After driving those 35 miles east of Syracuse to pick up my monthly collection of meds from my friends Jen and Chris at Doughterty Pharmacy this week, I was struck by a familar feeling as I climbed out of my car, moved to walk up and down the half-mile strip that makes up the town-and-gown front of Morrisville, N.Y., on U.S. Route 20, to soak it in.
Fall feels fallier in this part of the world. Autumn is more awesome.
Only 45 minutes out of Syracuse, the leaves have more color, the air is crisper, and everything smelled a little different. New York Pizzeria at lunchtime or wood-burning stoves already on duty?
I have a long and winding history with this village.
I first came here as a wide-eyed teen, fresh out of a Long Island high school in August, 1975. I spent the next two years studying journalism and learning they ways of upstate New York living, too, on the way to my associate’s degree.
My second year, a bar-and-pub-food joint by the name of The Fort opened on the far side of Route 20, closer to the campus than the cluster of the Cherry Valley Inn, The Place, The Town House and The Shamrock down the hill. It became very popular, with a Thursday night line becoming a tradition.
On Friday and Saturday nights, you see, a good portion of those who lived relatively close to Morrisville went home, leaving the town and campus to downstates and villagers.
In the last decade of the 20th century, I became one of those villagers. Call it Mark and Morrisville Part II. After getting that Associate’s Degree and then my Bachelor’s from the University of Maryland at College Park and working for four years at a suburban Maryland daily, I took at job at Syracuse’s morning newspaper. After a few years of wearing the job blinders, I was introduced to a woman who lived in Madison County. We married and bought a house across Route 20 from Morrisville College.
The Morrisville schools educated my dear daughter Elisabeth quite well. I enjoyed attending every school concert, every little league game, every school game.
It was a fabulous corner of the world for her to grow up.
She and I would walk down to the village library just a couple hundred yards away, and she’d smile to take out her card and borrow a new batch of favorites as our next door neighbor checked her out.
And that kind woman’s husband played harmonica in a blues band as his night-time passion even when I was sports editor. Then I became the music writer. How’s that for foreshadowing?
Though that old house and I were a mismatch, good times were had by all the Bialczaks in the village of Morrisville until they weren’t.
Now I smile when I drive to this village, happy to think about the college years and the child-raising years and how welcoming Morrisville can be.
Do you have a favorite used-to-live place where you return frequently, and if so, how does that make you feel? Is there a spot nearby where the seasons seem to change more quickly, and if so, why do you think that is? Have you been able to turn a sad ending into a better place in your mind?