JoAnn Baird – Bloomville in the Railroad Era

(from a series of correspondence, June and July 2014)

Dear Inez. I saw your name in the New York Times this week and was quite surprised.  I grew up in Bloomville from 1940-1950 and am now retired and living in Reno, Nevada.  I hope the church bells are still ringing there because I gave them to the Methodist church as a memorial for my parents.  My grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in the Riverside Cemetery.  Have you read ‘Watering the Elephants’? The circus used to set up right there in the middle of town, near the old railroad tracks.  I vaguely remember it, as that was close to seventy years ago.  My husband and I hope to visit next summer and we hope you will be there at that time.  We would love to stay with you.

The economy in upstate New York has been challenging as long as I can remember. Our old farmhouse on the edge of Main Street there was dilapidated last I knew.  My parents milked 48 head of cattle there back in the 1940’s.  Say ‘Hi’ to the older locals for me.  Good luck with your business.  I truly hope you bring renewal to Bloomville.  It will always be “home” to me.

I have lots of photos and will try to find some for you this weekend. My dad Bill Askew was the local milkman back in the day.  He also played Santa at the firehall, across the street from you.  The older people there will remember him.

I’ll write later.  Busy now.  I’m a marriage and family therapist here in Reno and some clients are waiting.

With care and fond memories,

JoAnn (Askew) Baird

Askew Farm, Bloomville NY
Askew Farm, Bloomville NY

If it’s still standing, this is the farm on the edge of town (towards Delhi). The second photo is the way the farmhouse looked back around 1920 when my great-grandparents owned it (the Jurjens family). They were Dutch immigrants. When I was a little girl I used to ride on the train by myself to visit my grandma in Oneonta. This was the same train that brought the circus to Bloomville (‘Watering the Elephants’) back in the early 1940’s.  I was there. I’m not sure, but I think they set up downtown across from the fire house. There was a lot there.

Jurjens Farmhouse, c. 1920
Jurjens Farmhouse, c. 1920
Bloomville Children
Bloomville Children
Railroad through Bloomville
Railroad through Bloomville

Here are a few more for you. The second picture, I believe, was located across the street from where you are (I might be wrong), but that was the B & B back in the day. The third one is the barn where the historical society building is now.

Hubbard Inn, Bloomville NY
Hubbard Inn, Bloomville NY
Bloomville, 1930
Bloomville, 1930
Bloomville - Farm Life
Bloomville – Farm Life

I just read that you are from Holland.  My family (mother’s side who owned the farm on the Delhi side of town) were from Finsterwolde, Groningen. They migrated to the US around 1910 and were farm workers in Minnesota. They bought the farm in Bloomville about 1920.  They couldn’t speak or write much English, but the people there accepted and respected them wholeheartedly. There were a lot of Dutch people in Delaware county. We used to have Dutch picnics.  My father’s mother was from Schagen, North Holland.  I still have family in Drenthe. EmmerCompascuum. I was there visiting them in 1997.

Railroad in Bloomville - towards Bramley Mountain
Railroad in Bloomville – towards Bramley Mountain
Askew Farmhouse
Askew Farmhouse
Postcard Set - Bloomville NY
Postcard Set – Bloomville NY
Main Street, Bloomville
Main Street, Bloomville

One more.  The locals will like this one.

School
School

Open | Not Open | Flying Bob’s Pies to Pass

It’s that special week of the year when we gather together to celebrate casting off the yoke of British colonialism by getting drunk and setting fire to things.

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No more bowler hats, funny looking policeman, shocking dentistry and inedible puddings with pornographic names: we stride into the future with our banner held high and a burger in each fist. If Paul Revere’s horse turned up, we’d knock it on the head, bundle it onto the BBQ.

This week’s open/not open hours are slightly changed:

Wednesday July 2nd – 9 to 3
Thursday July 3rd – 9 to 3
Friday July 4th – 9 to 3 and then 6 to 9 for Pizza Night
Saturday July 5th – 9 to 3 but then no Pizza Night (fireworks in Bovina)
Sunday July 6th – 9 to 3

To assist our loyal infantrymen inflicting casualties upon the phrase ‘dish to pass’, we’ve inaugurated FLYING BOB’S PIES TO GO week. Our own fresh, hand-made pies, each emblazoned with the number 4, piping hot from the oven (or cool and ready to be warmed up), poised to be transported to garden parties, fireworks displays, family reunions, holiday AA meetings, World Cup vigils or solitary late-nights on the hill with the munchies, half a bottle of Rémy Martin and the dirty bits from Downton Abbey. Will not sluice across the back seat of the car or conflict with somebody else’s pallid macaroni salad. And no need to choose which pyrex bowl you’re prepared to lose.

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Two choices, each finger-lickin’ in their own right:

• Chicken, Leek, Bacon and Prune. A Table classic and proven crowd-pleaser.
• Thornton Steward pork loin, slow-braised with carrots in Montepulciano.

Come and get ’em. We’re still pleating their crusts right now, but they’ll be eager and golden as retrievers from 1 o’clock on Thursday. And once again, no Pizza Night on Saturday July 5th but yes Pizza Night on Friday July 4th.  Saturday pies at Peter and Brooke’s instead?

Oh and roasted banana ice cream.  And fresh local snap peas on ricotta. And new beef-and-prosciutto brodo with handmade tortellini. And special pizza. And. And.

Happy Independence for all.

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