October 12, 2017
It is difficult for most folks, I expect, as they zip through the intersection of Routes 49 and 449 to picture that little group of houses as being the bustling community that it once was. I doubt many even consider such a thing.
There isn’t much left these days. No stores. Even the church is gone. However, the people here are the best of the best. And our little town is still the only one named Gold in the entire United States.
There was a time when things were very different. According to a local newspaper, in 1898 Gold had one large store and a small one as well as a feed store. William Clark ran a blacksmith shop and there was a “wood repair and paint shop”. Not to mention, of course, half a dozen gushing springs.
There was a large schoolhouse with sheds to shelter horses when the building doubled as a place to hold local meetings.
A small depot stood on the east side of the road ready to meet the C & PA when it came through each day on its way to and from the Newfield Junction, carrying passengers as well as freight. The water tower stood alongside the track on the west side.
Believe it or not, a hotel once stood on the south west corner of what is now Routes 49 and 449. Built by a man named Pardon Reynolds and his son Edward in 1886 the hotel changed hands several times through the years. Eventually it became, along with a barn, the property of W. H. Hubbard. In 1913, both the barn and hotel burned within a few weeks of each other. Officials became suspicious and made what were called in the news reports “discreet inquiries”. Eventually the owner was prosecuted and convicted of arson.
The Conable family built a cheese factory near the creek that meandered down from the spring on its way to the mighty Genesee River. Charlie Conable made a good living there for many years. He bought milk from the local farmers and sold his cheese to area stores.
A lovely little church was built across from the school during the summer of 1899. While the church was being built, telephone poles were erected and wires strung through Gold; making it possible for news to be “carried at lightening speed.” It was as amazing to folks then as the Internet and cell phones are to us today.
In 1902 the Gold store burned and a new one was erected. It still stands today, although now it is a private residence.
A new two-story schoolhouse was also built in 1902. Classes were held for many years on both floors. My father and his siblings attended the first eight grades there. Students who went to high school were required to go to a near by town, such as Ulysses or Coudersport. The Gold School was one of the last in the area to be “taken up”, not closing its doors until 1947. I attended first and second grades there. When I related that fact to my boys when they were in grade school, one of them rolled his eyes and asked very carefully, “Mom, did you ever ride in a covered wagon?”
The cheese factory was gone before my time. Although we once supported two general stores; each with their own gas pumps, they have both disappeared.
A new church was built a couple of years ago about a mile out of town and the old one was torn down.
And, for more than forty years now, the train hasn’t come here any more.
So it would seem, I suppose, that there is not much left of us. But I beg to differ with that. We have gotten smaller, it’s true. We have to drive a few miles to grocery shop or to fill our cars’ gas tanks. Our kids have been bussed to school for three generations. However, we are still a good and caring community.
Yes, there is only one town named Gold in the entire country. And I am proud to claim her as home.
October 5, 2017
On the way home from getting few groceries the other day I dropped down from Route 49 onto the Pushersiding and stopped to visit my cousin. I have no idea why I don’t do it more often.
As usual, I didn’t plan to stay long. But as the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men — or old cousins.
Dick is a few years older than me; just enough older that when he stayed with us during several summers when we were kids he became more like a big brother than a cousin. We share a lot of memories and when we are together, we both enjoy a trip down memory lane.
While he was with us in our home back then, Dick brought the cows from the pasture for milking, helped with the haying and made himself useful to Dad in any way he could. As far as I was concerned, he was there to entertain me and I kept him busy in his spare time.
He grew up. He graduated from high school and soon went into the Air Force. The timing was such that he wound up in a place called Korea where there was a war going on. I didn’t really understand much about that “conflict”. I just knew that I didn’t like the idea that my cousin was so far away from home- and me.
Years went by. I grew up, too. We both married and had families. These days we are both grandparents several times over and are even great-grandparents. We are both alone.
The conversation doesn’t vary much when we get together. We love to rehash memories.
Both of us grew up with parents; his father and my mother, who were seriously frightened of thunderstorms. “Why is that?” Dick wondered.
Neither of us are sure. The fear seemed to be strong in the entire family.
“Mom used to tell me, “ I said, “that their Aunt Betsey, an unmarried great-aunt who lived with them, was terrified of storms and when one threatened, she would make all the kids sit in a circle in the parlor until the storm was over.” And, we both remembered, the valley called the Pushersiding tends to be a magnet for lightening strikes. There are many tales of them. We both vividly recall the day when several of our grandfather’s milking herd were killed when lightening struck a tree in the pasture near the barn. My mother told of seeing ball lightening roll down the hill back of the one room school when she was a child.
