Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

In trying to come up with a New Year themed post, I was at a loss until I thought of Miss Mary Moriarty's post cards. You may recall I used one in my May 5, 2011 post about girl baby names. Well, in this collection are two New Year's post cards that I thought I would share with you.

This card was postmarked December 31, 1906 in NYC. There is no indication of who it is from. Was Mary in NYC for the New Year & mailed it back to herself? It's hard to tell in this image, but the background is a pretty luminous silver.

Front New Year post card- 12/31/1906

Back of card showing postmark & 1 cent Franklin stamp

This one is postmarked Saratoga Springs, January 1, 1907 12 M. I'm assuming that means 12:00 a.m. Midnight! Very cool.
The handwriting says "From J.P.D 12/31/06"

See where the postmark says 12 M... Another Franklin 1 cent
There a quite a few more cards in the collection. I'll share some with you throughout the upcoming year.

Happy 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The end of December means...

You guessed it. The 2012 Gaylord catalog is here!

Wait... What did you think I was referring to?


Now, about the Gaylord catalog. The Archival catalog came last week, while the big book came this week. Today is the first time I've seen it because I only work at the Town Office building one day per week. Of course, I am looking at all of the things that do not fit in my budget. Well, that's most everything.

What I would really like to purchase one of these years is a display case. Whether wall mounted or free standing, a display case would allow me to create a small exhibition right here in the building. I could do a quarterly or biannual exhibit based on artifacts &/or documents regarding the Town of Greenwich. I might even be able to display collections of area citizens by means of a temporary loan. It would be nice since we don't have a museum in town (except the Rough & Ready Firehouse Museum which isn't open on a regular basis).

This fabric backed, wall mounted case* has a lock, and shelves that hold up to 20-25 lbs. each. Modestly priced at $570 + $59 for the mounting kit, it is still well beyond my budget. I think the mahogany, shown here, would be my finish of choice.

This Claridge Hinged Door Display Case^ is beautiful. But the mahogany one is $4,890!

So, instead of sugarplums, visions of display cases will be dancing in my head this holiday season. Is there a Santa Claus for historians & archivists?

Season's Greetings & Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

FDR and the SBA stamp

Many people don't realize that New York State is the only state in the union with a law that states that every municipality (village, town, city, borough, county) within the state must have an officially appointed public historian. It has been this way since 1919.*

I, myself, have been the officially appointed town historian for Greenwich since April 24, 2003 It was my 29th birthday, so it makes it pretty easy to remember the date.

One of the most famous public historians of the last 92 years was FDR. Yes, before he was our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the appointed public historian for the town of Hyde Park, just north of Poughkeepsie, on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Mr. Roosevelt was appointed in 1926, and remained until he was elected president in 1932.^

The following presidential election year, FDR decided to revise the stamp design of a prominent former resident of Greenwich... Susan B. Anthony. The 1936, 50 cent, purple stamp with "Aunt Susan" in profile was originally designed without the dark purple oval.**
Click here to see his sketch.

1936 USPS stamp honoring Susan B. Anthony

I think I might start collecting stamps... Here are a few more.

1848 was the year of the Seneca Falls Convention where Stanton demanded the right to vote

The leader of the American Woman Suffrage Association


Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'll Be Home For Christmas... as promised

As many of you know, either because you are very smart (& that's why I love you), or because you read my blog (also why I love you), J. Kimball "Kim" Gannon, the lyricist who wrote "I'll Be Home For Christmas," lived in Greenwich for over 25 years. The Brooklyn native graduated from St. Laurence University, where he dabbled in writing, and even penned the alma mater. Then it was off to Albany Law School and five years of practicing law in Ballston Spa while playing piano for WGY on the side. During this time he married his sweetheart Norma, whom he met in college.*

Sheet music cover
His Hollywood success occurred from about 1941-47. During this time he garnered three Academy Award nominations! Who knew?

