August 6, 1969: Gran!

Rained at 6AM. Miserable morning but we got to Ithaca at 5PM. Gran just beat us. Talked and washed. Mike pretty sick. Took a bath!

Marge Binder, August 6, 1969

More travel woes: rain, “miserable morning,” “Mike pretty sick.” But that was the last morning Mom would be waking up in a tent with three boys — at least for a week or so.

An arrival of sorts.

Gran in 1983

We’re far from home yet, but today we arrive at Gran’s home in Ithaca. For the next few days we’ll be hanging in this little town smack-dab in the middle of the mitten. It’s a place we visited every summer of my youth, as far as I know.

Mom went to high school here; she and Dad got married at the Methodist Church down on Center Street. Gran is buried a few miles away in the North Star Cemetery, along with a few of our relatives who helped to settle this part of the state in the 1800s.

Over the next week, please indulge me to unload years of memories of this place, most of them watercolored by five decades of romanticizing.

I remember the wide streets and lumpy sidewalks, the stately courthouse with its tolling clock tower across the street, the candy store with the girlie mags over by the firehouse, the A&W Drive-In out by the highway, the house on West North Street where my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Dale lived, days riding my bike everywhere and nights in the front yard chasing fireflies.

I remember how Gran’s house smelled (sweet and calm). Mom references here that she took a bath the day we arrived, likely the first in months. I can tell you this: the whole place must have smelled like sulfur when she ran the water. And later that night, it probably smelled like Swiss steak.

When it’s your Gran’s house, though, all of the senses just surrender and you are overcome by the embrace of acceptance and love. Welcome to Gran’s.

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