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It was a short ride across three trestles to the “Valley of Opportunity.”
 
All three of us went together; Jim McFee, Bogdan Yelcovich and I.
 
Of Course Bogdan incited the trip. He wanted to see the church of his ancestors that was replicated in Johnson City, New York.

Johnsons Wood Church

We had all heard stories of how the villages of Johnson City, Endicott and Binghamton New York were growing in leaps and bounds due to the shoe factories that the Johnson family had built.
 
Well – – – they didn’t do it by themselves. They had some really hard workers from eastern Europe to help them.
 
But the story did not end well. It would probably be best if I just showed you.

Johnsons Merry Go Round

The Johnson family built a carousel for the families of their workers to ride on.

Johnsons Merry Go Round Interior

Johnsons Pool Front

And the largest swimming pool in New York State.

Johonsons Pool Birdseye View

With a monster slide for the kids.

Johnsons Pool Water Slide

Which everyone enjoyed all summer.

Johnsons Pool Scores of Kids

And the workers were so happy that they built this pagoda in their spare time, right next to the pool.

Johnsons Pagoda

And the kids thought about this pagoda and their imaginations were tweaked. So many stories ran through so many minds – – – just because of this pagoda made of stones, old foundry gears, colored cut glass, broken bottles, used crankshafts, and upturned eaves. The whole thing was held together by the same glue that held the community together; love.

Johnsons Young Charles

And all this was because some young man wanted to learn how to make shoes.

And then he had a dream about owning a shoe business.

Johnsons Factories

That dream ended up with this!

This was just one factory out of at least eight in Johnson City and there were just as many in Endicott. That was the heritage of the Endicott Johnson Shoe business.

Johnsons Library

There was also something for the wives. A library in the middle of town.

Johnsons Aging Population

The shoe business got old. And the workers got old. And the town got old. And the state got old.

I can not bear to show you the result of all this “oldness.”

So we must leave it for your imagination.

Or – – – you can watch death on two different levels.

It is happening in small towns all over upstate New York.

But not in New York City – – – not yet anyway.

As I Wander Introduction 2

©W. Tomosky