The Red Zone

Beaver damage along Eastman Lake 2024
Beaver damage along Eastman Lake 2024

I don’t watch enough football to know what the red zone is but there was an awful lot of red in last night. Enough red in both of the teams’ uniforms for me to keep getting them mixed up in the opening half. And then there is the red in Taylor’s lipstick. The 3D ‘s Super Bowl LVIII graphics, painted on the center of the field were so distracting I couldn’t follow the plays. Going in, Peggi and I sort of thought we were for Kansas City, having watched a few minutes of game earlier in the season while at our neighbors.’ But everyone else in the room, three of my brothers, both of my sisters and our brother-in-law were routing for San Francisco so we had to watch it. It turns out they had all had enough of Mahomes, Kelce and especially Taylor before the game even started.

The lead switched a few times and it was a great game by other Super Bowl standards but we watch so much European football that it was really hard to keep our focus on the game. The US game all happens in snippets, incremental movements of the ball with heroic force by armies of players, with ads between every play. The European version, by contrast, is fluid, 45 minutes without commercials, a fifteen minute break and 45 more. Last night was a five hour proposition with fantastic food and good company.

I didn’t like seeing Kelce slam his helmet on the field and scream at the coach. I worry about Taylor.

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The Other Side

Guardrail along Horseshoe Road
Guardrail along Horseshoe Road

Horseshoe Road, the neglected, long closed-to-traffic road through Durand Eastman Park, is as pretty in the winter as it is in summer. We skied up it today, by the clubhouse, and across Kings Highway. There is another half of the park over there, most of it undeveloped, that we rarely see. The hill leading down to the valley was too windswept to provide a soft landing so we turned around.

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Twilight Zone

Building at Main and Clinton January 2024
Building at Main and Clinton January 2024

I took the photo above one week ago, just before the snow. The northeast corner of Main and Clinton was looking especially sad. When I was kid I thought this was the four corners of our city. It was where all the actions was, the Roasted Peanut store, Fanny Farmer, Jay’s Record Ranch and the gag gift store. Only later did my father set me straight. The real four corners is blocks away on the other side of the river and it too was once the center of downtown.

Main and Clinton - photo by Paul Dodd 1976
Main and Clinton – photo by Paul Dodd 1976

When I photographed Main and Clinton in the seventies I was thinking the same thing, about how run-down and seedy the stores looked. But at least there were people out on the streets.

Main and Clinton mid 1950s, downtown Rochester – photo from City of Rochester
Main and Clinton mid 1950s, downtown Rochester – photo from City of Rochester

Saint John’s on Humboldt Street had neither a gym or a ballfield. We had recess in the parking lot. We would get on a city bus after school, get off downtown, and work our way to the CYO, now home to Garth Fagan Dance, where they had a gymnasium and pool. There were so many people in the streets back then. I don’t like this trajectory.

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Early Harvest

Cherry blossoms in Durand Eastman January 2023
Cherry blossoms in Durand Eastman January 2023

So it finally snowed. We waxed our skis and tried to ski for the first time this year. We got most of the way up to the lake before the snow started sticking so we trudged back. Not complaining. It was pretty. Supposed to go back in the forties this week. In my New Year’s Eve post I noted the ultra fragrant (butterscotch like) witch hazel in the park, that usually blossoms in February, was in full bloom already. I’m sure it will be fine but this cherry tree is not so hardy. What is it doing blossoming in January?

The Members Show opening at RoCo was so crowded we couldn’t see the art. We made a point of revisiting over the weekend. It is always a good one. So many familiar names on the wall, most of whom you recognize before reading the tag. I was happy to see my “Cord in Corner” sold, 100% to RoCo.

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Virgin Mary Speaks

"DWI and Florida" billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York
“DWI and Florida” billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York

I remember going downtown with my mother, driving through the old Can of Worms when she said, “I wish they could get rid of these billboards. They are such an eyesore.” I laughed and told her I like them. I can see them getting out of hand but I still like them. They are a great distraction while you’re driving. I remember first being wowed by them behind the home run fence at Red Wing Stadium on Norton.

