The daylight was waning as I pushed down hard on my ten speeds pedals and powered the bike up Bleecker Street towards the Parkway. The aroma of tomato sauce wafts out the windows and vents of the large two family homes and Italian restaurants that dot this area of Utica. I hear a loud conversation from an apartment above, I look up at the porch of one of these homes and meet the eyes of an elderly man with a white tank top t-shirt sitting there watching me go by. The talking fades, drowned out by a truck going by. Bleecker Street is busy with people and is vibrant because it is home to many colorful, mostly Italian-American small businesses. The many interesting people, smells, sounds, scenarios and landmarks always make this an interesting part of my bike rides. AsI look at the window of a furniture store with ornate satiny furniture in the window, I watch my blurry reflection as it passes quickly by and is cut-off by two middle aged Italian men who don't even look up as I pass. One is looking down with hands in his pockets as the other man animatedly talks with his hands and is consumed with making his point.
Driving by on my bike at 15 to 20 mph, much of what I see is a fragment and a blur. An abstraction of all my senses. As an outsider I can never know the intimacy of this special place
that was East Utica in 1975. Many of the special people, places and things that made Utica special then are gone, however the solidarity and sense of community that made Utica strong and
vibrant, lingers now through the families that lived and loved that intimacy, and still reside here or hope to return.
Monday, March 17, 2008
We often take for granted all that was done by those before us, and especially those 800 men who took up arms, left their families and livelihoods to battle invaders and neighbors, to what end? The patriot force would suffer 450 casualties including the loss of General Herkimer, making it one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution. There were few families in the Mohawk Valley who had not lost a relative or two or three in this bloody civil battle (loyalist against patriots). It was an overwhelming loss for the small community of settlers in the Mohawk Valley.
As I was traveling to Rome one Saturday morning last autumn to make a delivery, I realized I was near the Oriskany Battlefield Monument and decided to take a moment to stop and maybe take a photo. The gate was closed, but I stepped onto the green as the sun was rising over the
eastern edge of the Mohawk Valley. The fall foliage was a magnificent backdrop to the monument which pays tribute to General Herkimer and the milita and Oneida Indians who answered the call of freedom. This is definitely one of those "jewels" of not only the Mohawk Valley, but the whole United States. One that more people in the Mohawk Valley need to know more about. Excuse me... all Americans should know about.
Sorry for the lapse in this blog, I've been kind of focusing on my graphics blog lately and
haven't done too many of my newsletters which are the basis of my blog posts for "Still Alive"