Tag Archive | Auburn

Winter Wandering ~

Today I just didn’t want to stay cooped up in the house, since we’d had all that new snow over the past 24+ hours.  I wanted to take a closer look at things through a lense.  I had some morning shopping to do, so I incorporated that into a long, random drive around a couple of counties to get some interesting photos.

Pin Oak

Pin Oak

My first photo was taken before I even left our driveway this morning while it was still snowing.  We have three lovely pin oak trees in our back yard.  The other two are compliant and lose their leaves in the fall… but this one never seems to want to give up its leaves until the new ones arrive in the spring and start pushing the old, dead ones off the branches.  Not even the windiest, stormiest of days will persuade this tree to let its leaves fall.


Rushing waters in Throop, NY (pronounced ("Troop")

Rushing waters in Throop, NY (pronounced (“Troop”)

I really enjoy photographing water any time of the year, but there’s something about the icy coldness of winter waters that I find hypnotic and intriguing.

Blanket of snow

Blanket of snow

A smaller “offshoot” from the larger creek in Throop.  The soft blanket of snow looked inviting, even if cold.

Ice fishing on Cayuga Lake

Ice fishing on Cayuga Lake

I don’t know what possessed me to drive out to my old “stomping grounds” in Cayuga, New York, except that it’s on the shores of Cayuga Lake, which I knew could hold some interesting photo ops.  Often there are water fowl on the edges of the lake, but today I found some ice fishermen/women camped out on the ice.  Not my idea of a fun time, but who’s to judge?  To the left of this shot I took a photo of several more such “blinds” dotted along the length of the frozen over lake ~ however, that photo was blurry and not useable.  I drove over to nearby Montezuma Wildlife Refuge to see what wildlife I would find there today, but the only thing stirring there was a caretaker who was plowing the driveway… everything else was snowed in.

Beau Vine Chop House

Beau Vine Chop House

Last, but not least, I had to snap this photo as a sort of tongue-in-cheek chuckle and tribute to Auburn, NY.  This is the Beau Vine Chop House at the new Hilton Garden Inn just off State Street in Auburn, NY.   I don’t know if the creators of this establishment just didn’t realize the local hilarity of the name of this place, or what?  Anyway who is familiar with Auburn, NY, located in rural Cayuga County, knows that Auburn is a thriving, albeit small city and the hub of the county ~ which is mostly farm land.  A major source of income and employment in Cayuga County is through dairy farms which provide milk and beef through the cows that are raised there.  Cows = bovine.   So, perhaps it’s actually fitting that the name “Beau Vine” is used for a chop house in the middle of Auburn.  I’m sorry, I just can’t take it seriously.

Till next time … TTFN ~

      Tamara Eckstadt

Revealed Chapter 7: Into the Lion’s Den ~

The first few years with my new, live-in “beau” were common.  In March of 1985 I gave birth to his son, and we began to move around (relocate) quite a bit.  BB was a farm hand in rural Cayuga County.  Before I met him, and for several months after we first began living together, he worked on his family’s dairy farm.  For whatever reason, he decided he no longer wanted to stay on the family farm, but was hoping to “advance” his career by changing jobs to a different farm in the area.  Often dairy farm jobs come complete with housing for the farm hand and family.  Thus, we began to move as he would take a job, decide he didn’t like it or it didn’t pay enough, and get another job with housing… dragging us from place to place in the process.  The children and I were still receiving public assistance in Cayuga County, but BB’s paycheck was barely $150-$175/weekly, plus the “housing” (which was usually bleak at best, but included utilities, typically).

 As what often happens when two people co-habit together without even knowing each other, it didn’t take long for our true colors to begin to show.  I learned quickly that I had chosen to be saddled with another “child” rather than an equal adult to help me carry the family responsibilities.  And I think he learned that I had a quick temper and low tolerance for stupidity.  I grew tired of moving around and uprooting the family and changing schools simply because he could not get along with his employers time and time again.  Often I would have to intervene between him and his supervisor or the farm owner just to try to keep him employed and us in one place for more than a few months.  This would be a regular pattern throughout the upcoming decade. 

It didn’t take long for the arguments to begin in earnest.  I learned early on that this was a person who literally believed everything he said and did was right.  Needless to say that verbally fighting with such a nut case is beyond frustration.  And, as the months and years went by, I discovered that it was not simply just a tactic he used to try to “right fight”, he actually believed whatever he said was true and correct.  This would be his delusion right to the end.

