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Category Archives: Mohawk Valley

Another Visit to the Historical Society

Last Saturday I got to introduce some friends to a couple of my favorite places, the Herkimer County Historical Society and the 1834 Jail in Herkimer, NY.  I know I have mentioned  both places before, but I think they rate numerous shout-outs.

My sister Cheryl and some friends had long been interested in visiting the jail, which is not open for tours on a regular basis. I suggested we watch for when the Historical Society holds its Open House in June, because the jail has been open that day at least for the last couple of years, when I have made it to the Open House.

We arrived at the Jail, on Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners on Main and Church streets,shortly after eleven, only to find out that the tours did not start as early as we had thought.  I suggested we check out the Historical Society, which is right across the way.

Of course I had to show off my knowledge and explain that the house had belonged to Dr. A Walter Suiter, although he had only used it for his office. Dr. Suiter provided medical testimony for two of Herkimer County’s most famous murder trials, of Chester Gilette and Roxalana Druse.

As we walked into the Queen Anne style brick mansion, we saw a display about the Gilette  case. We talked about the case and about how Hollywood did not get it right in A Place in the Sun (although that is a highly entertaining movie). I said that Chester Gilette was a player. I’ve read several books about the case.

As we walked around downstairs I pointed out the ornate Remington typewriter. I have a less fancy Remington typewriter myself.. We all admired the doctor’s study with its built-in bookcases and large fireplace. The woodwork throughout the house is beautiful.

Upstairs we noted the old bicycle with the huge front and tiny rear wheels. We marveled over the fact that a man rode it right across the country.

“And that was in the days before highways and Motel 6,” I said.

We also enjoyed looking at the dollhouses and the portraits of local people of note. I pointed out Margaret Tugor, because Cheryl had noticed a picture of the South Side School in a display about immigrants downstairs. Miss Tugor had been principal of that school, which was later named after her.

The third floor, which is not open on a regular basis, holds many artifacts and archives. We especially noted many typewriters, some chairs in need of repair, and a rather delightful baby carriage.

I suggested we go down the back staircase from the second back to the first floor, and that was another experience. The stairs are steep, narrow and curved. I think it is good to know what the servants put up with back in the day.

In the gift shop, I chatted up Caryl Hopson about the play Roxy, which the society is presenting at Ilion Little Theatre (I’ll be writing a lot about that as time goes on). I also ate a couple of cookies, which were from the Heidelberg Bakery. Who could resist?

Caryl suggested we walk a couple of doors down, where another archaeological dig was going on. I had pointed out in the society’s yard where a dig had been going on last year. A glass case in the gift shop displayed many of the artifacts that had been found. Included are a surprising number of intact glass pharmaceutical bottles.

At this year’s dig, a guy was down a well on a safety harness, sending up buckets of dirt and stones. Four people were sifting through them. They explained that they were hoping to find the exact location of Fort Dayton. The house they were digging behind belongs to a member of the Historical Society. She invited them to dig in her back yard, because she knew it was a likely spot.

Making our way back to Main Street, we saw people in front of the jail. We discovered that they were waiting for Jim Greiner to come give the tours. I was pleased to hear that. Greiner wrote the book Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse. He is very knowledgeable about the jail and local history. I’ve taken the jail tour with him and enjoyed it very much.

While we waited we were allowed into the basement and on the first floor. I shared a few of the things I remembered. The lady who let us in told us more, particularly about a house-shaped clock made by a prisoner out of cigar boxes.

I left when Jim arrived, because I did not have time to take the tour. After the jail, my sister and friends were off to Utica to tour the Rutgers Mansions. That’s something I’d love to do next time.

 

Mohawk Valley Art

Saturday afternoon I drove to Little Falls, NY, with my friend Tracy to attend an art opening at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA).

I’ve stopped in at MVCA before, most recently in September during the Garlic Festival. Regular readers may remember that I won two lovely pieces of art at the MVCA Art Giveaway in October. This is the first opening reception I’ve been to. I hope it will not be the last.

The exhibit was “People and Places in My Travels” by Deborah Rosato. I was enchanted by “Christmas in Old Forge,” which MVCA shared on its Facebook page. The other watercolors and pastels in the exhibit did not disappoint. Ms. Rosato was on hand to answer questions about her work. I didn’t have any questions; I just took it all in.

