Cliff Abrams: Caring about the community

"You know what FISH is? Friends in service here."

Abrams himself needs FISH sometimes. He might need a ride to Marcellus or Syracuse if his wife can't drive him. The old Brooklyn boy now has a matching hearing aids and a purple cane with flowers on it. Yet he'll still make the village meetings. He'll still rail again those less involved.

He's not one to let go. He didn't retire from his work as an electrician until 10 years ago, when he had to register for Social Security.

From Brooklyn to Skaneateles

Sitting in the quiet living room in his house on State Street, Cliff's eyes light up when he talks about growing up in Brooklyn. He rode the Interborough Rapid and the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit lines. His father sold insurance. He was an only child until he was 13 and his brother Tom was born. A sister would follow two years later.

The Abrams moved to Skaneateles when he was 15, when his father was transferred. It was 1940. Cliff's been here ever since.

He volunteered during the war, radio electronics and sonar work while stationed across the country, the University of Chicago, Marquette, Treasure Island. It wasn't a hard choice for him. Volunteering felt right.

He was home on leave when he met Elinor.

Cliff was supposed to be at the elementary school in Skaneateles dropping off his brother Tom's lunch, but a quick stop to say hi to the boys at the local gin mill slowed him from getting to the third-grade class.

When he got there, lunch was over.

"I knocked on the door," Cliff said "And this cute little thing answered and said 'What can I do for you?' and I said 'I brought my brother Tom's lunch.' She said 'We ate at 11:30,' and -- boom! -- shut the door right in my face.

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