September Journey with Phyllis Buell

Syracuse Journal-Democrat


I’ve been asked “Why?” I moved to Elmwood many times. “What in the world does Elmwood have?”

If the average person drove though the main street of my home town today, I can understand why they might wonder.

You see, we don’t have a grocery store. We don’t have a doctor. The list could go on and on about things we don’t have – BUT we have a lot of things that aren’t visible to the naked eye or to the vision of a person that doesn’t know about small towns.

Right now, our main street is not attractive at all. There are three empty buildings scheduled to be demolished soon. That will bring hope for something new to be built in their place.

The fact they will be demolished instead of continuing to be an embarrassment is one of the ways this little old town demonstrates hope in the future for all of us.

` A local church has exhibited the faith of the congregation to purchase those buildings and prepare to offer the land beneath them as a blank slate and a new life.

As soon as the harvest is completed, local farmers will band together and take the remnants of the past down and prepare for a new era.

There aren’t many residents in the area that recall the past lives of those buildings. Because of people in Elmwood’s past with a vision for what can be, those buildings served the area in many different ways that met needs at that time in history.

Personally, I recall businesses during my lifetime that included two drug stores, a movie theater, two grocery stores, a fabric store, a general store, a wallpaper store, a carpet store, a hardware store, a clock shop, a mortuary chapel and probably more I have forgotten. Those buildings lived full lives.

That side of the main street still has a community center where meals are served five days a week, an air B & B, a great thrift store, an insurance/law office and around the corner, a chiropractor.

Members of the Christian Church operate the Bits and Pieces thrift sore, helped by other volunteers from the community. Profits are shared with many organizations.

Across the street is the hometown American Exchange bank, a sixplex apartment house, a private residence and a growing construction business that has utilized and improved some of the existing buildings. Into the next block is a day care center, an auto repair business, and then a Quick shop and the “new” town office center. We also have a trailer outlet, a car wash, a busy real estate office, the town library, the oh-so necessary “beauty parlors” and a recycling business. The GAR hall is one of the last few in our country, I understand. It holds a remarkable tribute and visual history of the brave people from the area that have defended our land. I hope I haven’t left anyone or any business out.

Our Rescue Squad and Fire Department is a “class act.” The local members are literally the heartbeat of the town.

The Methodist, Christian and Catholic churches have been here for many decades to nurture the faith of residents.

Every Saturday morning a great Farmer’s Market is held in the park. The Bess Streeter Aldrich Park has recently been renovated into a dream place for children to enjoy and a wonderful gathering spot for people of all ages.

The lovely Bess Streeter Aldrich home - and of course the Co-op is so important to the town.

Through the ages, there have been many people I call visionaries that have guided Elmwood. Currently, we blessed with several local people that have great plans for our town. I won’t name them. Some would be embarrassed and I don’t want to leave anyone unmentioned. They are here at the precise time in history they are needed – and greatly appreciated!

Elmwood is growing, growing, growing in so many ways. People want to build here, to come here, to have their children in the school system.

Today, her appearance seems tired and spent to anyone that doesn’t know and love her. I know the best is yet to come for this great little town.

I am so happy to be home again.

Phyllis Buell, September Journeys