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The tale of the Wandering Box Spring

15 May

I bring you a short modern fairy tale today about loss, but ultimate redemption.

Our story begins last summer, when a lone box spring appeared in the wooded area along the pleasantly shady and tree-lined path known to local residents as the Trail of Bike. It rested comfortably along the north side of the Trail, only several feet from where cyclists and walkers would pass. It probably would have found its way deeper into the brush had a metal chain-link obstruction not halted its progress.

Clearly, the poor box spring had lost its way ‘twixt the small brick village nearby and Ye Olde Dumpstre.

One day, as I took a stroll along the Trail of Bike, I noticed that someone (a Box Spring Fairy?) had taken pity and extracted the wayward box from the wooded area, placing it on the grassy yard near the small village’s courts of tennis. Surely someone would notice it lying there and return it to its home — or at least help it finally find ye olde dumpstre.

Alas, the poor box lay there through the rest of the summer, through the the cold winds of autumn and blustery snows of winter, still lost and alone. And three weeks ago, as the spring flowers returned to the trees, it lay there still, filled with water from the melting snows.

One day, the Box Spring Fairy apparently took note, pushing it closer yet to the the courts of tennis. Perhaps finally some administrator from the small village would see it and take pity.

Huzzah! It did get moved one day! The laborers assigned to trim the grassy yard moved it aside … then moved it back.

Last week, the Box Spring Fairy tried once again, flipping the box head over heels several times until it came to rest standing against the fence surrounding the courts of tennis.

Today, it is gone. A happy ending.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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(posted 5/15/2022)

Bygone blog: The resort town of Webster, NY

21 Apr

Last week, my husband and I took a short trip to Baltimore, just to DO something and get out of town for a few days. It reminded me of the first and only other time I had been to Baltimore and its beautiful Inner Harbor area, when I visited with my daughter many years ago for a wedding.

It also reminded me of a blog I wrote shortly after that trip, which has always been one of my favorites. I thought I’d re-post that today just for fun. It was originally posted almost 11 years ago, in July of 2011. So, many of the references are a bit out of date (and I might have re-posted it once before) but it’s still a fun read.

The resort town of Webster, New York (Wait. Whaaaaaat?!)

(originally posted July 4, 2011)

My daughter and I recently visited the beautiful port city of Baltimore. One evening we were doing some souvenir shopping at the city’s Inner Harbor area, when one of the shopkeepers noticed my Webster Village Days t-shirt. He asked me where Webster was. I told him it was a small town near Rochester, New York. He replied, “Oh, is it a resort area?”

We laughed for about 30 minutes.

After we recovered, we got to thinking. Calling yourself a resort town or family vacation spot is really only a matter of packaging, isn’t it? Any savvy marketing professional could put the right spin on any town and turn it into an enticing vacation destination.

Case in point: if you look closely enough, you’ll see that Webster offers as many — or more — attractions as any respectable tourist trap.  For example:

Water Park

Wet, wacky fun is just around the corner at the Spray Park at Ridgecrest Park on Ebner Drive. Enjoy enchanting water-spray animals AND a splash pad! Or if that’s inconvenient, just have the kids put on their swim suits and push them out the back door. Even if there’s not a cloud in the sky, it’ll start raining within ten minutes.

Beaches

YOU might not call it a beach, but we’re extremely proud of our rocky, weedy shoreline. Take a romantic stroll with your loved one to the end of the fishing pier to see the Great Webster Lamppost, some REALLY BIG rocks, and some stunningly beautiful graffiti art.

Go-karts

Your exciting go-kart adventure awaits at Webster’s shopping superstore, Wegmans. These spunky little vehicles feature the added convenience of an attached shopping basket. Climb in and join your friends for some exhilarating speed-demon action (the carts can be revved up to a breathtaking two miles an hour). This attraction is absolutely free and is open 24/7 (which is great, since the only time the aisles are empty enough for go-karting is between 2:13 am and 2:56 am).

