Not too long ago, the director of the library in the neighboring village of Middleburgh sent us a photo of the Beekman Mansion from the turn of the 19th century.
Always interested in how the house has changed over the years, we immediately focused on a structure that seemed to be perched on the roof. The age of the photo made it difficult to see clearly. For weeks it remained a mystery.
Then one late summer afternoon a woman wandered into the Mercantile. Tourist season being over we were the only ones in the shop, so I spent a good twenty minutes talking to her. (At 88, she reminded me of some of my former patients.)
Though she now lives in Florida she had spent her early childhood in Sharon Springs and remembers when the streets were so full of people that “you couldn’t even drive a car down them”.
She also remembered visiting the Beekman as a young girl and as we chatted further, she inadvertently solved the mystery:
We climbed up into the attic of the house and rang the bell. There was a bell on the roof that could send out a distress call in case of Indian attacks or fire.
After a few more stories, she said goodbye and wished us well.
Later that evening I pulled up the email from our friend in Middleburgh to take a closer look at the bell yoke. While examining the picture closely, I noticed the maple trees, now giants in the front yard, just beginning to fill out, and then, the very faint image of two people sitting in the front yard beneath one of the windows.
Where are they now? I thought.
I love to watch TV shows and read tabloid articles that give updates on formerly public figures. I’m curious about people’s lives and the changes that occur over time.
The truth of the matter is that for most of the people with whom we cross paths we’ll never know where they’ll end up or where there lives will take them.
That’s why during Harvest Festival, as people once again crowded the streets of Sharon Springs. We took a few moments to learn as much as we could about everyone we met.
What is your name? Where are you from? What do you do?
Even if you never know where people are headed, you can always wish them well on their way.