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Tag Archives: local history

What’s the Story?

This is another pre-rehearsal hasty post (which is not the same thing as hasty pudding) (which I have no idea what that is anyways but thought I would throw it in there).  Will I ever take a break from doing plays and rushing off to rehearsal?  Yes, after this one.

And I really wanted to write a good blog post about it, telling a little about the play, its history, the Little Falls history it is based on, the event of its revival, the special guest involved…

And my brain has turned to mush!  The best I can do, it seems, is to tell you the where, when, etc., and link back to the Facebook event.

The play is Strike Story, by Little Falls resident Angela Harris, directed by Matthew Powers, and presented by LiFT Theatre Company.  The performance is 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Travel Lodge Inn and Suites, 20 Albany St., Little Falls, NY.  Tickets are $5.  Guests are invited to arrive early as a cash bar will be available (I’ve been told that my character would NOT enter carrying a gin martini, dammit!).  I have linked to the Facebook event on the word event, above.

And this is my Tired Tuesday post.  I have to take my shower, finish getting my costume together, and get on the road.  I hope to see you all tomorrow, when it will probably be Wuss-out Wednesday.

 

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Remember Roxy?

So there I was, trying to think of something to make a blog post about that was not whining about how I couldn’t make a blog post today or sharing pictures of monster movies, when I saw that a friend on Facebook had shared a memory from 2015, and I said, “Ah, Roxy.”

I’m being threatened by the guy with the ax, but don’t worry: I turn the tables on him.

This is a rehearsal shot from the play Roxy by Jack Sherman, that was presented by the Herkimer County Historical Society at Ilion Little Theatre in September of 2015.  It concerns a famous local murderess, who was tried in the Herkimer County Courthouse and hanged behind the 1834 Jail. I played the title role.  It was a large cast, and everybody had a chance to shine.  It was quite the theatrical experience for all involved (I believe I wrote a few blog posts about it).  Having downloaded the above photo for inclusion in today’s post, I typed “Roxy Ilion Little Theatre” into the Facebook search box to see what else I could find.

I didn’t really look like this, although I tried.

This is the poster.  The Historical Society also had little magnets of it made up.  I have one on my refrigerator now.

Isn’t he handsome?

This is my wonderful husband, Steven, who played four different roles.  Here he portrays Dr. Suiter, who rather fancied himself as a forensic expert and had a lot to do with getting Roxy hanged.  Thanks a lot, Steve!

That reward isn’t really being offered, so don’t go calling “America’s Most Wanted.”

A friend put this frame on a picture of me.  As far as I remember, no reward was offered for Roxy’s capture, and she wasn’t that hard to take in anyways.  If you want to know the real story of Roxalana Druse, I recommend James M. Greiner’s book, Last Woman Hanged.  I said I was not going to be in any more plays for a while.  Still, if anybody decided to stage a revival of Roxy… well, let’s just say I would take it under consideration.

 

At Least I Got a Blog Post Out of It

Early on today, I knew I was going to stop by Ilion Free Public Library.  You see, I am attempting to write an article about Russell Park for Mohawk Valley Living magazine and wanted more background.  So far I have the story of me and Steven walking through the park and a work friend’s reminiscences of boyhood visits there.  I wanted more background, especially about the park’s history.  Another work friend said they probably had a whole file in the local history section of the library.

What a great idea, I thought.  The library will hook me up, and I can also write my blog post about the visit.  You see how I utilize my resources for multiple purposes.  I felt pretty pleased with myself.   And that should have given me my first clue that things would not go as planned.

When I walked in and made my request to the librarian, she said, “Let me look up the hours the history section is available.”

Oh dear.

I had already missed the hours it was available today.  Tomorrow they are closed for Veteran’s Day.  Thursday evening I can come in between six and eight.

Feeling as foolish as I usually feel, I explained how I do not have my act together and my deadline is fast approaching.  In my defense, I had planned to write an article about quite a different topic, only that fell through (long story, may make another blog post).  One of the VERY nice librarians volunteered to go upstairs and see if there was anything they could photocopy for me.

While she was gone, I couldn’t help noticing the ongoing book sale on a couple of carts right next to where I stood.   Ooh, that one looked good… oh, I already have that book.  Then I found one I hadn’t read.  By the time the lady returned, I had two hardcover, two softcover and a book on CD by Bruce Campbell (I adore Bruce Campbell).  She had not found anything. I thanked her for trying.

“Hang on, let me go and take one more look,” she said.

I paid for my purchases while she went.  She still did not find anything, but I told her how much I appreciated all the effort.   My deadline is on Friday.  There is a chance I could go Thursday night and still get it together.  As an added incentive, I noticed the library is having a pie sale on Thursday.  I do like homemade pie.

