July 27, 2020

The small gazebo in the center of the town square is where musical events usually take place on Saturday nights.

Glenn Curtiss...hometown hero.

Churches in every denomination dot the corners. They stand as beautiful architecture in the city scape

Cityscape Hammondsport.... The old opera house is now an antique store. I once bought a beautiful Gibson Style U harp guitar there.

NEWSLETTER Hammondsport and pandemic thoughts

July 27th, 2020    

Good Morning Folks,

Hammondsport is a small village located on the southern tip of Keuka Lake. It was established in 1827 and incorporated in 1856. Its main source of income over the course of time was viticulture and wine production. It was also a center for early aviation and the home of the Glenn Curtiss Museum. It is a lovely spot in America and the current population is a whopping 631 souls. Certainly summertime is always a boom but it seems during this pandemic time there are a lot more people hanging out in this small town. Perhaps they have escaped the city, perhaps like me they are working from home, or retired.  Anyway the numbers always swell in the summertime. There was a point in our lives when Julie and I actually thought of moving to Hammondsport. The question was always "What is life like in small-town America? Would we be welcome? would everyone know our business? would our children get a good education?" We looked at many houses but never pulled the trigger and stayed in the big town. Now I’m scratching my head and wondering what is life like in small-town America and what is its future?

Speaking of the future, friends often say "I can’t wait to get back to the way things used to be". There seems to be a lot of call in America to "get back to the way things used to be." Well my friends, it’s my humble opinion, that that is never going to happen. We have crossed the threshold and we are living in the future and we might as well get used to it. What's more, we have been living in the future for quite some time without acknowledging it. When someone opened up the channels to the Internet, when people started carrying personal devices which contain the library of all their work, their photos, their music and everything they’ve ever done, when information became absolutely instantaneous, that is the future. There is no going back, we have been living in denial. It is time to do things in a new brand way. We can’t think about the future as something over the horizon, we are in the big canvas right now.

So, where does this leave us? Is there any room for optimism? Is there any hope, any light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no tunnel folks...we are on the other side but we haven’t been reacting. I have some ideas for your consideration. First, the importance of small, local venues rather than mega venues must be stressed.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen to sports stadiums but I’m not ready to go to a field with 70,000 people. And let’s face it, most of the money is made through telecommunication and advertising. Small venues, local music...now that is something that cannot be replaced. That is something that is live and appreciable and accessible. This might be where more people would seek their entertainment. That, and making their own entertainment which is something dear to my heart!

With more and more people working remotely we will have a tremendous downturn in the value of commercial real estate. It is much more advantageous, economical, and environmentally sound to work from home. And while we’re talking about work, who says the work week needs to be Monday through Friday, indeed who says the work week should be 5 days. Perhaps we could look at a shorter week and people would have more time at home to be with family, to be with children or elderly parents, to work with educators and to work within their community. And while we’re on the topic of schools we need to discuss a change in educational delivery. Certainly, as a former teacher I realize the special bond that exists between teacher and student. Machines can never replace that bond and telecommunicating does not replace that bond. But frankly, as a teacher, that bond did not take 8 hours a day 5 days a week. There’s much about education that can be done online and there’s much about education that can allow for staggered schedules. Not every student needs to be there every day. Teachers are mentors, teachers are guiding lights. We can never degrade the importance of teachers but they need to be used to the best capacity. Also we must use all of our public facilities so that they are not a burden or a liability but rather a community asset.

Lastly, I would hope that the new reality, the real future involves closer knit families. Family unit is important in the organization of society. If we look to the future we should look to our family first for guidance, protection and love. Maybe we should pack them all up and move to a small town! Hammondsport is waiting.


John Bernunzio

Lakefront Hammondsport,  New York...a tiny beach, a few boat slips and some guys fishing.

The old train station now a nicely converted retail space

Blueberry season is upon us. We have stocked up the freezer.