My heart is full to overflowing. So much grief, so much anger, so much sadness, so much Pentecost joy and appreciation, so much gratefulness for folks reaching out, so much love and caring. Yes, so much, and if we can hold on to the goodness and remember the kindness!
In the past month it seems as if the phone calls and Facebook posts and obituaries chronicle pages of my past. Because of the health restrictions of COVID-19 we cannot gather as usual. It is hurtful not to be able to share hugs and memories with families and friends of those who have passed away recently. Ivan VanNorstrand was a friend, excellent farmer, Conquest Fire Department leader and wonderful family man. His life is reflected in his family and community. Marilyn Holmes was one of the busiest people I have ever known. She was an accomplished crafter of every sort — she was generous with her time and memories; there was never an instance that she refused to give of herself or her resources. Sarah Gilmore was a friendly, feisty friend. Her disabilities absolutely became her abilities to turn every challenge into an adventure. She wanted to be in a play — “any part, Mrs. Lincoln, I just want to be part of this to see if I can do it! You know I can’t talk loud but is there something?” She was one of the maids in “Life With Father” and gave a polished performance! Of course, we had a mini blizzard opening night and she got there ASAP. We shoved her into her maid costume and she pushed her tea cart out on time and delivered her curtsy and "thank you, sir," perfectly! Rosemary Blake was one of my earliest Port Byron memories. Her family's friendship with mine and the like-mindedness of community activism was a blessing. Later we discovered our mutual love of books and music and theater. It is often said of someone that they were beautiful inside and out, and Rosemary Blake was!
I am incredibly proud to be part of Cayuga County. The positive energy bursting through this pandemic is affirming. The tourism education committee filled me with hope and joy hearing of the innovative ways that our communities are coping and thriving. Zoom might become a way of the future, saving time and resources! Not only has Auburn Public Theater not shut down, they have expanded their offerings and engaged thousands — yes, literally thousands. Their recent conversations on racial relationships and police brutality logged 3,000 folks on Facebook sharing concerns and hopes. Hundreds of creative takeout meals have been curbside delivered and enjoyed! Our family has tried a new venue every week!
The most affirming, however, is the outreach and caring evident every day. Churches have used social media for worship but have not forgotten the phone calls, letters, cards and outreach. Our Countryside United Methodist Church Community Cupboard continues to provide mostly cleaning supplies and personal items. However, we have been able to add some food items and some books to share. The cupboard is on Duck Lake Road in Springlake and open 24/7. “Take a blessing when you need one, leave a blessing when you can.” An over-the-top indication of the depth of caring was the affirmative, peaceful protest in Auburn on Sunday, May 31. Organizers and local police worked together to assure safety and responsibility.
I would like to promote two Conquest offerings! Doug Krupka has consistently and lovingly provided healthy flower and vegetable plants! He is proud of his offerings and rightly so! He is already sold out of many, but please check his stand on Route 38 if you need any — especially peppers and tomatoes. Later in the season, he will have plenty of fresh vegetables for sale. Duck Lake Campground has an idyllic, restful venue. They have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to welcome campers but have reveled in their immediate wharf and boating opportunities. Check them out for family and visiting friends this summer: 11040 Duck Lake Road, Red Creek, or (315) 430-7382.
The Cato American Legion post has been ever faithful in helping us honor our fallen veterans. Even with all the restrictions on gatherings and dedications, they still made the rounds of northern towns to help commemorate the lives of men and women in our communities. We will never forget, but thank you for helping us remember.
Joni Lincoln is the historian of the town of Conquest.
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