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Notable Ithacan-Americans

Sonic outtake with moving images from Robert Moog exhibit at The History Center

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The Big "V" is Our New Year's Model

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This is Vivian. She is tinytowntimes.com's representative being for the New Year. We hope you like her because if you don't she will gladly poop on you.

 

Fare thee well, Jersey Bill

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jersey bill

Tiny Town, USA – Bill Carson was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He was swift to remind anyone that he hadn't always been the quiet, well mannered fellow I'd gotten to know. I met him probably a decade or more ago and he was one of those people who had the ability to suffer in silence. And he suffered quite a bit and never bitched about it.

It doesn't matter where I met Bill, "Jersey Bill" as I later called him.

He reminded me of the men my father might have worked alongside; there was a saltiness in that gravelly voice and his accent was unmistakably Jersey. He often wore a watch cap and combed his hair straight back a la Bogart. When we first met, I pegged him for a longshoreman. I was wrong, but the impression was accurate.

His rugged face was marked by the tough years he'd spent earlier in his life and ... it's odd the stories you remember about a person.

At one point Bill was having a tough time with his health and I asked him what the heck was the matter.

"I can't eat salt no more," he opined. "The doctor told me to quit it."

Turns out Bill loved salt and his grief over the loss of this essential food sticks in my mind because I love salt, too.

Before I eat anything, I grab the salt. Bill was like that and we spoke of how unfair it was that life would take away the simple blessing of table salt from a man. We traded stories of the things we liked to salt, and our mutual love of soy sauce. Bill had sacrificed a number of pleasures in his life, but to take away his salt seemed criminal. He wasn't complaining: He was shocked and aggrieved about this loss but "ya gotta do what ya gotta do," he said.

I hope he got to cheat a little with the stuff that built the pyramids and keeps Cargill in the stock exchange. But if he lost the salt and abided by the doctor's opinion, he never lost his saltiness. That was bred in the bone.

And this silly story is what I remember right now about Bill. There are dozens of other vignettes from my time in his presence – a lot of stories. Since he moved, I've missed hearing his common salutation for me: "How ya doin, kiddo?" I was always glad to see him; and, he made me feel that he too, Jersey Bill, was always glad to see me. It was an honor to be his friend.

When he left for North Carolina a while back, I wished for him a nice long retirement minus the foul winters that whipsawed his health, which was fragile.

Deep down, I also felt that I'd be lucky if I ever saw him again.

That longing passed with Bill this week, although the pang of loss will be deeply felt for a spell I cannot reckon the length of. He wouldn't want me to get too fancy with a tribute or elevate him above the sober place he worked so hard to occupy.

You should know this, though: A great good man has left us. Maybe you don't know it, but the world is a better place for having had Bill Carson living in it for a while.

Franklin Crawford, a friend of "Jersey Bill"

Photo provided.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 18:08
 

When morning gets broken and Tiny Town Recycleth

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Tiny Town, USA – Today was a good day because today was ...

A Recycling Day!

The bluebird, robin and the cardinal, the grackles and the starlings all rhapsodizing their convoluted morning chorus a little too blithely these humid morns. The 2013 avian morning chorus is robust on my side of town.

They are unbeatable this year, in frequency alone.  With one exception: Every other Thursday morning the recyclers come and shut them right out of my ear drums.

I am keen to the sound of the Recycling Truck, the one with the squeaky breaks that rids me of my recycling and so thrills me: even the reverse beeper of the hazard alarm is comforting. All except the cost. I don't mind it shuts the two local mourning doves out for a while -- what is their problem? Nice feathers, pretty birds, singing this mopey version of "Tea-for-Two."

In the fetid semi-gloom of a still-humid hour, real men/women shout orders at one another the old fashioned way: They BARK, because baby, it's dark outside, and they are half-lit by red tail lights, and some times probing bins with headlamps (if they are so lucky. Note to self: do our municipal waste management people wear headlamps? Mark it).

I don't mind the shatter of the glass bottles or the crash of tin, crackle of plastic and the compressor's grinding screech; I know it's my detritus and it will all be compacted, sorted, hidden from my view, and best of all -- removed from my premises. Merrily merrily merrily, my crap goes down the solid waste stream!

Out of sight, out of mind!

Er ...  That this whole industry truly has a massive impact on the solid waste stream I am in some doubt ... But I am a dolphin safe, comfy with my carbon footprint, Ithacan-American.

I reflect as I roll over in my pallet. And I doze off to the sweet music of the big squeaky-braked truck rumbling and screeching every 10-15 feet. Don't ever stop those crude, refreshing voices telling it like it is to us Lotus Eaters in The Land of Nod: A voice cries: "AllllleeUP! P'LOUT! – or something  like that. There's a boom and a crash. The Town Criers announce a new day!

"GDrEEYULP- JGHAGOON!" The engine lurches forward spewing ancient gutturals from the falling angel's first stockyard which led to offal, your animal friend, once inside all those cans of cat food that just went sayonara.

