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Visiting the Old Middlefield Schoolhouse in Middlefield NY

Old Middlefield Schoolhouse, Middlefield NYOver the hill and not too far away from Cooperstown, N.Y., resides a community that looks nothing like the famed baseball village. The most activity going on here might be browsing a low-key holiday fair or stopping your car to let cows cross the street.

Many of the people in the small rural town of Middlefield, N.Y., are not wealthy, but find ways to survive. The love of their community allows them to revel in the fresh mountain air, the art of farming and the hard work that goes with it, and beautiful scenery and friendly neighbors, making this an authentic representation of our great country.

Our family attended an autumn fair in Oct. 2004 at the The Old Middlefield Schoolhouse Museum -- a warm and inviting former school that houses a collection of artifacts, printed materials and photographs relating to the history of the Town of Middlefield. Some local vendors sold their goods outside, and others came by to eat hot dogs, hamburgers, tell stories and see some good friends. The feeling was relaxed as the bluegrass band played authentic bluegrass music -- not the kind you hear on the assembly line, urban country music format radio stations. People danced in the rain and children ran around an imperfect playing field and through a maze made out of hay, all surrounded by the cool, crisp fall air and stunning fall foliage. You had to wonder what the next several months would bring for some of the people -- some with few teeth and tattered clothing -- the cold, harsh winters can be unforgiving in Leatherstocking Country -- but one suspects that they would be just fine, seeing them in their old age rejoice in another season.

In Middlefield and some surrounding rural communities, there are people who live in beautifully maintained farmhouses worthy of a Home and Garden Television (HGTV) special and others who live in homes in real need of repair; many of them came together on this grand country day. The wealthier crowd mixed well with the impoverished, wishing each other well and giving hugs. Special attention and kindness was offered to some developmentally disabled children who had an absolute ball at this community event. It was touching to see so many different types of people connecting, enough to bring a tear to the eye. It just felt so right.

As I looked across the field and saw this fine mix of solid Americans, the feeling hit me that this was the real life. Absent were the strip malls, fast food chains, and the "anytown USA" look of rampant commercialism, heavy traffic and lost highways. Middlefield is different, for it is internally and externally exquisite from the soul of its people to the unspoiled rural surroundings. We'll be back soon with big smiles on our faces and a deep respect for the residents and their lovely land, making one wonder why it is said at the end of a vacation, "Well, time to return to civilization." Funny, I thought, this is civilization right here.


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Empire State Carousel, The Farmers Museum Cooperstown, N.Y.
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