It took writing a memoir about her classmates for Kay Benedict Sgarlata to realize she should write a book about her youth.
"In the course of writing "Class of '60," I found myself writing stories that were really my own," said the Syracuse author during a reading of her second book, "Lessons from the Lower Road," Aug. 10 at Maxwell Memorial Library in the village of Camillus.
Sgarlata left those stories out of her first memoir because she wanted to keep the focus on her classmates. "Lessons" is a prequel to "Class of '60" as the events preface her high school days.
Sgarlata grew up on a rented farm on Milton Avenue, commonly known as the lower road because it sat about 200 feet lower than West Genesee Street. She realizes now that it was during those years, surrounded by nature, that she became the person she is today.
Sgarlata can pinpoint the day she became an adult. It was a Friday and she was 15 years old, and she came home from school to find an empty house. She knew her family was moving to West Genesee street, but didn't expect her father and brother to do it all in one day.
"It was at that critical time, being 15, that I left my childhood here," Sgarlata told the Observer.
One of the most vital things she left behind was woods to hike in. Sgarlata took daily hikes growing up on Milton Avenue, and her connection with nature is strong throughout the pages of "Lessons from the Lower Road."
"Everything is coming into you, you're not communicating, and you can just be aware of your surroundings," Sgarlata said.
"Lessons from the Lower Road" can be purchased at Borders Books in Carousel Mall, Rivers End Bookstore in Oswego, Creekside Books in Skaneatles, and Adirondack Reader in Inlet. To order a copy of Sgarlata' book free of shipping and handling charges, send a check or money order for $16.15 to Bottle Creek Ink, PO Box 824, Dewitt, NY 13214 or visit kaybenedictsgarlata.com.