Neither Dick nor I can say we like storms. We endure them, since there is rarely any choice and utter a prayer of thanks when they are over.
Better memories are those of my mother and her sisters getting together to clean Gramp’s house. They would scrub and clean it from top to bottom; reminiscing and laughing the entire day.
We remember Gramp’s ever present pipe and the sweet aroma of the smoke that curled from it. We remember the ritual that Gramp held to every meal, giving himself an injection of insulin to control his diabetes just before he sat down to eat.
We remember Uncle Reed, with his rolling walk, wide grin and the cigarette tucked in the corner of his mouth with the long ash hanging from it; just ready to drop.
We remember “Tidd apples”; winter spies that grew near the farm and the red Astricans, a favorite for pies and eating out of hand.
We remember the train pounding up the valley toward the Newfield Junction; usually with two engines; steam-powered in our earliest memories and later pulled by yellow-striped diesels. The entire valley trembled as the train struggled up the hill opposite Grandpa’s farm.
And we have questions. We wonder if we remember things just as we should. But there is no one left to ask, these days, so our memories hold.
The afternoon flew by quickly. Dick followed me out on the porch as I left to come home.
“Come again, Nets”, he said using my childhood nickname. And I will. Soon, I hope.
September 28, 2017
Everyone is saying it. Where did summer go? Weren’t we looking for the first dandelions just a week or two ago? And now the yard is filling up with colored leaves? How did that happen?
My Dad and Mom are always uppermost in my mind when the leaves change color and begin to fall. They were married 82 years ago this month.
One late September day Dad borrowed a pair of clean socks from his brother because he had a date with his best girl. He didn’t let on that this date was special. They invited another couple along as witnesses and drove to Whitesville, NY where they rounded up a preacher and got married. They had both turned 21 that summer and they hadn’t told anyone in either of their families what they were up to. It was 1935 – still the in the throes of the Great Depression and no one they knew spent much money on a wedding back then.
That night, they went back to their homes. Dad had to help his father with the farm work the next day and Mom had to get a meal for men who were helping her father with fall harvesting. When Dad’s brother got the news, all he could say was, “Well, my gosh! He got married in my socks!”
They made their home in various rentals for three years. Then, in December of 1938, they moved to Dad’s grandparents’ home on a back road called Spicer Brook. I was born a couple of months later.
The six of us kids, five girls and one boy, grew up with unconditional love, strong discipline, a lot of laughter and music; always, always, there was music. We could harmonize together almost before we could read.
When I was a teenager Dad began digging graves to supplement his income. We learned that what some might regard as a very menial job could be done properly with precision and with absolute respect.
Neither Dad nor Mom were inclined to preach sermons. They simply showed us how we were supposed to behave and expected us to be smart enough to get the message.
One by one we married. I missed their twenty-fifth anniversary party because I had given birth to their first grandson the day before. The family grew fast. Grandkids were welcomed at the farm in the hollow with open arms. Mom would cuddle a baby of any age and say, “I like them best just like this!” Dad would hug them, tease them and tag each one with a goofy nickname. Once the grandsons were old enough, they began helping him in the several cemeteries for which he was responsible. And they learned to do the job the right way; with dignity and respect.
Mom took a job as a nurses aide on the long term care unit of the Cole Memorial Hospital. She soon became recognized and respected for the caring and thorough way she did her job and she received the first Nursing Assistant of the Year award given by the hospital. In her spare time she made wonderful home made butter. After the family was supplied, she had no problem selling the rest to friends at work and it became known as Bet’s Better Butter.
Gradually, they both retired. Nothing made them happier than visits from their ever-growing family. They welcomed great-grandkids, extra kids, in-laws, and as Dad liked to say, a few outlaws.
Now and then, as far back as we can remember, Dad would come in from the barn on a moonlit night, grin at Mom and say, “Looks like a good night for a walk to the spring.” She would just laugh at him and go back to the task at hand.
We celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2005, with a dinner at the Gold Church. Family came; friends came; we ate, we told stories and as always, we sang for them.
Mom left this world for the next one just three months after the party and three and a half years later , Dad joined her.
And so, it is September again. It has been 82 years since that day when Chester Morley and Betsey Young, without telling anyone what they were up to, drove into New York State and got hitched. Some marriages, it is said, are made in Heaven. If there was ever one that truly measured up to that, I believe it was theirs.
Jeanette’s articles go here.