A Trip to Yesterday

Liverpool - Onondaga Lake Park -  July 2014  (3)

By Judy Berman

Nothing has changed and everything has changed.

During a trip to Central New York in mid-July, my husband, Dave, and I visit our old stomping grounds, and we return to a spot that was the scene of one sweet gesture many years ago.

We stand at the edge of a driveway staring at the home we had lived in until 1999. It is for sale.

What would it be like to live here again, to be among old friends with a shared history and memories?

Like an old family movie, scenes of our girls growing up here flash before me.

Then, as quickly as that thought crosses my mind, I dismiss it.

Nah! We’d have to re-do the landscaping, and get rid of the in-ground pool the new owners put in – which is only useful about two months a year in Central New York. Then, who knows what the owners changed inside the home we had built for us?

Plus, there’s the matter of our girls, our sons-in-law, our grandchildren, grandpuppy, kitties, grandkitties and our jobs. We couldn’t leave them in Florida to move back here.

You can’t really go back. You can’t occupy two worlds – unless you’re Bill Gates or a Rockefeller.

Beaver Lake Nature Center - Baldwinsville - July 2014  (36)

So we make the most of our visit. We meet friends at lunch and dinner to catch up on old times. Stunned to realize how much their kids have grown, just as ours have, and the changes in their lives – new jobs, etc.

Of course, we have to exercise to walk off all the meals. So we take a few strolls thru Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool. Since we left, 5 more miles of hiking trails have been added. We sit on the deck by the lake, and it still has that same calming affect on us.

We also return to Beaver Lake Nature Center and hike the 3-mile lake loop. Exhausting in the heat of the day, but also relaxing.

Then, we pour our tired bones into deck chairs at the center’s observatory. We chuckle as a little chipmunk outfoxes the bigger squirrels for the seeds that the birds kick out from the bird feeders.

Watkins Glen State Park - July 2014  (43)

A bigger hike looms ahead. We drive to Watkins Glen State Park, walk 1 ½ miles and climb 832 steps to view some of nature’s most gorgeous work – waterfalls and gorges carved out by ancient glaciers. Breathtaking.

Watkins Glen - Glenora Winery - July 2014

Seneca Lake is wine country. We stop at Glenora Wine Cellars to buy a bottle of wine for friends of ours when we return to Syracuse. As we look out over the fields, I am struck by how much it looks like a Monet painting. The wine cask resembles rolls of hay amid the greenest greens you can imagine.

That trip offers another treat as well – an overnight at the Showboat Motel along Seneca Lake. In August of 1993, it’s where one of the owners, Larry Jenkins, discovered we were celebrating our anniversary. See story here.

Watkins Glen - Showboat Motel - Judy Berman and Larry Jenkins - July 2014

That night, 21 years ago, Larry brought out two slices of Boston Cream Pie – with a lit candle on each one – and invited those at the restaurant to join in singing “Happy Anniversary” to Dave and me. I don’t think I ever told him then how special that one, small, sweet gesture made us feel.

But I did this trip. I re-introduce myself to him. Larry looks pleased when I tell him that his thoughtfulness capped the end of a perfect day and is a memory I still treasure.

Then we leave for Syracuse. On our last night there, we go to a cookout at the home of longtime friends of ours: Rick and Holly Moriarty. Dave and I have known them long before they married. They were witnesses when we renewed our wedding vows. Now,  their daughter is in college and their son is heading in that direction in a year or two.

Syracuse - Rick and Holly Moriarty - July 2014

It is a night I wish never had to end. This visit makes me nostalgic for Syracuse, for friends with a shared history and memories.

To paraphrase a woman interviewed by Humans of New York: As you get older, there are fewer of those people around who remember you in the various stages of your life.

“And they remind you who you are.”

Watkins Glen - Showboat Motel - Judy Berman reading

Is there a special time and/or place you yearn to return to – even if just for a visit?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thanks to all our friends in Central New York. We had a great time and we miss you already. We’re sorry that we couldn’t get to see everyone we wanted to.

