I'm a big fan of small-towns. The Village of Geneseo N.Y. (pop.8, 031) set on the east side of the Genesee Valley (Genesee is an Indian word meaning beautiful valley) is about an hour and a half drive from Niagara. Genesee Valley is surrounded by rolling hills, forests, rural farmlands, ravines, a winding creek and lovely landscapes.
I started my adventure by visiting Geneseo's historic Main Street (it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991) where I parked my car for 25 cents an hour. Almost all of the buildings were built between the 1840's and the 1920's and still exulting in charm.
The village is also a "college-town" and the home of the State University of New York at Geneseo. Main Street was alive with locals and students. I could feel the energy. I arrived at lunchtime on one of the first warm days of summer and many of the patios were filled to capacity. There are lots of unique retail shops and eateries that kept me wandering about their wide main street. On the side streets off Main Street there are beautifully restored historic homes and churches surrounded by magnificent manicured lawns and gardens each with a story to tell.
When it was time to leave this idyllic small village one of the locals suggested I visit the
National Warplane Museum at 3489 Big Tree Lane on the outskirts of the village. What a find it turned out to be. When I drove the stone road to the museum the first thing I saw was three historic airplanes in wide open fields. They looked like they were ready to take flight.
Dawn Schaible, administrator of the museum told me the museum opened in 1994 and is almost operated entirely by volunteers. She said, "The big thing here is we emphasize World War II and the Korean War with a big focus on honouring our veterans." For a $6.00 adult ticket and $1.00 for children you gain access to the hangar where you can see more vintage planes. Don't pass up looking at the five different 1940's rooms they have re-created and there were many original wartime uniforms are on display. Amongst the displays I got a kick out of seeing were a restored 1934 Plymouth staff car and a jeep. They looked like they were both right out of the TV series MASH. The museum is open seven days a week between 10 am and 4 pm.
Crew Chief and Flight engineer, Mike Lindsay told me, "I'll be accompanying the aircraft and it should take about 25 hours to get there. I just can't wait to start the trip." The flight begins at 2 pm tomorrow, Thursday, May 15th at the museum airfield.
When it was time to return home I went from war to peace. I took Highway 63 North to visit the Abbey of the Genesee (ten minutes outside Geneseo). It's hard to find so GPS users can punch in 3258 River Road, Piffard N.Y.
The monastery chapel, bakery and gift shop is open to the public free of charge. Since 1951 a group of 30 Trappist Monks have lived a simple life devoted to prayer, study and reading and the making of Monks Bread. One of the monks explained to me that their bakery is the main source of revenue and the profits they earn go towards their charitable works. Eleven different types of breads ranging in price from $2 to $2.50 are made here in their modern bakery. I picked up four freshly baked loaves and I polished off one half of a loaf before I arrived home.
Geneseo, NY Air Show 1992
Geneseo Cash Mob- Shop
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.