Tracy and I chatted up Kevin Mihaly, the executive director. He mentioned volunteer opportunities. I am interested in that, if it could work out. For one reason, I might get some blog posts out of it.

We also talked with Frank Wilcox, one of the artists who had donated work to October’s Art Giveaway. I also knew Mr. Wilcox because he was in the play Strike Story, which was presented in Little Falls’ Black Box Theatre and at Ilion Little Theatre.

I later noted in MVCA’s Calendar of Events, “Art Matters,” that he will be teaching a 10-week class in Mixed Media beginning in January. MVCA offers a number of art classes. I had said at the Art Giveaway that I was inspired to create something. Perhaps a class is in my future.

After looking at the exhibit and enjoying some of the refreshments, Tracy and I went into the retail section, The Selective Eye. Art, jewelry, clothing, postcards and more are available for purchase. I bought some postcards when I was there in September. They didn’t have any new ones this time.

I was really happy I had made it to the art opening. I was also pleased I had picked up the Art Matters Calendar of Events, so that I can take advantage of other events. For more information on MVCA, you can call 315-823-0808, visit their website at www.MohawkValleyArts.org, or Like their Facebook page.

Ah, the Weekend

As I contemplate the upcoming weekend, I am thankful that for the most part I got the I Don’t Have a Headache Friday I had hoped for. Now to make my post and start thinking about Saturday. My blog has been thin of Mohawk Valley adventures lately. I can find many possibilities to remedy the deficiency.

I have no less than three theatrical productions I could check out. Ilion Little Theatre opens their season with the comedy Bless Me, Father. However, this play runs next weekend as well, so we may take it in then. The theatre is located in The Stables on Remington Avenue, behind Remington Arms in Ilion, NY. Performances are Nov. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.

A friend at work told me about Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen,an original play being presented by Utica College this weekend. It is based on true stories from profoundly poor Utica resident as well as people who volunteered at the kitchen. The play opened last night, and my friend said it was very good. It is in Strebel Student Center Auditorium, 1600 Burrstone Rd., Utica Nov. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.

If we don’t feel like driving to Utica, Herkimer High School is offering The Best Haunted House Ever. This especially appeals to me, given my love of all things Halloween. That play also opened last night and continues Nov. 8 and 9 with a 7:30 p.m. curtain time.

These are only the plays I have some first-hand knowledge of. As I pulled the newspaper out of recycling to double check times, I see at least two more, so sorry to any thespians that didn’t get a shout-out this time!

During the day on Saturday, I might check out the Helping Animals Live Organization (HALO) Trash to Treasures Sale at the Herkimer Polish Home, 319 S. Washington St., Herkimer, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I have found some really good stuff at previous HALO sales. I always like to support HALO, which is a no cage, no kill cat rescue organization.

I was also thinking of swinging by Basloe Library in Herkimer. I’m not looking for anything in particular, but it has been a while since I’ve just browsed the shelves. If I’m there at 11 a.m., I can listen to the Guitar Group. This is an informal group that meets and plays Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome to listen or to play along.

I could go on about some other possibilities, but I think I’ve given myself enough to think about. And I certainly have some better options than, for example, doing the laundry and cleaning the house. Happy Friday, everybody!

Supporting the Arts

Friday night Steven and I supported the arts in the Mohawk Valley.

Doesn’t that sound fancy? It was a little fancier than our usual Friday night activities (sit around in sweatpants and order pizza is our favorite). We attended the Annual Art Giveaway of the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA).

I recently Liked MVCA on Facebook, which is how we found out about the giveaway. The center posted a beautiful picture, and I started making immediate plans to try to win it. Unfortunately, Steven had to work till 6:30, and the event began at 6. I could have made my way to the arts center in Little Falls, NY, to look at the art and purchase tickets, but did not manage it for one reason or another. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I didn’t even have my act together to look at works online and do things by mail or over the phone.

So I went to Francesca’s Banquet in Ilion, NY by myself, with Steven promising to join me as soon as possible. I gave my $5 donation to get in, spent another $5 on 50/50 tickets, made my usual lame joke about how the ticket doesn’t tell you how long to “Keep This Coupon,” then went on to look at the art.

