Life in a Bubble

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people complain about living in Upstate New York – Rochester to be exact. The negative comments range anywhere from the shrinking economy to gripes about the winter weather. I’ve always defended my neck of the woods and I’m always more than happy to give the ‘up’ side of living here in the midst of all the hemming and hawing.

There are many cities that are faring far worse than Rochester New York. Especially, in terms of weather. The recent news coverage of our Western New York neighbor Buffalo, has kept everyone abreast of the winter pummeling that that region has undergone. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning, and it’s nothing new. It seems that every year, weather reports outline the havoc that the winter season wreaks on our ‘sister’ city. How Rochester manages to miss the bulk of much of the snow is quite amazing. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible bubble that shields us from the worst of the winter weather, while it makes its presence known to our nearby neighbors, Buffalo and Syracuse.

I guess you could say that we experience a little bit of every kind of weather here and to me, that’s great. The four seasonal changes are second to none. I love the ‘renewal’ affect that the ‘spring’ season brings. Everything is revived and comes back fresh and new. I enjoy summer for many reasons. One being that the days are longer. Secondly, some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets can be experienced during this season. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the ‘fall’ season. Nothing reflects nature’s beauty more than all the brilliant colors that the foliage takes on at this time of year; also know as ‘autumn’. Last but not least is ‘old man winter’. Yes, this season has its drawbacks, but the snow is pretty to look at.

While having a problem tire on my car addressed earlier today, I picked up the newspaper that was sprawled out on a little table where it’s last reader had left it. The front page caught my attention: Why Rochester? I swelled with pride as I continued to read. The article listed five reasons why Rochester is a great place to live, work and raise a family.

      1. It was named the third best place to raise a family in Forbes Magazine in 2010, which I was unaware of. I love it when I learn something new.

      2. Rochester’s ‘sister’ cities Buffalo and Syracuse get hit much harder by snow fall than Rochester. Just a couple of weeks ago, snow removal crews left Rochester to go and assist with some of the snow removal in Buffalo. Oftentimes, a storm will be pointed right at us. Yet somehow, Rochester seems to be positioned in a way that often allows us to escape the brunt of many storms, and thankfully so.

      3. Wegmans grocery store is one of our proudest home-grown businesses and now operates 85 stores in 6 states: New York = 46 stores, New Jersey = 7 stores, Virginia = 6 stores, Maryland = 7 stores, Massachusetts =3 stores

      4. Many Rochesterians are huge fans of the Buffalo Bills and consider the team as much a Rochester team as it is a Buffalo team. For the last several years, Pittsford New York’s St. John Fisher College has been the designated location for the Bills training camp. The Bills may not have had consecutive wins in a long time, but during the 1990s, they held a dominant streak. They were the first team to make it to the Superbowl in 4 consecutive seasons. Bills fans set a single-season NFL record of 635,889 in attendance during the 1991 season.

      5. Rochester is small in comparison to some of the bigger cities, but where it is smaller in size, it definitely makes up for in culturally diverse events. This city is big on the arts and pays homage by way of numerous festivals, concerts, etc. throughout the year. In doing so, Rochester provides a little something for all the different people that come out in droves seeking that perfect mix of cultural diversity to satisfy their varying individual tastes.

There truly is a lot to discover and experience here in Rochester and I am amazed at the things I’m still becoming aware of, even after having lived here all my life. All in all, I’m happy in my little corner of the world. Life in a bubble certainly has its advantages.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

When Blood and Water Meet…

   

Almost everyone knows the saying, “blood is thicker than water”. In many cases, this is true. Blood, representative of our familial ties, while water represents those close friends and extended family. Some might believe that there is no bond stronger than that of blood family and that is often true. However, there are instances where this statement can be challenged.

As I’m watching the television coverage of the funeral service of the latest ‘fallen officer’, Daryl Pierson, in the city of Rochester New York, it has become evident that ‘water’ is not only thick and dense, but runs deep, far and wide. I am thoroughly amazed, impressed and touched at the amount of support, presence, and solidarity being displayed at his funeral service, with the attendance of thousands of police officers from all over the country that have come to this city to pay their last respects to Officer Pierson, who lost his life last Wednesday night September 3, 2014 during a foot chase of a wanted parolee.

I recall sitting on my bed last Wednesday night when at least 3 to 4 vehicles came flying past my house. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there’s a sound that law enforcement vehicles make when they’re traveling at top speeds. It’s as almost as if the vehicles are riding on top of the air; an unmistakeable sound that makes me privy to police presence every time one passes through my neighborhood at break-neck speeds. I wondered what could have possibly happened, but didn’t give it a whole lot of thought as it is a sound I’ve heard on many occasions. About 30 minutes later, a breaking news flash burst across my t.v. screen. The report said that both an officer and a suspect had been wounded during a traffic stop and that both had been taken to area hospitals. I was immediately relieved that no one had died, at least at that point. I said a little prayer for both. Somewhere around 11:00p.m. I believe, it was then reported on the evening news that Officer Pierson had succumbed to his injuries. I was stricken with so much sadness and heart-wrenching emotion at this sobering development. An officer had lost his life in the line of duty and there was no reversing the outcome, no turning back. How I wished I could rewind back to hours before those police cars had come riding like the wind past my house.