"Dirty Moore Beef Stew" billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York
“Dirty Moore Beef Stew” billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York

When we lived in city we had what I thought of as minor league billboards. At the end of our street. They were small and positioned on buildings with only moderate traffic out front. I assume the business owners rented their rooftop or wall space. How many extra cans of Dinty Moore Stew do think Wegmans sold after this campaign?

"Virgin Mary Speaks" billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York
“Virgin Mary Speaks” billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York

I took these photos more than twenty years ago. I wish I had taken more. It was always a treat when they changed them. I remember calling the Virgin’s 800 number back then and I took a chance that that would still be active today. I didn’t get to hear the Virgin but someone promised they would send materials about sightings of the Virgin if I left my name and number.

"Keep Christ in Christmas" billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York
“Keep Christ in Christmas” billboard on Main and Hall Street in Rochester, New York
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I’m Against It

Spanish nationalists headed to a rally against amnesty for Catalan separatists in Plaza de Colon
Spanish nationalists headed to a rally against amnesty for Catalan separatists in Plaza de Colón

I’m following up yesterday’s love letter to Spain with a small dose of reality. Franco can still draw a crowd. Just like in the US, the conservatives have captured the flag. The colors hanging from balconies denote “the “patriots,” the anti immigrant crowd, the ones who have no tolerance for the separatist movements.

We were sitting in the window of a café in Madrid last Sunday when this couple walked by. They paused for a minute, right in front of us and said something to one another. I fumbled for my camera as fast as I could but I missed getting the front of this guy’s cap. The big white letters read ESPAÑA and it looked just like a MAGA hat. There was a guy sitting next to us at the counter. He was reading El País but apparently watching me as well. He said, “there’s still people like that here,” and he chuckled.

We woke up at five thirty this morning. Still mostly on Spanish time. We couldn’t wait to take a walk in the leaves, it was so beautiful out. They moved our polling location to the Transfiguration Church on Culver. We really liked our old place, the Point Pleasant Fire House. They have a bar in the building that they rent out and we always imagined Margaret Explosion playing there.

At Transfiguration there was a guy with an American Flag shirt on getting out of his car, a button collar, long sleeve shirt with the stars and stripes. The church gloms onto election day to host a bake sale so we checked out the cookies on the way in. The man who handed us our paper ballots was wearing a tie that had “Jesus” printed on it along with a quote from scripture. We cast our votes and bought two peanut butter chocolate chip cookies on the way out.

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Poets And Saints

Restaurante Casa Cuesta in Triana, Sevilla
Restaurante Casa Cuesta in Triana, Sevilla

It takes a long time for civilizations to develop into higher life forms. That word, civilization, or at least my understanding of it, is the first thing that comes to mind when we land in Spain.

Walking the Camino across Spain through all those small towns and villages we were struck by how little sprawl there is. People like to live on top of one another. They are out in the street, the cafés and bars. They sit in parks and gather on the sidewalks to talk. When people walk into a café they say “Buenos Dias,” to everybody. It is rude not to. In big cities the metro is just as crowded as it is in New York but it is clean and orderly. People are polite. There are far fewer ads screaming at you.

Fresh loaves of bread are in every small grocery and on every table in restaurants. You will often get a free tapa or a plate of olives with a beer. And the tempting tapas and pinchos are always out on display. It’s good for business. It is only sociable. They are often artfully constructed. Cod and potato, atún, anchovies or jamón wrapped around an olive nestled on roasted peppers. You can make a meal out of them if you wish. This is the home of the Mediterranean Diet.

It is surely all older people who buy newspapers but there are enough of them in Spain to keep the regional presses rolling and the three national papers, El País, El Mundo and ABC are everywhere. The cafés still have copies sitting at the end of the bar for you skim over coffee. We watched a Real Madrid match last night that started at 9PM and then read two articles about the match in this morning’s paper!

