Sunday, August 10, 2008

An Upstate Road Trip

On the way up to the Boehlert reunion at Oneida Lake, Ted and I stopped for two nights at the Bellinger Rose Bed and Breakfast in Herkimer, NY. The b and b is at 611 West German Street in the house that my grandmother, my mother's mother, grew up in. As I said below on July 26th, my great grandfather Dan O'Donnell came from County Sligo in Ireland and settled in Herkimer where he married Bessie Krinion. They had eleven children and lived in a big Victorian house with a front staircase and a back stairs at 611 West German Street. It was the family homestead; my great aunts who I adored lived in the house and it remained in the family until the seventies so my mother and her cousins spent a lot of time in the house growing up, and so did I and my cousins. We're lucky that it's a b and b now which we can visit, run by the friendly and hospitable Chris and Leon Frost. In 2005 I organized a big O'Donnell family reunion at 611 and 100 relatives attended. Here is the Bellingrose Rose, known to me as 611:

On Friday Ted and I drove to Clinton for lunch.

Clinton is a town close to New Hartford where I grew up. Ted and I took the back way to Clinton, over Tibbits Road and Brimfield Street, the way we used to go when we were kids. My mother wanted to move to Clinton. It's an old-fashioned town, with brick buildings and little shops surrounding a village green. Hamilton College is located there. I have a lot of fond memories of Clinton, and I wanted to visit it again. I'm happy to report that Clinton is still busy and prosperous, unlike some other upstate towns.
We had lunch in a little bakery called the Dessert Booth which my high school friend Nanette Dusseault had recommended. The owner came out and said hello. It turns out she was one year behind me at New Hartford High School. She said, "You should come back tonight, it's tapas night. Do you know what tapas are?" I was like, I live in New York City, of course I know what tapas are! But it sounded good, shrimp with apricot, etc.

Back in the car. We drove south to Cooperstown.

Love Cooperstown. Driving in we saw hanging on a house a Confederate flag... and then a sign on someone's front yard which read, "Believe in Jesus or burn in hell. It's your choice," with red flames flickering around the words. Hmmmm....not exactly our kind of neighborhood. But when you reach Cooperstown, it's a beautiful nineteenth century town protected by a historic district perched on the side of the breathtaking Otsego Lake. Besides the Baseball Hall of Fame which everyone mentions first, there is a good art museum and the Glimmerglass Opera in a wonderful theater on the side of the lake. Cooperstown in a fantastic secret: don't tell anyone.

We like to walk around and look at the old houses and lush gardens; Cooperstown reminds me of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.

We walked down a narrow white pebble path through a graveyard.

For dinner, we drove to the Blue Mingo Grill located on the side of the lake. When you see a sign for Sam's Boat Yard, you turn in to the road there and park at the low restaurant on the lake. The porch is made of logs and offers the most scenic view of the lake and the pristine, completely undeveloped hills on the other side. A couple of sail boats drift by. A sea plane swoops past. The food is delicious.

When we were at the restaurant, I saw a married couple sitting on the level below. She was great looking, with her hair piled up in back. She had on a simple gold slip dress that skimmed over tan, toned shoulders, and sparkly, gold jeweled mules. Holding a big glass of red wine and talking animatedly to her husband, she was the picture of easy, natural, happy American beauty. I'm talking Polly Mellen/Arthur Elgort/Lisa Taylor American beauty if you know what I mean. Later we saw them in a boat, chug chugging away from the restaurant down the long lake. She had put on a warm zip-up top, and they puttered into the distance, to their lake-front home no doubt. Now that's what you call style.

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