As a city, we could take on the view that too much is being made out of this incident because an officer lost his life. Or, we could show some human compassion and be respectful of the loss of life, as I would hope we would be for any other, regardless of their ‘walk of life’. I was proud to see a few interviews where Rochester residents seemed to agree that whether an officer of the law or not, a person died. Officer Darryl Pierson was a human being, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an officer of the law. He even served a year in the war in Afghanistan. I can’t help but notice the cruel twist of fate that allowed him to survive the danger of a seemingly never-ending war, only to return to his home in Rochester New York, and lose his life. Officer Pierson received a hero’s send-off; twenty one gun salute and all. There were even fully-attired, kilt-wearing, bagpipe playing attendees. I have much admiration for Officer Pierson’s widow, Amy Pierson, who displayed such control and poise in light of an event that has changed her life forever. My prayers go out to the Pierson family and all those related, near and far, as blood and water meet, coming together to make one hugely supportive and impressive family. Rest in peace Officer Pierson.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Images: Free Google images

Did You Know…(13)

Lately, I’ve been very intrigued by the cinquain verse and have written quite a few poems in this unique form. You can find my cinquain attempts as well as the innovator of this form at: http://sylviaiswriting.wordpress.com. I had a comment on one of the cinquains I wrote called “Old Boots”, where it was brought to my attention who developed this beautiful verse form.

The American cinquain was developed by Adelaide Crapsey who passed away on October 8, 1914 at the age of 36. She was a Brooklyn New York-born poet who was raised in Rochester New York (Upstate), my neck of the woods. Adelaide was the daughter of Adelaide T. Crapsey and Algernon Sidney Crapsey, an Episcopal priest. Prior to her death, she became reputable and widely recognized for the creative variation of the cinquain (quintain) which consists of a 5-line format with 22 syllables.

This style was largely influenced by the Japanese haiku and tanka. Adelaide’s 5-line form (now know as an American cinquain), has a common iambic meter which translates as one-stress, two stress, three stress, four stress and then reverts promptly back to one stress. This cinquain form usually contains 2 syllables in the 1st and last line, 4,6 and 8 syllables in the middle lines.

*Sidebar: Did you know that world-renowned poet, Carl Sandburg was said to have been the reason for the ongoing interest in the cinquain and kept Adelaide Crapsey from becoming insignificant with his poem “Adelaide Crapsey”? Incidentally, Carl Sandburg and Marilyn Monroe were very good friends. It’s amazing the surprising ways in which people are connected and how close to home these connections sometimes hit.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Did You Know?…(10)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6aQAEiGpHY

 

It’s always interesting to learn something new, even a little embarrassing at times. Especially when that ‘something’ new is about your own hometown of which you had no clue. I was watching t.v. last week and was very surprised to learn that 7/25/14, marked the 50th year anniversary of the Rochester Riots. Yes, I did say riots! I was so taken aback, that I found myself at a loss for words for at least a good half hour….and that is hard to accomplish for me.(smile) I still can’t believe that this tumultuous part of history, belonging to the place I’ve resided in for all of my life, had somehow escaped me.(Please click on the link above for a little background on these events) I sat dumbfounded in front of the television while witnessing the flashbacks of this ugly part of Rochester New York’s past. I was transfixed and did not move until I had familiarized myself with the sobering events that took place on July 25, 1964. Here’s what I gleaned from this eye-opening segment:

    • Rochester New York was once know as a ‘tale of 2 cities’. One tale was that of a city that was once known as one of the top places to live and work during those times, as it once thrived economically. The other tale depicted one of poverty, racial tension, and job inequality.
    • Lack of jobs, poor housing, and police brutality in the ‘black’ community, were thought to be the main causes that triggered the 3 days of rioting.
    • During this time, Rochester had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state of New York
    • The 1st indoor mall was opened in Rochester during these chaotic times.(see previous post: https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/did-you-know-7/
    • Police were called in from everywhere to try and get control of the fed up and angry Rochester residents.
    • Nelson Rockefeller called on the National Guard to bring order and control back to Roc City. These riots unfortunately, put Rochester New York on the map for an array of reasons; some bad, some good.
    • Activist Malcom X and sociologist Saul Olinsky came together to form F.I.G.H.T. which strongly urged Xerox & Kodak companies to make manufacturing job opportunities more accessible to minorities.
    • Nearly 1,000 blacks & whites were arrested during the riots. There was over 1 million dollars in damages as a result of looting and damage of city businesses and neighborhood stores, etc.