The government supports the arts. Together with large corporations (Fundaciones) they underwrite museum quality shows that are free to the public. Cities have statues and sculptures in every plaza. The generations spend much more time together. Children are more mature and better behaved as a result.  Sidewalks along the water have no guard rails or fences. Many people still pause at midday for a big meal. Shops close for two hours.

The streets are named after poets and saints. They have a national health plan. People live longer. They have a socialist for a Prime Minister. I better stop.

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Día De Todos Los Santos

Hermandad de la Estrella en Triana, Sevilla
Hermandad de la Estrella en Triana, Sevilla

Up to the eighth century All Saints Day was celebrated in May. Pope Gregory III moved the holy day, the feast day of all the saints at once, to November 1st in order to dampen the popular pagan celebrations surrounding Halloween. It is a major holiday in Spain. Families fill the streets and pay respects to their dead relatives. The restaurants are packed and the diners lining the sidewalks make the streets look like a great big dining hall.

We strolled by the Palace of San Telmo, built in 1682 on property belonging to the Tribunal of the Holy Office, the institution responsible for the Spanish Inquisition. Across the bridge in Triana we walked through the old Jewish Quarter, down Callejón de La Inquisición where they converted or died. We looked for a pastelería to buy one of the almond pastries they make just for All Saints Day. We found a shop and Peggi asked the woman if she had any of those. She explained that we were in an Arabic bakery so we bought a Moorish pastry. This is a holy day of obligation so there were masses going on in the churches but we noticed a lot of people were just stopping in. We did the same.

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Los Colchoneros

Angel Corea is substituted for Álvaro Morata in the 64th minute
Angel Corea is substituted for Álvaro Morata in the 64th minute

We have packed so many adventures into this trip I forgot to catalog the Atleti/Alaves contest. The Metro ride to the stadium was too easy. We arrived more than an hour before the match with plenty of time for a big glass of beer and a visit to the Atlético store. Peggi picked out a red cotton t shirt and I put it on over my sweater.

Our seats were better than we imagined, just over the tunnel, between the two benches. My watch alerted me to dangerous sound levels before the match had even started. Our first impression was how much faster the game seemed in person and rough. We could hear the up close collisions. It was indeed a fast paced opening, a wide open match with lots of turnovers. I got a great shot of El Cholo well outside his box, both feet on the playing field, animated as ever in all black. But I’m posting this one of one our favorite players, Angel Corea, getting subbed in for Morata in the 64th minute.

Atleti won despite giving up a careless goal in overtime. We fans were happy.

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Perspectives

“Guernica” by Picasso at Museo de Reina Sofia in Madrid
“Guernica” by Picasso at Museo de Reina Sofia in Madrid

We have been on somewhat of a news fast here. Our neighbor, Sue, is enjoying our newspaper subscription while we’re gone. We’ve gathered the Israel/Hamas war plays differently here in the Basque region. We watched a huge demonstration in support of Palestine, thousands of people in San Sebastián. Most of them were wearing the stickers that organizers were handing out. The sticker used imagery from Picasso’s Guernica along with a Basque slogan offering support for Palestine. Many were carrying the Palestinian flag and some were waving flags with the Star of David with a Nazi sign inside of it. We are in Bilbao now, only 34 miles from Guernica and we just saw Picasso’s masterpiece last week at Museo de Reina Sofia in Madrid.

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Wandering And Persevering

Lola Flores exhibition in Madrid
Lola Flores exhibition in Madrid

Years ago we saw a performance of a Lorca piece in a bookstore near Plaza Santa Ana. They closed that location during the pandemic but kept their other store on Calle de Magdelana open. We stopped in that store and learned this location would soon close as we because the owner of the building planned to turn into a disco-tech.. While in the Embajadores area of Madrid we stumbled on an exhibit at Filmoteca Espanola entitled “El siglo de Margarita Alexandre, Lola Flores y Ana Mariscal.” The three women ruled Spanish cinema in the middle part of the twentieth century. Lola Flores was a revelation!

