Archive for August 31st, 2023

Service of Small-Town America

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

My sister, Elizabeth Baecher, welcoming the French Deputy Consul General and other guests to the ceremony in honor of the 125-year-old monument.
Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, NY

I’m a native of Manhattan with city sidewalks in my veins. For years I considered that anyone who settled in a place with a few blades of grass lived in the country. Then we bought a house in upstate New York in deep dish country in a town with, I suspect, more beavers and deer than people [1,500 of the latter].

I’ve been gone long enough to once again be charmed by small-town events and to acknowledge the best of life there. Last weekend I attended a ceremony in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette in Fishkill, NY, population of around 2,100. It was the 125th anniversary of a monument to him in the Rombout Rural Cemetery on Rte. 52.

Turned out that Lafayette convalesced for a month in the Brinckerhoff House up the road from the cemetery. In 1898 the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a monument to him, hence the celebration.

Each of the speakers were interesting, [and brief], and many of the attendees were friendly. Damien Laban, French Deputy Consul General in New York, was the special guest and my sister, Elizabeth Baecher, read the welcome remarks in French. In addition, there was the Presentation and Retiring of the Colors by the Town of Fishkill Police Cadets Color Guard and taps played during the laying of the wreath.

The day didn’t end there. After a lovely brunch as guests of the Brinckerhoff House, now an inn, we visited the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, N.Y. in its 177th year. It was my first visit [although for 25 years I lived 40 minutes away from the fairgrounds and attended many a craft fair there]. I was taken aback by the thousands of attendees on the last day of the weeklong event and especially enjoyed the exhibit of vintage farm equipment still in working order and chugging away. We saw the old machines that turned stones to gravel, removed corn from cobs, sawed medium to giant tree limbs or pumped water. We enjoyed the fiddler, banjo player and country singer too—and so much more.

I’m a New York city person through and through but there is something civilized and charming about small-town America and its traditions, don’t you think? Are there local traditions that you enjoy where you live or visit?

Dutchess County Fair

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