Blows against the empire

Will I see Summer before summer?

Aside from the day-to-day activities, there have been a few events I have missed. The Blows Against the Empire tour was canceled before it got to Clifton Park, near Albany. It wasn’t that I was desperate to see that show. But I was going to go with my oldest friend from my college days. And he was going to pay!

I was planning a trip to my hometown of Binghamton, NY in March 2020 for two reasons. I’m looking for the transcript of the October 1926 trial involving my biological grandfather Raymond Cone, at which my grandmother, then Agatha Walker, testified against him. I also wanted to track her location in the city directories during the 1930s. However, both City Hall and the local library are closed until they aren’t.

Also, my friend since kindergarten Carol, not to be confused with my wife Carol, was going to fly up from Texas to visit her mom. So I’d have a chance for a visit with her and perhaps my Binghamton-area friends. Not yet.

Postponed, so far

At the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, I have a subscription. The musical Summer, about the disco queen Donna, has moved from March to June. Will that actually come to pass? Or Dear Evan Hansen, still scheduled for June? Or Come From Away in September? What does theater look like in the era of physical distancing? Does the economic model even work?

Then there are the ersatz gatherings. The weekly church services, which get better as the folks have figured out the technology. The Bible studies. The Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, and whatnot.

Something that I have discovered about sharing screens on these platforms. Sometimes they can be quite useful. On one Zoom call, a guy with the same surname as some of my ancestors wanted to see my family tree. I’m going to be helping my friend with some librarian skills, and her seeing what I’m working on will be great. On the other hand, one ought not to feel obliged to share JUST because one can, technologically.

We’re muddling through.

Small town strawberry festival

Two sets of four coasters in the design of playing cards

The day before Father’s Day, my parents-in-law suggested that we might want to meet them for a strawberry festival in a small town about an hour from Albany. Since we weren’t going to see each other on the actual holiday, it seemed like a nice idea.

We got our strawberries, biscuits and whipped cream and sat on chairs in the shady part of the church lawn. I also split some Brooks barbecue chicken, a staple at church dinners around here, with my wife. And it was a good thing I bought it when I did, because when my FIL went back to get some chicken, it had sold out.

There were a number of vendors set along the main street. The Daughter wanted to go to the one just across the street, so we did. Some unnecessary knickknacks, such as bracelets. But what’s that – some Confederate flag paraphernalia? OK, we can just go.

Then I see in the corner of my eye a bunch of hats with “We don’t call 911” stitched on the brim and a gun here a logo might be. Yes, we’re in “no sale” territory. My wife wanted to know if we found anything to buy. The Daughter and I gave a curt “no.”

Eventually we came upon a yard sale, evidently run by three women. I spent a whole dollar in one seller’s column, two sets of four coasters in the design of playing cards, which I’ll use for my annual hearts game next March, if I can still remember where they are by then.

We listened to a concert in the church, a group of 14 women and 5 men, plus conductor and pianist. They sang a half dozen tunes, New York, New York; Somewhere from West Side Story, in honor of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth; a religious tune I didn’t recognize; and finished with a version of God Bless America that incorporated both a musical version of the spoken intro and a piece of America the Beautiful. The group, that has been around for 32 years, wasn’t bad.

The town is building a newly-refurbished library in the building that used to house a small performance theater. The old library, next door, will be where they sell books that are currently stored in the dingy and inaccessible basement. They plan to move the books from one building to the other via a bucket brigade early this autumn.

It was a hot day, so we went to the local Stewart’s Shops, ubiquitous in the region, for refreshment.

Right across the road was a hand-painted sign for a guy running for town supervisor. Adjacent to that was a large message, almost the size of a billboard: “Town Supervisor [name] and town board are [sic] panning to build a town building in a flood plain. DUMB ASSES.”

We drove home, and as is likely to be customary on such an oppressive day, I took a nap.

The library meme

I don’t think there’s a book EVERYONE should read.

book_RoomPer Chuck Miller, my fellow Times Union blogger:

“The System”: In the main, the books on music, movies, television are on the shelf in front of me. Behind me: almanacs/trivia; church/faith/religion, including hymnals; the recently acquired unread; bio/autobio; classics (Shakespeare, Grimm, Twain); politics; Beatles. Off to the right, and also upstairs, comic book/comic strip stuff (Marvel Masterworks, Doonesbury collections, Elfquest collections, Life Is Hell). This is imperfect, and I’m much less fussy than I used to be.

Favorite female writer: Rachel Carson. She changed my life.

Favorite male writer: Nelson George.

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