by Ann Stachowski
I spend a lot of time wandering around Conesus Lake, the westernmost of the Finger Lakes, which is surrounded by farms, the inlet swamp, and lots and lots of woods. A parcel of these woods on Route 15 makes up Ricky Greene Memorial Park, a local summer mainstay.
Ricky Greene Memorial Park was established in the early 1960s as a donation from the Greene family to the Town of Conesus. This park, as its name suggests, exists in memory of Ricky Greene, a Conesus resident who died of leukemia at the too-close-to-home age of 23. He rests in one of the local cemeteries, high on the hill and close to the woods. Work on restrooms, a playground, and ball diamonds for the park began in the Spring of 1964, finishing at the close of September.
Since its founding, Ricky Greene Memorial Park has served as a mainstay for the residents of the hamlet, hosting summer camps, Easter egg hunts, a Christmas light show, Little League, and many private events. It also hosts the Kelleman Log Cabin, which serves as a museum for the local historical society.
The first thing you see, when you enter the Park, is a tall totem pole designed and carved by George Fisch. A plaque at the base explains the pole’s elements, which are, from the bottom up, a fish in water, a dove and olive branch, an owl, a rattlesnake, and a bald eagle. Then you’ll see two ball diamonds and the concessions stand. Next up is an old bell, behind which you’ll find the restrooms and a wooden swing. In the path is the American flag, with one of Conesus’s famous Turtlestones in front of it. Turtle stones are a concretion, which basically is a collection of sedimentary rock glued together by more sediment. Turtle stones are concretions that, as their name implies, resemble a turtle.
To the far right is the Kellerman Log Cabin, built in 1816 and relocated to the Park for its continued preservation. The park also has a pavilion for gatherings, a smaller pavilion, and an exercise area.
The best part, though, comes when you walk down the hill and approach the woods. There, you’ll find a play area that includes a sandbox and digger, a play schoolhouse, and a swing set. All fun in their own right, but not the playground’s gems. Those are the wooden train, monster truck, and pirate ship, on, in and through which children of all ages can play.
Beyond the play area, you will find the quiet sanctuary of the woods. Trails lead you through the trees, and if you follow them down hill, you will reach the stream. Now, in late summer, the stream is a manageable brook to hike in. I’ve hiked it in sneakers, and this time I did it in flip-flops. I found a turtlestone in the making, a leopard frog, and a crawfish claw. Yes, there are crawfish to catch in the stream! I wasn’t able to catch any on my visit, mostly due to a time crunch, but I did see plenty of frogs.
Ricky Greene Memorial Park is definitely a hidden gem, well cared for by the Town of Conesus and definitely worth a visit. There’s no great mystery, except for where the crawfish hide, but there’s a wonderful play area and beautiful woods. I can’t think of a better way for people to remember your name.
And here’s a Helpful Hiking Hint. We all know this guy: Nasty, itchy, painful Poison Ivy.
This guy here is an antidote: Jewelweed. Pick it, pulp the stems, and slather the juice on wherever you get poison ivied or stinging nettled, and it should take the edge off. Of course, if you have a poison ivy allergy, you should still seek medical treatment. Even if you don’t, you should still keep an eye on it and wash everything with soap.
Ann Stachowski is a Finger Lakes girl, born in Rochester and raised on the hills around Conesus Lake. She spent six years at SUNY Brockport, and escaped with dual Bachelors in Psychology and History, and a Masters in American History. She currently lives outside of NYC with her husband, cat, and many toy dinosaurs.
Sources and Additional Reading
Turtlestone terminology NYFalls.com