Pedal cars

These two-man pedal carts are all the rage on boardwalks from Virginia Beach to Venice Beach! Webster goes one better! Sneak your Wegmans go-kart out into the parking lot and tour the sights along the plaza’s scenic access road. Can’t get more fun than that!

Nightlife

Don’t miss Webster’s Bar District, conveniently located in the village’s historic Four Corners area. You’ll find a nice selection of watering holes within steps of one another, with yet another one coming soon! (And remember, what happens at the Four Corners stays at the Four Corners!)

Tour Guides

My daughter needs a job. (But plan on her boyfriend tagging along.)

Walking Tour

Would you rather venture off on your own to discover the wonders of Webster Village? No problem! Erin can email you everything you need to know to enjoy all the wondrous things Webster has to offer. (Be sure to allow a good 15 minutes for the whole village, 17 if you’re accompanied by young children or senior citizens.)

Music in the Streets

Free, family-friendly musical entertainment abounds in Webster! For example, on cool autumn evenings, bring the kids, set up some lawn chairs in the Webster Schroeder High School parking lot and watch the marching band rehearse. Flutes, trumpets, big drums, flags…what more could a music lover want?

Local-only spots

In Baltimore you’re not considered a “local” until you’ve been to Dick’s Last Resort, which they advertise as “The joint your mama warned you about.” In Webster it’s Empire Hots (or “E-Hots” in the local parlance). Consider yourself warned about this place, too.

Taffy

Try some of our famous Lake Ontario Fresh Water Taffy!!! (On second thought, that’s not a good idea.)

Famous Local Animal

Canada has its moose and Baltimore has its crabs, but Webster has famous local wildlife, too: DEER! You’ll see helpful signs along all the roadways indicating the best places to view these graceful, doe-eyed creatures. And if you don’t catch a glimpse right away, don’t worry! Keep driving long enough and one will jump out to meet YOU!

Tacky Webster Souvenirs

Make sure to pick up some souvenirs to commemorate your trip and take home to your loved ones! Our most popular ones include:

  • Refrigerator magnets in the shape of the WEBSTER bushes
  • Back scratchers that read “Where Backs are Worth Scratching”
  • Snow globes (actually, we call them “lake-effect globes,” and they have snowplows inside). Collect the whole series! County of Monroe Plow, Town of Webster Plow*, Pick-up Truck With Plow Blade, Man With Snow Blower, and the new, limited-edition Man With Shovel® which comes with a bonus bottle of Advil.
  • “Deer poop” (they’re really Raisinettes — see “Famous Local Animal” above)

See? Webster really is a great tourist destination ! It’s just a matter of how you look at it. So grab your fanny packs and instant cameras, pack your bags and visit Webster, New York, where life is always a vacation!

* (Allow 4-6 weeks extra delivery time for the Town of Webster Plow if you live on a dead-end street.)

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

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Beauty is all around us

15 Apr

It’s so easy to plod through our daily lives with our heads down, our minds heading in different directions at once, backwards to troubles that came before, forward to difficulties we know are on the horizon. But these days especially, for our own emotional well-being, we need to pause and notice the beauty around us.

I got to thinking about that several days ago when I happened to be at Webster Thomas High School. As I was leaving, I walked by an incredible mural.

Well, I ALMOST walked by it. Because it stopped me in my tracks.

The large mural is a close-up of a young man’s face, peering directly at you with a wary, almost accusatory expression. Not being a artist myself, I couldn’t tell you what kind of paints or techniques were used to create it. I just know that it captivated me.

It was then I remembered — from the many years I worked at Thomas — that this was not the only mural splashed across the school’s walls. They started appeared perhaps 10 or more years ago, and new ones are added every year in an ongoing beautification project. And they are beautiful.

So before I left, I strolled through a few more halls and took some photos so I could share some of the incredible art that can be found there.

That very same day, I also made a point to swing by the Webster Recreation Center. The folks there recently installed some art of their own — sort of.

Along the walls leading to the community rooms at the back of the Rec Center, there’s a stunning new mural comprised of about 350 miniature, 4″ by 4″ canvases, created by kids, adults and businesses. Hung together, they’re an explosion of color and whimsy.

