Story Walk: escape

Story Walk: "escape"


FREEDOM! by Kathleen L. Karafonda

En route from Irondequoit to our parochial high school in Henrietta, my twin sister and I changed buses twice daily in downtown Rochester. Here we were able to escape the narrow confines of strict parental control and burst unshackled into a world of delicious smells, tastes and adventures. It was the late 1950’s, and downtown was a happening place.

My sister usually met her friends for breakfast at Critics but I went to Zutes, after school . Depending on financial solvency, I ordered a hot fudge sundae or french fries and a coke. (We earned $.50 an hour babysitting and got $.50/wk allowance.) A few times over those four years, I summoned the hutzpah to ask for petty cash from dad’s secretary in the Wilder Building. My friend, Barbara, and I would then feast on lobster dainties at Eddie’s Chop House. Eddie’s was my family’s preferred eatery and our graduation party was held there.

Perfume counters at McCurdy’s and Sibley’s were not the only source of intriguing smells. Eau De Peanut wafted from the Planters store on Main near Clinton and I always drooled my appreciation. A short way to the west was Neisner’s. Someone has suggested its unique smell came from the french fries that were served in a paper cone. I puzzled over it the many times I shopped there for sundries and school supplies.It wasn’t all fun and games downtown. Rochester winters sometimes bogged down the transit system and there were long waits in the cold, peering expectantly at a sluggish trail of intermittent buses. Even in good weather there was always the danger of missing our St. Paul/Summerville bus when it happened to be at the tail end of the long diesel herd. Unfortunately, I heaped additional hardship on myself by often losing my bus pass and having to trudge to the Terminal on East Main for a replacement.

Then too, scholarship was labor intensive in those days. I remember long hours scouring the Rundel Library for a list of articles and then plodding through stacks of old magazines at the book sellers’ hoping to find pictures for my research papers.

I had no idea that 35 years later both of my already-liberated children would also transfer buses in our city center. They assure me that I am better off not knowing their downtown escapades.