I miss the old Red Apple Rest and the Motel on the Mountain. Bear Mountain Lodge. Funny thing. My Dad moved to the “quaint little town of Valley Stream” – yes, I received my copy of the newly released “History of Valley Stream” recently – to be in the country. And in fact, though our new “country” house was just one short block from the New York City line, there was, indeed, a farmer’s house right in our backyard. Maybe a half-acre was all he had left.
Which brings me to Monroe, NY …. I was probably between 4-8 years old when my family used to go there as part of our summer vacation. We would stay at a small, rustic motel on a bluff overlooking the road. A road much like I imagined used to be what the 5-lane in Marion once was. Sitting on that front porch watching the sporadic car go by was just one of life’s many small pleasures. I do have quite a few memories of those days – with my Mom & Dad, baby brother [literally], Aunt Tess & Uncle Joe, and my cousin, Robert [like my big brother] – but being so young they are sort of surreal to me now. Life was so much simpler & quieter back then. I wonder what Monroe is like today? One memory I have is of a rat being in our room and nibbling on my brother’s bottle nipple. I think my Mom felt it run across her shoulder as she slept. Nothing like a rat in your vacation suite. There was a miniature golf course up the road. A blast. That’s where I did most all the golfing I have ever done. Ice cream and golfing … putt-putt … My parents helped me create some great memories. We’d go down to the pond to sail the vessel across the mighty seas – my cousin & I. The vessel was a creaky old row-boat. The difference wasn’t noted in the day.
But the best … the memory, the one that just sticks with me … is that smell. Not sure what it was … sweet clover? – perhaps. There was a herd of sheep grazing out in a pasture across the road from our rinky-dink motel [few, if any, large chains were around then – it was all Mom & Pop]. Seems I could watch them in their peacefulness forever. And, I did. But it was really all about that smell. It just wafted through the air, across the road, and to my appreciative nostrils. I don’t think I have ever smelled anything better – not that I didn’t eat, at least. And yet, I still don’t know, for sure, what it was. Once in a while, as I am driving, I get a brief, passing whiff of that smell. Instantaneously, I am brought back to Monroe, NY, at that old motel, as safe & secure as a kid could be, smelling that sheep pasture. It is like a magical mist surrounds my brain and gently massages it with soft wisps of fingertips. It is bliss. And then it’s gone.
Wonderful! Some memories are eternal. Loved it, Rich
Why mourn for things which are not dead? Why miss the things that havent gone? The world is full of little country roads dotted with green pastures. Quaint family owned general stores still abound. They often feature a small diner, not the faux-retro of moondoggies, but the genuine article. Few cellphones laptops and gadgets are seen at these places. They are often filled mostly with regulars but the occasional passerby is more than welcome. Conversation is readily available. Go and look.
Putt-putt continues to be quite popular as well. Mostly for the young or the young at heart. Frogs of all colors are as numerous as ever. Open your ears this summer and you will hear them. And where there are frogs there will be tadpoles. Thousands of them. The human child of today still is delighted at the discovery of a nest of gooey frog children in a still pool of water. That will never change.
Do not be dismayed by the expansion of a road. Its a good thing. It is necessary to facilitate the travel of the people who live work and play in that town. Nostalgia is quite normal but leave life to the living. Perhaps its not the world that has changed. Perhaps its your perspective.