POTRIKUS: No, Mom, I won’t give away any shortcuts

Column by Ted Potrikus

No, Mom, I won’t
give away any shortcuts

Here’s my mother, Jane Potrikus, happily celebrating her 75th birthday at The Otesaga in 2002, and not worrying about traffic whatsoever.

A belated but no less cheery ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to all you moms out there; I found myself thinking of my mother, of course, on Sunday — not only was it Mother’s Day, but it also would have been my parents’ 74th wedding anniversary.

Some reading this may remember my mother, Jane Potrikus. She was awesome and I remember her daily with great love and admiration. I wonder what she’d think about us moving back to Cooperstown at roughly the same age she was when she moved away from Cooperstown to her beloved Cape Cod. She had raised her 11 kiddos, stood strongly behind, with, and then in place of our dad, John, at the Cooperstown Dry Cleaners. There was something more out there for her, and she went for it for her 30-plus years on the Cape.

Were she here today, though, I know this: she’d remind me that one of the things that really got her goat out there was that one local newspaper in a mid-Cape town, ‘round about mid-May, would start running a regular feature on its front page each week with helpful hints for visitors to the Cape and Islands. “Side roads to avoid the traffic,” they’d offer. “Best places to eat before the lines get too long.” “How to get to the beach and beat the crowds.”

That drove her nuts. She’d shake her head at the paper and say, “Why do they do this? They’re giving away all of our secrets and now those side roads are going to be just as clogged as (routes) 6 and 6-A!” She ana-lyzed, correctly, that none of the visitors would subscribe to the paper. “They’ll end up losing more local readers with nonsense like this,” she promised. I’d bet she was right.

She kept her kitchen radio on pretty much all day when she was home and sometimes would call me. “Oh,” she’d say. “It’s a good thing you’re not out here. The traffic out of Boston is backed up four miles to the bridge.” Never mind that she was safely mid-Cape, not in her car. I would wonder why she stressed herself out by listening to traffic situations dozens of miles away, but I understood those reports from the Bourne and Sagamore bridges were her early-alert systems around which she could strategize her trips to the grocery store, the beach, or to Mass.

In Mom’s honor, then, I’m not going to write a single article about shortcuts that give easier access to the things we need to do. We’re going to keep the side roads to ourselves as we all try to avoid the pre-and-post-game jams on Route 28. We won’t say a thing about how best to line up for dinner at our favorite restaurants in and around Cooperstown, Oneonta, and places in between.

That’s not to say we won’t happily shine a bright light on hidden gems that deserve more publicity. We have so many outstanding restaurants, shops, and attractions in Otsego County that there’s plenty to share without divulging the best strategies for getting there. The way I see it is this: our visitors are coming from places where morning and afternoon commutes can be a half-hour, 45 minutes, or more. Sitting in a comparatively rural 10-minute stop-and-go is nothing.

Mom was a patient woman, but she put the kibosh on a drive to Oneonta if the traffic were going to be a hassle. She picked her battles. Traffic was not one of them. Giving away traffic secrets would be complete anathema to her memory. In her honor, then, my pledge: Mum’s the word.

4 thoughts on “POTRIKUS: No, Mom, I won’t give away any shortcuts

  1. larry bennett

    Excellent remembrance. My mom, who passed in 1984 when she was but 60, grew up on a dairy farm in SW Missouri. She probably drove her first tractor when she was 8. In WWII she drove trucks and staff cars for Air Force brass. Her thing about roads and cars (and drivers, too) was that she hated automatic transmissions. She could drive a non-synchro 4-speed troop transport and she disdained the vehicle with no clutch pedal. She didn’t think much of the wimpy drivers either. Therefore, I learned to drive stick early.

  2. Sarah Gerold

    I found this extremely endearing. I love the opportunity to better understand other’s perspectives & how they acclimated to the history of our area.
    And it makes me so happy to hear you loved your Mom so much, that you felt the need to let everyone know more about her!

  3. Barb LaCavA

    Great memories Ted, especially the radio in the kitchen. I miss her more as time goes on. My dear friend. So much fun together.

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