Academy Award nominations for Best Song- all lyrics by Kim Gannon#
1942- "Always In My Heart" from Always In My Heart, music by Ernesto Lecuona
1944- "Too Much In Love" from Song of the Open Road starring Jane Powell, music: Walter Kent
1945- "Endlessly" from Earl Carroll Vanities, music: Walter Kent

Yeah, I know! What the h... kind of film title is Earl Carroll Vanities? Oh, I guess it's a Ziegfeld Follies type musical, but low-budget. I couldn't find a trailer or still, but Eve Arden was in it, so it can't be all bad.``

During this time in Hollywood, he wrote his Christmas standard that Bing Crosby decided to record after Kim pitched it to him during a game of golf in 1943!* Here is Mr. Crosby's 1943 recording...

Kim Gannon died in 1974. His wife Norma died in 2000. With Norma's death, 30% of the royalties of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" now go to St. Laurence University. A spokesperson for the university estimates that they receive between $20,000 to $30,000 each year! Last year the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) stated that from October 1, 2010 to December 1, 2010, the song was played over 20,000 times!^ I wonder how many times I will here it this year? One more time with feeling! Johnny Mathis' 1958 rendition...

* Nason, Marilyn, "Gannon Penned Yule 'Standard'" Albany, NY: Times Union, December 21, 1958

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's in a Baby (Boy) Name? Part 3- The Odd Edition

I have come to the conclusion of my "Baby Name" series. I know, I know. You, my loyal followers, are devastated. I'll come up with something...

There is a conflict here. My go-to website for this project ( is letting me down on this one. So,  I will reference another website which I used when I posted the "odd" girl's names back in June (

Harper- English- harp player/ harpist (Hey, this one they agree on. I could have figured this one out!)

Arlen- It is either German- from Erland^, or Gaelic- pledge, oath*. (Being more Irish than German, I would chose the Gaelic.)

Orlando- Italian- famous land^ or Spanish- variant of Roland (German)- renowned land*

Percy- French- pierce valley^ or Latin/French- penetrate the hedge* (I know! Apparently "penetrate the hedge" means you are an effective hunter in Old French. Being that Percy is derived from Perseus, the Greek hero who beheaded Medusa, it might be better to just say it means "effective hunter".)

The constellation Orion

Orion- Greek- dweller on the mountain^ (Another Greek mythology reference. Orion was the son of Poseidon & a mighty hunter*. I love looking up at the evening sky in the fall & seeing his constellation.)

Ensign- Latin- badge*

Waldon- English- wooded valley*- variant of Walden

Volney- German- spirit of the folk*

Wickham- English- village paddock* (Another literary reference. So, we had one mother reading Jane Austen & one reading Virginia Woolf? Not really Orlando wasn't published until 1928. But, I think Austen chose a great name for the ne'er-do-well villain in Pride and Prejudice.)

Lastly, we have a traditionally female name...
Jewell- English- precious stone^

I kind of like Volney.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 is Election Day

Some of you may be familiar with a children's rhyme titled "The Lady With the Alligator Purse". What you may not realize is that the lady was Susan B. Anthony.

Here are the original lyrics to the rhyme/song...

Miss Lulu had a baby, she called him tiny Tim.
She put him in the bathtub, to see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water! He ate up all the soap!
He tried to swallow the bathtub, but it wouldn't go down his throat!!

Call for the doctor!
Call for the nurse!
Call for the lady with the alligator purse!

"Mumps!" said the doctor. 

"Measles!" said the nurse.
"VOTE!" said the lady with the alligator purse!

 75 years before Virginia Woolf called for a "Room of One's Own," Susan B. Anthony wrote "that there is no true freedom for woman without the possession of all her property rights." No freedom without a "purse of her own." 

For those of you who don't know, I carry various metal lunchboxes. They are my purses. My freedom.

