My 40th Year In Central New York
Today marks the 40th year I’ve lived in central New York, most specifically Liverpool. I don’t remember what time I saw the place we were going to live but we moved into Grenadier Village some time in the afternoon on this date, July 8th, which was just a few days after Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors in tennis, spawning a tennis revolution of sorts for black players because that’s when I started playing tennis.As much as I love central New York and Liverpool now, living here initially wasn’t all that great.
When I knew we were moving back to the Syracuse area (we’d lived here from ’66 to ’69) I thought we were going to be living in North Syracuse. That’s where I’d gone to elementary school for a few years when we first lived on Taft Road, then on Hancock Field. I thought I’d run into a few people I knew back in the day, and it eventually happened, but not as soon as I had hoped.
Instead I ended up at Liverpool High School to start 11th grade, which was both a curse and a blessing.
It was a curse because Liverpool was not only NOT welcoming to black people, but to people who it didn’t consider as “residents”. By the time I graduated the best friends I had were all people who had moved here within the two years I went to the school, and years later those are most of the people I still talk to for the most part. At the very least these are the people whose politics mirror mine; not sure what that says about the Liverpool HS I went to at the time.
The reason I said it wasn’t welcoming to black people back then wasn’t because anyone was mean to me for being black. It’s that, out of a school of over 3,800 students, if there were 50 black people it was a miracle. And most of them didn’t know what to do with me either; yeah, I was kind of a social misfit.That was the curse part. The blessing part was that I got to totally reinvent myself once again. Being a military kid, every time I moved I got to become someone else, exhibit a different part of my personality.
Before I left Maine I was someone who most people thought was pretty talkative but a pretty good athlete. When I got to Liverpool I realized I was still pretty good, but there were a lot more people I had to go through to be even somewhat recognized.
I only went out for one sport, my senior year when I went out for the baseball team. I didn’t make it… because the coach pulled me into his office, said I was better than the guy he had but that guy was a sophomore on a team that won the championship the year before and I was a senior and he didn’t think it would be fair for me to sit on the bench behind someone I was better than; so be it.
Regardless, I achieved a lot of stuff in high school anyway and went to school in Oswego; what a blast! I support SUNY Oswego as often as I can and visit a few times a year, heading to Wades or what we called “the stands”, and I love driving around seeing all the changes. But mostly I love visiting and looking at Lake Ontario… wow! I remember going out to look out over the lake in springtime to watch the Northern Lights, something an astronomy major showed me freshman year that many people living there still don’t know about.
Other than college I’ve lived in Liverpool my entire adult life, one apartment over another. I’ve never found a compelling reason to leave. Everything I could ever want is within 10 minutes of wherever I’ve lived in this city, whether it was considered the town of Clay or Salina.
Now I live on a street that, when I first moved here, I had the sneaking suspicion that the neighbors called each other to tell them to come out and see “what’s” riding a bike up the street because it happened more than once. And, oddly enough, people we don’t know know that we live in this house; just sayin’… lol
Yet, I love it. I share a backyard with Wegmans, live less than a couple of miles from Onondaga Lake, 10 minutes from both Destiny and Great Northern, have all kinds of restaurants (though not a good Chinese restaurant anymore; sigh…) and fast food places, a library and a Barnes & Noble… if it wasn’t for visiting other people I know I’d never have to leave.
But I truly love all of central New York. I love telling people when I travel where I live, and I love to talk about the snow, the Dome, the mountains, the lakes, the food, the Orange and the soft ice cream; did you know that there are few places outside of central New York that have a lot of soft ice cream places? I mean, what’s up with that?
I’ve lived in a lot of places, visited way more, but I can’t think of any other place I’d rather live than here. I feel sorry for those who complain about this place; it’s on them. I hope I never have to leave; I hope no one I like leaves either. 😉