Watson Homestead, East Campbell, NY
Once I began to be curious about my grandfather information started coming my way. It was as if a window had been uncovered in my mind and memories I had from my childhood became alive. I could actually remember his voice and the look of his knarled and veiny hands. I could see his house in New York City and remember the small red velvet seat in the elevator which ran from floor to floor. I remember his chauffeur and the elegance of his feet. I remember sitting beside him in a car looking at my feet in shiny May Jane’s just grazing the edge of the seat, kicking slowly up and down with each foot. I remember listening to a lecture he was giving to family about a painting in his townhouse in Manhattan and wondering why everyone seemed so fearful of him.
I felt happy yesterday morning as I left the Radisson in Corning after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon in honor of men of old. I carefully imputed the address found on the internet into the GPS system in my car only to be told by the lady under the dashboard I would be traveling on unmarked roads and would have to use the map for guidance. I laughed aloud at this statement from a computerized source and wondered who was channeling information this morning. I skipped the highway and drove along country roads with a small river to my left. The mountains were still hung with the green/blue light of early morning and the slight mist of frost. My computer guide had informed me the address I was seeking would be 7 miles from the start of my drive. After 6 miles I saw a large sign on the edge of the highway stating “Watson Homestead” and I took a sharp right hand turn onto the asphalt. Traveling down the country with Rosie on my lap I felt happy and excited and as if I were on the verge of an amazing discovery. I drove past several red barns and a white house before seeing a sign, another “Homestead” sign about cabins. I kept on driving down the country road feeling certain I would find what I was supposed to find at the end. Rounding a corner I saw a long and low building which hugged the hillside and a curving driveway up on the right. As I drove up the driveway I imagined what life was like for my grandfather some 100 years plus ago. There were horses in the field and a soft cold rain was falling yet the valley was harshly beautiful and very peaceful. I pulled up to the front door of the homestead, put the car in park, and looked around me for a sign of life. As I had not notified anyone I was coming I wasn’t certain of what I would find. I wasn’t worried, just curious as I knew I was in the right place. The place was not what I had imagined as it was so impressive. I thought I might find a small white house with a plaque on the side but I had found a community from the looks of things.
I walked into the front hall of the homestead and looked around seeing pictures of my grandfather in several wall cabinets as well as a few “THINK” signs posted above the doorways. A woman’s voice called out to me asking if I needed help. I looked around and saw a sweet face. I announced I was Thomas Watson’s grand daughter and I was here to see his birth place. I couldn’t think of any other way of introducing myself. She replied ” I have been waiting for you!”
Believe it or not, we both hugged each other and cried. She told me she had been waiting for a family member to visit since the place had been incorporated. I told her I didn’t doubt this as I had not known the homestead existed until two days before my visit.