My favorite "purse of my own"

I know it's local elections this year, but in many ways the local politicians are more important than the national ones. Make Susan, Mary, Elizabeth, Amelia, Sojourner, Mary Eliza, Lucretia, Lucy, Carrie, Alice, & Mathilda proud.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busy, busy night

Wow, I haven't had this much action in awhile. I have some on-going genealogy queries that are keeping me on my toes.

I did get a question today, that allowed me to utilize my old phonebooks. Yes, you heard me right! Don't you know me by now?

I have, in my office, Greenwich-Schuylerville phonebooks covering the years 1966-1974, 1976-1986, 2001-2002. I'm not sure why I don't have the 1975-76 phonebook. It would be nice to have the full 20 year span. If anyone has a copy they would like to donate, I would greatly appreciate it... but ONLY if they are Greenwich specific.

Front cover of the 1966-67 NY Telephone phonebook
 I remember these. Was this a princess style phone?

back cover of the Greenwich-Schuylerville edition

If you lived in Greenwich in 1966, you could call Greenwich & Schuylerville just by dialing the number as we would today. To call Saratoga Springs, Argyle, or Cambridge, et al you had to dial "0" and speak with the operator.

In 1966 you had to dial "0" for the operator
 I'm hoping most of the people reading this know what a rotary dial is, otherwise you will not understand this part of the "How to Dial" section of the 1966-67 phonebook!

Don't mix-up your 1 & i or your O & 0!

At least by 1966 the exchange was 692. In 1958 it was still MY2.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's in a (Baby) Name? The Boy Edition Part 2

On with my baby name project. Meanings for the popular boy names are as follows...

The Brits have 10 of the 20(ish) most popular boy names in Greenwich 1881-1913, so here we go

William- strong-willed warrior
Frank- free or truthful
Robert- bright fame
Edward- wealthy guardian
Harry- diminutive of Harold- army ruler (also dem. or Henry- see German)
Walter- (also) army ruler
Albert- noble & bright
Fred- peace ruler
Clarence- British title
Lewis- famed warrior

Shocking that there are so many war/ military references.

Next the Germans weigh in...
Charles- freeman
Henry- ruler of the home
Willie- diminutive of William- strong-willed warrior (Why not English?)
Louis- famed warrior (same as English spelling)

John- God is gracious
James- supplanter (What! I looked it up- one who wrongfully seizes & holds the place of another- Hmm)
Joseph- God will increase

George- farmer
Thomas- twin

Donald- world leader
Kenneth- handsome

Paul- small

Arthur- bear

Aside from the meaning of James, nothing was overly surprising. I'll compile the odd ones and have them up soon.

Thanks as always to

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My favorite Kim Gannon song...

Kim Gannon publicity shot circa 1945

If you've lived in Greenwich for any length of time, you probably know that resident James Kimball "Kim" Gannon (1900-1974) was the lyricist to "I'll Be Home For Christmas". He wrote the song with Walter Kent during World War II. It happens to be one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, along with "Silent Night", "What Child Is This", and "Carol of the Bells". However, it is not my favorite Kim Gannon song.

In 1948 Melody Time was released by Walt Disney Studios. In it was a 17 minute short about the legend of John Chapman called "Johnny Appleseed". There are three songs in the short; "The Pioneer Song", "The Apple Song", and my favorite, "The Lord Is Good To Me". All of these songs were written by Kim Gannon & Walter Kent.

I think it is perfect for this time of year, when the apple trees are heavy with fruit, and the trees are turning amber, gold and scarlet. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Lyrics by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

"The Lord's Been Good To Me"

The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and rain and an apple seed
Yes He's been good to me.

I owe the Lord so much
For everything I need
I'm certain if it weren't for Him
There'd be no apples on this limb
He's been good to me

Oh here I am
'Neath the blue, blue sky
A'doin' as I please
Singing with my feathered friends
Or with the bees

I wake up every day
As happy as can be
Because I know that with His care
My apple trees will still be there
Oh, the Lord is good to me

For more information:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Susan B. will come home to Battenville for one night only...

