Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Evening Ride Through East Utica

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.
Pat Huther

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