I wonder what it must have felt like during those times. To avoid ‘dating’ myself, I will refrain from saying how I old I was back then. But as I sit here writing this post, listening to the chirping birds outside my window, it is almost impossible to imagine the events outlined above. Even with the occasional shouting, or loud booming stereo systems blaring from random vehicles passing by, there’s still a tranquil kind of peace that I find here…if I listen closely enough. But reality strikes back hard and I know all too well that these events did take place and the undeniable footage that I stumbled across last week is proof positive of that for sure. Yet, in spite of all the negative national publicity and attention that shined so brightly on this little corner of New York state during those times, there was some good that did come out of those dark events in Rochester New York’s history. The willingness of some companies to create accessible jobs for all, brought a diverse groups of people together. So, one of the very things that once divided the city, ended up being the one of the very things that brought it back together again! I guess you could say, a kind of bittersweet happy ending if you will. You may wonder, what is Rochester New York like today? Well, that’s a whole other post, so stay tuned! In the meantime, what’s your take on this?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Know…(7)

 

    • Rochester New York (Roc City) was host to one of the first downtown indoor malls in the U.S. and was dedicated on April 10, 1962.
    • Victor Gruen not only designed Midtown Plaza but also Southdale Center, which was located in the suburbs of Minneapolis in 1956.
    • The idea of Midtown Plaza Mall was born as a result of discussions between Gilbert J.C. McCurdy, owner of McCurdy’s department store and Maurice F. Forman, owner of the B. Forman Co. department store. .
    • As suburban shopping malls outside of Rochester began to emerge, Midtown Plaza lost its vibrancy and started to struggle in the 1980s.
    • The last original tenant(s) of Midtown Plaza was a Record Theater store and a U.S. Post office.
    • On October 16,2007, it was announced that Midtown Plaza would be torn down and replaced by PAETEC Headquarters.
    • Midtown Plaza’s final Christmas season was celebrated in 2007. Midtown Plaza’s chief engineer donated a 40ft Douglas Fir tree. *Getting the ‘holiday’ tree into Midtown Plaza was always a major event, as traffic was interrupted on N. Clinton Ave near the side entrance to the plaza. The tree(s) had to be dragged into the mall on its side. I feel honored to have witnessed this on many occasions, being that I worked downtown for several years before the mall’s closing.
    • The “Monorail” was a familiar structure during every Christmas holiday season. **Hundreds of kids would wait patiently in line with their parents to get on this train that rode high above the mall floor traveling in a square formation. Sadly, the ‘monorail’ had its last go-round on December 24, 2007.
    • Six Rochester Radio Stations of Clear Channel Communications signed off the air on midnight on December 31, 2008.
    • Midtown Plaza closed its doors to the mourning public for the last time on July 29, 2008.
    • The Adirondack Transit Lines Bus Station, the last Midtown Plaza occupant, closed on November 3, 2009.
    • Geri Kavenaugh designed the Clock of Nations, a very well known Midtown Plaza attraction. This infamous clock was representative of twelve nations and had twelve cylinders displaying a puppet scene for each nation. When the Clock of Nations was originally unveiled, it was revered as an important piece of art. The original puppetry had to be replaced in the 1970s because it had not been well-maintained. Oddly enough, a local housewife contributed her handy work to the replacement puppetry.
    • Once Midtown Plaza closed, the Clock of Nations was moved for a brief time to the Greater Rochester International Airport terminal. It’s permanent residence is now at the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

It’s so sad when I drive through downtown Rochester New York in this day and age. The place where Midtown Plaza once stood, looks completely different. Had you not seen what it looked like before its demise, you might find it difficult to picture what was once there. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to become very acquainted with Midtown Plaza before all these changes were put into affect. Nothing beats those memories!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

Did you know?…(3)

Did you know….The “Amazing Spiderman” movie was shot on E. Main St. in Upstate New York a-k-a Rochester, New York during May 2013? That’s right!! Roc City was the backdrop for some of the more high-powered scenes in this movie. Please click on the video below to view some of the action on the last day of filming!!

It’s kind of surreal to watch these scenes with an unusual number of NYPD police vehicles flying through the middle of downtown Rochester, New York; a place I grew up in. I can see the actual bus stop I used to wait at daily, en route home from work many years ago. It’s such a proud feeling that my hometown was chosen for this epic film.

I recall watching various news broadcasts during the filming of these scenes. Several Rochesterians were interviewed and asked for their thoughts on all the hoopla. Some people felt a bit inconvenienced being that many of the bus routes were detoured to accommodate the filming needs of this action-packed adventure. It appeared that one man didn’t even know about the filming and detours until he set out to go to work on the very first morning.  Boy did he get a big surprise! He seemed to handle it though and was very good-natured about it all. So, You can imagine what an event it must have been for some to people to commute to and from work on the first day of shooting. I guess if you’re going to be inconvenienced, it might as well be like this! Roc City is once again…positively on the map!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

June 2017
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