Still time for a little snooze ... Job well done, one and all. Raise the bird chorus again, please.

Franklin Crawford, dumped his share of trash, in a proper vessel in a civilized, orderly manner; as for compost: who can afford not to eat all?

Last Updated on Friday, 12 July 2013 05:50
 

The Great Ithaca Write-In, May 17, 1988

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Tiny Town, USA – The following is an entire excerpt typed in by hand from the 1988 Ithaca Centennial's "gift" -- a book of about 200 submissions from various members of the community based on the May 17, 1988 Great Ithaca Write-In. I select the following because the man who wrote it is a good man, and the man who saw to his exile from Tiny Town, was not a good man.

The author is Rick Eckstrom. The man who backstabbed him and sent him away from his beloved city with his wife and child is none other than the duplicitous Alan Cohen, boy wonder: The Mayor who brought us the Southwest Corridor and the miracle mile and broke enough laws to be subject to extradition for hanging. But let's just go back to 1988, a more "honest time." It was my first year at the Ithaca Journal as a reporter and I remember we copied this idea and did our own Day in the Life of Ithaca; I chose to cover clouds. It's true. Anyway, on with our little Greek tragedy:

"My name is Rick Eckstrom and I live at 954 Coddington Road in an old house that my spouse and I are restoring to look like it might have when it was first built in 1860. Coddington Road this far out is still sparsely settled. We live by the original farm once associated with our property, still farmed today by our neighbor, Dick Walker.

I am a building inspector for the City of Ithaca. Because I am relatively new at my job I have to take five courses offered by the State of New York to meet the minimum standards for code enforcement personnel. Today I am taking Code and Enforcement Administration, course number 44. This course consists of 24 hours of training in how to conduct yourself as a code enforcer and how the community relates to your job. I had to get up this morning quite early to make the 8 o'clock start time at the State Fire Academy in Montour Falls, about a 40 minute drive in my pick-up truck, out route 79 to Mecklenburg and then route 228 to Odessa and down the hill into the outskirts of Montour Falls. Today it is very foggy as it has rained throughout the night.

When I arrived at the class we began the role playing exercise that I had volunteered for the previous day. My name is Roy Fish and my job is to go out to the Finkle Farm and see what Mr. Finkle is up to. We all that Mr. Finkle is building a hotel contrary to the zoning that exists in Smalltown, but will  not let me in on the secret. He then introduces me to his dog "Lockjaw" and asks me to leave.

My lunch is in Watkins Glen where I have a meatball parmigiana submarine sandwich and a salad at Scuteri's Pizzaria. The afternoon is spent in class talking about zoning and planning, not very exciting topics.

I stop in Cayutaville on my way home at my friend Tom Parker's house and borrow rototiller and haul it home in the pick-up.

I am good health today except for the fifth metatarsal on my left foot that was broken last Thursday, five days ago. I have a slipper cast and a boot on it, and I can walk and work the pickup's clutch quite well, but the foot gets uncomfortable and sore as the day goes on.

My wife is eight months pregnant with out first child, whom we will call Schuyler. We have waited a while to have any children. We are both 35 and quite please with anticipation.

I hope that when this letter is read that Ithaca will be as beautiful a place as it is today and that we have managed not to have any world wars, any nuclear disasters, and learned to stop destroying our environment and living species that are vital to the success and diversity of the whole ecosystem of the earth."

Sounds like a nice guy. Alan Cohen stabbed him in the back. Sent him into a situation to clear out a black barber shop that was operating on the former premises of the Morris' MensWear, now Lot10. Eckstrom, acting on orders from the mayor did what he was asked to do, which was to order the shop to find another place to operate. There had been an effort to keep the shop alive, but merchants in the area complained about it. Particularly the merchants at a Angel Heart, a place that made baggy sackclothing for overweight women, across the street. Eckstrom got caught in a crossfire that included charges of racism and was forced to resign from his position by a cowardly mayor who pretended to know nothing of the situation.

He and his wife Cheryl Russell, who was editor-in-chief of American Demographics back in the day, moved to South Carolina, where they are not happy with the politics. Rick Sanborn? Find weight-bearing wall, bang head.

But it is unlikely they will ever return to their beloved Ithaca, although both contributed to this community in substantial ways, ways that few others have, or will. For an interesting and accurate accounting of this incident, read John Milich's piece on the whole shebang at http://www.wholeithaca.info/tcgp/2001/07/14-1755-Alan_Cohen_Ousts_Rick_Eckstrom_to_speed_Widewaters_Development.html .

This excerpt then, is a wonderful example of why we should all be sending in our submissions to The Great Ithaca Write-In of May 17, 2013. Because these kind of records, stand for themselves in a different way than any other kind of public document. They mark the passage of human life itself, while marking institutional life, as a footnote.

There you go. Things change, hey? Things stay the same.

On May 17, assume the position, and submit.

– Franklin Crawford, who remembers this kind of crap and supports the May 17, 2013 Great Ithaca Write-In.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:15
 


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