“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
Summer 1950s, Chautauqua County, Western New York
Many of us have delightful memories of the Sunday drive.
Church services, over. Visit with Gramma, over. Mid-afternoon pot-roast dinner, delicious. Now, it is time for a drive in the countryside.
The Samuelson family of 119 Hall Avenue, Jamestown, NY, piled into our 1949 Chevy Carryall and drove toward Mayville on route NY-430. We headed south on route NY-17J to Stowe. Next on the list, the most exciting part: crossing over Lake Chautauqua’s narrowest point using the Bemus Point-Stowe ferry to get ice cream! A ferry has been in operation since 1811.
We drove home in time to watch Lassie, Jack Benny, and The Ed Sullivan Show. The whole trip took ninety minutes.
This was family time. Time to re-set. Time to fix anything that may have gotten out of kilter the previous week.
I remember gazing out the backseat, passenger-side window at the forever-rolling hills. The lake and vineyards were on one side, with red barns, dairy cows, and cornfields on the other. For as beautiful and peaceful the drive was in the 1950s, it still is today.
But times have changed. Many small farms collapsed, both literally and figuratively. They could not compete with large, mechanized, conglomerate farms.
It is more dangerous to tear down an old barn than it is to build a new one. Same for one-room schools and old farm houses. The countryside is spotted with these decaying buildings representing a life that was, but never will be again.
It may sound sad, but it isn’t. Not always. When I come upon items slowly returning to nature—houses, barns, schools, cars, farm equipment—I imagine laughter and everyday small talk. I hear the noon Farm Report. I think about the news events of that time and the impact they had on the folks who lived in the homes, worked the farms, attended the schools, drove the cars, and walked along the county roads. They’re nice memories, comfortable memories of a page now turned.
That’s the feeling I hope you’ll discover in this Rural and Rustic Collection.