Every once in a while one has to get a little bit more personal on a blog; this is that post for this blog at this time.

On October 4th of this year my friend Kathy Lawrie Mingolelli passed away from cancer. It seems that these days cancer touches many of us in so many ways that I doubt there’s anyone that doesn’t know someone affected in some way by it. Thing is, she had beaten a different form of cancer years ago, only to have this more aggressive version crop up on her.

Here’s the thing. Until the day of the funeral, many of us who didn’t like where she lived didn’t even know about it. I happened to be out of town both on the day she passed and on the day of the funeral so I wouldn’t have been there anyway, but other friends of ours were stunned to see the news after the fact. We felt cheated out of our right to pay tribute to someone who had been a great friend of ours in college and, to some of us, outside of college.

So, a few of us decided we wanted to get together to pay tribute in our own way. It turned out to be 5 of us that took on the challenge of getting ourselves up to the State University of New York at Oswego, on the shores of Lake Ontario, which I talked about earlier this summer when I went to a portion of Alumni Reunion Weekend. The names, whom I shall name based on the order as shown on the ladder, are Debbie, Leda, Wanda, Chrissie and of course me.

It was a strange mixture of the new and the old. We all met at Cold Stone Creamery, which definitely wasn’t there years ago, because yours truly “needed” a milkshake. Then we went to Canale’s Restaurant, which was there when we were students, and where all of us had been at one time or another. The strange thing is that none of us ordered a traditional Italian meal, although one of the ladies, Chrissie, had an antipasto salad. I had a burger; it’s all I had room for after my milkshake.

by Samantha Decker via Flickr

After we ate it was time to head to the university. We parked in front of the administration building and started walking. We hoped to take a quick trek through the old Student Union but the building is presently closed for asbestos removal. So we headed to the new Campus Center, which is truly an amazing and amazingly large building, which most of the ladies hadn’t seen before. We walked the entire length of that building taking it all in before we reached the end and walked out on the side close to the dorms we used to live in.

We didn’t immediately go to the dorms though. We decided to head to the lake, first stopping at the old wooden fence to take in the changes, which is mainly the growth of the trees, which I got a picture of with the lake being able to be seen beyond. We were lucky to find a couple of students to take pictures of the group of us on all of our phones, then we walked down what I kept calling the rickety metal stairs behind Johnson Hall so that we were on the rocky shore of Lake Ontario. The waves were strong but the waters weren’t overly high, and the sound of those waves brought back memories for all of us.

We endeavored to take a walk to the next set of stairs, probably risking at least serious injury since none of us were wearing the proper shoes, but we got it done safely, and were able to find another student to take the picture of us on the stairs. I got a standard sunset shot, even though the sun wasn’t fully out on the day.

As we got to the top of the stairs the ladies decided they wanted to see the changes to their original dorm. Back then two of the dorms were segregated male and female, and they were joined, so to speak, by a cafeteria in the middle. When I met them I lived in the male dorm, Riggs, and they lived in Johnson Hall; I was a year ahead of them. These days the dorms are truly joined by the cafeteria and are coed. We got lucky in getting someone to allow us to go up to their old floor and I stayed in the hall, winded a bit from the walking, while they went to see their old rooms and the changes to them; after all, it was 30 years, and there were significant changes.

We then tried to get into my dorm, but it was closed off to us. Instead we walked up a couple of dorms to the last one, Scales Hall, where a couple of them had lived years later, and they enjoyed that tour, as I stayed outside and took in the fresh air; there was a steady wind, and I was reliving that wind, as it’s a prominent feature when you live that close to a great lake.

Finally we’d had our fill, and we walked back to the Campus Center via the health center and library route before finally deciding it was time to head back to the Syracuse area. We took a quick drive by the new townhomes on the west side of campus, which is shown behind the picture of the lagoon I shot, and then back to town. We talked at Wanda’s house for a while, then went out for dinner before I came home and they stayed to listen to a local musician who’s been making music in this town for close to 50 years; I hadn’t realized Todd Hobin was that old!

Sunday morning we met at Julie’s, as I’d told them about the wonderful breakfasts there, and they fully enjoyed themselves. It’s amazing how, at least in my eyes, more than 30 years have gone by and they all look the same. Trust me, I certainly don’t look like I do in that picture at the top, a great shot of me and Kathy that I never knew existed; I was 19 then.

And then it was over. We hugged and promised we’d get together more than once every 30 years from this point on. Since Wanda and I live about 10 minutes from each other, we always had that covered. It’s too bad that the circumstances of our reliving our past were negative, but weekends like this are nothing but positive, and everyone had wonderful memories of Oswego, Lake Ontario, and central New York in general.

That’s what this area is all about.