In conclusion, Ilion Free Public Library is a great resource with extremely helpful people.  As for me, I mean to begin earlier to write my articles and do my research in a more timely fashion.

The library is located at 78 West St., Ilion, NY.  Phone number 315-894-5028.

 

Me at the Museum

Sometimes people are our best resources.  See: yesterday I ended on a profound statement; today I begin on one.

Twice now I have been to Richfield springs Historic Association Museum and Exhibit Hall, and both times I have been greeted by friendly, knowledgeable individuals who made sure I enjoyed the visit.  I foolishly did not get the name of the gentleman who was there last Saturday, but he showed us and told us a lot.

I think I mentioned in Sunday’s post how the volunteer motioned me in to get warm when I was on Main Street looking for Cheryl and Penny and how we had a nice visit once inside.  I’d just like to mention a couple of specifics.

The Association recently acquired a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings from a library that is going digital. Our guide said, and I agreed, that it’s good to keep the paper, because computers can crash.  I pointed out that it was also good to have the computers, because paper turns yellow and eventually falls apart.  That’s one reason I find history so fascinating: eventually everything seems to disappear.

One artifact I especially liked was a very old pair of glasses, the kind with no temple pieces.  They were rimless with only a nose piece and a hole in the side for a ribbon.  The original case showed that the glasses came from the jewelry shop that used to be in the very building which houses the museum.  The jewelry story sign, which is in the shape of a clock, is also on display.

The museum is located at 134 West Main St., Richfield Springs, NY.  Phone number is 315-858-0027. They are open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from May to mid-October, or by appointment. No admission is charged, but donations are gratefully accepted.  You can visit their website at www.richfieldspringsmuseum.org.

 

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.

 

Historic Fun

When I heard the Herkimer County Historical Society was holding an open house on Saturday (yesterday), I was delighted. They are usually open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, when I happen to be at work. They open on Saturdays during July and August as well as between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but in the meantime, I have to grab my local history fix when I can.

I love, love, love local museums. Wherever I live, going to the local museum is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been through Herkimer’s several times and I see something new each time. Saturday’s open house ran from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. I got there shortly after ten. I had beaten the crowds and walked around with a volunteer in kind of a personal informal tour. We chatted about lots of things. It was great fun.

I also checked out their archaeological dig, right on the museum grounds. How cool is that? The dig was excavated once before, but they have been able to open it again this summer. Many people have volunteered. Their big discovery this time is a well, but they have also uncovered many fragments of items such as bottles, pipes and pottery.

Two volunteers were on the porch between the museum’s two buildings, carefully cleaning and sorting the fragments. One lady showed me two bottle fragments of colored glass.

“Now I want you to find all the pieces of that bottle and put it back together,” I told her. She said she would get right on it. Then I praised them for using their own toothbrushes for the task and we all laughed. You know me; I have to be silly.

I really enjoyed my visit. I intend to write more about the historical society and their exhibits. However, for today I thought I would just give a brief shout out. Now I must get back to my usual Wrist to Forehead Sunday.

Surrounded by History

The Herkimer County Historical Society held an Open House on Saturday in honor of Museum Day in New York State. I remember attending their open house last year (I believe I wrote a blog post about it). I was delighted at the chance to repeat the experience.

The museum is about a ten minute walk from my house, but my husband, Steven, was able to drop me off on North Main Street on his way back to work (he had an early lunch). When I walked in the front door a tour was in progress. I felt like wandering, so I sneaked upstairs.

I had seen the display of dollhouses before, but, goodness, that was a year ago. These things are often worth a second viewing. I also looked once again at the portraits on the wall, making special note of Margaret Tugor, a local educator of note. I would love to write a biography of Tugor, if only I had any idea how to research such a thing.

Back downstairs the tour had reached the Remington typewriter. I have a minor collection of typewriters myself, but nothing truly antique. I wandered over to the gift shop. I didn’t see any post cards I haven’t purchased previously, and I didn’t see anything good for a Father’s Day gift (for my father at least; I’m sure there were many things of interest to other fathers).

The third floor was open in honor of the day. This is where they house items not currently on display as well as archives. I walked along shelves of books and collections of papers. I felt surrounded by history. Some volunteers were around, but I did not have any questions.

I did chat up a volunteer and another patron about a bicycle on the second floor. It was one with the giant front wheel and tiny back wheel. A card said somebody local had ridden it all the way to the west coast. We marveled at the feat. Not only no chain and no gears on the bike. No highways. No Motel 6 or KOA Kampgrounds. What an adventure!

As always I enjoyed my visit to the museum. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always enjoyed checking out local history. I continued my Museum Day wanderings across the street (kitty corner, actually) at the 1834 Jail. That will form the topic of tomorrow’s post (barring accident). Stay tuned!