From The Rochester I Know, by Henry W. Clune (1972)



It was inevitable, I suppose, that in time we were to be drawn into the city’s orbit, and made more or less a Rochester bedchamber; but the transition from a rural community to a suburban unit might have been accomplished with more grace and less disfigurement had avarice been restrained and some scheme of civic planning enforced.

After the city contractors had committed their first desecration and the rows of flimsy little dwellings had been occupied, Scottsville enjoyed-or suffered- something rather like a vogue. In the past, the approximate ratio of home building had been one new house every other decade. Now they went up a dozen at a time. We got dial telephones when previously we had had to hand crank the instrument to get Central; a sewer was installed for favored residents. Today, we have a shopping plaza, a new central school, a bowling alley, three saloons, and our little library is served by the large public library in Rochester. We have a new firehouse, a new post office, a bank, and a new school. Yellow school buses carry kids to school who live no more than a five- or ten-minute walk from the schoolhouse. Our taxes have risen astronomically.

We still have lovely old houses on two or three of our streets, and great widespread trees, and here and there the ambiance of tradition. But we are definitely suburbia. I confess I liked it better when some of our neighbors had privies out back, and one might walk to the post office and know everyone along the way. Now I know almost no one. And the ancients have disappeared. I am sure several of them will never die, unless shot with a gun. But they are undercover and overwhelmed. The suburbanites have taken over. They are young, or youngish middle-aged. They play golf on nearby suburban courses. They wear walking shorts when they garden, and brilliant blazers, with crests at the breast pockets at summer cocktail parties. They ride saddle horses. In the winter, they have ski racks on their station wagons. They are a new breed, and I have scarcely a nodding acquaintance with any of them…

Carolyn Levine