I was going to write about something completely different tonight, but my love of all things Susan B. Anthony will usurp just about anything. (& I am completely bummed that I can't go!)

Actor, director, writer, and educator Sally Matson, will portray Susan B. Anthony at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the Stoopes Hotel. The Stoopes Hotel is the old red building to the east of Susan B. Anthony's Childhood Home on Route 29 in Battenville. It is a great old building, recently restored. (Parking can be a problem so you may want to carpool & get there early.) The program is sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society and the NorthStar Historical Project.

I hope Claudia Blackler doesn't mind, but I am going to quote a bit from her article in The Greenwich Journal and Salem Press this week...
[Susan B. Anthony] used innovative methods to promote her message: the new platen jobber printer, the telegram, the typewriter, and her own newspaper. She and her colleagues worked to advance women. She put up the last necessary $2,000 from her own life insurance policy to be sure that women were admitted into the University of Rochester; she imagined what women could be. In 1905 she said, "I firmly believe that some day a woman will be elected President of the United States."^
Not in 2012 Susan. Sarah Palin just announced she will not run for president in 2012, and Michele Bachmann is currently tied for 5th place with Newt Gingrich.* Now back to Claudia...
Miss Anthony was an agent for the New York State Anti-Slavery Society and she worked in Kansas during the fight for abolition. As the foremost leader of the women's rights movement in the late 19th Century, she canvassed New York state petitioning for women's property rights and wage reform.
On behalf of woman suffrage, she spoke in one hundred cities a year, year after year, arranging all details by letter and telegram.^
I wanna go! Can someone record the performance for me? (I guess I'll stop whining now.)

^  Blackler, Claudia. "Susan B. Anthony- the Invincible: Famous Activist Will 'Come to Life' October 19." Greenwich Journal and Salem Press [Greenwich, NY] 6 October 2011, 1st edition: 1.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's in a (Baby) Name? The Boy Edition

You guessed it! I'm back to my baby name research.

Since the last three part segment dealt with girl's names, I figured I'd better be fair & give the boy's names their turn. I'll try to have meanings for you next month. So, here we go...

The 20(ish) Most Popular Baby BOY Names in Greenwich, NY 1881-1913*
1.)   William
2.)   John
3.)   Charles, George
5.)   James
6.)   Robert
7.)   Edward
8.)   Harold
9.)   Raymond
10.) Walter
11.) Earl, Henry, Thomas
14.) Frank, Harry
16.) Albert, Donald, Kenneth
19.) David, Joseph, Lewis

The 20(ish) Most Popular Baby BOY Names in USA 1881-1913^
1.)   John
2.)   William
3.)   James
4.)   George
5.)   Charles
6.)   Joseph
7.)   Robert
8.)   Frank
9.)   Edward
10.) Thomas
11.) Henry
12.) Harry
13.) Walter
14.) Arthur
15.) Albert
16.) Fred
17.) Willie
18.) Clarence
19.) Paul
20.) Louis

* compiled from Town & Village of Greenwich, NY birth records 1881-1913
^ compiled from data on the Social Security Administration website

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A famous Don

No, not the mafia.

Greenwich was home to another famous Don... Laura Don. I am sure you are asking yourself "Who?" again. But, that must be why you read this blog, to find out "who".

By published newspaper accounts, Laura Don was born Ann (or Annie) Laura Fish  in Glens Falls, NY in either 1850 or 1852. Her father was a prosperous wheelwright in the area and eventually moved the family to Greenwich. Laura, a romantic girl (modern readers can substitute "dreamer" or "imaginative"), was published in Ladies' Magazine at a young age. The piece was called "Gathering Pond Lillies". She enjoyed painting. After a trip to Brooklyn to visit friends she became enthralled with the theatre. Then, on a trip to Troy in 1868, she met a young photographer named George S. Fox. The couple was married a year later, but soon divorced because of Laura's continued interest in a stage career.

