Saturday, March 13, 2010

Corning and points beyond

After a short, last minute detour for two days in Buffalo, we have made it to Corning, NY at last. My sister is blowing glass at the Corning glass museum for 3 weeks to audition for a job as a glass blower on a cruise ship. Since this meant that she was on the East Coast for the first time since October, we decided to come see her.

Today was genealogy day. My father's family lived in this area for most of the 19th century, and so today we all piled into our car (my mom, sister, Jim, Annika and I) and went graveyard hopping and old house hunting. We found a graveyard that was built on land donated by my great-grandmother's great-grandfather, who was also a Revolutionary War soldier. We found his grave, along with many, many other relatives in the 3 graveyards we visited in Barton, Ellistown, and Elmira. We also found my grandfather's childhood home in Elmira on W. Clinton Street, near the corner with Davis Street. I can't believe we found it. I only have one photo of it, from approximately 1906, and we found it based on that photo and a mention in a wedding announcement of the name of the street where he and his family lived. We drove up and down W. Clinton Street (a major street near Elmira College), and suddenly a house caught my eye. I took a few photos, not sure if it was the right one. Then, when we got back to the hotel, I compared it with the photo I uploaded to Flickr, and it's very clearly the same house. At this point, the house is in pretty rough shape. We also learned that Elmira College tore down the house where my grandfather's parents lived, on Davis Street.

Other highlights: we drove by the "Bare Facts," a very classy "gentlemen's club" somewhere on Rt. 17 in between Barton and Waverly. It was in a not-so-glorified trailer, and was located just down the street from the dilapidated "Cat's Pajamas" bed-and-breakfast inn. Makes you wonder how business is these days. This area is very rural and quite depressed at this point. There are lots of farms, silos, open land, and old houses that are either abandoned or have not been cared for in a long time. In the cities, the architecture is mostly Victorian, and the houses, though often in bad shape, are beautiful examples of Victorian architecture. Of the cities, Corning seems to be in the best shape, probably because they still have an industry here that keeps people employed.

Yesterday, Annika went swimming for the first time, in the pool at the hotel where we're staying. She seemed to like it, although at first, she didn't know what to make of it and held on to me tightly. After our swim, we went to dinner at "the Gaffer" bar and grille (gaffer is another name for a glass blower). It was really nice, and Annika met a new friend, a little boy named Trent (nickname: Trotter), who was 18 months old. Annika spent all of dinner turned around in her high chair, starring at Trotter.

Tomorrow we hope to see the glass museum before we head back to Boston, and hopefully some normalcy after some pretty difficult weeks.

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