How my mind works – in case anyone besides my husband cares

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.

Photo by Peggy Houlihan Bielecki

Photo by Peggy Houlihan Bielecki

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.

Me with my two sisters, and our brother. I’m the tallest one.

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:

My grandfather in his Army uniform taken just before World War I when he was sent with his company to fight in France.

This was how I remember him.

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.

Doesn’t it?

17 thoughts on “How my mind works – in case anyone besides my husband cares

  1. What a lovely blog post! Dont’ worry, you are not alone. Many times people have asked me “How does your mind work??” when trying to follow my train of thought. You have given me a few ideas for posts, I am really struggling at the moment. I seem to be really inspired on the drive to work, but once I get here it all goes wrong!


    • One of the things I’m finding the more I blog, is that the more I reveal about myself, the more I find out that I’m indeed, not alone. I’m happy if my post gave you a few ideas. We LAWSBIANS stick together, right?! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts!


  2. Re how your mind works: Circuitous? Perhaps. But delightful, charming, thrumming with curiosity and the wonder of just being alive. Being able to follow the path you take doesn’t matter all that much–not when the journey is so engaging.


    • Delightful and charming, huh? Probably because the path is so painstakingly edited so as not to be too rambling and boring. Thank you for always being so willing to follow no matter where I go. The test of true friendship, I think.


  3. Your circuitous meander through time leads me to think that perhaps I should take a similar journey. Beautiful memoir of a girl’s childhood, lovely story from a beautiful woman. Peace, B


    • Oh, thank you, Barb. What a sweet thing to say. Especially since I’m never quite sure about sharing something personal like childhood memories. I worry a lot about boring the pants off people. Do take the journey, though. It’s interesting what comes up. I hadn’t thought about the dunking/skating boy and Madame Tweedy in a very long time.


      • I spent a number of summers in Wanakena as a youngster and remember the warbling coming from Madame Tweedy’s house and the wonderful swinging bridge. Google Wanakena and footbridge to see the horrific damage done to it by an ice jam in January. So sad. Nice to read your story. I spent many hours at the Vickers’ home with their daughter May Susan – many moons ago.


      • Hi Kathleen. I do know about the sad state of that lovely bridge. It’s heartbreaking. In a “small world” kind of coincidence, I am married to May Susan’s nephew! Thanks for reading and especially for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.


      • Thanks for your response. Amazing! Be sure to give my best to May Susan when you next communicate with her. Last I heard I believe she was working on her nursing career at Columbia in the late 50’s. I’m now in Arcadia, CA (outside LA) and have no idea where May Susan lives. My sister and I had a wonderful trip back to Wanakena and environs memorably the week of 9-11 and found the place to be charming. Unfortunately, our family cottage had gone to ruin. khg


  4. Aren’t associations delightful (or maddening)? Without seeing (reading about) the connections, the scientist in me would label this “random walk” (or drunken man’s stagger – take your pick). In case you are not sure, I am indeed delighted. The photographs are wonderful too.


  5. Oh my, you and my boyfriend would get along great. He always thinks like that, and likes to do something online I refer to as Wikiwandering, and…oh look – a bird!

    What a handsome photo of your grandfather! Hey, you don’t happen to know anyone who fought in Borneo during WWII, do you? I had the weirdest vision about that the other day while I was meditating. I think I might blog about THAT, in fact. Because that’s how MY mind works. 🙂


    • I know Wikiwandering – oh, my. That’s a very apt name for it. I can spend hours doing that! I don’t know anyone who fought in Borneo. My step-dad was in WWII, but he was stationed mostly in New Guinea which he hated because it was muggy and buggy and hot! Do blog about your vision. I think that would be interesting. I love how your mind works!! 🙂


  6. I love how your mind works – it is amazing how our memories of events and places are so different. All of us attach meaning to an event, a season, or a place in such a different way. It’s what makes us special. I, too, wish I had listened to my grandparents and am now sitting on the edge of my seat listening to my mom and in-laws as they pass down their memories. Thanks


    • I know what you mean about memories being different for different people. My siblings and I have compared our perceptions on a particular childhood event and been amazed at what stood out as memorable for each one of us. And I, too, have learned the value of asking questions and listening more to the stories of people’s lives. I’m so glad you stopped by!


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