If you grew up in Ilion or what is commonly referred to as 'The Valley' (Ilion, Herkimer, Mohawk & Frankfort) there are a few things you are used to. Like these.

Being a lifelong Central New Yorker and having met many people from out of the region in my travels, I have found that there are a few facts and ideas that distinguish us from people from other areas of New York State and everywhere else for that matter.

Don't get me wrong, anyone could come up with a list like this for their hometown I just happen to be from Ilion and thought I'd share this list.

1. You are convinced that pizza from anywhere outside of Central New York isn't worth your time or money

That's right. Growing up with places like Sorrento's, Franco's, Tony's and Paesano's practically ruined us for pizza elsewhere. And let's forget about 'conveyor belt pizza' (like pizza hut), that might as well be plastic. Heck it took me years to realize that pizza in Utica is just as good as in the Valley.

2. A warmed ham and cheese sandwich(with yellow cheese of course) is called a 'Golden Bomber'

Anyone who spent even a couple years eating hot lunch in an Ilion school knows this. Take a couple pieces of ham, toss a piece of cheese up there, put it on a bun and then warm it up. Call it ham and cheese if you want, but it will always be a golden bomber sandwich to me.

3. The 'Black and White' hero sandwich

This was once a staple of the Black and White restaurant that was located in the Ilion Gorge. The sandwich was insanely popular. So much so that I've never even had one an even I know it was the best sandwich ever. Unfortunately the restaurant has been closed for decades leaving Valley residents to argue over the ingredients to the famous sauce on the Internet forever.

4. You are familiar enough with the Ilion Gorge that you know the layout of each turn and where the best party spots are (were).

Up until the early 90's the Ilion Gorge was the place to be on a weekend night. People would gather to enjoy each others company around a fire and enjoy a few adult beverages. Even if you're too young to have hung out there, you know it was once a happening place.

5. You or a close relative or friend have worked or still work at Remington Arms

I can name six of these people without thinking about it for 5 seconds. How many can you think of?

6. You have been to a party or drank a few with a local police officer(off duty of course)

Ilion and the Valley are small enough to know - and to have had a beer with almost everyone. That includes local law enforcement. Hey even police officers need to let their hair down every now and then right?

 7. You or someone you know learned to party before the age of 18

This one is a little blue, but its true. Being from an area with little entertainment, a vast majority of us learned the ins and outs of attending, hosting or sneaking out to a party well before high school graduation.

8. 75% of those parties were in the middle of a field or in the woods

If you're familiar with 'Devils Island' or 'the Gravel Pits,' you now what I'm talking about. Countless weekend nights spent around a fire that you had to walk for at least 10 minutes through the wilderness to get to.

9. Going to Utica was a rare and exotic trip

Even though it's 10 miles down the highway, going to Utica was like a cross-country excursion. Mom would pack the station wagon like a Sherpa because once you left the Valley for that trek down Route 5S, you weren't coming back all day.

There you have it! I know there are many more examples, but I'll leave that to you for further discussion. Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

Go Bombers (or Thunder)!

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Did you know the largest indoor charcoal pit in the world is here in Upstate New York at Brooks' BBQ in Oneonta?


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