My brother took his girlfriend to the area in the Adirondack mountains where we grew up. She in turn posted photographs on Facebook. I looked at these two and thought – blog post.
This is the footbridge in Wanakena, NY. Population: So low I can’t find it listed. (Maybe 100 or so, if you don’t count students of the New York State Ranger School.) I remember calling it the swinging bridge because that’s what it did; kids walked out to the middle of it and rocked it back and forth.
The bridge photos reminded me of this photo which was taken by Mr. Vickers who lived in a house at one end of the footbridge.
Remembering this photo made me think that I should blog about the houses on each end of the bridge. How different they and the people who lived in them were. The one we were standing next to in our bathing suits, with the nice older couple, and the house at the other end of the bridge with the boy who liked to dunk smaller kids under the water when we were swimming. He terrified me until one winter when I discovered that he, too, liked to pretend to be an Olympic figure skater gliding gracefully around the frozen river.
Then I looked again at the first picture and remembered the summer my grandfather was hired to paint that footbridge. The best summer of my life. I should blog about that.
Every afternoon that summer, he would drop by our house when he had finished for the day. He sat at our kitchen table and drank a beer before heading home. Besides being a painter of footbridges, he was also a magician. He could pull coins from our ears. Then he’d make them disappear on the top of his beer bottle. When he picked the bottle up, there was the coin on the table where the bottle had sat. He was quiet, this magic painter man. And he was well-loved. He had blue eyes and a bemused smile, but he didn’t talk much about himself. What I knew about him, about his life, I learned from my mother and others who had known him for a long time. Which led me to these photos:
One of the things I’d heard about my grandfather, was that he had an operatic voice and had trained in New York City after the war. Thinking about that made me remember sitting beneath the window of a particular house in Wanakena listening to a woman we all called Madame Tweedy do her vocal warm-ups. She was an opera singer, a summer resident, and the closest thing Wanakena had to a celebrity. I don’t know if she was really famous anywhere outside of Wanakena. I wish I would have asked more questions then.
My husband doesn’t always follow my train of thought, which is usually because he hasn’t been privy to the circuitous route said train has taken inside my head. But now that I’ve explained it, it all makes perfect sense.