There’s still room for more of the 4×4 art pieces, so if you’re interested in adding to the project and having your artwork displayed for all to see, stop by the Rec Center to get your canvas.

In the meantime, make sure to stop sometime in your day, every day, to notice something beautiful.

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The “lost” memory album is going home!

6 Apr

Another “lost” cause has ended happily.

Several weeks ago, I posted a blog about a memory album filled with mementos and photos which a friend of mine had found at a local Goodwill.

The album itself was nothing special; your basic sticky-paged photo album we’ve all used for years for our family photos. Its 19 pages were filled with photos dating back to the early 1900s, picturing relatives and special events. Several more pages were filled with cards and letters, many of them apparently made by children and grandchildren.

My friend turned sleuth and was able to determine the album was probably owned by a woman named Caroline Kolupski, who used live in North Greece. He reached out to me for help in locating Caroline’s family so it could be returned. Perhaps, he thought, if I wrote a blog about the album, someone might recognize the photos or names.

My readers came through.

Within just a few days of posting the blog, I was contacted by not just one, but two of Caroline’s relatives who still live in the area and who were excited about the prospect of getting the album back. After that, it was just a matter of arranging a time for the hand-off.

That happened earlier this week when my friend and I met Marilyn Kolupski Kraitsik and Sandy LaDonna Kolupski for breakfast at The Original Steve’s Diner in Penfield. Marilyn is one of Caroline’s daughters, Sandy a niece by marriage.

We had a delightful time, getting to know each other and revisiting the details of the photo album’s journey from Goodwill to breakfast table. The album lying between them on the table, Marilyn and Sandy paged through it, pointing out Caroline and all the aunts, uncles and grandparents pictured in the old, fading photos. We were introduced to so many people and so many wonderful memories.

It was especially delightful to learn more about Caroline, who passed away in 2000, and the Kolupski clan.

Caroline had nine brothers and sisters, and her husband Lou had ten siblings. They raised four children of their own, three girls and a boy. A strikingly beautiful woman, Sandy remembers that her Aunt Caroline, “one of our sweet aunts,” was “as beautiful inside as well as outside.”

The ladies were also able to fill in some blanks. For starters, I’d theorized that the album had been assembled for Caroline because she was going into a nursing home or was in the hospital. Instead, Marilyn believes it was one of many photo albums her mother had put together, and the cards and letters tucked in the back had been added later, perhaps as part of a group Christmas gift.

As for how it ended up at Goodwill? Marilyn thinks when her sister was clearing out some of their mom’s old things, the album got mixed into the bags and boxes and not noticed.

When breakfast was over, Marilyn tucked the album under her arm and both she and Sandy thanked us — again — for finding and returning it. They were clearly thrilled to have it back, and we were equally pleased to have followed the story to its happy ending.

In hindsight, we shouldn’t have worried that we wouldn’t be able to find the photo album’s owner. There are still a LOT of Kolupskis in the Rochester area, and they’re all related. So it was really only a matter of time before “Grama” Kolupski’s album would find its way back home.

Thank you to everyone who shared the blog and have followed the story. (Click here to read the original blog I posted about the album.)

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

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Another lost cause

12 Mar

A friend of mine reached out to me recently with a mystery. On a recent trip to Goodwill, he had picked up a memory album filled with old photos, letters and other assorted memories, and was hoping I might be able to post something about it to help find the owner.

Clearly my friend remembered the success I had last summer in helping track down the owner of a GoPro which was found on the shore of Lake Ontario. Perhaps, he thought, if I wrote a blog about the album, someone might recognize the photos or names, or be able to add some clue to its ownership.

The album itself is nothing special; it’s your basic sticky-paged photo album we’ve all used for years for our family photos. It has very little monetary value, but the sentimental value is priceless. It includes 19 pages of photos dating back to the early 1900s, picturing various relatives and a dozen special events including weddings, first communions and baptisms.

After the photos are several pages filled with cards and letters, many of them obviously made by children and grandchildren.