 Add to that the fact that BB was a drinker.  He came by it honestly enough… all the “men-folk” in his family consumed mass quantities of beer at the local watering hole, where BB was literally raised.  I guess that’s pretty much when and where the violence began between us.  He was not a “happy” drinker, but was belligerent.  It began with just a push here and a shove there, then a punch in the arm and a kick under the covers in bed at night.  Admittedly, I fought back…. though my 5’6” against his 6’4” made it pretty futile.  I was not one to take things lying down, despite the fact that often I had no choice.  On more than many occasions when BB wanted his way in bed and I refused, I found myself being kicked and shoved onto the floor and screamed at and ordered out.  When he got tired of me picking myself up off the floor and sleeping on the sofa (because I wouldn’t let him have his way), he decided to forgo the kicking and shoving and just not take “no” for an answer.  I contemplated over and over about having him arrested for rape, but I had no income ~ well not enough to support my growing family on my own.  So I remained quiet… for now.  I’d grit my teeth and wait the few moments it would take for him to finally leave me alone, then I’d cry from frustration.  I would eventually be quoted giving a description of BB to sheriff’s detectives as a sexual addict.  That was neither a lie nor an understatement.

 In late 1986 I would announce that we would be adding one more to our family, as I was pregnant again.  We were still bouncing around to various farm jobs, but at the time we were living on a really nice farm in Skaneateles, NY.   Despite our differences, I always thought we could work things out and maybe, eventually, find a way to exist together.  I wasn’t so much a realist back then.  Well, not until I went for a prenatal checkup and found out that I was walking around with a venereal disease that went undetected!  I think I was in shock at my OB/GYN’s office.  Never ever had I had such news!  I took great time and care to question my doctor about everything to do with it:  how it’s transmitted, symptoms, treatment.  I wanted to know everything.  I was informed that I would’ve had to have gotten it from my partner (BB), that there would be no other way possible.  Well, I guess that would mean that he must’ve gotten it elsewhere… which would mean I was not the only “girl in town” for him.  Not such a big surprise.  When I got home and confronted him, he denied, denied, denied.  Like if he said it enough times, I would believe it like he does.  When a major argument ensued, he left the residence and didn’t return home until the next day after work.  Hmmmm.  To keep peace, I let it slide for the time being, but did not forget nor forgive.

 Katie was born in May 1987, and in August 1988 I finally landed my first job… well, other than when I was in high school.  This was to be my first real job:  an intake clerk for a weatherization program for a non-profit agency in Auburn, NY.  I was excited.  We managed to move into some low income housing in Auburn that wasn’t far from my work, and they had programs for both preschoolers Brian and Katie to attend, while Kristen and Karalyn went to elementary school.

 I don’t know if it was the fact that I was gainfully employed that made me feel better about myself, but things began to change for me, and hence my family ~ and not necessarily for the better.  It was common knowledge to me and anyone who knew him the BB was not with me exclusively (to put it kindly).  He decided to revert back to his old ways of “open marriage”, even though he and I were not married ~ he still wasn’t divorced from his first wife.  In a way, it was relief to me, since he left me alone more often, and I soon began to explore my own other interests.  BB decided to leave the farm hand life, and he took a job as a cab driver in the city of Auburn.  He worked nights and slept days, which seemed to suit us well.  I was making new friends, who soon became drinking buddies as we made our rounds to various bars on Friday and Saturday nights.  Kristen would’ve been about 12 years old then, and I had no qualms about leaving the other 3 smaller children in her care while they were in bed so I could pursue my own carefree fun.  I was coming into my own “all about me” phase that would last decades before I would wake up and see the light.  Right now, I was of the opinion that I deserved to have a good time, whenever/wherever I wanted to.  After all, I worked hard, I took care of my kids and I tolerated an idiot ~ who would deny me a little fun?  It would be a little more time before I would come to realize that “fun” had all of its own costs.

 ~ To be Continued in Chapter 8…

Revealed Chapter 6: Trading Faces ~

I’m not sure how much longer I maintained my marriage to BH after I got back from my Great Meadow conjugal visit.  I don’t think it was long.  Somewhere in the midst I picked up the girls and we moved to Auburn, NY, we three.  Again, low income housing, as although I’d graduated from business school, I couldn’t yet find a job that would pay me enough to put Kristen and Karalyn into full time day care.  Kristen would be in Kindergarten that year.

 BH was moved back to Attica shortly after I moved to Auburn, and he put in for another conjugal visit there.  But when the time came and it was approved, I made up an excuse that I couldn’t go.  He never was very understanding.  But I think after my trip(s) to Great Meadow, and the conjugal visit fiasco (for me!) there, I’d lost my interest in being an inmate’s wife and all the “responsibilities” that came with it.  It was only a matter of time before I got busted bringing contraband in once again, and it brought with it a reality that I might end up in prison, myself.  It was no longer worth the risk… if it ever really was.  What the heck was I thinking anyway?  I’ve got two small children who rely on me, only me. 