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Modern Flamenco

Group show at Bella’s Artes in Madrid entitled “Common Vibrations”
Group show at el Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid entitled “Common Vibrations”

I’ve borrowed my neighbor’s cajon a few times. And I hang onto it as long as I can. So this installation at the Círculo de Bellas Artes building in Madrid caught my attention. We learned the Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía and his Brazilian percussionist were touring Peru in 1977 when they first heard the Peruvian cajon. Paco de Lucía decided to incorporate it into his music and the cajon became a feature of flamenco. We were not allowed to play these. They had speakers in them and the arrangement was surrounded by video displays of musicians playing cajones. Their sounds were coming out of the cajones. A guard was standing by.

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The Big Question

Old industry ruins in Niagara Falls
Old industry ruins in Niagara Falls

We spent the night in Buffalo after spending most of the day in the new Albright Knox. We stopped by Big Ditch after the gallery and then had dinner on the rooftop of an Italian place downtown. We didn’t have to checkout til eleven so we took a walk up to Allentown and wandered around. Buffalo is such a cool city. It’s bigger than Rochester, at least it used to be, and it has more history. We walked by the Buffalo Club. The sign out front said Millard Fillmore was president before becoming President and Glover Cleveland was a member. And when President McKinley was assassinated (in Buffalo) the club was used as headquarters by his cabinet and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

We checked out and drove across Grand Island to where my uncle lives in Niagara Falls. He’s 96, living alone in his house and still driving. My cousin lives next door and was working from home that day so all met for lunch. My uncle has lived in Niagara Falls his whole life. He show me a picture of his old girlfriend and told me she had recently died.

I showed him the picture above that I had taken just a few blocks from his house and I asked what the industry was that used to be there. It attracted our attention because their railroad track lining both sides of the street. He struggled to recognize the place. My cousin couldn’t either. We told them what route we had taken and they put it together. There are industrial leftovers scattered all through this area.

I had come prepared to ask the big question. I had asked my father the question shortly before he passed and his response stuck with me. “Would you say that in your lifetime things are getting better or worse?” My uncle paused for quite a while before saying he was worried that people want to bring the government down. So I rephrased my question. “Would say in general that the world is better place today than it was when you were born?” His response was very pragmatic. “For some people it is a lot better. For many it is worse. This area was hit particularly hard when the manufacturing industries moved out.”

My father, an engineer for Kodak, was always excited about the next big thing. He jumped onto computers before we did and welcomed every new innovation. When I asked him this question he said the world was a better place now but then he started reminiscing about how when he was growing up the parish priest knew what every kid was up to. He kept you in line and there is nothing like that anymore. If I let him go on I’m pretty sure he would have come down on the side of “this place is going down the tubes.”

Everybody thinks the music from their time was better than it is now but I guess I always assumed that the advance of civilization was moving in a positive direction. I assumed it and now I’m looking for proof. I wondering where I got this notion in the first place.

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Beloved Of Jah

A dozen records on loan from my neighbor, Jedediah
A dozen records on loan from my neighbor, Jedediah

We had dinner on Friday night at our neighbors’ place. I raided his record collection and checked out a dozen lps. Jedediah, derived from the name Yedidyah, meaning “beloved of Jah” in the Hebrew Bible, was born in Kingston and all but the Burning Spear lp (above) are Jamaican pressings. I showed this picture to my brother-in-law at a family wedding yesterday and he reminded me that he bought the “Africa Must Be Free by 1983 lp from me when we sold most of our records. The “Sons of Negus” dub version is worth a couple hundred bucks. I had the Ras Michael vocal version of that.

Speaking of dub. Ken couldn’t make our Margaret Explosion gig on Wednesday and instead of asking someone to sit in we played without a bass. A few things happened. There was a big hole in the middle of our sound. No other instrument fills as much space the bass. This was made alarmingly evident the first two songs. And then we relaxed instead over-trying to fill the void. The normally chatty crowd was mostly quiet which allowed us to even empty it out more. I found I could play as quiet as a mouse or even drop out.