Upon closer examination, we figured out the album was probably created as a memory book for Caroline Kolupski sometime in 1997 or 1998. After doing some quick research, we further discovered that “Grama Kolupski” passed away on Nov. 16, 2000.

Other surnames mentioned in the album include Lisowski, Przybyzewski, Tokarz, Fekety, Bogaczyk and Zielinski. There’s also a photo of the graduating class from the US Naval Training Station, Company 547, at Sampson, NY dated August 14, 1943. It may have been Caroline’s husband’s naval unit.

Caroline attended St. Lawrence Church, and appears to have lived in North Greece. It would be really neat to track down some of her relatives and return these historic photos and mementos to the family. If you can provide any clues, please let me know!

Here are some more select photos from the album:

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I have a word problem

23 Feb

I freely admit it. I have a word problem.

I came to that realization this morning when I looked up at the clock and realized I’d been sitting on the couch in my pajamas, a long-empty coffee cup at my elbow, doing puzzles on my computer for two hours.

It began innoculously enough. Several weeks ago I was beginning to see my social media feeds filling up with references to this new word game, Wordle. I’m sure you know it; its popularity has been spreading like wildfire, so much so that the New York Times bought it, making its developer quite rich. (Beware for when the Times puts it behind their paywall.)

For a long time, I resisted the urge to fall into its clutches, mostly because of my irrational refusal to be sucked into current fads like a lemming. (I call it my “Cabbage Patch Doll policy.”) But after a few respected friends and readers suggested I try it out, I did. And I got hooked.

I started playing Wordle and found out I was pretty good at it. So much so that it only took a few minutes to puzzle out the solution, leaving me feeling a little cheated. (“What do you MEAN I have to wait until tomorrow for the next one? I want another one NOW!”)

Then last week I saw my friend Patty playing something called “Quordle” on her phone. It looked just like Wordle, but had FOUR boards to be solved simultaneously.

Ooooo. This was exactly what I was looking for.

I immediately became a fan. Having to solve four boards at once was not only more challenging, but took a little longer, so it helped scratch that itch.

Still, I wanted more.

A few days later I saw a reference to something called “Worldle,” which is a Wordle-like geography game (hence “world” in the name, if you didn’t notice that). It’s not a word game, but it is challenging and makes you think.

Then, this morning, I found the word game motherlode in this post from pcgamer.com by Christopher Livingston titled “10 games like Wordle you should add to your daily playlist.” The list included the two new ones I was already playing — Quordle and Worldle — but also games called Nerdle, Crosswordle, Dungleon, Squareword, Squabble, Eldrow, Waffle and Weredle.

Of course I had to do due diligence and try every one of them. They’re all permutations of the original Wordle, but present varying degrees of difficulty. One of them, Nerdle, is mathematics-based, and Dungleon uses fantasy characters.

After exhaustive research (two hours on the couch, recall), I found I didn’t really like most of the new games for one reason of another. But three of them — Waffle, Squareword and Eldrow — seem to have some real promise.

Like Wordle, though, most of these new games post only one puzzle every day, so you have to wait until the following day for another challenge. But now that I have six games to play every morning … that’s probably a good thing.

But I still might have to get a bigger coffee mug.

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C’mon on in, the snow’s fine!

17 Jan

It’s beautiful out today, and if you don’t have anywhere to go, it’s a great opportunity to just cozy up with a good blanket and some junky TV and take some time off from life.

I know a good many teachers who are lamenting the fact that, given this is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and already a holiday from school, today’s storm is a waste of a perfectly good snow day. BUt on the plus side, knowing that it was coming gave us all a chance to plan ahead to how we might spend it.

For me, of course, it meant a barefoot snow walk. For those of you not familiar with this craziness I do every year, it was a tradition started by my grandmother more than 75 years ago and has been handed down through the generations. My Gia Gia would have been 120 years old this month, so today’s snow walk was done in her memory.

This isn’t the first snow walk I’ve done this winter. That was Dec. 24, when we got our first measurable snow on Christmas Eve. I gave a little more background in this blog into how we’ve carried on this tradition through the years, if you’re interested.

