June 10, 2012

The Month of May in Heuvelton, New York



     The lilacs bloomed and faded in Heuvelton, New York, during the month of May, 2012, when my husband Monte and I “lived” in that lone village in the town of Oswegatchie in St. Lawrence County.

Heuvelton is small and rurally located about six miles southeast of the city of Ogdensburg, not far from the edge of the St. Lawrence River. The Oswegatchie River flows through Heuvelton during its travels to the St. Lawrence River.

We traveled to Heuvelton to settle the estate of Monte’s brother, Elwin, who had died March 4. Monte was the executor of the estate.

When we arrived in Heuvelton we were not alone. Monte carried an invasive bug with him. It forced him to just sit in a chair for two days, miserable. As the bug gradually left his body, it visited me, zapping my energy.

When we were there in March Monte cut off the phone and the cable television. The phone was no problem—we had our cell phones. However, the television was another matter, especially while we were combating our bug.

     We did receive one television channel, CBC from Kingston, Ontario, Canada, across the big river. This was possible because Canada has yet to revert from analog to digital television communication. The picture we viewed contained varying degrees of snow, and if I worked on my laptop the sound’s static increased.

In spite of the challenge Monte was in hockey heaven (and someone told me I was in hockey hell…). CBC airs hockey most nights. However, a VCR allowed us to watch movies on CDs or videocassettes.

Of course, we watched news from the Canadian perspective.

One morning I heard the weatherman announce that temperatures would break a record that day. The high, he said, was expected to be 30 degrees—breaking the previous 28 degrees. I did a double-take: 30 degrees? Could the temperature possibly jump that low in the midst of the heat wave we were experiencing? Suddenly a light went on in my head: the temperature was being reported in Celcius, not Fahrenheit. The reality was the mercury would register 90 degrees F.

Then there was the visit Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (pictured above) made to Canada between May 20 and May 23. While CBC thoroughly covered the visit that honored Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. I couldn’t find a mention of the visit in the one Ogdensburg paper I read.

Of course, there was other news—all from the Canadian perspective. For example, the bear attack in the Canadian hinterlands…(see link at end of post).

What was positive in Heuvelton was their tiny library, Heuvelton Free Library. There I met locals and had virtually full access to the Internet. The librarian knew why we were there and generously allowed us to borrow movie CDs—including Precious and The Note. The library was the social meeting place for some locals, and the dynamic between the librarian and its patrons seemed very positive.

The first night I walked to the library the neighbor’s grandchild, Claire, was playing hopscotch. I chastised her for making the outline too small. No square was big enough for her feet. The next day I helped her draw a more realistic layout. During the month she demonstrated her dance and tree-climbing ability, and we began to write stories together. We took a walk to the cemetery, where she showed me her great-grandfather’s stone and I showed her Elwin’s site. I also gave her my camera and let her take pictures, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Later she walked to the cemetery by herself, having discovered interesting intricacies there.

Just before we left she adopted a small gray kitten, which we had fun playing with. It really liked snuggling in the warm neck of whoever was holding her.

Along the walk to the library is a lavender house, which inspired me to find pastel houses with rainbow colors (pink, orange, yellow, green blue violet) for a post. I figured I wouldn’t locate an orange house when I saw one in the distance—it was orange brick. I snapped the picture of the old house and created the post.

Meanwhile, Monte came across a book for the yellow late-sixties Mustang once owned by Elwin’s wife, Dot. Someone suggested it was purchased by Dean, and we sought him out. Turns out he lives in the orange house, which was once the Pickens house. And he did have a yellow Mustang, but he didn’t purchase Dot’s vehicle.

Dean and his wife are active in the community, and especially in Pickens General Store and Museum. The store sells cheese curd, which Monte favors, and the first Thursday we were there he came to the house with garlic dill cheese curd—ummm, ummm, good!

However, the General Store is more than cheese curd:

This three story stone structure, built in 1858 by John Pickens, boasts a former music hall on the third floor. This music hall is where the builder’s twin grand-daughters (Bessie and Jessie Pickens) once performed as opera singers under the stage name “The Abbot Sisters”. The building is currently undergoing renovation by the nonprofit, Heuvelton Historical Association…*

I enjoyed having my coffee while sitting in a chair adjacent to the living room picture window. The house was directly across the street from the twelve-grade school, so the school buses came morning and afternoon—and a few at noon, I assume for the kindergarten kids. Amish buggies, carrying a variety of items (including boats) passed by, as did all sorts of business vehicles. Dog walkers, baby stroller pushers, and runners were regular passers-by.

Mother’s Day arrived. I was supposed to go to a dance performance in Greensburg with my daughter. Someone else used the ticket.

I told Monte I wanted to go birding. That is, I wanted to go out and take pictures of the osprey. We are usually in Heuvelton in mid-July and I didn’t know what they would be doing at this time. In the end my trigger finger was happy, as I returned home with numerous good pictures.

While staying at Elwin’s house we continued his tradition of feeding Sonny, the neighbor’s dog.

The neighbors had a long-term relationship with Elwin, and welcomed us generously. After we auctioned off the household goods, one neighbor loaned us a card table and a lamp, and told us if we needed anything to let them know. Another neighbor mowed the lawn. They all passed the respect they had for Elwin to us.

During the time we were in Heuvelton Monte and I managed to complete his responsibilities of executorship. We auctioned off the household goods, donated clothing to the Salvation Army, mailed three boxes to Elwin’s grandson in Texas, sold the car, and sold the house. We also hosted the Holland Family Reunion.

Eventually I will create posts on some of the interesting places in Heuvelton. All in all, it wasn’t the vacation Monte tried to make it out to be (there was too much work involved), but we did have a good experience in a small town in Northern New York.

Just before we left Heuvelton the rhododendron were blooming. Upon our arrival back home, the mountain laurel was in full bloom—the rhododendrons had bloomed while we were in Heuvelton.



Bear Attack Tales With a Tinge of Humor:

Heuvelton, N.Y.: Homes in Rainbow Pastels

Elwin Holland: Heuvelton, New York

February 25 to March 12, 2012: A Three-Week Odyssey

Get Well Cards Requested for Burn Victim





  1. !!! Loved the story / also reflection in sun glasses of you !

    Comment by Joan — June 10, 2012 @ 10:11 am | Reply

    • Actually, I was photoing the auction through the glasses. Unfortunately, I also caught myself doing so!

      Comment by carolyncholland — June 12, 2012 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  2. Thank you for letting the world in on our little peace of Heaven in Heuvelton!! Linda Marshall

    Comment by LInda Marshall — June 18, 2012 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

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