Faces of Dryden: A centennial to remember


As a young boy of 7, Ernie Balch recollected not knowing what all of the bell ringing was on that day as he was crossing the bridge in Weedsport, NY. He was taking his mother’s eggs to market when all of the bells in the village began an exuberant pealing that went on and on. He continued on into town to find the streets full of celebrating. The Great War was over.

Balch is one of those unforgettable faces of Dryden that I had the honor of interviewing on the occasion of his 100th birthday back in 2011. This year, Balch will be foremost in my mind, along with my grandfather Felice Pirrone, first emigrated to Seneca Falls, as I participate in another honor: ringing the bell at the Southworth Library at 11:11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11. The Armistice Centennial has requested that communities all over the nation ring their bells at the exact time, 100 years later, that peace was declared after 16 million soldiers and civilians around the world lost their lives. Four and a half million Americans participated in this great call to peace.

The Dryden Veterans Memorial Home Ritual Team will perform its annual Veterans Day Ceremony at the Village Green promptly at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11. Dryden VGW Commander Mike Radford invites the community to come out to this event to pay tribute to all Veterans. In the event of extremely poor weather, a brief ceremony will be held at the Dryden Veterans Memorial Home.

Keeping Dryden Beautiful
The second phase of the Village of Dryden’s Urban Community Forestry Grant will be installed this coming Saturday, Nov. 10, as the community gathers, under the direction of Dryden Village Beautification Brigade Director Mary Kirkwyland to plant 30 trees along the West Main Street corridor.

Community members are welcome to join volunteers from the William George Agency, SUNY Cortland, Dryden High School Football team, the TC3 softball team, Dryden Rotary, and others from 9 to 11 a.m. at 87 West Main St, home of Asbury Church and Finger Lakes Spine and Body Works.

The morning will start with coffee, donuts and a tree planting tutorial with Ithaca City Forester Jeanne Grace at 9 a.m. Then teams will take their trees to the marked spots along on West Main Street, beginning at the bridge over Virgil Creek and ending at Springhouse Road.

The Village Department of Public Works will dig the holes for the trees with a backhoe and bring in topsoil so the backbreaking work will be done in advance. Afterward, they will water the trees, seeing that they are established, creating lovely, tree-lined streets.

Chosen in collaboration with Jeanne Grace and Schichtels Nursery from Springville, NY, the selected trees are wind, traffic, and salt tolerant with a narrow profile. They have the best chance of surviving the high traffic conditions along the road’s edge.

If you’re not an early riser, head over to Freeville, where the Freeville Tree Committee will be planting. Village Planning Board member and Tree Committee Chair Tom Cavataio explained that they will be meeting from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Freeville Elementary School, 43 Main St. Their planting project includes fourteen mixed trees, including crab apples and hardwoods. Jeanne Grace will also be on hand to support the work. If the rain is prohibitive, they will gather to plant at the same time on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Election Night Dinner
After doing your civic duty and casting your ballot, head over to the Dryden United Methodist Church, 9 East Main St, the white church on the four corners, and enjoy the fall flavors of their traditional election night supper. Church servers have been busy preparing this meal from scratch, including chicken and homemade biscuits, real mashed potatoes and baked squash. The bakers of the church offer a variety of pies. Dinner is served buffet style from 5 to 7 p.m. Call the church at 844-9861 for details on take-out and delivery. Dinner costs $9 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 5 to 12. The under-5 crowd eats free.

Middle School Musical
The Dryden Middle School will be performing “Once Upon a Mattress” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

How do you say goodbye to a mentor? Cam Viall was one of the first people I met in the Village of Dryden. As the president of the Dryden Senior Citizens at the time, she was instrumental in supporting me through the transition of having my grandmother move in with us. She guided me as a young elections inspector, knowing the ropes after serving many elections. And, oh my, her beef stew! Viall didn’t serve at an election without bringing food for the masses, a well-honed skill after raising a busy household. Viall would have stories for everyone who walked into the polling place, and she did know everyone. It was an honor to serve beside her and learn about the community, from stories at Viall’s Variety to raising kids ‘back in the day’. Viall was a wealth of Dryden knowledge and community living, which she shared freely.


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