Vintage Glowing Stuff Dept.: Even after 22 years at my rural compound, I’m still asked how I ended up here. My wife, Susan, and I lived in Schenectady for many years, a place to which I moved from Connecticut in 1980 to work as a classical radio announcer. Soon I eased into freelance work as a writer and actor, writing and acting. Thank goodness Susan remains gainfully employed. Although we lived in an attractive, historic part of that city, the neighborhood was changing. One morning we were awakened by the sound of the FBI breaking into the house next door, from which they removed guns and drugs.
Seeking a new residence not more than a half-hour from Susan's job site, we plotted a circumference on a map and examined its slices. We were familiar with all of the pie pieces except a section to the west where a village with unlikely name of Glen fell on the circumference line. To reach it, we took a stretch of the NYS Thruway, followed by a series of small state highways. About a mile before we reached the village, just as a lovely view of the Mohawk Valley was rising to our right, the car ran out of gas.
Plenty of daylight remained on this pleasant August evening. We walked on into Glen, pleased to see that the farmland sparseness soon gave way to a modest cluster of houses, some of them attractively old. But would there be a gas station?
At one of the houses, a cottage that we later would learn was one of the oldest structures in the village, a man and woman relaxed in kitchen chairs on the small front porch. Susan is bolder than I about such things, and hailed them from the street, explaining our predicament. “There’s no gas station here,” we were told, so I asked if I could use their phone. “It’s right inside,” the woman said. “Go on in.”
Not the kind of invitation I’m used to getting. I dialed a friend in nearby Amsterdam and got no answer. As I returned to the porch to discuss the predicament, I found my wife chatting away with the couple. “You’re a writer?” the woman asked. “I have some pamphlets to give you.”
Oh no. Religious nuts. So sure was I of the annoying nature of the material pressed into my hand that it took me a moment to realize that they were politically based screeds giving information about a low-level radioactive dump-siting commission’s target of Glen as one of several candidate sites.
Their names were Sherrie and George Dedicke. They phoned their friend Tim Lane, who was leading an opposition group, to come over and talk to us. I took some notes. We got a ride back to our vehicle with some jerry-can gas to get us home. I returned and did more interviews, and the piece ran in Metroland not long thereafter.
“Remember how you said you’d like to live out here?” asked Sherrie, phoning a couple of weeks after the piece appeared. “There’s a house for sale just down the street. Got lots of property, too.”
The siting commission gave up. But we’re still here. Here's the piece I wrote:
|Sherrie and George Dedicke|
Photo by Michael Ackerman
TIM LANE KNEELS by a row of leafy plants and detaches a ripe cucumber from each stalk. He works quickly: he has to. It’s hot and he’s tired and he’s working this farm alone. The property belongs to his grandparents, and puts him high on a scenic hill in the town of Glen in Montgomery Country. If he’s fast enough and can get the produce to market while the demand remains brisk, he might turn a profit this year. It might be as much as two or three thousand dollars.
He brings a young man’s passion to an old-fashioned job. He is constantly experimenting: with soil, with irrigation. He hopes to establish a hydroponic system to grow lettuce. He respects the land and is careful to use only organic substances for disease control.
His wife, Laurie, is expecting their first child any day now and is on a leave from her job as an accountant in Albany. A lot is riding on Tim’s enterprise in the field. But he’s been handed another full time job, one which pays nothing and demands all the hours he can give to it. The dining room table in the little farmhouse is piled with books on two subjects: vegetable gardening and radioactive waste. This farm that the Lanes hope to buy is a few miles from one of the sites chosen by the State of New York as a possible home for a dump that would contain low-level radioactive waste.