1. Main Photo – Onondaga Lake Park, Liverpool, taken by Judy Berman, July 2014. http://onondagacountyparks.com/onondaga-lake-park/

2. Photo – Beaver Lake Nature Center, Baldwinsville – Dave Berman, Baldwinsville, taken by Judy Berman, July 2014. http://onondagacountyparks.com/beaver-lake-nature-center/

3. Photo – Watkins Glen State Park – taken by Judy Berman, July 2014. http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/watkins-glen-state-park/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NY&parkId=254

4. Photo – Watkins Glen – Glenora Wine Cellars, Dundee – taken by Dave Berman, July 2014. http://www.glenora.com/

5. Photo – Showboat Motel and Restaurant, Himrod, NY – Larry Jenkins, co-owner, and Judy Berman, taken by Dave Berman, July 2014. http://www.showboat-motel.com/

6. Photo – Rick and Holly Moriarty, Liverpool, NY, taken by Dave Berman, July 2014

7. Photo – Showboat Motel overlooking Seneca Lake – Judy Berman relaxing and reading. Taken by Dave Berman, July 2014.

  1. Oh Judy. We’ve had parallel experiences this summer. BH and I returned to our old stomping grounds, revisited the cottage in Plum Island where we had our honeymoon, saw old friends and family. And I spent much of the time with a lump in my throat. Not sad, exactly, just aware of how much life has happened already and how much I have to treasure. Beautiful, beautiful post.

    1. I know the feeling, Barbara. It’s bittersweet. I’m so glad you revisited special places that brought back happy memories. It was wonderful when I was able to connect the dots … learn the name of the man who made our anniversary so special 21 years ago as well as some other things I’d forgotten over the years. I’m delighted you liked my post. 😉

  2. this is a wonderful and very touching post, judy. it rings true on so many levels and i love the humans of new york quote. it must have been bittersweet to say the least )

    1. Beth … Thank you for your comments. When I saw that lady’s quotes on Humans of New York, I knew I had to include it. It fits so perfectly with what I’ve been feeling. Thank you, Beth. It was wonderful to see old friends and familiar places … and very sad to leave them. 😉

  3. I lived in north Jersey for a while and loved it. I made great friends and there was so much to do. I have been gone from there for 20 years now and haven’t been back in about 5. When I would go back I would get so homesick for that time that my heart hurt. No, you can’t go back but you can feel the friendship.

    1. Kate … Your comments “I would get so homesick for that time that my heart hurt” sum up perfectly how I felt. We left Syracuse/Liverpool about 15 years ago. Our last visit was in 2008. I do miss the friendships we formed there. 😉

  4. Thanks for taking me along on your trip Judy – it sounds like you had a lovely one (trip down memory lane as well)

    And how cool is it to have the surname of Moriarty?!

    Diana xo

  5. Your writing was the perfect venue for a trip down memory lane, Judy. I have just moved to a new town, and I’m already feeling the loss of those I left behind. New chapters are exciting, and even for the best sometimes, but it can be difficult to turn that page.

    1. Traci … I recall the excitement of visiting new places when we first moved to Florida. It’s never easy leaving friends behind. It feels like I left a part of my heart there, too. Best wishes to you in your new town. 😉

  6. New York sure is pretty! We’ve loved our visits there. I’d return.

    But the place I really yearn to return to is Hamburg, Germany. I loved living there. But I’m not inclined to live the expat life…

    1. I feel the same way about moving to Paris, Tracy. I loved it there. We’ve been there 4 times, but I also do not wish to live like Hemingway – as an expat.

      We’ve never been to Germany. My brother has and he totally would love to make a return visit there. 😉 Many places pull at us for different reasons.

  7. Great story Mom, I too miss New York and my friends who are still there…but I am taken back to those wonderful memories every time it talk to them.
    I am glad you had a good trip and the pictures you both took are wonderful! You should listen to Sugarland’s duet with Jon Bon Jovi called “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”
    Love to you and Dave and my furry siblings!

    1. I’ll check out that song, Jenn. The title is a paraphrase that many emulate. It’s from Thomas Wolfe’s book, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Here’s a link about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can't_Go_Home_Again

      Thanks for your comments. I share your love for New York and old friends. It’s always great when we can connect whether by phone, e-mail, Facebook … or, a blog. 😉 Dave and furry siblings say “hi” right back at cha. Send our luv to Vern and our grandkitties. 😉

      For those who’d like to hear the song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” by Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles … here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CeX5VEo10c

  8. Thanks for sharing your nostalgic trip! Your memories are so tender. If I could go back it would be to my childhood home to see if I could recapture how I felt growing up.

    1. I think that would be fun, Dor. I’ll bet those memories would come flying back so easily.

      Years ago, when we were house hunting, I was disappointed that the house I grew up in had recently been for sale. My parents put a lot of time and money into making that old house more homey. I loved the window seat. It brings back great memories. I’d love to have one again that naturally fit into a room as that one did. Thank you for your comments.

