What do you see out of your window today?


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Photo Credit: The Rigney/Cunningham Families - Historic Value - All Rights Reserved

Audio Credit: The Beatles! 1964. "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Live on the Ed Sullivan Show. For Private Use.

"I would recognize you in total darkness,    
Were you mute and I deaf.
I would recognize you in another lifetime entirely,
In different bodies, different times.       
You are timeless, You transcend time.
And I would love you in all of this, until the very 
Last star in the sky burnt out into oblivion." (1)

Today, February 7th, is my parents' wedding anniversary. Their's was an epic marriage, not exactly Happily Ever After, instead multiple Happily Ever Afters, that through tumultuous decades of unpredictable change which they understood all too well, they worked hard to find. Once found, to build upon, and to never give up on. They never gave up on each other, and they never gave up on their children. Love and faith were one and the same. My first exposure to love at home was of course laughter and excitement - if you know us, you know that's obvious! But the foundation of their warmth and attraction to each other was their willingness to work on their marriage, and the confidence in each other that gave them. Not romance in the Hallmark sense, but warm, mutually supportive, and so beneficial for their children. How do you respond to love like that? You can't, you pay it forward and bring their legacy to as many others as possible.  

When we were young boys, we watched the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday Nights, religiously. Amid laughter and wrestling, my father would occasionally growl at us but always with a smile. However, one Sunday they scooted us off to bed early. No Topo Gigio! So of course, as soon as the dust settled, we snuck down the hallway..... where we found our parents standing in front of the RCA Victor, holding hands, watching the Beatles sing "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Smiling despite themselves. Hey, we caught you Mom and Dad! What a great memory at the dawn of the Revolution. May our parents, rest in strength and love, as a wonderful example to everyone whose lives they touched.  

"I could spend the night writing to you. I am your forever faithful wife. Good Night my dear friend..."(2) I don't think I've ever read a more succinct, deeply satisfying description of friendship. Two weeks ago, NPR Morning Edition aired a story of love letters found, intended for French sailors on fast moving frigates during the Seven Years War, but lost to history for the next 265 years. Her husband was captured, our bride passed away a year later. He never saw her letter; it's likely they never saw each other again. But the bride's beautiful, timeless writing survives. To imagine her husband's response is to create a legend that transcends centuries. What a love they shared! Sailors on the ships of that time, if they were literate, wrote daily, frequently on scrolls, that after months at sea grew to wonderful length. Those who could, wrote for their friends and shipmates, often on the same scroll. A Treasure trove for an entire village. And true love that overcame great hardship, great distances and time.

While at Hamilton, I loved going to Root Glen. Got over several hangovers, read a lot, and tried my hand at writing. Peace and solitude. Until, well, cherchez la femme! Have you ever tried to negotiate the Glen in dead winter? Those of us of a certain age surely remember the big winters of '76 and '77. Snowfalls measured in meters, not inches. Weeks where the temperature didn't rise above Zero. Endless great days for romance indoors, right?  

Well, my girlfriend had a brand new AMC Pacer, sky blue and white with way too much glass, that all her friends called Iris and all mine called Eyeball. A 5 speed, I wanted to take it through it's paces. One morning, coming down with a touch of cabin fever, I convinced her that it would be "romantic" to run Eyeball down to my family's home in New Hartford, and trade her (the car, not Susie) for a snowmobile. A romantic day trip. The ride back to the Hill was great! Careening through virgin cornfields, jumping drifts, hanging on for dear life, first terrified and a mile later yelling at me to go faster! Oh, did she hang on tight! She had never been on a snowmobile, so once she was comfortable, I let her drive. She was, and remains, an intrepid spirit. I was some weird cross between Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider and Dr. Zhivago. Until.....

As we charged up College Hill, the Bombardier started running a little sluggishly. OhOh! - A prelude to disaster?  On the frozen stream at the absolute bottom of the Glen, the drive belt snapped. OK, we're fine, with a short walk ahead of us to civilization, at least as represented by the Fraternity Houses on College Hill Road. But as Susie hops off the back of the Snowmobile, she keeps going, and immediately sinks into the drifting snow over her head! I start laughing and digging, but shake up the snow on the side of the gorge, and cause an avalanche, a diversion of the Continental Divide that buries the snowmobile, my girlfriend, and me completely! So what does a romantic do in a situation like that? I built a snow fort! Where we sat beside the warm snowmobile, protected by the walls of our fortress, ate ham and cheese sandwiches my mother made us, (with a hot thermos of Constant Comment) and talked, and talked, and talked. That busted snow mobile, stuck in that exquisite wonderland, changed my life.  


1. From "The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

2. National Public Radio, All Things Considered. Lost French Love Letters from the 1750s Reveal What Life Was Like During Wartime, by Kai McNamee

3. This is the episode of the Ed Sullivan that my parents were watching, not really so long ago.
Here's the Youtube banner: The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand - Performed Live On The Ed Sullivan Show 2/9/64

Want to Share This Story with Friends?
 Beatles, snowmobiles,The Seven Years War. Root Glen.
  Central New York
Winter 1977


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