I purchased a book of ten tickets for $30. It was set up like a Chinese auction; you put your ticket into a bag next to the piece you liked. Thirty-five works of art were offered. I figured if there weren’t ten I liked, I could put in multiple tickets for my favorites, like I do at regular Chinese auctions. Of course there were more than ten I liked, but I do have to watch my budget, so I put in for my ten favorites.

Then I realized I had missed a gorgeous soft-sculpture frog at the very end. Steven collects frogs. A few years ago, we had purchased a raffle ticket for such a frog at the arts center in Little Falls, but alas, did not win. I went back to where they were selling tickets and bought just one more ticket.

I saw a few people there I knew. I chatted them up as well as a few new people. There was a table of light refreshments and a cash bar. I indulged in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and nibbled some cheese and vegetables.

Soon they began to draw for the artwork. Some of the artists were present and said a few words before the ticket for their piece was drawn. They spoke about their views of art in general or their method of working or the story behind that particular piece. I was fascinated. I kept telling people I was inspired and was going to take up an art so I could donate a piece next year. People were very gracious about it; nobody said anything like, “Yeah, like you’re going to be as good as that in a year or less!”

I ended up winning two very beautiful pieces. I was so excited! Steven will have to re-arrange some things on our walls to make good places for them. In the meantime, I’m watching the MVCA Facebook page for their next fundraiser.

For more information on the arts center, visit their website at www.mohawkvalleyarts.org/.

On To The Produce

I thought, being as I am Mohawk Valley Girl, it would behoove me to mention that I stopped by the Herkimer, NY, Farmer’s Market on Monday.

The stop was part of some wild gyrations that enhanced (or made hideous) my Monday. I was going to write about that, but thinking about it made me tired all over again. I think a short shout-out to the Farmer’s Market and I’m out of here.

The Herkimer Farmer’s Market has had various homes over the years, but I think I like their current one best. It is in the parking lot of the large building owned by HARC at 420 E. German St. This provides lots of space and lots of parking. I had no problem pulling in and finding a space.

Full disclosure: Steven and I actually stopped by the Farmer’s Market last Monday, Labor Day. I did not feel we got the full effect, however, since some vendors were not there due to the holiday. We had purchased a Halloween dish towel with one of those crochet things you can attach to a drawer handle. I love those dish towels with the crochet thing. We also got some grape tomatoes. Yum.

This past Monday I was in the market for tomatoes again, one big one this time. The produce stand was at the opposite end from where I started. So first I sampled some Three Village Cheeses. I believe I’ve given Three Village Cheese a shout out before. An excellent product. I purchased some Havarti, mentally revising my dinner plans to include cheese.

I also impulse bought two breakfast granola cookies. I foolishly neglected to get a business card or make note of that vendor’s name. Perhaps I shall return to the market next Monday and repair that omission.

On to the produce. I wavered for a moment: $1 for one big tomato or $4 for five? But I couldn’t bear to buy more tomato than needed and let them go bad before I ate them. I went for the one.

I was pleased with my purchases and pleased to have a Mohawk Valley attraction to mention in my blog. The Herkimer Farmer’s Market is on Mondays from 1 to 7 p.m.

Fun at the Mill

I thought I would write a little bit more about Sunday’s visit to the Fly Creek Cider Mill.

It is always an enjoyable drive from Herkimer to Fly Creek, over mountains with great scenic views. I looked at farmland, lakes and more. Luckily, Steven was driving.

We went into the main building while we waited for my sister and two nieces to arrive. I thought it couldn’t hurt to get a head start on some sampling. That is one thing I love about Fly Creek Cider Mill, lots of free samples. They have dips, sauces, spreads and more. My favorite this past Sunday was a spinach and artichoke dip, which they had heated up. We bought a jar of that.

We also tried a few of the wines. Hard cider was also available for sample, but I didn’t want to be greedy. The Mill is part of the Cooperstown Beverage Trail, which a lady gave us a booklet about. Could be a future blog post (or posts).

After the others had arrived, we had some more samples and wandered upstairs to look at the many gifts and decorations available. I almost feel it is too early to think about Christmas decorations, but, oh, I love all the Santas! Of course, it is never the wrong time for Halloween, as far as I’m concerned, so I thoroughly enjoyed looking at those things.