  9. For my mother’s early-birthday treat, I brought a Boston Cream Pie, and the caregiver and I put candles in it for Mom to blow out! She especially liked the cream part of the pie, soft enough for her teeth.
    A real walk down memory lane, Judy; it brought back so many memories of my daughter’s adventures growing up, and now her daughter is repeating some of the same. Excellent post! (I’m trying not to use exclamation points, but this definitely deserves one.)

    1. So glad that you enjoyed taking that walk with me, Marilyn, and delighted you enjoyed the post. It did trigger many happy memories for me.
      That Boston Cream Pie and candles was a real treat for us. I’m glad your Mom enjoyed her early birthday treat.

  10. Maybe you can’t go back permanently, Judy, but at least you can visit. Maybe what you have now is the best of both worlds. I would love to return to the Bronx of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The general location is still there, but the special places — and the people — are gone.

    1. Charles … The house I grew up in during the 1950s is in the same area. I didn’t think to go back and look at it this time. But I did years ago when we were first buying a home. I was disappointed that it had been recently up for sale. A grand old house with many wonderful memories. But, as you say, special places and the people connected to them are long since gone.

  11. You can go back, Judy, for a beautiful little while, to remember the great times with the special people. This is a marvelous post, for the memories from yesteryears and photographs from now. You and Dave have a good life, my friend, all these interesting years. Karen and I were proud to be part of Homecoming Tour 2014.

    1. We enjoyed our 2014 Tour of Central New York, Mark, and we were delighted that we were able to get together with so many of our old friends, including you and Karen. Rico’s Ristorante was a far superior venue to our original plan – Heid’s Hot Dogs – but that place holds special memories for us as well. 😆

  12. Dear Judy,

    What a beautiful trip down memory lane! As I read your post, two aspects of you seem to jump out at me and I wish to acknowledge you for these.
    1) Your ability to be in the present even when your past memories tug at your mind.Your observation of all that is occurring around and for you holds the capacity to take your reader there.
    2) Your uncanny memory to remember all those small details from the years gone by.

    I do sense that the words you have written have emanated from your heart and such heart felt articulations have this quality of enveloping the reader with love and warmth.

    Great post!


    1. Dear Shakti …

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. But I have a confession to make. Part of my “uncanny memory to remember all those small details from the years gone by” can be attributed to the journals I’ve kept since the early 1990s. I wish I had been more consistent in my journal writing much sooner. Some of those details, however, are deeply ingrained in my memory. The one involving Larry and the Boston Cream Pie at the Showboat Restaurant, for example. My husband says I don’t forget anything. An exaggeration … but, close! 😉

      Thank you for the compliments. I’m pleased that you feel my observations hold “the capacity to take your reader there.” That is the writing goal I strive for.

      You’ve made my day. Thank you.


  13. The way you captured my nostalgia senses, describing things and how they changed, that really got me a little teary-eyed. I have moments where I wish I could go back in time, to houses where my children grew up, or heavens, where I grew up… then I realize I like it now, where I am at. I liked how surprised we are when we hear how big our friends children have grown and their accomplishments, too.
    I liked the simple hike with the deck, where you always feel peaceful. Then the beautiful waterfalls, too at the Watkins Glen park. You had me at, “Nothing has changed, everything has changed!”

    1. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be like time travelers and go back and forth to places we’ve been and visit with people who were a part of our lives? When I’m on that deck, Robin, a calm just washes over me. Looking out over the water, seeing the wildlife, plants and trees … that does it for me. The waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park also makes me feel peaceful – refreshing, too, when the water splashes down on me. I’m delighted you liked the story. Thank you for your comments. 😉

      1. It is nice to be able to know the calm will wash over you, then you know where you need to go to feel that way again. I like waterfalls, have gone on a lot of ‘day trips’ to see surprise waterfalls, where my friend, Bill, discovered them. They can be found on maps and in parks, but they just seem surprising to find, when they aren’t ones that are talked about a lot. The way that nature fills you with peaceful feelings, along with refreshing (I say they “renew” my spirits) is another thing we have in common! Smiling back at you…

        comment from earthrider to Robin of reocochran:
        Thank you for the wonderful suggestion, Robin. I will look for “surprise” waterfalls. You’re right, they do restore me and calm me. As for the bodies of water that I can sit next to and unwind, they are right in my backyard and throughout Florida. 😉 I’m on a searching mission now for the waterfalls. 😉

  14. That was very sweet of him to bring you some personally candlelit pie, and singing to you as well! With service like that I bet his restaurant is busy!! 😀 I just looked up Boston Cream Pie, Wikipedia says it’s a cake, chocolate cake with a lot of cream … mm, I like that kind of cake. So next time I’m in a American style restaurant and I see that pie/cake I’ll have to give it a try!

