I have always had an affinity for Westchester County, even though I have not lived there for more than 60 years; I guess it’s because I feel like I never really left.
I was born in Mount Vernon and moved away at age 5 in 1953, but I have returned often—both physically and in my thoughts. I have lived in other lovely places, but Westchester was my first home, and it will be my last.
Joanne Tremaglio is a retired teacher currently living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (which has areas that remind her a lot of Westchester).
My family links to Westchester are strong—my relatives have lived in Mount Vernon, Mount Kisco, Pleasantville, and Larchmont. These towns were all “home bases” for me. As a child I ran free in Willson’s Woods Park in Mount Vernon, and sat on huge sunny rocks at Davenport Park in New Rochelle. For a few years my grandfather and other family members lived on the same block in Mount Vernon as we did—the perfect setup for spoiling a first grandchild. My early birthday parties were all held at Grandpa’s, as our apartment was too small; I have pictures and remember those childhood friends to this day.
What was it about Westchester that had me returning? It was not the proximity to New York City, although the closeness gave the area a distinct style. No, it was the feeling of “home,” even after we moved away. Throughout the years there were holidays and family gatherings throughout the county; my friendships lasted long after childhood because I kept coming back. I loved the architecture, the landscape, the stone walls and columns, the charming homes, the sophisticated yet homey main streets of towns like Larchmont, Pleasantville, and Bronxville that were so enjoyable to walk. My cousins owned an auto business in Mount Kisco, and it was fun to visit our local celebrities. I saw my first movies at the movie theater in Pelham, and fished with a homemade fishing pole in Willson’s Woods Park. At the gazebo in the woods (I wonder if it is still there), my uncle, brother, and I waited out a rainstorm by singing and square dancing until we could walk the rest of the way home. There are pictures from my parents’ courtship in those same woods. So many memories, both theirs and mine.
As I get older and now live five hours away, the trips to Westchester are less frequent. As older family members leave us, and the younger ones move away, there are fewer reasons to visit. The pull is still there, however; to me, Westchester will always be a place of youth and beginnings, family times, leisurely walks down lovely streets, and a feeling of roots. As the older family members pass, they are buried in the family plot in Westchester. It is also where my husband and I will finally reside. Even though so many years have passed, in the end, we will all be back again as a family in “our Westchester.” It will be bittersweet, but we will once again all be home.
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