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Belated Blue Moon

Gays Against Guns placards representing local Rochester women killed by gun violence in “Unconditional Care” show at Rochester Contemporary
Gays Against Guns placards representing local Rochester women killed by gun violence in “Unconditional Care” show at Rochester Contemporary

First Friday’s art circuit was surprisingly quiet last night. The hot weather and the holiday weekend may have been factors. But it was easier to spend time with art rather than socializing.

Rochester had the 4th highest rate of homicides in the U.S. with firearms as the most common cause of death.’ There were 351 shooting victims last year. As a result, the city has been under an official gun violence state of emergency since July 21, 2022. The ten placards shown above are part of “We Remember” an installation by Gays Against Guns, currently on view in a show called “Unconditional Care” at Rochester Contemporary. Although this is certainly more pressing than any art concern I expected more of an art spin in this setting. Maybe the the take-away is we should address this issue first and then make art.

Nancy Valle Correspondence art at Studio 402
Nancy Valle Correspondence art at Studio 402

Over a Studio 402 I was knocked out by Nancy Valle’s section of wall in a group show. Cut, folded and inked cardboard pieces based on envelopes of all sizes were mounted to the wall. They were intriguing, playful and organic all at once. And then, where you see the blank spots, Nancy had hung three rectangular mono prints created with these playful pieces. Nancy was standing nearby and I couldn’t help but offer an observation. I suggested she separate the three rectangular prints from these beauties. In a dramatic move Nancy took the three pieces off the wall in the middle of her show. She plans to rearrange the Correspondence presentation.

The remainder of the rising orange blue moon was straight ahead as we drove down East Main so we made a bee line to Kathy’s backyard overlooking Irondequoit Bay and watched it slowly return to white.

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Taking Back The City

Rochester mayor, Mayor Malik Evans, at the unveiling of the Clarissa Street mural

Clarissa Street was much more than Rochester’s Black Wall Street. It was the cultural hub of a rich community until the city’s urban renewal schemers took a bulldozer to it. This highway (490) plowed through the heart of the community and destroyed The Pythodd, Rochester’s legendary jazz club, along with Shep’s Paradise and the vibrant commercial center.

On Friday evening Teen Empowerment unveiled their Clarissa Uprooted mural on Main near Cascade Street. The mayor was there and spoke to a crowd of a few hundred. The mural that features Roy McCurdy, Ron Carter and Pee Wee Ellis along with the Mangione brother.. Nearby Rochester Art Supply donated the paint.

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Horseshoe Secrets

Dog on the next street over
Dog on the next street over

We met this guy on the next street over. Conner and Miguel are babysitting him while his owners are away. I can’t remember his name or the mix of breeds but he is something else.

My horseshoe game has definitely improved. I know Rick probably thinks his game is off but I’m quite sure mine has actually improved. For ten years or so we have been very closely matched although he usually edges me out at the end of the year. I have won so many times this summer that he can’t possibly pull ahead and I am ready to share my secret with Rick.

As with so many other things in life, I find I just shouldn’t try so hard by overthinking or correcting. It is too easy to get in my own way. I stare at the stake for ten seconds for so and then step toward the stake as if my whole body was going through a funnel, one that comes out forty feet away at the base of that stake. The step I take and the way I swing my arm is needs to be close to effortless with all my energy focused on that stake. I let the weight of the shoe dictate the way I swing my arm. I try not to get in the way of the natural flow of gravity. I go with the flow, my shoe does a leisurely flip and it lands on the stake.

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Oh, That Guy

Taped up hospital room
Taped up hospital room

I don’t even want to know what went on in this hospital room but I like the presentation. We were up there to visit our friend, Pete, who was home for a little over a week before checking back in for a tune-up. He ordered some more posters. Peggi ran those off this morning and we’ll stop back up with the delivery.

