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.
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.
The Johnson family built a carousel for the families of their workers to ride on.
And the largest swimming pool in New York State.
With a monster slide for the kids.
Which everyone enjoyed all summer.
And the workers were so happy that they built this pagoda in their spare time, right next to the pool.
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.
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.
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.
There was also something for the wives. A library in the middle of town.
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.