Thinking of my Gia Gia has also motivated me to drag down some of our old records and photo albums from the attic and get them organized today. Seems like a great day to do that.

All this snow is definitely an annoyance, especially if you don’t have the day off of work or school. But we live in Upstate New York. Let’s have fun with that! Make a snow angel! Make a snowman! Have a snowball fight! Then send me photos I can post in my blog.

Or better yet, strip off your socks, run outside and get a little crazy.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Revisiting the old neighborhood

6 Jan

Since Facebook began, it’s been a place where people can reconnect with old friends, old classmates and extended relatives. For those who long ago moved away from the towns where they grew up, as I have, there are plenty of Facebook groups to join where you can reminisce about old times.

My main “memories” group is called “Growing up OWEGO.” I don’t visit it too often, since I’ve found that most of the discussions involve people I never knew and years I was never there.

That definitely was not the case last week, however, when — thanks to Facebook — I reconnected with almost a dozen old friends and neighbors from the street where I grew up, and relived countless memories of the fun we had and friendships we shared.

It all began when my old neighbor and friend Ann Hartman Buckley posted on her Facebook page a blog I had written. It’s titled “We All Have a Story — This is Mine,” and it recalls how one of my high school English teachers, Linda Yanchus, said four simple words one day which changed the direction of my life.

That one post prompted more than 70 comments, just about every one of them from old friends and neighbors who lived on my street in Owego, NY back in the 1970s.

It was a delightful walk through memory lane — or down McMaster Street, I should say. Here are some of the memories we shared (I’m sure many are much like the things you remember growing up in simpler times):

  • “Remember making Laurie puke?”
  • “Your parents always let me take care of your pets when you went away on vacation. That $10 bought me a lot of candy at Mullens!”
  • “I do remember the night you, Janie, and I snuck out to watch the Pumelly house burn down. Your Dad ripped us a new one! We deserved it.”
  • To Mindy, my sister: “I have countless fond memories of you guys. The first time I met you, I walked by your house and you and Missy were using magnifying glass and the sunlight to burn holes through newspaper. I knew then that I was gonna hang out there more.”

We remembered playing “Go Go Go,” dodgeball, football and baseball in the neighbor’s spacious back yards, watching the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show at the fair, the community pool and sledding at the high school.

My brother Greg summed up a lot of it with one of his posts:

Our parents divorced just before we came to Owego and you guys and the neighborhood crew were a needed constant in our lives. I remember basketball in Richie, Ricky and little sis Mary Dee’s driveway, my first girlfriend, Karen, yard games behind Little Richie’s barn, cross country (Wayne), our bike gang, causing mischief each Halloween, baseball at Nick Raftis Park, adventures in the fire department’s hook and ladder company with Chris, fishing for suckers and anything else that would bite at the “crick” and Susquehanna River, Joie Chitwood at the fair, swimming at the pool, watching the Chiefs handle the Vikings with big Richie, Super Bowl 1970, and tackle football at Stackmore’s lot. (I thought I was tough until faced with tackling my good friend Paul).

A few people even remembered my mother fondly, and also recalled also taking English from Ms.Yanchus.

I lived in a handful of towns when I was young: Cedar Rapids, IA; Raytown, MO; Lake Zurich, IL. But when people ask me “Where did you grow up?” the answer is simple: I grew up on McMaster Street in Owego, NY, and I have the friends and memories to prove it.

Click here to read that original blog post.

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Letters to Santa

25 Dec

Many of you know that I have a direct line to the North Pole. Santa and I are kind of on a first-name basis.

His name is Jim Lockwood, and he’s Webster’s resident head-elf, appearing at functions all over town, in both winter and summer. He’s also been an Eastview Mall Santa for years.

I got to know Santa Jim when I interviewed him for my East Extra column seven years ago. I’ve since come to know him as a kind, generous soul, befitting his alter-ego. He’s appeared many times in my blogs, but perhaps my favorite is from Christmas Day, 2017. Jim had emailed me, offering me a look at several of the letters he had received while working at Eastview. He wrote,

There isn’t anything special in them. It’s just a peek into the hearts, minds and eyes of these precious little children who truly believe in Santa Claus.

