Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter in Upstate New York

 As things have been slow on the genealogy –front around here, I’m posting a writing that I did from a prompt I got from Amy Coffin in her The Big Genealogy Blog Book, which I have started using to try to record childhood memories and stories from farther back. Even if you don’t blog, it is great to use some of these prompts to get you thinking and record those memories for future generations. Who knows, you might even be able to create a book out of them!
We lived when I was growing up in the 1970s below where the Lake Effect storms from Lake Ontario usually hit, so our storms weren’t that bad. We’d get at least one blizzard each winter that dumped a foot or more of snow on the ground before it ended, but nothing like what the Tug Hill plateau an hour or so away got. Winter was cold and snowy, but to a kid it was just normal.

In front of the barn after a storm

I looked forward to sledding in the backyard and building snow forts. I had an active imagination and would drag the sled all over the place going on expeditions and building outposts and houses in “the wilderness” of our yard. For much of my childhood there were two other yards that I was free to play in, making quite a stretch of area for me. Next to our house was a building that contained my mother’s craft shop where she sold crafting supplies, just beyond that was a mobile home site where my brother lived. Therefore, these two backyards were free reign and used.

Mostly I was playing alone with my imagination, as I was an “almost-only” child as my parents termed it. At other times my brother had his sons there and I played with them- just 5 and 7 years younger than me, they are far closer in age to me than my brothers who were 17 and 21 already when I was born.

One activity from the other seasons that I missed was camping. I loved going camping and except for a few rare trips, the camper was in storage for the winter. In fourth, sixth and eighth grades, though, it came out was loaded up and we headed out on an extended campout. The first night would be in southern Virginia, the next night in the Carolinas or Georgia and by the third night we’d be in Florida where we remained for about three weeks. 

Camping about 1974 or 75

I can’t remember many changes in food during the winter months. There were the special days with special, more elaborate meals to be sure. Christmas dinner, Mom’s birthday, Dad’s birthday and then near spring, Easter. Otherwise, it was routine, we weren’t grilling out so there were less hot dogs and macaroni salad. I’m sure there was more hearty winter type food on the menu, roasts and stews, but nothing drastic enough to make a child notice. Mom never panicked over storms either. If we got snowed in, well, we would be snowed in. There was plenty of food in the cupboards and the freezer to last out any storm. About the only thing that might run short would be milk and there was always a box of powdered milk used more in baking, but could be brought out if necessary.

Dad's truck
We were country, but our road was a main north and south route from the village of Moravia, north along the lake to the city of Auburn. It would likely be one of the first in the area plowed out. Dad would have the drives cleared and if necessary, could swing south five miles to the village for added supplies easily with his four-wheel drive truck. He usually headed north to work in the morning, but on occasion he’d go just about a mile and turn around. The town of Moravia had plowed, but the town of Niles hadn’t yet, so when he got to the town line, he changed his route. Back he’d come, tooting as he went by to let Mom know the roads were exceptionally bad and also to expect school would be closing I imagine. Into Moravia, a quick right at the first four corners and he was on “the state road”, Route 38 north along the other side of the lake into Auburn. This took a little longer, but in those instances was the best choice.

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