Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Round Robin: The Last Goodbyes, Part Three - Farewell to Manlius

In my previous two entries, Home Again: Part One and Round Robin Challenge: So Many Goodbyes, Part Two, I covered part of my response to the last-ever Round Robin Photo Challenge: Goodbye. I told you about the death of my only brother, Steve, and my trip east to arrange his funeral and burial. I've been saying goodbye to Steve for over a month now, taking care of all those arrangements you don't think of until a loved one dies with no money and no will.

But that's not the only goodbye that's been on my mind recently. Getting Steve into a cemetery in Dewitt, NY meant that I got to go "home" to the Syracuse, NY area, a place I had not visited since a brief stop to see my Dad in February, 1986. I was born in Syracuse, lived in Dewitt until I was four, and lived at 4967 Fayetteville-Manlius Rd, Manlius from the time we left Dewitt until I moved onto campus at Syracuse University. The house was sold that summer in the wake of my parents' divorce. The year was 1976.

Here is a picture I took of that house in 1971. I've tweaked it a number of times over the years.

After the burial, I drove John, Steve's friend Sharon and myself to see some of the sights in Manlius. I knew it had changed a lot since I grew up there.  I figured that the trip to bury Steve was probably my last chance ever to see my old home town, so off I went, with John and S. as my captive fellow travelers. My cousin Vereene tagged along in her own car.

I've always had a complicated relationship with Manlius. It's a place a many bad memories for me - but lots of good ones, too.

In the first of these entries, I identified this photo as my grandmother's old house on Pickwick Drive in Dewitt. It isn't. Apparently I didn't photograph that house. No, this is the old house on F-M Road.

From there we went on into the Village of Manlius, about a mile away. When I was a kid, I took the bus to school, but sometimes I walked home for one reason or another. Across the street from Manlius Elementary was Temple's Dairy Store, which sold penny candy. Tootsie Rolls, fireballs, candy straws and root beer barrels were a powerful inducement to take advantage of the crossing guard's presence and go buy a few treats. Temple's was also a frequent stop for my family, especially in the days of Sunday Blue Laws. Temple's was open on Sundays so one could buy bread and milk, and my two favorite kinds of doughnut: "headlights" and "tail lights." The place burned sometime in the past year or two. Sad.

Our first stop in the village was at the legendary ice cream stand known as Sno Top.  Started in 1957, it was where I used to go for a "twist dipped in cherry," and its menu has expanded to an amazing selection in the years since then. It was only steps away from Manlius Elementary (now long gone), the P and C supermarket (also long gone) and not far from the Swan Pond.  Memorial Day was never complete until I had an ice cream from Sno Top after the annual parade. Open seasonally (people don't tend to buy ice cream when it's 11 degrees and snowing), it always had a sign up all winter, "Watch for our humdinger opening next spring!" On my probably-last-ever visit to Sno Top, I was tempted to get my old "twist dipped in cherry," but opted for a Dole Whip, a favorite treat of Disneylanders who visit the Enchanted Tiki Room.

On the glass wall on one side of Sno Top, along with a calendar of special flavors, an ad for Sno Top T-shirts and caps (I got one of each) and other notices, was a series of photos about a factory building that still stands across the street from Sno Top, just north of where Temple's used to be. When I was a kid it was called Stone Machinery. Foolishly, when I was in first to third grade I thought they made machinery of stone! The one thing I knew for sure at the time was that Stone Machinery let off a siren at lunchtime that we called the "noon whistle." It could be heard all the way to my house. It was also used to summon the volunteer fire department.

According to the info up at Sno Top, the Stone Machinery building was originally Remington Foundry, circa 1825, which made plows and reapers. Over the years, under different names and ownerships, they made faucets for molasses barrels, sleds and the Yankee Flyer, knife blades, high speed cutting tools, some of them diamond studded (so Stone Machinery did make machinery using stones!), and eventually flameless candles. The factory currently stands empty, but at least it's still there. In one of the photos shown above you can see the Lincoln-Mercury dealership next door to Stone Machinery, which belonged to one of my neighbors on F-M Road. That's not there any more, either.

Fayette Street, where Sno Top is, dead ends into the other main drag, Seneca Turnpike. It was nice to see Manlius Cinema still there and showing movies. Growing up I saw at least three films there: The Incredible Journey, a terrible Disney film called The World's Greatest Athlete, and Woody Allen's Bananas. Describing a scene from the latter film to my friend Joel resulted in my parents making a rule not to close my bedroom door when there was a boy in the room. Manlius Cinema is now an art house of sorts.

A few doors down from the Manlius Cinema used to be Weber's Department Store, a three room establishment I used to visit often. Nowadays, one third of it is a cupcake shop, and the rest is a restaurant that serves wood-fired pizza. They were just opening up when we stopped there for a late lunch/early dinner, sitting at a wrought iron table outside.

Here is the inside of the restaurant, where a band was setting up to perform later. The room on the left was where Weber's used to sell clothing, especially underwear, jeans and, early on, girl scout uniforms. The room on the right was for greeting cards, china animals, Breyer Horses and (I think) candy. The room that is now a cupcake shop was for school supplies, a few toys and other items. That's where I bought my mom some Evening in Paris cologne sometime during elementary school.

After dinner, I quickly tracked down St. Ann's Church but didn't linger. It was a long and dangerous drive back to Cleveland, through construction and heavy rain on the New York State Thruway, which had nearly invisible lines between the lanes at times. The next day we shipped home some of Steve's stuff and ours, dropped other stuff off at Goodwill, bought a carry-on bag, returned the rental car, flew to Phoenix and drove home. Long day!

Back in May, 2004, the early days of my first blog on AOL, Musings From Mavarin, I wrote a piece called Seven Ancient Wonders of Manlius, NY. I got email about that entry for years. I followed it up with a bunch of school reminiscences in August 2004 and an entry called Manlius On My Mind in August, 2005. AOL Journals are long gone, but the entries still exist on Blogger. When I got on Facebook, I connected with a number of former classmates, most of whom were no more than acquaintances back in the day. And that's okay. Somehow, this social media stuff keeps me connected to a place I never expected to love, and will probably never see again. Farewell, Manlius!

Now, here's a pop quiz: what was the first topic for the very first Round Robin Photo Challenge? It came from this email from Carly:

Hi Karen  
I think for your photo challenge I would like to see you photograph your hometown. The place where you feel your best. A favorite coffeehouse or restaurant, park...wherever you find yourself feeling really good. Or to be different maybe a place in town you have always meant to go, but for some reason just never found the time. Any place. A clothing store, grocery store, theater...let your imagination run wild here. I can't wait to see what you come up with.  
Love, Carly :)

Unable to go to Manlius for this, I instead posted several days of pictures from Mount Lemmon outside Tucson, and followed it up with a few entries about Arizona souvenirs. It's fitting that tonight, on my last response to the last Round Robin Photo Challenge, I finally get to post pictures of the "real" hometown.

Please see the list below this one to check out the other Robins' entries, one last time. And many thanks to every single person who ever posted a Round Robin entry over the past 9+ years.


Linking List
as of Monday, October 14th, 12:35 AM

Karen Funk Blocher - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Ellen - Posted!
Ellen's Phlog

Carly - Posted!

Sylvia D. - Posted!
SMD Paper Arts

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