It’s pronounced skin-EE-vuhs. It’s nobody’s idea of a hot spot…a town laid out like many small upstate towns – a few businesses on one street, and not much else. And like many similar towns, the highway which passed it by is just a mile away. It’s between Cobleskill and Oneonta on I-88 and there’s a whole lot of not much around it. But with a gas station and the Chief Schenevus diner, Schenevus is still alive and kicking.
It’s handy to the highway (as I mentioned), it’s not far from Cooperstown, and there are some beautiful places hidden in the hills off the main street.
I stopped by the Chief Schenevus on a cold, wet early spring day when I was chilled to the bone. I got a warm welcome, a hot cup of soup, and a thrilling surprise – a homemade scone.
I really like scones. They give me a sense that maybe we’re not all as different as we sometimes seem to be. I’ve had scones in Scotland (the best ones, I’ll admit), scones in England, scones in Canada, scones in New York and scones in random spots all over the US. If scones can be everywhere, we must all have at least a little in common, right?
But I was a bit worried when the door shut behind me. There was a TV. And it was set to Fox News.
Here’s the thing about this part of New York: it’s Fox News country. Not exclusively so, of course. But there are a lot of viewers here. If you don’t like Fox News, it can also make you feel a bit worried about your welcome. After all, you’re not a local. And you tend to have more confidence in what Fox calls “fake news.”
But here’s the other thing about rural New York: people are really, sincerely nice. So I’ve had a lot of experiences with Fox News people that demonstrated that they may watch the nonsense they see there, they may even believe some of it, but they take their people on an individual basis, at face value. If you’re nice, they’ll give that back to you tenfold. If you’re not, whatever you get is on you.
That seems fair to me.
So when I walked in the Chief Schenevus and saw scones, I immediately began to relax. A good homemade scone, for me, is a sign that there’s still hope for this country.
The Chief Schenevus had three people working on the day I was there. There was a fellow cooking in the back, and two women behind the counter in the front. There was hot potato soup, good solid ceramic mugs and plenty of coffee.
The women were friendly but not nosy. The food was delicious and they seemed to get a kick out of how excited the stranger was about the scones.
As I was leaving, a young couple came in with their new baby and both women lit up like a sunny day. They clearly knew the parents and were thrilled to see the new neighbor.
It felt friendly. Even with Fox News on behind them.
Four stars, Chief Schenevus. Five if you turn off the TV.
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