Delmar, NY – love it or hate it, it’s my hometown. I’ve lived the majority of my life here and as Dickens would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” My experience with Delmar has been a love/hate relationship from the start.
My family moved here just prior to my entering second grade. For the entire first year, I kept waking up hoping it had been a nightmare and I would find myself back in my bed in Burlington, VT. Reality check. I attended Delmar School until a car accident midway through third grade required me to be tutored at home before I landed in my mother’s third grade classroom at the local parochial school. Talk about a nightmare. I missed my Delmar School experience immensely though I made many new friends.
Let me tell you a little about Delmar. It was a sleepy suburb in the mid 1960s when we arrived. The focal point was the Four Corners where the two main thoroughfares, Delaware and Kenwood Aves., crisscrossed. The Four Corners served as the town’s original business district. Pretty much anything a person needed could be obtained here in the center of town.
Delmar Meat Market served as a small grocery and provided custom cuts of meat. I remember the huge wheel of cheddar on the counter that provided many delicious dishes of macaroni and cheese and open-faced cheese sandwiches during my youth. A new gymsuit, pair of socks, or parochial school uniform could be bought at the nearby Delmar Department Store. Next door one also dropped off shoes for new soles or heels. A single pair of loafers lasted a long time in those days.
Adams Hardware provided many items necessary for the household and I’m sure many of my generation’s young men had their hair cut at the barber shop. Most of us kids achieved our penny candy desires at the Delmar News and Card Shop where, of course, one could also purchase cards and newspapers. Andrianos provided submarine sandwiches and pizza. The Delmar Rexall was there for our illness woes and The Thistle Gift Shop was the destination for many a Mother’s Day gift purchase.
I could wax on and on about the Four Corners. It still exists but is not the place of my memory. Andrianos still provides delicious food but it’s the only business still standing in its original form and function. The Four Corners has become a location I often avoid due to the congestion. Progress.
Delmar is no longer the close-knit community it once was. It has grown from its foundation as an agricultural setting into a much more modern and hip suburb. I miss the old and sleepy town. As Scout Finch told us at the beginning of her tale, “Maycomb was a tired old town….” But I never had the feeling she wanted to see it change.
I’m a suburbanite by nature. Give me a smaller environment over a big city any day. But I’ve never felt quite at home in Delmar, and certainly not in the Delmar of the present day. Still, it provided me a nice upbringing, a stellar education, many fruitful job experiences, and a series of comfortable homes. But I’m still yearning for the country cottage of my dreams.