We are in Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes region of NY state and home to Cornell University. Thankfully, we woke to dry weather this morning and having enjoyed breakfast here at the hotel, we headed out in a northerly direction to Seneca Falls.
We didn’t go far for our first stop, though. The Taughannock Falls are on the edge of Ithaca, just the other side of Lake Cayuga and were the first place on our list. In little more than five minutes we’d got out of the car, taken our pictures and were ready to go. We continued our discussion of why people appear to consider it acceptable to wear pyjamas beyond their bedrooms, prompted by observation of two men, old enough to know better, at breakfast in the hotel.
Hmm. What happened to standards?
We drove swiftly on through rich green farmlands, past Amish farms with interesting washing lines, travelling too fast to capture the quilt and the horse and buggy adequately.
The men were working in the fields whilst the women – oh, the women! They were at home in the garden, playing volleyball wearing full length dresses in pastel shades of blue, pink and lavender and each had a white cotton bonnet on her head, too. What a lovely sight, full of joy and spirit – simple pleasures indeed and the picture will stay in my mind for a long time.
We carried on along the road with the buggy lane on each side and were soon approaching the city of Seneca Falls, our focus for the morning.
Sadly, we couldn’t park any closer to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park Visitor Center!
We were here because this is where the landmark Women’s Rights meeting took place in 1848, demanding full and equal rights with men. The statue in the picture above shows Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony being introduced to one another by Amelia Bloomer; all three women were key figures in the movement and inspired thousands of others to take up the cause. Seneca Falls, the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, became the location for temperance and abolition meetings which were used to address women’s issues.
I’ve written before about how we admire the National Parks Ranger service and this morning, one of their number gave an excellent talk at Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s former home. One particular sentence he spoke about married women’s lack of inheritance rights gave much food for thought and explained why so many women felt the need to take action:
“A wife could be a heartbeat away from destitution; that was her husband’s heartbeat”
We took time to explore the former Wesleyan Chapel where that first meeting took place, and of course browsed the Visitors’ Center, feeling we had not only seen everything there was to see, but also in my case, learned a whole lot too.
The travelling companions gathered up the maps and we headed for Syracuse, where the Erie Canal Museum was on our list.
Four lines of railway tracks used to pass through this city centre but on this Saturday afternoon all was looking rather bleak and empty. One cop car lurked in a far corner so we parked very carefully!
The huge Erie canal passed through the city too, right alongside those railway lines and here, there was a weigh house so the charges and tolls could be calculated.
Now, little remains of the canal but a bit of metalwork here and there and the museum sitting alongside in the old Weigh House.
Does all of this look a little bleak and foresaken? You bet it was. Even the charming young woman in the museum couldn’t really bring the place to life and after watching a short film about the heydays of the canal and taking a look around, we decided we’d had enough.
We headed back to Ithaca wondering if it might be time we cleared out the car a little I had 50% off coupons for Michaels and JoAnns burning a hole in my pocket, so we made a couple of shortish stops and I saved quite a few $$$.
Dinner tonight was at the Moosewood Kitchen, in Ithaca, where the food was delicious and “different”.
As I’m sitting here typing, I’m thinking about those women at Seneca Falls who worked tirelessly to create a world where women like Mary and I can go about wearing trousers, spending our own money and have exactly the same rights as anyone else.
And then I think about the women playing volleyball in long dresses and bonnets. Their choice?