By Ginger Kuenzel, DLE Alum, Speaker, Author, Editor, Translator, Corporate Consultant, Adirondacks Enthusiast, Hague, NY/ Englewood, FL
Every year in early November, when the days in northeastern New York turn cold and grey, I pack up my car and head to Florida. And every year in late May, when the Florida heat and humidity become oppressive, I repack my car and head north. It’s the perfect lifestyle.
My initial move to Florida wasn’t all that easy. Moving to a new town means finding new friends as well as a new doctor, dentist, hair stylist, stores and restaurants. It all takes time, and it makes me truly appreciate my town on Lake George in northeastern New York, where I have very deep roots. It’s where I was born and have spent at least part of every year my entire life.
This town is so small that the Postmaster, who knows what kind of car I drive, will call to let me know if I have a package waiting that might not fit in my vehicle–and that I might want to call a friend to help out. A friend with a pickup truck. There is a real sense of community in small towns, and people are always willing to help each other.
My family has a long history in this town. I often dream about inviting some of my deceased ancestors to stop by for a glass of wine so I can ask them about some missing pieces of that history. I want to know, for instance, about the inscription on the back of a large oil painting that hangs in my house. It was painted by a moderately famous New York City artist who summered in our town and was close friends with my grandmother. Taped to the back of the painting is a handwritten note from the artist, wishing my grandmother a very happy first anniversary.
I always thought it strange that he would give her such a generous gift as an anniversary present. And why is it inscribed only to her, not to her and her husband? Was it a different kind of anniversary that he was referring to, a secret event that only he and my grandmother knew about? Ah, the stories I could discover over a glass of wine.
My grandfather may also have had some secrets of his own. I have a large wooden plaque that used to hang in his boathouse, which was across the lake from their house. According to family legend, Grandpa bought the property as a first wedding anniversary present for Grandma and then built the boathouse for himself. I think it was his man cave–long before anyone used that term. The plaque has a long list of names of boats that were berthed in the boathouse over the years. But were some of them–Betty, Chloe, Penny, Princess–really just boats or did he weave in names of lady friends whom he entertained across the lake?
Are these stories true? Who knows! But my ancestors are not here to dispute them, and people in this town love nothing more than a good rumor. Far be it from me to deprive them of these tales of intrigue.