Change of Scene

I seem to have developed a fan base for my monthly blogs. I get positive comments by email and in person. When I started writing blogs, I wondered how they may be received as I am not a prolific, chatty person, and I do not favor repetition, which I find both boring and annoying, so I strive to present fresh content and thoughts each month. This takes time and some mental effort that requires my brain to work a little more than usual. I find my brain sometimes resists doing that! This is not an age-related problem, which you might expect because my brain has behaved this way throughout my life. A monthly deadline seems to coax it into activity.

In respect for the age of my brain, I will give it a brief break as I head off to Cape Cod for a family vacation with my German family. This trip also includes the melancholy mission of interning the ashes of my Filipino wife of 59 years and our son in the 1772 Old Stone Fort and Cemetery in Schoharie, New York, which is a four hour drive from the Cape. (The family plot is to the left of the building in the picture below). My daughter Vicky, her German husband Jürgen, and I will conduct the internment at the end of our time in Cape Cod.

My family line goes back to the Revolutionary War, where two of my ancestors served as soldiers. Our son Edward Clark is the third and final generation of Edwards in the family tree. Since the Old Stone Fort and the cemetery are part of the state historical society system, I thought it would make a nice, permanent place for future generations of my interracial family to be aware of their heritage.

Old Stone Fort and Cemetery in Schoharie, New York

To arrange for the internment, I am using the services of a local funeral home in Middleburgh, NY, a small town just down the road from the fort. It is owned by Mathew Coltrain, whose mother was a Methodist minister in a small historic church in an adjacent hamlet. Mathew has made several trips to the Fort to take care of all arrangements and even offered as a lay person to do an appropriate ceremony at the grave site. During my initial contact with Mathew, our conversation quickly lapsed from ceremonial concerns to car guy talk as I discovered he is a car collector and has a Model T Ford and a LaSalle among other cars. Funeral Director, lay minister and car collector: I seem to have hit the trifecta of contacts that may turn the experience into something less than stoic melancholy.

During our conversation, Mathew mentioned that an old, local family was downsizing and has a 1938 Ford Phaeton for sale. Of course I said I would like to check it out. With a chuckle he said, “If it is still available.” Yep – he’s a car guy alright.

The week at Cape Cod coincides with the birthdays of Vicky, my daughter, and Anita Maier, my granddaughter. As a birthday present, Vicky wants to have Sunday brunch at the famous Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown, NY on beautiful Otsego Lake.

Otesaga Hotel

From the back porch of the hotel, you can see 8 mile long Otsego Lake and all of its unspoiled beauty. If you look down the golf course, you can glimpse the Cooperstown Country Club. I spent two summers working there as a busboy and a waiter to earn college tuition.

Otsego Lake

The Cooperstown Country Club is a grand, old club built in 1911 by the rich Clark family (no relation, darn it!). It served as a subsidized retreat for prominent families. I got to serve dinner to the Anheuser-Busch family, and deliver a bucket full of Mums Champaign bottles to the seaplane following the wedding party for the Astor family. I tipped myself a bottle as I am sure the Astor family would have wanted to do in appreciation for my service. I got to observe the truly distinguished along with the ne’er-do-wells at play. I not only daily mopped that huge porch with its fantastic view, I also washed more dishes than the average housewife does in a lifetime. A job, yes, but also a memorable life experience.

Cooperstown Country ClubMy brother Edward was the bartender and made wicked daiquiri pitchers for the sailors to take on the boat. A future DuPont senior scientist and professor of chemical engineering were just some of the people who utilized the boat services. These boating adventures led to some of them just getting drunk and divorced.

May drop by there and check it out to see how it looks now.

I hope for good weather and safe travel. I will return next month with some gears and grease tales (and maybe even that 1938 Ford Phaeton …)

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