Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday, June 10, 2006
At Home in the Huddle

This blog is about life in Waterville - a small village in Upstate New York that was first settled in 1792 - and is intended as an adjunct and continuation of a column called "In Timely Manner" which has appeared on a regular basis in the "Waterville Times" for the past two years or more.

In "At Home in the Huddle" the writer will include those social notes and items of interest to the residents of the community as well as to those who once lived in Waterville and also for the edification and/or amusement of those who may read this, in years to come, wondering what life was like in this little village, "long ago."

Although we venture from the hard copy of newsprint to the medium of the internet - an enormous leap in technology - we shall not take that same leap in style and shall continue, as we have in the past, to emulate the precision and prose of those who served this social purpose a century past. The advantages to the writer are several: space limitations and deadlines "Begone!" And - with considerable luck and perserverance - photographs can appear!

This series will assuredly include remarks about the ongoing Department of Transportation Highway Reconstruction Project, the status of crops in outlying fields, announcements of events planned and details of delights experienced at events past, bits of history and early days here, in the "Huddle," but it can be NOTHING without the readers' communiqu├ęs! We shall welcome them whether they arrive by post, by telephone or electronically! To make sure that the latter process can be completed, please note the new address:

Please feel free to share the above URL with friends (or enemies) near or far and most especially with those of our number who are in the Armed Forces who may welcome this small piece of Home.

The primary topic of post office and coffee-shop conversation is the above-mentioned "Highway Reconstruction Project" which, in at least one respect, has turned back the clock in Waterville. If one looks at the picture at the top of the page, taken in 1875, and then stands in Main Street looking in the same general direction, you can see most of the same buildings and the same dirt road! And a rough one it is! Orange and white barrels and pylons mark what could be a gymkhanna course, but no racer would dare exceed Mr. Frank Snell's 1901 record speed of 15 miles an hour.

TIOGA's crews have been concentrating on work in at least three major areas: new granite curbing has been installed along most of Main Street, down Buell Avenue for a few hundred feet and around the Park.

Sidewalk paving on the South side of Main Street is nearly complete, but - on the North side - work has slowed due to the discovery of nearly a dozen 19th-century hatchways - stairways that led from sidewalk to basement levels of each building from the Hotel to Stewart's - for purposes of either delivering essential goods or - as some suggest - enjoying somewhat socially unacceptable forms of entertainment! Most of the old cellar doorways have been blocked up and, as soon as stairwells have been filled in, new sidewalks will be paved.
Grayish-pink brick paving stones - called "pavers" - have been laid between sidewalk and curbing from the former Moon's Barber Shop down to the bank building and around the corner onto White Street. The same will be installed on both sides of Main Street as far as the old Tyler Garage on one side and the Main Street Garage on the other. Square openings have been left for the planting of trees and placement of tree grates, and bases for the Victorian lamp posts are now quite visible.

We have been having an unecessarily generous amount of rain which, we trust, is appreciated as much by farmers as by those incurable optimists who declare that it "makes the colors brighter" and "keeps the dust down!"

Out in the coutryside, field are bright with crops and wildflowers. A particularly bright spot is a “lake” of pink “Gilley Flower” - sometimes called Ragged Robin - just South of Loomis Road next to Route 12. In other areas, the brilliant yellow of mustard makes up in beauty for its otherwise less-desirable presence and, in the village, the primary eye-catchers are frequent beds of Oriental poppies and banks of purple rhodendron.

(to be continued.)