Posted on August 5, 2011
We are staying in a house where giant Lake Ontario forms the edge of our infinity pool. Out beyond the grassy yard, there is a sitting area built out of rocks, and steps have been created with the flat stones that line the bottom of the lake, leading down to the water’s edge.
I drove into the center of Oswego to see what I could find there. I walked down a side street toward the Oswego river, and just as was saying to myself, “I wish I could find a little café,” I turned a corner and walked into The Coffee Connection. I noticed his hours posted on a sign-open 9 am til 7 pm. “No morning coffee business?” I asked the man behind the counter, who had an earring in each ear. “No, we tried it, and no matter what we did nobody would come in that early. They said they got their coffee at the gas station.”
There is an upstairs, and I went up to take a look. I surprised two young men who were snuggling on a couch. A magazine rack held several issues of Out Magazine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
I had a coffee, and picked up a copy of the Syracuse New Times, a paper that was once published by the Valley Advocate, that I used to paste up in Amherst in the ’80s. There was a story about Leon Redbone, a musician who wears a Panama hat, spends much of his time singing music from the teens and 1920s. He only sings a few songs of his own, preferring to keep that old music alive. The story said he uses the term “gizmo” and it doesn’t sound odd at all when he says it. I wished he was playing nearby tonight, but Cazenovia is an hour’s drive from here.
I walked down by the Oswego river and saw three bars on the narrow street parallel to the water, one had a sign that warned of a dress code. “All hats worn forward! And no baggy clothing.” Three woman dined outside on salads, and smiled as I walked by. I wanted to shoot their picture but felt awkward.
On the main street, a big building that once was a hotel and a brewery was closed down, but a small sign indicated that you could still rent a room upstairs if you wanted to. Then a city bus pulled up and I noticed the driver gesturing to me, waving for me to come over. Then I saw that his mirror had bent all the way back, blocking his door, so I turned it back straight.
There is a bookstore on the next corner, it’s a bright light called River’s End Bookstore I bought a newspaper and sat in a comfy chair, while NPR played. People were coming and going, and buying books, it was nice to see. This store seemed as if it was important to the people here and was an anchor of the downtown. In other parts of town once-promising businesses like a coffee roaster and the aforementioned brewery had folded their tents.
This is a boater’s town, fishermen and yachtsmen arrive here from all over. I learned this when I drove down the main drag to the marina where boats were being taken in and out of the water. A line of sailboats sat on the pavement, and in the distance the giant smokestacks of a power plant loomed. I bet I’m not the only visitor wondering who decided to mar the pretty waterfront by putting the main power plant right smack in the middle of any photo you might want to take.