Tag Archives: Syracuse

Planks for the memories

Pretty soon lots of people owned cars. Driving around was interesting back then. Europe had roads dating back to Antiquity, paved in stone. In America, paved roads weren’t exactly a thing. Unpaved roads are merely dirt that turns to mud in the rain.

Soon after the annual Spring thaw in August, farmers bring their goods to market.

For about a decade in the mid-1800s, there were plank roads. Lots of trees, so let’s make roads out of wood! Plank roads were going to be the next big thing in Central New York State. They didn’t last through too many of those brutal Central New York winters, though. The wooden planks got wet, froze, thawed and turned to mush. I’m kind of surprised nobody saw that one coming. In winter, Syracusans measure snow by the yard.



North Syracuse businesses name themselves for when Main Street was Plank Road. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&sxsrf=ALeKk00gU9bc4hYSRU1fB2olorYJHB2I8Q:1594029903842&q=syracuse+plank+road&npsic=0&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=43135899,-76130151,1007&tbm=lcl&ved=2ahUKEwjt2reRsLjqAhWObc0KHXSVDqMQtgN6BAgLEAQ&rldoc=1#rlfi=hd:;si:;mv:[[43.145189099999996,-76.1245228],[43.126610199999995,-76.1357812]];tbs:lrf:!1m4!1u3!2m2!3m1!1e1!1m4!1u2!2m2!2m1!1e1!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:10


Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space

Kids and reading

Illustrator Kelly Light writes a thoughtful essay about encouraging kids to read.  And how do you do that, without making it seem like an obligation?  She has a daughter, so her recommended reading is girl-oriented.  I should get myself together and compile a list of the boy-oriented books that shaped my childhood.

I’m lucky—I come from a family who reads for pleasure.  My dad used to take me along on his trips to the old public library in downtown Syracuse, New York.  This was one of Andy Carnegie’s beautiful libraries—in the 70s, the boneheaded decision was taken to move the books into a mall. The building is still there, but it’s offices now.  I could take you on a tour of that dear old place—from the bust of Marconi on the right as you entered, up the worn marble stairs to the plate-glass floors on the second storey.  The children’s books were on the first floor in the back.  It had tall windows and ceilings, and blue carpet.  That’s where I first read Yertle the Turtle.

Anyway, give Kelly’s post a read.