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Happy Birthday, Stephen!

Not six hours after I wrote the last post discussing the fact that this blog was celebrating its first birthday, Mary went into labor (a few weeks early) in the morning on April 5th. We were preparing for her baby shower, which was happening here at the house that afternoon. The baby shower went on without us, and we welcomed baby Stephen Jay Camin at 2pm on April 5th! (right in the middle of the shower!)

Everyone is doing well – being a day short of 37 weeks, they stuck him in the NICU for observation for the first few days, but he is doing well and has no issues (as does Mary.)


Home Tour Success

This last weekend was the Owego Historic Home Tour. As mentioned previously, our house was to be featured on the tour this year as part of a project to broaden out the tour geographically and bring in some different styles of homes to increase the potential pool of properties going forward. This was the first time a mid-century house had been featured, and there were a lot of great write-ups in local publications. The local Pennysaver (a free publication delivered to everyone in the area) had a very nice story, and the Arts Council played up our house and the others online and in print in the weeks leading up to the event.

The Owego Home Tour is comparatively small given the size of our community – the afternoon tour had about 150 participants, and the evening saw roughly the same. Our house was only featured on the afternoon tour, and we estimated that about half of the tour folks made the trek out of the village and up to see our house. Mary and I shared a lot of details – the house plans were laid out, we discussed our knowledge of the history and restoration work we’ve done to the property, and I periodically gave presentations showing events from the past of the house from its construction to pictures of my mother and aunts growing up (I have a number of family slides and pictures), including discussion of the neighborhood and how it came into being. Feedback from the tour attendees was that they loved it – so we’re looking forward to next year when hopefully we will be joined by one of the other great mid-century properties here in the Ridgewood neighborhood.

In the evening, I was the Art Council’s designated photographer for their event – pictures are sure to follow!

1958 IBM Owego Postcard

I have a variety of IBM-related things around the house. One of them was this postcard. It was a special thing done for the then-new plant’s big Open House in 1958. My grandparents had not yet moved to Owego, and my grandfather was commuting from Johnson City (about 15 miles away) to Owego daily. Today that trip takes about 15 minutes, but at that time the expressway (NY 17, now known as I-86) was still about 10 years away from reality. And even the bridge near the plant was not built until 1968. So his path most likely went from Johnson City towards Vestal, then over the bridge in Vestal to Endicott, then down what is now 17C (then it was 17) to Owego. It probably took 30-35 minutes daily. This is why you moved close to where you worked.

I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, this IBM facility was sold to Loral Corp in the mid-1990s, and eventually became (and still is) a facility for Lockheed Martin now. It employs about 2,700 people, down from a peak of around 4,000, but is still a key part of the Owego community.


Breakfast at Camin’s

Doug’s grandmother was a skilled baker. She had the top of the line baking tools and gadgets needed to create special meals from scratch. Well before we moved in, Doug and I spent a great deal of time helping her go through her various items. When the time came, my job, alongside his grandma, was the kitchen. She rather enjoyed my adoration of her very beautiful and meticulously cared for kitchen items, including a 1950s Sunbeam W-2 waffle iron complete with a cloth covered cord.


We discovered our similar opinion in the vast difference  between a Belgian waffle and an old-school homemade waffle.The main and key difference being the size of the nooks. Once she realized my affinity for baking and cooking food from scratch, she began to set items aside for me that would stay in the house. The most prized possession, her waffle maker. Chromed, shiny, and retro at its finest. There was only one condition, I had to make good use of said items, and she wanted a continuous supply of waffles. Challenge accepted, Grandma.

As it turns out, the rules are quite simple with regard to creating delicious old-school waffles using a retro  waffle maker: Follow the instructions without deviation. Make zero substitutions. I learned this through several failed attempts at replacing key ingredients. This includes substituting butter for any kind of light butter, or whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Lastly, the cardinal sin of cooking and baking, adding items in a different order than what is specifically directed on the recipe.

I can confidently state that I am indeed following the instructions, since I still possess the original insert that came with the box. Yet another bonus from years of care from Grandma Rynkus. I received her waffle making stamp of approval a handful of times, and started making enough for my grandmother as well. The waffle maker also made an appearance at our Retro Breakfast Cocktail Party.

The next retro appliance: the Sunbeam Party Grill