Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I just read my friend and colleague Scott Whipple’s exceptional piece in today’s Herald (Aug. 19) on the nostalgia that captivates him when a new bank opens.

It just so happens that Scott picked my birthday, number 56, on which to write the kind of story that has made him a beloved local legend in our little corner of the world. Between his quotation from “It’s a Wonderful Life” – you remember, an emotional, young Jimmy Stewart, a breathtakingly beautiful Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore’s classic old miser – and my milestone, it got me to waxing nostalgic.

I remember when my Dad got up into his late 70s and 80s that all he wanted to talk about was his past. We had heard the stories so many times but we rarely interrupted him as he painted vivid pictures about a kinder, gentler New Haven, summers at Momauguin (East Haven shoreline) and World War II’s European theater.

I find myself traveling the same path as I reminisce about my 56 years. Almost everything seems to focus on the past, partly because that’s what folks my age tend to do and partly because present trends disturb me.

With the Rock Cats on the road for 12 days, it was the perfect time for Lisa (Mrs. Sportswriter, the best companion a person can have) and me to hit the vacation trail. We’re not the European jet-set type, mind you. Gas prices be damned, we love to hit the road, hug the country lanes instead of the interstates and wind up well off the beaten path where we can discover what’s left of America’s true warmth.

We went to Old Forge, N.Y. Where, you say? Old Forge is a nice destination for folks from Syracuse and Rochester but virtually unheard of this far away. It’s nestled in the southwest corner of the Adirondack Park, a 6-million acre chunk of New York State that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed, “Forever Wild” during his legendary administration over a century ago.

We cruised on a small U.S. mailboat on the pristine Fulton Chain of Lakes. We shopped at the hardware store that resembled something out of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. We drove through Blue Mountain Lake, the quaint town of Inlet and past expansive Raquette Lake, far enough from the commercial urban sprawl that has framed our generation.

On the way back, Lisa graciously allowed me to make my biannual pilgrimage to Cooperstown, the home of the game that has shaped my life. We also went to Howe Caverns – my third visit but Lisa’s first. It will never get tired to jump into an elevator, descend 155 feet into the earth and exit in a 52-degree world of stalactites and stalagmites.

We capped it off by attending the Vintage Base Ball World Series, a recreation of the game as it was in the 1980s, trimmed with plenty of extras to freeze an American scene of long ago.

Nostalgia. Scottie? Lisa? I guess it’s just what old folks do. And at 56, with an aching back, an expanding waist line and a love for what used to be, I certainly qualify.

1 comment:

Ryan Pipke said...

Wow, I went to Howe Caverns when I was about five. I still remember it. Very cool.
And I think you meant the baseball was 1880s style, not 1980s, although even that feels pretty distant compared to today's game now that I think about it.