When we had browsed and tasted our fill, we made our purchases and went outside to see the animals. There are chickens, ducks and geese, walking around a fenced in area or swimming in what I think is Fly Creek. We fed them some corn, available in gumball-type dispensing machines for twenty-five cents. Note to self: bring more quarters next time.

Steven and I try to get to the Mill at least once every year. I hope to go again in a couple of months, when the drive down will be enhanced by the changing leaves.

Fly Creek Cider Mill is located at 288 Goose St., Fly Creek, NY 13337, phone number 607-547-9692. Their website is www.flycreekcidermill.com. You can also Like them on Facebook.

Wicked Good Program

For some time I had been intrigued by a book titled Wicked Mohawk Valley at the Herkimer County Historical Society. While attending a program on Strike Story (perhaps you read my blog post about that), I heard there was to be a program on the Wicked book on July 25, which was last Thursday. I made immediate plans to attend.

Steven worked till seven so had to join the program already in progress, but I got there in plenty of time. Before the actual program, we heard a few previews of upcoming attractions. I made note of two: a Wine Tasting and Tour at the Balloon Farm Bed and Breakfast in Frankfort, NY from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 4, and a walking tour of the Frankfort Cemetery at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 (I hope those are also previews of coming attractions for blog posts).

Dennis Webster is the author of Wicked Mohawk Valley as well as Wicked Adirondacks and Haunted Mohawk Valley. The last, co-authored by Bernadette Peck, was given to me by Steven last Christmas. I had not even noticed it was the same author, so add that to the list of things I don’t pay enough attention to.

Wicked Mohawk Valley is a collection of true stories about famous or rather infamous area dwellers, mostly from history. Naturally, Webster included chapters on Chester Gilette and Roxalana Druse, two very well-known figures (at least to this blogger). However, since those two have been covered quite extensively elsewhere, Webster merely mentioned them at Thursday’s program.

The most famous person he talked about, and his favorite story, was Dutch Schultz, Public Enemy No. 1 after Dillinger died. I never knew Schultz was tried in Malone, NY, a place I have visited many times. The authorities were trying to get Schultz the same way they had gotten Al Capone, on tax evasion. They chose Malone as a place where they hoped Schultz did not own all the cops and judges.

It was perhaps a mistake to let Schultz know in advance where the trial was to be held. He and his PR team arrived a month before the trial and went on a charm offensive. He went to ball games and cheered for the home team. He bought rounds at the local watering hole. He gave a party for all the kids in town. He told everyone he was just a hardworking businessman who had tried to settle with the IRS for $100,000 and was being persecuted. Who wouldn’t believe such a nice guy?

Webster went on to tell a few more stories from the book, which does not include a lot of stories about gangsters. For one thing, the mafia in Utica was covered quite well in a series in the Utica OD recently. It sounds like he found a lot of really interesting stories outside the mafia.

Webster also talked about Haunted Mohawk Valley. The folks at the program seemed more interested in ghosts than gangsters. Perhaps he will do another program highlighting his haunted activities.

I thoroughly enjoyed Thursday’s program. I can’t wait till Steven buys me Wicked Mohawk Valley for my birthday!

All in the Same Ark

One comfort to me is that we — that is, we in the Mohawk Valley — are all going through this. Everybody is pumping out their basements. Nobody in my neighborhood has flood insurance, I don’t think. Many people who already had sump pumps “just happened to have them and have never needed them.

Astute readers may have guessed by now that this blog is segueing over into All Flood All the Time. It is the topic of the moment in the Mohawk Valley, and quite frankly, it makes me feel better to think with each new woe, “At least I can get a blog post out of this!”

It seems to me that others are showing considerably more competence at this pumping out and cleaning up stuff than me, but I’m not sure if that is really true. When I’ve spoken to my neighbors and said, “I’m just so clueless about all this,” the usual response is, “Us, too!”

I was later than others in starting the pumping thing. Others were pumping by Friday afternoon and into Friday night. My husband Steven and I got started on Saturday. A call to a company specializing in this sort of thing got us an appointment on Wednesday. Wednesday! We headed to Aubuchon in Herkimer, NY, to see what we could do right away.

We usually go to Aubuchon for this sort of thing, because they are always so informative and helpful. They did not disappoint. We purchased a sump pump, two sixty-foot garden hoses (a better buy than one hundred-footer, because of a sale) and a heavy duty extension cord. We do own a heavy duty extension cord, but neither of us could remember if it was in the dining room under the buffet or in the basement under water) (it turned out to be the dining room, but I saved the receipt).

