I grew up in “America’s Coolest Small Town”

Seriously – it’s official!  If you follow me on Twitter, you might remember me mentioning that my hometown – Owego NY, was one the towns chosen by Budget Travel as one of the coolest small towns in America and last week, it was announced as the winner!  CBS has a video on their site of the announcement and the Binghamton Press and the Owego Pennysaver both have stories about the win. In the CBS video, you will here mention made of the old jailhouse that has been turned into a restaurant, project that was conceived and brought to life by one of Larry’s cousins. He doesn’t own it anymore, but they haven’t changed the great job he did of repurposing a building a lot of people thought would never be used again.  

I don’t live in Owego anymore, but I am not far away and I still go there pretty frequently for groceries, or when I run out of birdseed or peat moss.  It was a great place to grow up and remains a pretty little town of old buildings that have been preserved or restored.  

Last week, I had to go there for errands, so I took my camera along.   I didn’t have time to walk around town, so I decided to go for the big picture instead.  I drove up to “Cemetery Hill” [actually known as Evergreen Cemetery], a favorite hangout spot of mine since childhood.  I know I am not alone in my fondness for cemeteries, but some people do find it odd that I enjoy them so much.  owego6This one is particularly wonderful, in that it has twisting roads climbing the side of a pretty steep hill, with the cemetery wrapping around it.  They didn’t level it off or change the natural formation of the hill very much, but just situated graves where they would fit. owego5 I hadn’t been there in some time, so I was glad to see that it wasn’t an old memory that didn’t stand up well on reexamination – it is still just as wonderful as I remembered.  You can see glimpses of the town through the trees.owego4At the topmost spot, is the monument to a young Indian woman, who was killed in a train wreck. There is an interesting page, explaining how she came to be buried in Owego here .owego2From there, you can see the whole town:owego1 And in this photo, the arrow indicates a particularly historic spot.owego3In that building is the bar where on a fateful night, many long years ago, Larry and I met. The town has erected a small, tasteful marker out in front, to commemorate this auspicious event.*

It was a great place to grow up and I still love it. All of this has made me curious, though. So, in the comments, leave us a little blurb about where you grew up and how far away from that place do you live now?
*you know I’m kidding, right?

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20 Responses to I grew up in “America’s Coolest Small Town”

  1. What an honor. I enjoy reading your blog. I am going to do a search and see if my home town is on a list of some sort – hopefully it is a good list!
    Happy Spring!

  2. When I was a kid I spent about ten years on Long Island, then four in a suburb of Washington, DC, before finally landing in Manlius, NY, outside of Syracuse. The mom of one of my high school friends had lived in Manlius all her life, before raising a family there. This was a concept I found mind boggling: getting married and raising a family in the same town you were born and grew up in.

    Anyway, it’s Manlius that I think of as my hometown, and I live about an hour and a quarter away from it. And I can think of worse things than raising a family in the same town you grew up in–provided it is a great small town.

    Congrats to Owego. I got married there.

  3. Charlane says:

    very cool indeed…though my hometown is very historic, it is not full of quaintness and charm

  4. Pearl says:

    That’s a beautiful small town.

  5. That is a beautiful spot.

  6. Janis says:

    Donalyn, what a beautiful cemetery and town! I would love exploring the cemetery, too. Looks so peaceful! I was born in L.A. and moved to Southern California was I was 3. We’ve been in the same town ever since. Our town is going down hill now. Lots of gangs are here now and grafitti can be seen everywhere. I’m ready to move on. I want out of here and hope to find a quaint little tome somewhere that I can call home sometime in the near future. It’s nice to see where you grew up. Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. CM says:

    I always knew that I had the coolest cousins ever … and now it has been made official! (I wonder is Skowhegan, Maine came in 2nd!?!) I have lots of memories of Owego too, since we visited there once or twice a year. One of my favorites is Christmas caroling with my cousins Scott and Kurt on, …… was it Front Street?, ….. on an unusual Christmas night where Upstate New York had no snow … if you can believe it. We were just doing it for fun, and to spread Christmas cheer but found out that the well-to-do folks would give carolers money, cookies and candy. We had a grand time! I also used to love to hear a church in town play bells or chimes from their steeple, especially at Christmas. There’s also some really cool old garages there that little boys can throw rocks through the windows! : )

  8. Flea says:

    I love your photo story of your hometown. It’s such a quaint place. :)

    I grew up in Buras, LA, about an hour south of New Orleans, on the peninsula at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It’s no longer really there. Hurricane Katrina destroyed it.

  9. Daryl says:

    I grew up in the West and NE Bronx about 14 miles from where I live now on the Upper Westside of Manhattan … I have lived here my entire life .. all 39 yrs .. oh wait, that was Jack Benny who was 39 ..

  10. Lovely photos of your hometown Donalyn! I think some of the older cemeteries are just beautiful but these days they tend to be cold and uninviting really, so that is a shame. I grew up in a town in Holland called Hilversum, and now live in Almere, which is about 25 miles from Hilversum, so not that far away. In fact I have spend most of my life moving between those same 25 miles in different directions but never far away!

  11. Anna says:

    Oh gosh, thanks for posting the pictures of the cemetary Donalyn. Even though I’m 20 minutes down the road a piece, I have not been up on cemetary hill since our high school days…what was it that we did up there? Oh yeah, it was the most scenic spot in town!! ;-)

  12. Kate says:

    What a great post! Beautiful town, too.
    In my youth, I grew up in a lot of towns. For the most part, we lived near the Jersey shore, once in Margate for a couple years. I still live within a couple of hours of all the places I grew up!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my family blog. I’ve enjoyed checking out your blog…your pictures are beautiful! I love to cook, so just may have to try one or two of the recipes you’ve posted!

    My husband and I were just talking about Owego being voted the coolest small town in America…and I must confess that we laughed just a bit! :-) I do love the historic buildings and the pictures you took from the cemetery are amazing…but, the coolest small town?! :-P There’s got to be another one a bit cooler!! lol!

  14. Kami says:

    What great photos! I lived in Owego for a short time during my first marriage. I loved exploring all the shops and little restaurants, walking around the river. I have never been to the cemetary though I think I know where it is. I will have to make a trip there sometime this summer. I now live in Endicott, and I grew up in Conklin (NY), so, not far. My parents still live in Conklin and they watch my daughter during the day, so I am there daily.

  15. Weezee says:

    Hooray Owego!
    I never doubted our little town would win. It was a wonderful place to grow up, a truly carefree, homey place to have childhood.
    I love to go “home” and visit. We’re looking forward to the coming this summer.

  16. Kristina says:

    YAY for long-lived romances that began one night at the Barleycorn! My husband and I were there on our first date (class-y…). I’ll never forget standing out on the deck overlooking the river, (freezing) and thinking good thoughts.

  17. I’m a definite fan of cemeteries too… You take beautiful pictures!

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  20. Colleen says:

    I lived in Owego on Green St at the bottom of the hill. Grandparents lived on Paige St. My Grandfather built our house before I was born. Mom was a waitress in town & Daddy was the County Clerk before he passed. Since It’s been 40+ years since I’ve been there. I remember going across the tracks to the boys club. I remember going with my older brothers up cemetery hill. I too enjoy cemeteries & that one is very cool. Can’t wait to get back for a visit.

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