It was such a charming blog that I wanted to do it again. Jim was very happy to meet me a few days ago and handed me a bag stuffed with almost a hundred wish lists, thank you notes and drawings that he and an Eastview Sanra colleague had collected earlier in the week.

Some were typed on a computer, others were fill-in-the blank forms that looked like they were done in school. Children used crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Others were neatly printed, others were just scribbles, and several were clearly penned by the parents, with the child adding a drawing or signature. Some lists filled a page or more with dozens of items, others had just one or two. Many had multi-colored words, holiday sketches and portraits of Santa and his elf. (There were several mentions of “Buddy,” whom I imagine is their Elf on the Shelf.)

They asked for a lot of the “hot” toys, like a Nintendo Switch, Paw Patrol characters and Legos. But the sheer variety of requests took me by surprise, everything from Barbies and Squishies to a real F150 truck and a hamster. Several put stars or stickers next to the items they REALLY wanted. Others tried to help Santa by drawing detailed pictures of their favorites AND including prices. Some got really specific (like the children who wished for 11 peacock feathers, a $40 iTunes gift card and $30 worth of Roblox.)

It was so much fun reading some of the things these children wrote, like

  • I want a red firetruck with a ladder. I also want a real Mama kitten and a dog. I need bones for him.  
  • Hi Santa it’s a charm having buddy over it’s so fun finding him
  • dear Santa, I know I’ve been a little nauty I will try to tern it around 
  • (this at the end of a two-page computer-generated list) After that long list, let’s get to the end. Thank you very much for your generosity every year to not only me but to every other kid in the world. We deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness to us.

One 3-year old big sister, asked what her little brother might like from Santa, suggested bottles, food, dinosaurs, parrots, bananas and ice cream.

The one which made really laugh, however, was obviously written by Santa’s co-conspirators, the child’s parents. It read,

Dear Santa,

I have been pretty good for a two year old. Daddy says if I don’t start pooping in the potty he is going to disown me. I’m sure he’s kidding though … I think.

Thank you, Santa Jim, for reminding us what it was like when believing in Santa Claus was one of the best things about Christmas. And Merry Christmas to all my readers. May it bring you simple joys and happiness.

Here are some of those letters and drawings:

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

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The power of kindness

6 Nov

This is an amazing story. It’s rather long, but read through to the end, because it will warm your heart.

When I first started writing this story, it was going to be all about the power of the internet and crowdsourcing. But in just two days, it morphed into something much more meaningful. It became a testament to the incredible positivity that can spread from one simple act of kindness.

It began several days ago when I received an email from DP Dunn. He told me that while taking a stroll along the lake, he’d come across a small GoPro camera which had washed up on the shore. He attached several photos which he’d been able to pull off the camera. They showed a young family enjoying a gorgeous summer day at a big house on the lake, time-stamped July 6, 2021. He thought that if I could post the story and photos in my blog, maybe SOMEONE would recognize the family in the photos.

Boy, was he right.

DP (Don) sent the email last Monday, but I didn’t get around to writing the blog until Thursday. (You can read that blog here.) I posted it to my social media feeds about 7:45 that morning. Less than two hours later I’d received emails from two people who could identify the home and homeowners. One of them even sent along the homeonwer’s LinkedIn profile so we could contact him. But that proved to be unnecessary.

By this time the blog was being shared widely on social media, where in no time it found Michelle Odenbach. It was her lakefront home in the photo, and her friends Ollie and Raquel Bartholomew splashing in the pool. Turns out the Bartholomews had been visiting the Odenbachs last summer from their home in Westchester County. Ollie lost the camera while tooling around the lake on a jet ski.

Michelle tagged her downstate friends in the Facebook post, and Raquel and Ollie responded almost immediately. I connected them with Don, the camera finder, and by noon the circle was complete. Almost four months after the camera had gone into Lake Ontario, it had been found and would soon be going home.

