Jim Atwell: New View, From Delaware Street


New View, From

Delaware Street

It’s a pleasure to be writing again for The Freeman’s Journal (as well as, for the first time, Hometown Oneonta).  I’ve been here before, though it was about two decades ago. More about that in a future column.

Jim Atwell

For this new stint of columns, of course I need a new name. “From Fly Creek” just won’t do. Though all I learned and came to love while writing from that hamlet still lives in me, I’ve moved on, and not just in age. (In August I’ll be eighty-one.) I’ve also moved through a range of new experiences including deteriorations that have come with continuing Parkinson’s, and now with diabetes and uncertain blood pressure.

So mine’s a different perspective now, and I should address you from it. And I’ve concluded to assure that by naming this series from Anne’s and my new home base: halfway down the two long blocks that form one of Cooperstown’s most handsome streets.

Delaware Street runs straight as a die from Chestnut down to Beaver Street. It’s lined with fine trees and well-maintained homes. Nearly all the homes have comfortable front porches. Just now almost every porch features hanging baskets of trailing flowers, plus a colorful pot or two arranged along the steps. Many are also brightened by our national flag, wafted by breezes.

And here’s my most important new insight, friends: It’s front porches that largely create a sense of community, of neighborhood. That last word is wondrous, akin to brotherhood and sisterhood. It bespeaks a real bond, shared values, even shared dependency. Anne and I experience all those qualities in our new neighborhood.

And never more so than when sitting in breezy shade on the porch on a summer afternoon, when so many neighbors are ambling along Delaware, walking their dogs and often stopping to banter with us across the porch railing, or even to join us on the porch for something cool to drink and more leisured talk.

Those are simple but precious times. I hope my describing them will prepare you to expect with some regularity a repeated headline in this historic paper: “A Front Porch Perspective.”



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