A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's a Small World

I recently received a letter in the mail that's prompted this post.  But first, some backstory.  Freeville's most famous resident, Amy Dickinson, happened to be an acquaintance of mine long before I even considered moving to Freeville.  She's the syndicated advice columnist of Ask Amy, the successor to Ann Landers.  She also appears regularly on National Public Radio as a panelist on the program "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"  She's written a memoir that spent some time on the bestseller lists, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville."  I feel obligated to read it, if only owing to the title.  But I met her, of all places, in Costa Rica.

In January 2010, I was on a performing and outreach tour across Costa Rica with the Cornell University wind ensemble.  We visited music schools that train students from elementary to high school, conducted workshops with the students, performed concerts for them, and donated used instruments to the schools.  Amy Dickinson was a guest for part of the tour at the invitation of our director to do some blogging and hopefully plug the project on NPR.  As far as I could tell, she had a great time.  I can't locate her tour blog on the web, it seems to have been lost over the years...otherwise, I'd point you to it.

But I recently received a letter from someone who seems to be a "mighty queen" of Freeville, and who also happens to be the village's resident historian.  I had sent an email to her via the town's clerk to inquire about the history of my property, but being of a different generation, she replied in her own manner: a handwritten letter (in cursive, of course!).  She can trace her own family back a few generations in Freeville, and she knows the history of the town, including who owned what and what they used it for over time.  My house - the actual structure - was originally a workshop for repairing carts, for example.  Back then, I doubt it had the nice little front porch that serves as the modern-day entryway.  Whoever converted it into a house did a pretty good job.

She shared some more history of the property with me in the letter, but I'll save that for a later post.  She has offered to meet me in person after the holidays...she says she has quite a few old pictures to show me, and I'm sure there are plenty of stories as well.  I'll also have to clarify some of what she wrote in the letter.  With any luck, maybe I'll be permitted to scan some of them and share them here.  In any event, I wanted to share this with my loyal readers of the blog and let you know that there's still much to look forward to on the blog over the long, cold winter!

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