Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Postcard from Massena

Last year my in-laws moved from Vermont to Massena, on the northern edge of New York State, where the St. Lawrence River defines the border between the U.S. and Canada. Massena is very much an industrial town, with two Alcoa plants, a G.M. powertrain plant, and a large hydroelectric dam. I don't doubt that, during the Cold War, Massenans bragged about their prominence on the Soviet target list.

Like many small cities, Massena's downtown is largely deserted, most retail having relocated to the St. Lawrence Center mall on the eastern edge of town. Here's a view of downtown (note the desperate-seeming "open" banners on the establishment at right), with Fiona the Pink Toyota, who brought us here, parked in front of the dashing, copper-toned "Z" car. (Someone in this town is prospering.)

Massena does still have some little shops with charm, and sometimes charming names, like Alkie’s Liquor Store, where I was able to find a bottle of quite good, and inexpensive, V.S.O.P. Cognac. The proprietor told me she usually charged fifty dollars for a photo, but waived it for me because I bought a bottle, and I promised to publish the picture on my blog.

Here’s Alkie’s next-door neighbor, Booter’s Country Bar.

Later in the afternoon, I rode with my step-father in law to a nearby farm stand to buy what proved at dinner to be remarkably tasty corn and tomatoes. On our way, we had to drive through a brief but heavy rain shower that, mercifully, stopped just before we got to the farm. On the way back, I regretted not having my camera, but rushed to get it as soon as we got home. I summoned my daughter outside, we both took shots, and Liz got the better one of this symbol of hope in a time of flood and tribulation.

Keepin’ my eye on the Massena rainbow (apologies to John Stewart).


  1. Very cool. But I'm confused; is that you or Alkie in the photo? Regardless, it's nice to see you succumb to the fever.

  2. That's me (alkie) in the photo.

  3. Well, I'll be. What a pleasure. Nice to meet you. And the template is fine.