We could not figure out how to get a basement window out so we ran the hose up the stairs and out the door. As we were messing with it, a fireman came over and said they were pumping out the neighbor’s basement next door. We were next! Woohoo!

While they were getting set up, Steven left for work. While they were pumping, the plumber showed up.

I forgot to mention that to add to our woes, the toilet was not flushing. I feared it was due to backed up sewage, but after our guy asked Steven a few questions he said he’d be over later to check it out.

One snaking later, our toilet could flush. Yay! If there was one thing that could make me feel better about everything, that was it.

I almost feel I should end today’s narrative here, because it is such a high note. It was in fact as high as my spirits rose before being — I have to say it — damped down considerable, later in the day.

Looking back, yesterday was rather a long day. I spent it alternately buoyed up by hope (oh no, more water metaphors!) and plunged into despair. We’ll end today on hope: toilet flushing, basement being pumped out. What will happen in the afternoon? Stay tuned!

Not Exactly a Lame Post

This post may strike some as lame, or at least not up to whatever standard of entertainment I have set, but I don’t feel I can call it a lame post, because the subject matter is… not lame.

Last week I wrote very briefly that a bad event had taken place in Herkimer, NY. In fact, it was still going on as I wrote. Briefly, a man had set fire to the house where he had an apartment then went on a shooting rampage. Well, the event is now over (perpetrator dead along with a police dog), and the Mohawk Valley begins the healing process. As part of that process, some wonderful people have organized the Love and Compassion Benefit for victims and their families, including victims of the fire as well as of the shootings.

I get a tear in my eye when I think about this, because I think, THIS is what people are like. Real people, most people, come together after a tragedy and try to help. Most people do not take guns and shoot other people. No, I don’t have any official statistics on this, but here’s what I see: one guy set a fire and shot people. Lots and lots of people are trying to help during the aftermath.

The benefit will be Sunday, March 24. It was originally to run from noon to five, but has been extended to eight. It was originally to be held only at the American Legion in Mohawk, but they have moved the Silent Auction to Francesca’s in Ilion. The auction will run from noon to 5:30, with drawings beginning at six. Admission to the auction is free, then you purchase tickets of course. Admission at the Legion is $10 and includes refreshments and entertainment. There will be a heated tent to handle the overflow.

When I saw the event shared on Facebook, I emailed one of the organizers and asked if they would like one of my afghans for the auction. I dropped it off this afternoon after work. I had thought to write my blog post about the adventure of driving through unfamiliar streets in Ilion (it was a little adventuresome), but after writing about the benefit, I think I’ll leave it at that.

According the the Event posted on Facebook, 740 people are going to the benefit. Really, that’s just the people that saw it on Facebook and hit “Going.” I think the place is going to be mobbed, and I think that that is just wonderful.

Bad News Day

I am really sorry to be making two serious posts in less than a week (although I guess I did get a little silly talking about depression), BUT…

Something really bad happened in the Mohawk Valley this morning, and it is still going on.

In a nutshell, it seems a guy set fire to his home in Mohawk, NY then drove to two businesses, one in Mohawk, one in Herkimer, and shot six people, four of whom are dead. At last report he is holed up in an abandoned building on North Main Street, surrounded by law enforcement. They have not been able to make contact with him and are playing a waiting game.

I’m not really writing a post about this event, because this is not a news blog. I don’t have the sorts of resources and skills needed. In short, I probably can’t add anything valuable.

However, with this going on, I feel utterly incapable of writing my usual Mohawk Valley Girl schtick. The building where the guy is allegedly hiding is two blocks from my house. I could not go to Curves for my endorphins, because it is basically across the street (although the address is the next block over; it’s a big building). I felt happy I could get to my house, that the police had not set a WIDE perimeter and evacuated five or six blocks over. And this is after all day at work hearing things in bits and pieces, gleaned from what people texted my co-workers, who were not supposed to be on their cell phones at work anyways but I don’t think management got too exercised over it in this situation (that may be a run-on sentence, but I don’t care).

So, sorry. Not a real post. If you want the whole story of the shooter, I can refer you to www.wktv.com, where I have been watching it on the news.

I hope to be more myself tomorrow.