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Title: Upstate NY has always been part of me
Note:

This is a letter written to Pauline Anderson, Roger's mother's first cousin.  Date of letter is unknown.

 

Photos show Rog as a young boy with Philo Proper and his sons. Roger mentions Philo's farm in this essay...

Author: Roger Robison
Date: December 31, 2000

I've been reading WHERE THE BLUEBIRD SINGS TO THE LEMONADE SPRINGS by Wallace Stegner.  Much of it is about what it means to live in the West with aridity, perpetual lack of water, boom - and - bust mentality, etc.

 

In the first major section, "Finding a Place: A Migrant childhood," something else impressed me. He had to move around a lot, even more than our kids had to do, and he speaks of how crucially important it is to "have a place."

 

There were two times in his life when he felt settled down, one in Eastend, Saskatchewan, and the other in Salt Lake City.

 

After all these years, Stegner awakened me to something I'd been ignoring about my own life  Lots of times when someone says, "Oh, you grew up in New York," I've hurried to say, "Not in NYCity. It was very different, and I haven't lived there since I went away to college."

 

But I didn't really move away, in the sense that upstate NY has always been part of me. It was Gloversville, a small industrial town with its smelly skin mills. It was Caroga Lake, a wonderful escape which most people didn't have. And much more. Low rolling wood-covered hills (We called them mountains) and a lot of small farms. I used to go with my Dad to Philo Proper's farm near Mayfield... a pretty poor stab at making a living for Propers... a few cows to be milked in a dark smelly barn... some brush where we hunted rabbits. And there were times when we went to the Anderson farm out of Broadalbin.. a nicer milk barn and a big cream separator in the kitchen... Mohawk Valley... Cranberry Creek... Mountain Road with huge boulders and the Pinnacle... Peck's Pond, where Dad and a friend had to stay on an island all night when heavy fog moved in.

 

In recent years when you've helped me find some roots through family tree-ing, some of this has come back. Gooseberry Mountain and the Vly. I can't remember actually going to the Vly but my grandmother and mother spoke of it so much it was quite real... a wet, spooky place.

 

I have no regrets about coming West, Wallace Stegner, but I sort of wish I had awakened sooner to the influence Upstate NY had on me and how good it was to have a PLACE.

 

Just thought you might like to know. Best wishes.

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Updated: 07/03/15