We were only going to watch one World Cup match yesterday and fast forward our way through the other, but the first, between Nigeria and England, was a nail biter. and it went into overtime. We were rooting for the underdog. Their fans were having much more fun in stands. The Australian match with Denmark was a good one as well so we went along for the full ride.

A few friends have asked what we thought of the US goin home so early. Of course we were disappointed but it should be obvious that they didn’t deserve to advance. It is a competitive sport. The US has had the advantage for years – Title 9, soccer moms, privilege etc. Europe and the rest of the world are finally investing in women’s programs as well and they’ve already caught up. They also have the advantage of being steeped in the world football culture. Naturally they don’t play like hockey players. They are big on finesse, possession, passing and outsmarting. Spain, Columbia, South Africa, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Morocco and Japan are all so good.

The women’s game is so much better, who could possibly complain. Oh, that guy! “Many of our players were openly hostile to America — No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close, “WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA.”

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Persistance

Beaver sculpture along Eastman Lake
Beaver sculpture along Eastman Lake

I remember canoeing along the shoreline of a lake in the Adirondacks and somehow disturbing a beaver. I don’t know if it was a nest or a damn but the beaver followed us like it was chasing us away from its project. We’ve never seen a beaver in the park but every year we see the damage they cause to trees along the two lakes, Durand and Eastman. They are determined, industrious and persistent. And creative! Look at this sculpture.

Mud Dauber wasp nest on back door
Mud Dauber wasp nest on back door

A few hours later I looked out at the spot where the nest was to see if there were any wasps and I found them rebuilding in the same spot. I hosed it again. The next morning the nest was again as big as it was originally. These creatures are big but have no memory. Peggi read that peppermint oil deters then so I but some on a rag and wiped it on the spot where they built their first three nests. They came back undeterred and had another hut built so I blasted that and rubbed peppermint oil all over the area. They have not returned.

We’ve had wasp nests on our house other years. I suit up and blast them with our garden hose while Peggi keeps an eye out for the wasps. The other hives were lantern like structures but these are long and tube-like. I looked them up and found they are called “organ pipes” because they are often in side by side groupings. The worker wasps come one after the other with packages of mud and this tube gets longer and longer. I timed my approach and blasted their construction with all the water pressure we had.

"Shard" 2023 by Paul Dodd 46in h, 3 1/2in w, 2 1/2in d, pine
“Shard” 2023 by Paul Dodd 46in h, 3 1/2in w, 2 1/2in d, pine

I couldn’t help but notice the form similarities in the beaver’s sculpture, the Mud Daubers’ nest and my “Shard,” the hunk of pine readymade that sprung from the shattered pine when it fell over in a heavy rain this spring.

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Summertime

On the beach in Costa Rica. Photo by Peggi.
On the beach in Costa Rica. Photo by Peggi.

This is how I pictured summer, the way it was in Costa Rica last winter. Instead, we’ve had a couple of weeks of smoke filled air surrounded by rain. We don’t have air conditioning so we count on opening the windows and turning on a fan but the air outside smells like an ashtray. Our neighbor, Jared, has a rain gauge and he told us we had two and a half inches yesterday.

They didn’t have NA beers in Costa Rica so we drank what everyone else was having, “Imperial.” It’s a lot like Genesee, which also tastes especially good cold, right out of a long neck bottle. I picked up a case of Genesee at Aman’s the last time we were there. I pictured having one while playing horseshoes and having it around to serve when friends stop by. I haven’t opened the case yet.

Jenny Beer sign

Peggi and I took a walk over the bridge near High Falls and stopped in the brewery. They have a huge map of the city in there with an array of buttons you can push to illuminate the locations of all the breweries in the city at periods. In the 1850s there were more breweries in town than there are now. By the early 1970s just Genesee and Standard remained. My uncle worked for Standard until they closed in 1972 leaving Genesee as the only brewery in the city. And then the micro brewery craze took off.m

Summertime” will come and when it does all will be right with the world.

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