Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Some time back I wrote a blog about Avon N.Y. Which included a poem about my childhood there. It was written in Ullans and featured the Cannons in the village square prominently as a motif entitled "What if the Beave were an Ulster Scot". That blog was reprinted by bIRD in his magazine Rootdrinker. Through that poem and the life it took on I met the Poet John Roche.

bIRD, suggested back then that we should go to Avon and we planned on it. Something came up I can't now remember and he went without me. They did a reading at the Cannons in the village square.

Since then we have had a running joke about how the bIRD sole my childhood...


A week or so ago we all piled into the bIRD Mobile and cruised up the Northway to see John as the featured poet at Cafe Lena. We met at the Parting Glass as is our want and then strolled down the streets of Saratoga to the reading. It was a wonderful night of poetry and John was at his best!

I came home with John's collection of poems entitled "On Conesus" which I consumed rather rapidly as it also figures prominently in the mythos of my childhood. Over the course of the immediate ensuing days I conceived another poem sparked by my memories.

The following is the result:



I am getting into a car
in my mind

I am getting into a surf green
1962 Impala in my mind

I am driving down route 20
in my mind

I am leaving the home
of adulthood

I am driving down the road
of youth
in my mind

Sitting, not driving actually
in the back seat of my fathers
Surf Green '62 Impala

With my family
all of them
alive and in the bosom
of the retinue of love

We are sharing Neco Wafers
and giving all the licorice ones
to my sister

We are passing
the Tepee Giftshoppe
where we never stop

We are entering
Cherry Valley
my baby brother sleeping

We are coming up
on the first
Burma Shave sign

We take turns reading
each sign
as they arrive
and pass by
the car window:

"Don't lose" my father starts
"your head" my brother reads
"To gain a minute" my other brother says
"You need your head" my sister intones
"You're brains are in it" I blurt from memory
for I cannot yet read

BURMA SHAVE! We all shout
Mom joining in

We are passing
the Petrified Creatures Museum
a tourist attraction my father says:
" not worth the money
it would cost
the seven of us to get in."

...all the more change for trinkets
in the amusement park
at long Point
on Conesus lake

I sleep
we nap on and off
Dad leads a round of
"The Bear Went Over
The Mountain."
as the Finger Lakes pass by

We are in Avon now
and the last landmark is sighted!

The White Horse
there it stands
at the gas station
a sentry guarding childhood

Now we pass the Avon Inn
burned down for the 3rd time
since it's historic beginning

Now Lacy Street
where I was born
and just for fun
once around the Village Circle
where the Civil War
Cannons rest
past the Barbershop
around the sleeping dog
in the road

Then back up the hill
and into the Mulvaney's driveway
right across the street
from the old homestead

Hugs, laughter, and the sound
of Mr Mulvaney's laugh
Mrs Mulvaney's smile

Into the car again
That Surf Green
'62 Chevy Impala

Into the car in my mind
Into the car
and we cross the road
driving slowly
under the umbrella
of trees lining Lacy street
past the old home
for old times sake

the end of the road
the school
the football field
a path no longer open

Back out to Rt 20
then backtrack
to Rochester Road
turning south

We have the key
We have the key to Mulvaney's Cottage

the journey over
the summer about to begin!

down memories road
down the road to the lake
onto Pebble Beach Road

We pull in
We pile out

I smell the water
I hear the boats
I feel the pebbles
teasing and arguing
with my feet

I know
I will fall sleep
to the sound of
Try your luck!
...only 10¢ a ball!"

by trinkets,
and odd shaped rocks

I hear the boats
I know I will wake to fog
and the sound of trolling fishermen

the smell of bacon
and mother
drinking coffee

waiting for the men
to return with Perch
fried up for breakfast

we will all be there
and in the bosom
of family.


*Shunpiker: one who avoids the turnpikes and highways preferring instead to take the slower backroads for the sheer pleasure and relaxation of it.


Then something unexpected happened!

We did a reading at the Pine Hollow Arboretum this past Friday the 12th of august. I opened with the preceding poem. It took on a life of it's own!

A retired couple who are sailing around the world in their yacht came to do the tour of the Arboretum and stayed for the poetry reading as well. Their boat I was told was parked somewhere exotic like the Caribbean and they came to Slingerlands N.Y. to visit by some other form of travel.

After the reading, they came up to me and very enthusiastically told me how much they like my poem! seems they lived in Avon for many years and knew the places I was reminiscing about!

That blew me away, but it doesn't end there... The next day at work I was telling a coworker about it and he stopped me short. "Avon?" he said. "This is the second time this week I ever heard of this place! Just the other day I was talking to a family friend and I asked her where she was. She said she was staying with some family in a place called Avon N.Y.! That's amazing obee!"


The plan at this moment is for bIRD and I to attempt another trip this fall. This time I will make it! ...if I don't go sooner before the end of the summer. ...somehow, I feel I am being called. YAH THINK!?!?


Just in case you think I'm making this up, while I was checking the spelling for Mulvaney I googled the name. Guess what! There is a book available on google books Written by the eldest Mulvaney a contemporary of my eldest brother containing their family tree compete with pictures of their parents whom I mention in the poem. I have found more photos from those summers on the lake not included here with both families swimming and picnicking at the lake. If I ever manage to get in contact with the family I'll have to share those too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.


  1. Thanks for this delightful poem and tour, Mark! Will share with some Avon friends.

    Hope we can do another cannons reading soon!


  2. Don't know if the other comment worked... So in case it didn't...
    Love this poem. I grew up in Avon, and knew the Mulvanys. My dad owned the Avon Inn for a while - fire number two. After that he owned Herm's Cocktail Hour. My Grandparents had an antique shop near the five arch bridge. Malone's Water Wheel.
    I live in Germany now, and miss small town USA.

    Keep up the great writing!

    Liz Gaiser (Underhill )

    Liz Gaiser ( Underhill )

  3. Thanks Liz! Chronologically we only lived there for about 5 years. (Of course we went back most summers into the early 70's) but if you ask any of my siblings Avon is/was "Home". It was a special place in a special time with special people living ordinary yet extraordinary lives. People cared for one another in a way we seem to have lost nowadays. Today, I wonder if people would let that sleeping dog lay. Sadly, I imagine they would either run him over or take his picture and post it to Facebook! ;)