 I was making new friends in my public housing arena.  I still spoke with BH on the phone, but my visits ~ even the “normal” ones, waned.  Time for a new adventure!  My newest and closest friend in Auburn was a woman with three growing boys, and she lived about a block from me and my girls.  We became fast friends, and she in turn began introducing me to her friends.  One such friend was a young woman with a developmentally challenged son around 2 yrs old, plus she was very obviously pregnant and close to delivery with her second child.  We’d hang out together during the day and chat about kids, school, husbands.  She had divulged that her husband of a year or maybe two, was seeing other women, but that she didn’t care as they had an “open marriage” and she was seeing other guys.  She knew of my marital plight, and that I was new to Auburn and lonely, so she nicely offered to send her husband to my apartment to let me “borrow”? him for as long as I wanted!  After the initial shock of the offer, and realizing that she was dead serious, I quickly declined this rather weird and uncomfortable offer, then took every opportunity to avoid her from then on.

 As fate would have it, some weeks later I happened to meet this wayward husband of hers at my original girlfriend’s house while he was doing some maintenance work for her in her kitchen.  My friend introduced me to BB, but did not tell me that he was the wayward husband until much later.  I just thought he was some guy, moderately attractive and seemingly single.  Ok, sure, I flirted, so what?  It was harmless.  The guy didn’t wear a wedding ring, I wasn’t “seriously” flirting, just having fun.

Eventually he was the one who told me that he was married and who he was married to.  However, he made it clear to me that he was “interested” in spending some time with me and wanted to know what I thought.  The whole thing was just a little too bizarre for me… imagine that, after what lifestyle I was still trying to recover from!  Anyway, I said thanks, but no thanks, and went on about my way.  Though somewhere in the back of my mind, I did entertain the idea.  What could it hurt?  He was in an open marriage, and I already had his spouse’s approval ~ indeed, encouragement!  Still…  Well, I was pretty lonely.  And I was resigned to the fact that I would never have another conjugal visit, no matter what.  And, even though I was still married to BH, it was really only a “technicality”, so what could a little “fling” hurt?  I’m only human after all.  And BH didn’t really have to find out.  I mean, how would he find out anyway?  This was something to be seriously considered.

I may have considered it all overnight, maybe that long.  Maybe less.  But I met up with BB the next day and gave him the okay to stop by my apartment that evening after he got done with his work.  I’d figured we could chat and get to know each other for awhile until the girls went to bed for the night.  And sure enough, he showed up on my doorstep around 8 pm with a smile.  And this was to be the not-so-innocent beginning of a 13 year relationship full of tumult and chaos.  Granted, there was some fun mixed in, as BB was like a kid ~ a BIG kid at 6’4″ tall ~ himself.

 It didn’t take long… less than a month… of “seeing” each other before BB was staying over at my apartment regularly.  Even though his wife had just given him a son, the two of them eventually split for good, and she took the newborn and her other son and moved out of Auburn.  She would soon give up that newborn for adoption, and BB would never see him again… nor did he seem to care.  A legal divorce between them did not seem to be a priority for either of them, nor me, as I had no plans to make anything legal with BB either ~ especially since I still had a husband of my own to contend with… and he was a very dangerous force.  At this point, I didn’t know that I was trading one dangerous force for another.  That would come much later down the road.

BH had determined that something was “amiss” since I came to see him less and less, and refused his collect calls more and more.  So when I visited him in August 1984 to let him know that I no longer wanted to be his wife, nor the responsibilities that come with it, he flat out asked me if I was seeing someone else and I had to confess.  Not only did I have to come clean about that, but also that I was now pregnant with BB’s child.  My husband was “gracious about the news, he even was amiable about granting me a divorce, even saying he would pay for it (through his parents, who had $$).  Yes, things were going swimmingly until the very last few minutes of our visit in the visiting room at Attica State Prison when he leaned over to give me what I thought would be an amicable kiss goodbye on the cheek.  But instead he said something to the effect of:  “You do realize that one day I’m going to get out of here, and if I ever see you on the street, I’m going to kill you.  So long as you know that, we’re good.”  I looked at him with his sinister smile and, if I ever knew anything in my life, I knew that he meant what he said.  We’d had plenty of discussions of how to dispose of people you don’t want in your life and either make it look like an accident, or they just “disappear” ~ yes, he knew how to make it happen and not get caught this time.  Even my bones would never be found.  This was a threat to take seriously, and to watch my back for the rest of my life.  My only consolation was knowing that he wanted to commit the murder himself, which would mean I at least had until his minimum parole date (another 3 years) before I needed to be cautious.  I considered myself lucky that he didn’t decide to have one of his prison connections just take care of things for him immediately.  My blood went cold as I walked out of the prison that final day, and I knew I should probably start watching my back right then, just in case he changed his mind.

However, I had other things on my mind as well.  A new baby was on the way, and I had to facilitate getting my second divorce.  I was now living full time with the new father, or I should say he was living with me and my two daughters.  I would soon forget about the prison life and the dangerous man I left behind, or would I?  My soon-to-be ex husband and my new companion shared the same first name… an uncommon one at that.  I would later discover that names are not the only thing these two men would ever have in common.