Category Archives: Endwell NY

Brothers and Boondoggle #AtoZChallenge

B is for Brothers and Boondoggle: Second of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Genealogists are always thinking about those ancestors who came before us, but family history is also about those who come after — and for me, the first two additions to my family were my younger brothers Mark and Jeff.


My brothers arrived two years apart, Mark when I was four and Jeff when I was six — during the years when my family lived on a farm with my maternal grandparents.

Then we moved together to Endwell, west of Binghamton, N.Y., and became the three new kids on a block that had 52 children at the height of the Baby Boom.

Me and my brothers right before our move to Endwell. My younger brothers were boon companions during my elementary years — team players for getting around our parents for this and that, and great fun on long car trips to visit family or vacation on Cape Cod. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Many of our Endwell neighbors had local roots and extended family who lived nearby. But my brothers and I had only one another and our parents — with our nearest extended family living several hours drive away. So we were thrown together at home and at play — and that helped mold my personality in positive ways.

For one thing, I was not a girly girl — partly because I had brothers. I could catch toads and garter snakes or skewer a worm onto a fish hook without flinching — unlike some of my sisters-only playmates who screamed at the mere idea.

Growing up with brothers, I saw their tough and tender sides, which helped me relate to male classmates and colleagues throughout life. Something my sisters-only friends never seemed to grasp.

But most of all, my brothers were fun! They were endlessly amusing and great team players when it came to working around our parents for this and that — or helping me survive long car trips to visit relatives or vacation on Cape Cod.  (Never mind the fights we had over our lone TV set because the Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan shows aired at exactly the same time on Sunday nights!)


One diversion available to my brothers and me was summer day camp at Hooper Elementary School. The school was a 1930s brick structure with a flat, cement playground — which was fun during the school year but broiling hot in the summer.

Woven whistle chains. In my elementary years, I learned to make boondoggle whistle chains, weaving contrasting plastic into intricate patterns that presaged my later interest in knitting and crochet.

Nevertheless, it was walking distance from our house. So to give our moms a summer break, the kids from our street were trundled off to Hooper School to do arts and crafts at long tables set up in what little shade the school building offered.

At Hooper School summer camp I learned to make boondoggle whistle chains, weaving contrasting plastic into intricate patterns that presaged my later interest in knitting and crochet.

Do children still do this, I wonder? It certainly was relaxing — and a great way to pass summer days and evenings when we weren’t busy running around the street, riding our bikes, catching fireflies in mayonnaise jars or wandering down to the creek that trickled past our street’s dead end.

Up next: C is for Christ the King ChurchPlease stop back!

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Arriving in Endwell, my second childhood home #AtoZChallenge

A is for Arriving: First of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

The last post of my A to Z Challenge 2017 series on my early childhood had me Zooming off to Endwell with my parents and younger brothers to my second childhood home.

This series picks up my story of Arriving in Endwell, N.Y. and moving into the tiny house where I would live with my family through the end of high school.

A Baby Boom bonanza

My first childhood home Whispering Chimneys was an 1850s farmhouse near Albany, N.Y., where I lived with my parents, maternal grandparents and younger brothers until I was seven.

My second childhood home. My second childhood  home on Malverne Rd. in Endwell, N.Y., was much smaller than my first. But on the dead-end street bustling with Baby Boom children, we kids were rarely inside. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

I had friends at school, but the nearest neighbor children were Kathy and Carol Ann — who lived across Route 20, a highway I was forbidden to cross without an adult. So I was used to a certain amount of solitude.

Our new Malverne Road neighborhood, however, was the polar opposite. It was a dead end street with no through traffic, which meant we were free to cross or even play in the road. Even more amazing, there were dozens of children — a Baby Boom bonanza that took some getting used to!

My moving day injury

I made an early trip to Endwell with my dad so he could do some indoor painting to get our new home ready. We slept on Army cots in the empty, echoey house — and I met some of my future playmates when showed up in the front yard to look me over.
Red vintage bike. I learned to ride a bike like this on the farm where I spent my early childhood. But it was a bit trickier to manoeuver on the dirt-and-tar street where our second house was located. Photo: Jill Wellington/pixabay

After that came moving day, when the whole family — my grandparents included — drove along behind our moving van on the three-hour trip to our new house.

One of the first things the movers unloaded was my vintage bicycle from the farm — and I hopped on to give it a whirl on the dirt-and-tar covered street (pavement and curbs were still in the future).

I’m not sure if it was the excitement of moving or the stickiness of the tar, but next thing I knew I was head over heels on the ground with a gash on my right forearm — made by my bike’s gripless silver handlebars. Ouch!

Luckily, the movers never missed a beat. They set down the furniture, rummaged in their huge truck, brought out a first-aid kit — and before you know it, I was all patched up and back on my bike.

I was also left with a lasting memento of that fateful day. Even today all I have to do is look down at the small, faded scar on my forearm to fondly remember Arriving in Endwell as if it was yesterday!

Up next: B is for Brothers and BoondoglePlease stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A fond farewell to Miss George

Sepia Saturday 451: Tenth and last post in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

On my way out of town after my high school reunion this fall, I paid a parting visit to Vestal Hills Memorial Park — placing flowers on the markers of my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George, her parents and her brother. Which brings me back to where I began writing about her life.

Helen Gerorge’s marker in Vestal Hills Memorial Park, Vestal, N.Y. (2018) I placed flowers as a parting gift to one of my favorite teachers — my fourth grade teacher Miss George. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Forgotten memories

When I started this series on Miss George I had no idea it would continue for ten weeks!

Miss Helen George at 22: Senior photo from the 1939 yearbook of Cortland Teachers College (now SUNY Cortland). Scan by Molly Charboneau

But the more I researched her life, the more details I found — which is not surprising considering how engaged she was in Hooper School, where she taught, and in the history of its surrounding community, Endwell, N.Y.

As I wrote, forgotten memories poured out — and I found I enjoyed having Miss George around throughout this fall semester and into the holiday season.

So I am wistful as this series on Miss George draws to a close. She was such a key figure in my fourth grade life from 1959-60 — and her positive influence has stayed with me through the years.

A serendipitous connection

Yet I am also pleased that my research unearthed an unexpected, lasting connection to her.

As discussed in previous posts, Miss George was enthusiastic about history and preservation — much like the genealogy and family history community I have become part of in my adult life.

In 1960, when I had her for fourth grade, Miss George led a discussion at the Broome County Historical Society about Washingtonian Hall — a historic home on Endwell’s River Road.
Miss George holds a seminar on Endwell , N.Y., history at the Broome County Historical Society (1960). Source:

In recent years, I have consulted the same society about my family’s history — and her history, too — even visiting their Binghamton, N.Y., repository this fall while in Endwell for my reunion.

When I discovered the Jan. 20, 1960, Endicott Daily Bulletin notice (at left) about Miss George’s seminar, I smiled at the connection.

How serendipitous that we each found our way to the Broome County Historical Society to pursue our passion! And how wonderful that I will be reminded of her whenever I research there in the future.

A fond farewell

Inspiring teachers like Miss George play such an important part in our lives — one we may not fully recognize until we are grown. Remembering and honoring them is the least we can do in appreciation of their invaluable role.

As I bid Miss George a fond farewell on Molly’s Canopy, I hope I’ve done justice to her life — and to the impact of her creativity, enthusiasm and love of history on generations of Endwell’s schoolchildren, including me.

In tribute to Miss George, here are the other posts in this series:

Up next: Molly’s Canopy is taking a brief New Year’s break for a couple of weeks. Happy New Year and please stop in mid-January 2019 when blogging resumes. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here. 

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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