Monday, November 10, 2008

A Visit To The Old Campus, the Finger Lakes and the Hudson Valley

GENEVA, NY -- I'm typing this at the library of my old college -- Hobart College on the northern shores of Seneca Lake, the biggest of the long lakes in the Finger Lakes of central New York state.

I'm taking a 1,200-mile New York state sidetrip off my Baltimore trip to see close friends in the Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes.

On Thursday night I made a pitstop to see Wayne Hall, a zenmaster nature writer who was my newspaper mentor at the Middletown Times Herald-Record. He's in Cornwall-on-Hudson, a quaint village on the Hudson River on the other side of Storm King Mountain from that place where they train Army leaders called West Point.

Here's a photo of Wayne at his house and some shots along and near the Hudson River.

I also stopped at the famous Commodore Chocolate store in Newburgh, owned by Crazy (John) Courtsunis. Courtsunis owns his famous chocolate business on Broadway, a shell of a business district in Newburgh, but his business keeps on chugging along.

Friday, it was a 60-mile trek north on the New York State Thruway to Saugerties, home of my old Times Herald-Record photographer pal and fellow New York Mets fan Phil Kamrass. Phil and his wife Eileen have two spunky daughters, Sophia, 6, and Stella, 2, and it wonderful to chew on old times with Phil.

Next up Saturday was Auburn in the Finger Lakes, about 25 miles west of Syracuse, to see Mindy Donnelly, who I used to work with at the Auburn Citizen and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.

And Sunday was spent with Mary Hedglon, who I met 25 years ago when I was a cub reporter working as an intern in the Auburn bureau of the Syracuse Post-Standard. Mary and her husband Gary have two kids -- Christopher, 16, and Elizabeth, 15 -- a pair of amazingly bright teens who know more about politics and life than most college students.

Mary is a talented writer who works at the public relations office at Cornell University in Ithaca, serves as the children's librarian at the impressive library in the village of Seneca Falls and has a zoo full of animals at her family's house in the land between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.

Here's Mary at the library.

Her son, Cristopher, worked for the local state senator, Mike Nozzolio, on his recent political campaign and also works at several local restaurants in the Geneva-Seneca Falls area. Here's Christopher at an artwork along the canal between Seneca Falls and Waterloo. Christopher tends to side on the Republican side of the aisle -- but the kid is still young at 16.

And today here I am at Hobart and William Smith Colleges -- 25 years plus later after I graduated in the spring of 1983. The campus is filled with new buildings and the first floor of the library is no longer filled with card catologues and overstuffed chairs. It's officially called the "Rosenzweig Learning Commons," and it's filled with computers and cherry-wood countertops.

It's cold -- probably about 32 degrees or so -- and gray and flurries are flying. Just what I remember when I used to bike to campus and around campus.

I did make it to the art center to see the artwork made by my close friend Bruce Graham, an architect now from Fairfield, Ct., who was one oif my best friends at Hobart. He did this artwork in the summer of 1984 as a statement about architecture in America. Here are some shots from this morning.

Some things are timeless.


GhostRider said...

I used to live in Cornwall...back in the days when my father was an instructor at West Point. One of my only memories of that time was looking at Storm King Mountain and marveling at it.

Neal said...


It must feel really unusual to be back in Geneva!! What is the town like at this point? According to Trek, the local bike shop in downtown Geneva is one of the top 100 bike shops in the country!! If that's true, than a lot has changed.