Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to my sister Mary!

Today is my sister Mary's birthday. Our other sister, Ruth Ann and I celebrated it with her yesterday in the mid-Hudson Valley region, where we all did some of our growing up.
We met for lunch in Hyde Park, at the Culinary Institute of America's American Bounty Restaurant. Despite a gloomy, blustery day, the talented CIA students cooking for and serving us made the occasion a cheerful one. At the conclusion of our very good lunch, this Happy Birthday platter of cookies (above) arrived at our table.

I had hoped that we could spend some of the afternoon walking around enjoying the Hudson River views from the CIA campus, but really the weather was not at all inviting. Instead, we drove to 134 Academy Street in Poughkeepsie where our family had lived in the 1950s. We all had fond memories of the nooks and crannies in this wonderful old house. An architectural firm owns it now, but other than the paint color (it used to be yellow) it looks much the same as when we lived there.

Ruth Ann remembered the beautiful stained glass windows that lined the front hall stairs. How wonderful that they are still there.
Mary remembered the side door, where our mother would pop her head out to see if the light was still on in Mary's bedroom, visible at the top right of the photo above.
When our parents bought this house in 1952, it was a mess, a real money pit. They spent tons of time and money fixing it up and ended up selling it at a considerable loss when our father, an IBM engineer, was transferred. Here's how bad it was: I still remember the name of the carpenter, a Mr. Owens, who spent an awful lot of my young childhood helping to keep a roof over our heads.
Our parents are both long gone now, but I hope that they would feel pleased to see this house today. Still looking good, now with an historic designation, it remains a vital part of this Poughkeepsie neighborhood.
My sister Mary, too, is still a vital part of her community. Despite the fact that today is her 67th birthday, she is still working full time as a junior high special education teacher in northern New Jersey.
I won't insult you, Mary, by suggesting that perhaps you, too, deserve an historic plaque, but you do have my love and admiration for all that you do and for all that you have achieved. Thanks for being a wonderful, generous, loving, and supportive big sister for lo these many years.
Have a wonderful day. Love, Be