My earliest memory of the North Country was living in Saranac Lake, on Lake Flower, directly across from an ice-cream stand. We had a ski chair and a really neat boat (at least through my eyes as a four year old). I remember my Mom bringing me to my first day of kindergarten and later that year leaving for Florida. I believe we lived in Florida all of six months or so, long enough for our Dad to say it was “too flat” and he wanted the mountains back. He was born a Green Mountain Boy originally from Northfield, Vermont, and he loved the Adirondacks of New York. Dad and I drove north before my brother, sister, and Mom followed; they had to finish out the school year. Sometime before heading back, or on the ride, I must have let my parents know I really wanted a black pony, really badly.
When my Dad started looking for a house, he looked for one with a barn that would nicely house a pony. We found the perfect house, four bedrooms, a large hay barn, chicken coup, pig pen, and sixteen acres of fertile land. What more could a young family need? Soon after we settled in the house, we found my stubborn little Shetland pony who loved it when I made her baloney and mayo on white Wonder bread.
I believe that is what started a fairly adventure-filled childhood and adult life for me. We had the pleasure of tending to a large garden every year; eating, pickling, freezing, and sharing all kinds of vegetables. We had livestock… mostly chickens and pigs that we would eventually consume. Although our Mom was too attached to the beef cows, and eventually one died from old age. She fondly but mistakenly named it after my Stepdad’s Mom and never had the heart to send it to the butcher. I remember the days of glass bottles filled with Rosebud milk on our doorstep in the aluminum cooler box, cream having risen nicely to the top. I also remember public toilets cost 25¢ to use, but I don’t think that was in Plattsburgh. I do however, remember very well, Merkel’s store. Vacuums tubes were used to send payment from the cashier to the office. Clothes from Merkel’s were always the highest quality and well starched. My Grandfather was a tailor there and my future husband’s Grandmother worked in women’s lingerie. Merkel’s was a wonderful place to go for me, until I preferred only jeans and Converse sneakers as my primary wardrobe in my teenage years.
My Grandfather Ritchie also worked in the tailor shop at Clinton Correctional Facility, located in Dannemora, New York. A prison now famous for the successful escape of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat. During my last trip to Vegas everyone who asked where I lived instantly knew our community when I mentioned the recent prison break in Northern New York with Matt and Sweat.
Plattsburgh has been our home for over 50 years. I have been to Central New York, San Francisco, and a short stint love-struck in Rochester, New York, with my boyfriend at the time (who later asked me to marry him), but have always come back. San Francisco was a wonderful experience, one of the finest times in my life, but it had its drawbacks. It was very expensive: I lived in a single room in a residence home, shared a bathroom and paid $700 month in the Eighties. I was in a wonderful, safe neighborhood known as Knob Hill, but it was not cheap. I could walk to the wharf and could use my BART pass to go just about anywhere in the immediate region. I moved back home after realizing what I had left – family and Plattsburgh.
In the North Country we are so fortunate to have a community of many people who know and care about us. We have incredible fields, pastures, food sources and plentiful/clean water. The jobs are quite excellent too. Small, medium and large businesses live and thrive in our region and it is because of us… we are a great work force with an incredibly strong work ethic. We simply make things happen.
And recreation – you cannot get better than warm beautiful lakes in the summer that freeze in the winter, and go from boating, swimming and fishing to skating, skiing, and fishing through the ice. Hike a mountain or ski, ride snow-sleds, four-wheelers, bicycles, whatever your pleasure. The transition from summer to winter and vice versa is always welcoming and new, creating genuine beauty that one needs to see in person; no picture sufficiently recreates the feeling from the smell in the air and beauty that surrounds us in each season transition of autumn and spring.
And we have cloudy days, which are needed and are good. They help our lands stay healthy and keep our hot seasons more bearable. Generally, there are not many days that we have to be inside – we can add layers and enjoy or take some layers off and enjoy. I don’t recall ever having to go inside to get out of unbearable heat, and that is wonderful.
Education is a class above here. When people move to our region and ask where we have good schools I answer everywhere. We have some of the finest education available anywhere, from early education and grade school, to secondary, technical, college and craft schools. Our region is clearly rich in quality education and has what our community needs to be successful.
Our community is home to the 1924 Strand Theatre recently returned to its original grandeur. The Strand houses a 1920s Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ. The Strand once again is our cultural nucleus of our community.
Spirituality is everywhere, we have places for worship, support, mindfulness, music, arts, and just about anything one could want. We welcome diversity and newcomers to join our community, to become part of the culture of the North Country, to share the beauty and liveliness around, and to enjoy living and thriving with us, in Plattsburgh. Having now lived here most of my life, worked here most of my adult life, raised a family, enjoyed recreation in the area and succeeded and continue to succeed in my career choice, I highly recommend the North Country of New York as an ideal place to live. Many enjoy our region solely for vacations. In my opinion, why not work where you can enjoy recreation all year long?
Devi Momot – CISSP®, GSLC®, GISP – is the CEO and Acting CISO for Twinstate Technologies®. At the helm since 2007, Devi steers the Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) alongside technology’s constant evolution, joining industry leaders to clear the path for other women in the field. Playing an influential part in her family’s 47-year-old company for three decades, she has helped guide it to where it is today: an award-winning leader in cybersecurity, proactive IT and hosted and on-premise voice solutions. As well, Devi holds certificates in education from institutions like Harvard Business School; serves on advisory councils for global tech titans such as Mitel and Sophos; is a present and past member of a number of boards of directors; is a Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York “Women of Distinction” awardee; and is actively involved in making a difference in her community. Born and raised in Northern New York, Devi has two children and resides in the Champlain Valley with her husband. She enjoys family activities and loves the outdoors.