You might think the story ends there. But the flurry of emails and messages that followed was delightful, and took this already nice story of kindness to entirely new level. Bear with me as I share several of those.

First, some of Ollie’s initial reactions to the news that his camera had been found (and I am liberally combining several messages here…)

This is absolutely incredible! An example of good will and humanity at its very finest! Thank you, kind reader, and thank you to the publisher for this thoughtful process and effort you’ve gone to.

This is my camera. It fell off a jet ski mid-ride whilst we were celebrating 4th of July weekend with relatives in Webster. I am just so astonished and grateful to everyone involved here. That camera contains valuable photos and videos of our 3 children enjoying the holidays!

I and my wife are absolutely delighted! I was in SO much trouble cuz this thing has photos and videos of our eldest daughter learning to swim etc. I love stories like this, rare though they are, to be at the centre of one is an honour and pleasure of the highest order!

Our discussion then moved to email, where Don introduced himself.

Hi Ollie,

By way of introduction, I’m Don. Seems I found this little gem of yours.

You know the story, my friend. When I found the camera on Monday it had been washed ashore at Webster Park, on the walkway just west of the pier. The waves were 3-5 feet that day, with a strong wind out of the east, I think. What you don’t know is how hard I laughed when I viewed the very last video file saved on the memory card. You know, the one where the camera fell in the lake. On the audio, you can hear the sea-do circling as you look for the camera. And the camera sinks deeper and deeper … It just moves me to tears (of laughter) every time I watch that. Does that make me a bad person?

Seriously, Dude – send that video into America’s Funnies Videos. If you don’t win, you’ll likely place in the top 3.

Ollie responded,

Dear Don,

What a huge pleasure to meet you.This is nothing short of extraordinary and I am indebted to you for the effort you’ve gone to here. These kind of stories are few and far between and rarely (I’m guessing) yield a successful outcome! I am overjoyed to be part of a successful one.

And then he did a wonderful thing. As his way of repaying his “debt to humanity,” Ollie offered to donate $100 in my name and Don’s name to charity. As it so happens, Don has a good friend, Kevin Woolever, who is fighting ALS, and for whom a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with medical expenses and paying off his house. Don and I both asked Ollie put the $200 towards Kevin’s cause.

Within hours, Ollie had made the donation and reported back, adding that he had also encouraged his friends to consider supporting the GoFundMe page. He wrote,

Donation made and karma officially balanced.

Thanks again Missy for graciously putting your share towards Kevin and Sharon’s cause. It is truly heart warming and I have shared it in turn on my Facebook in case friends / family are able to dig deep and help also. I was glad to see my donation pushed it over the $8k mark – what a phenomenal response and I know the money will work hard for their needs during this very trying time. I wish them all the best in the world.

Don put the waterlogged GoPro in the mail yesterday, only about 36 hours after I posted that blog. Ollie is going to contact the company and hopefully get it replaced. In the meantime, he and Don and I are planning to grab a pint together at Barry’s when they’re in town again. Maybe I’ll get to meet the famous GoPro.

An unplanned walk along the lake, a simple kindness and a short blog. Who knew where they would lead?

Or, as Don observed,

Look at all that’s happened since: Ollie and family get their camera and photos. Missy and her crew of ‘junior detectives’ solved a mystery and her readers get a neat story. Kevin gets a step closer to saving his house. New friendships have formed.

Whoda thunk?

* * *

For those who have stayed with me this far, here are some fun tidbits:

Ollie had the foresight to note the exact GPS coordinates where he’d lost the camera. Don put this map together, showing where he found it west of the pier, calculating that in four months it traveled roughly 1.26 km or .8 miles, including the distance it had to go around the pier.

And as a EXTRA SPECIAL treat, here’s that video from when the GoPro went into the lake.

And by the way, by Thursday evening — the DAY I posted the blog — it had received more than 8,000 hits. By far (and I mean by several thousand) the most hits I have ever gotten on a blog. And they’re still coming in. That’s the power of social media.

* * *

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