But, what about the missing piece? After my time-consuming attempt to put the puzzle together, plus my time researching what it was and its significance, it was past 11pm, and so I decided NOT to call my mother to ask if she had any idea where Schenectady (the puzzle piece) might be. I told my husband that we could not vacuum or otherwise clean our floors until Schenectady was found. We may have crept around the floor (on more than one occasion) to be sure that the missing piece--no bigger than a pea--had not fallen out of the bag that my mother had carried it in. We searched everywhere, but, alas, Schenectady was not to be found in our apartment.
I told my mother all about the history of the puzzle, and she was very excited and promised to be on the lookout for an orange triangular piece of wood, but the search seemed futile.
About one and one-half months later, on my mother's birthday no less, she called my cell phone and left a message (I was at work). I figured she had called to thank me for the card I had sent, but when I listened to her voicemail, I could hardly believe what she had said. She had found Schenectady! When she first found the puzzle, it had been inside of a cardboard box. By the time she gave it to me, she had no idea what had come of that box. But, on that fateful birthday morning, she was putting a few things in a box to give to my sister when she caught a glimmer of a little orange piece of wood on the bottom! Schenectady! The puzzle would be complete! And this amazing piece of history is intact (or will be--after all, considering what we have been through searching for it, with the vacuuming moratoriums and countless phone calls pining away over a 1/4 inch piece of wood, it's not like she could just mail it to me--this is the type of thing that can only be delivered in person).
I am planning to visit my parents sometime this month, and when I do, my mother has promised to hand over one of the smallest counties in New York State (thanks to the puzzle, I know such NYS county trivia) so the whole puzzle can be together again. So, for now, I leave you with a final picture of the incomplete puzzle. The gaping whole is, of course, Schenectady.