    I can understand your mixed feelings with a place you once called home, it’s a strange thing that, our memories can be a real pull to want to return. I love the city I live in, even though it isn’t where I grew up, I’ve always felt totally at home from the moment of arriving. It has some wonderful ancient history mixed with ultra modern architecture, but so did the little village many miles away where I grew up, but it was such a dull lifeless place to live, not my kind of world! I’ve visited it on Google Street view a few times, and never felt emotional about the place, but if I visualize myself actually visiting I think it would be overwhelmingly emotional, which is why I never have. Maybe one day I’ll feel different about it.

    At least you have rational thinking that can see it would probably not be as great as one half of your emotions tell you. And being close to your family is so important. Some people do move back to places they’ve once lived, and it can be a real disappointment, things can look like they’ve not changed when in fact they have. My Dad visited his Irish village he grew up in when he was in his mid 50’s and it was sad, the village still looked pretty much the same, but not one person he knew remained. They had all left in their the 1940’s and 50’s just like he had. It was a sad day for him.

    It must be nice to be a tourist in your own home town, I hope you get to visit many more times Judy, that way you have the best of both worlds! 🙂

    1. Boston Cream Pie is a wonderful treat. I know you’ll love it. We really did appreciate Larry’s treat and thoughtfulness. When I looked back in my photos and journals, I was surprised to see this happened 21 years ago.

      I spent most of my life in Central New York. So there are friends from school, college, work, neighbors, people I knew in the community. So they know me thru the various stages of my life. When I moved, we didn’t have that kind of foundation when making friends. We don’t have the shared experiences, etc.

      Suzy, I can understand your father’s feelings when he returned to the village he grew up in. Dave and I both know that our neighborhood has changed. A beloved neighbor, who lived next door to us, died in April. People where we worked have moved on. So the workplaces have changed. The changing dynamics means, of course, you can’t return to the same place.

      It was lovely being a tourist in our own home town. To top it off, many of our friends treated us to dinner. We really felt special. 😉 It would be, as you say, the best of both worlds to visit many more times. 😉

  15. Ah! I’m always looking for pure lyricism– which is why I frequent this blog, of course… : )

    Wonderful post, Judy, especially for an old Upstate New Yorker like myself. It’s a pity, and a bit of a mystery, really, how Upstate NY remains largely an undiscovered treasure. The NY State tourism bureau ran a campaign once that featured photos of natural wonders, with the tag line, “Where is this?” You’d be guessing anywhere from California to Virginia, but it would turn out to be somewhere in Upstate New York.

    I remember that pie story, and I understand that I’ll-never-forget-it magical feeling something like that brings. I was watching outdoor theater once– Shakespeare In The Park– when it started to rain. They were halfway thru the final act, so the players soldiered on. A lot of smart people had brought umbrellas– I was not among them. I was starting to get seriously wet, when a stranger held a blanket over my head and said with a big smile, “Use this.” I thanked him profusely at the end of the play. I’ve thought of his kind act many times, and it always makes me very happy.

    Thanks for another great one, amigo! : )

    1. I knew you’d remember the pie story because you left a beautiful, hysterical response. Thank you for your comments, Mark.

      How sweet and thoughtful of that stranger to reach out and offer some shelter from the rain. No wonder you still recall it. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams, creator of ‘Dilbert’ comic strip

      There is so much beauty in New York state. I was delighted to be able to visit and take photos of Watkins Glen again. As it was 21 years ago that I was there, the quality of the photos in my album – non-digital – were not the best. 😉

  16. The quote you used at the end said it all Judy. We too cherish the few friends who have known us through every stage in our lives. I could relate to your nostalgia and the underlying poignancy, having done a similar trip to our old home in June. Despite the nostalgia, I knew I would never be able to go back. A beautiful post as always 🙂

    1. Madhu … Thank you for your comments. A part of me wanted to stay there. But reality kicked in. No, I couldn’t make that move and leave our family in Florida. It was wonderful, though, to hang out with old friends. Truly a good time. 😉

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