Gregory Maguire on Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood

Check it out: Akum got Gregory Maguire to write about the Pine Hills of his childhood -- of the architecture, the geography, the shops, and perhaps most importantly, the library:

To pull open the heavy oak door of the library! -- then to encounter, first, the silence; and slowly to note the creak of floorboards and the squeak of rubber soles on grey linoleum tacked down in heavily trafficked areas. Then to hear the clank of antique radiators and to smell the radiator heat. Then to notice the pleasant odor of old lady clothes, and of those replacement library bindings, which seemed to be made of plastic chitin and gave off a noxious smell that provided a good buzz. Then, at the same moment, both to smell and to see the wood varnish on the golden lintels and rood screens and turned bannisters of the magnificent staircase ... It was a kind of heaven.

Maguire grew up on Lancaster Street, near North Pine Ave. As he writes in the piece, his family moved there in 1955. And his stepmother lived there until this past spring when she passed away.

By the way: Akum has been working on a history of her house -- not too far from Maguire's childhood home -- and the surrounding neighborhood. You can catch pieces of the project on her blog.

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... I think for me and many in the community, there is a desire to go back to this point in time, were neighborhoods were rounder, more complete and effervescent, and not so square that they can't take any unique pegs coming its way. There is a lot of energy in this neighborhood, and potential, not unlike other industrial zones in other cities, that have scene remarkable change towards diverse economies. Some do it well, others not so much, so I think it will be important to take those lessons learned from our peers to make sure it is done right. ...

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