Clayton, N.Y. is Worth 1,000 Words

By Matt Lewis
Executive Editor, Publisher & Multimedia Reporter

CLAYTON, N.Y. – ‘Show me how you’ll do‘ was my attitude going in to the Thousand Island port town of Clayton.

*Reporter’s Note: ‘Show me how you’ll do’ is a verse from the ‘Wild Ones‘ song, in which Sia collaborates with Flo Rida. This particular verse is sung by Sia.*

It was some time during the afternoon that our ship, the Pearl Mist, pulled into port and docked. We were back in America, so that meant there was going to be a hullabaloo in regards to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement division, because you know, a bunch of rich, White, old American citizens were trying to sneak illegal immigrants and other contraband into the good ol’ U.S. of A.

But enough of my anti-American non-sense, I was glad to be back in the U.S. It meant I could finally find a copy of my beloved New York Times newspaper. And enough of this French-speaking, Southern-aggressor-hating Canadian crap.

Of course, me being a young guy, full of vim and vigor, I was desperate to get off the boat and go to a few local shops, a decent local restaurant (for a change in dining options, as we had been eating a lot of the “same” meals on the ship), and also to check out the bar scene after the my family went to sleep and I could feel free to be more “wild.”

I swear, I was just about the only person on the ship to be harassed about my American status and what I was doing going in and out of the country so frequently as of late.

*Reporter’s Note: The last time I had even left the country was January 2010. I had been stopped then by Border Patrol and asked to delete photographs I had taken of the U.S.-Mexico border from the Nogales, Ariz. side. I was told it was a matter of national security and that I was not allowed to capture, retain or distribute those images. I found out later, what the agent had told me was false.

Also, as for my acts of ingress and egress, I had left the U.S. about a week or so earlier, I was re-entering the U.S. and was only planning on being back in America for about a day and then leaving for international waters and  Canada for about another day or two before returning back to the U.S.*

So, as far as the port town of Clayton, I don’t have much good or bad to say about it. It was a small port town like many on the Northeastern seaboard near the U.S.-Canada border. I would classify it as an upper-middle class town with fishing and tourism as their primary drivers of economic stability and growth – respectively. I would say the people there are about as nice as anywhere – despite the reputation New Yorkers may get. (Besides that idea that New Yorkers are supposed to be rude, I think, only applies to those who live in New York City.)

The two things that did stick out were a pub, that was tucked about as close to our dock as could be and the library. The pub, O’Briens Restaurant & Bar (226 Webb St.) was a great place for the crew of the Mist to hang out during break. My brother and I, that night went back to O’Briens after I had already been there earlier in the day for a Coke and to use their wi-fi. We saw the staff celebrating one of their birthdays with beer and wings. We asked if we could sit with them and they obliged. They made us feel welcome, not like we were intruding on their private affair. The staff genuinely got along with the guests they were serving, and it was apparent.

As for the library, the Hawn Memorial Library, was another great place in town to get free wi-fi; but beyond that, it was an opportunity to learn about the book culture of the town. From what I could gather, it seemed like only women and families frequented the library – or at least that’s what all the magazines were geared towards at the front entrance. In the back room, where I posted up for several hours, I found a nice haven for peace. I also got a blast from the past as old portraits of the town’s former dignitaries gazed upon this newcomer’s face. I could hear the conversation between a local committee planning some event while also sharing a bit of gossip. I could also see the town’s newspapers yellowing in the racks as they went unread.

For me, Clayton was a town I loved visiting. My final comment of the area might best be summed up by a thought I had while walking through a farmer’s market/festival the town was having: “This wouldn’t be a bad place to be stuck. It’s like a white-collar prison. Even the dirtiest parts of town are ‘clean.'”

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