to be a good life shared with those I love most. 

    If offered the opportunity to go back in time and change any one day or moment of my choice my answer would also be a firm "no thank you". 

     Have you ever had one of those moments?  What would you do?



    All rights reserved.  


  10. You know how you’ve always talked about the things you would do if you “only had the time”?

    What if suddenly you found you had the time to do them?

    Would you sit on your couch all day, swiping aimlessly at the screen of your phone, reading the mindless drivel on Facebook? Look at pictures of other peoples’ meals and political views all day?

    Would you argue with complete strangers and pseudo-celebrities on Twitter about things that really, in the grand scheme of things matter little?

    Would you sit around all day watching TV, as the world and time goes on?

    Shut off television. Deactivate your social media accounts and put your phone on silent mode. Those texts will wait. Better yet, shut it off for the day.

    Get up early and get dressed every morning. No lounging all day in your pajamas. Go for a walk and see the world. Find inspiration in the world, the REAL world, around you like you used to. Hang out with your kids and do something with them. They’ve needed you and have been waiting for this moment as well.

    Schedule time for those creative endeavors you’ve half assed all these years. Write, play music, paint… CREATE!

    Get to those projects around the house you’ve wanted to do and do them well.

    Do what you love, re-learn how to be the person you once were. The person you’ve always meant to be.

    You have time. But you won’t always.