Laura Don enjoyed some modest success in traveling troupes in Cleveland, Chicago & parts west & south, before securing more steady work in New York City in 1879-80 with Frank Mayo, an actor from Boston, best known for his stage roles of Badger in The Streets of New York & the title character of Davy Crockett. Laura appeared in a revival of The Streets of New York  as Alida.

Praised more for her beauty than her acting ability, Laura's biggest triumph came in the 1882-83 theatre season with the production of her own play called A Daughter of the Nile. Not only did she play the role of Egypt, she was also stage director & manager. The effort exhausted her and she took a rest in Nice, France after the play closed.

In the summer of 1885 Laura returned to Greenwich to be with her parents. Here she succumbed to consumption (tuberculosis) on February 10, 1886.  She had reconciled with her ex-husband George Fox. He was there with her parents and a clergyman when she died. Ann Laura Fish is buried in Greenwich Cemetery in section G closest to Cottage Street. She was in her mid-30s.

Tuberculosis was & is a terrible disease. It was called consumption in Laura Don's time because the bacteria seemed to consume the person from the inside out. Fever, and coughing up blood are tell-tale signs.  The New York Times reported the day after her death that "For weeks she has been living almost entirely on morphine, and at the time of her death was much emaciated."

WPA poster- late 1930s

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Fair Time!

You may not know that, arguably the best county fair in the Empire State, is the Washington County Fair. It was first held in Salem in 1841 & eventually moved to Sandy Hill/ Hudson Falls. It remained there until 1934. The Great Depression took it's toll on many things, and the fair was one. Four years later, in 1938, the fairgrounds and 30 structures were sold to make way for the County Highway Department.

junior fair participant shows off her calf 2008 (Basile)
The Cambridge Valley Agricultural Society, which had been hosting fairs in Cambridge since 1900, revived the Washington County Fair in late August 1947 at the McMullen farm in the Town of Greenwich. Where was that, you might ask? Well, it's about where Hannaford sits now- near Routes 29 & 40 & the roundabout.

During the 1930s & 40s another local fair was floundering, the Washington County Junior Fair. Then in 1949 the Junior Fair had to be cancelled because of an outbreak of polio. By November 125 young people had contracted the debilitating disease, four died.

Five years later, in 1954, Philip Houlton of Hoosick Falls (see even folks from Rensselaer County know it's the best fair) sold his share in our county fair for $6,000 to a group calling themselves the Washington County Junior Fair. From that moment on, the two fairs would be forever linked.

When did the fair move to it's current location in Greenwich? Well, it's not in Greenwich. The current fairgrounds along Route 29 may have a mailing address of Greenwich & a zip code of 12834 (zip codes were instituted in 1963), but the location is the Town of Easton. Anyway, the Washington County Fair moved to it's current location, then called Brisbane Flats, in 1961.

rides on the midway 2006 (Basile)
Other notable moments in Washington County Fair history are...

1983- Fair attendance exceeds 100,000 for the first time
1999- E. coli outbreak kills two. The village of Greenwich begins chlorinating its water.
2000- After spending $100,000 to ensure safe water, attendance is down 10%
2011- The fair opens for it's best season yet

P.S. If you have any photographs or ephemera of the Washington County Fair, I would love to start a collection. If you don't want to donate the  items, I can scan them & give them back to you. Please!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Animal Bounties

Yes, you heard right. I have twelve Claim, Affidavit and Certificate for Payment of Bounty documents in my office. They prove that at least one coy dog, three porcupines and fourteen bobcats were killed in the Town of Greenwich between 1956 and 1971. These "animal bounties" were paid to residents when they brought in proof of kill to their local town clerk. After the paperwork was filled out & signed, it was submitted to the county for payment.
Attached to the twelve bounty claims are copies of two resolutions; one dated March 12, 1948, & the other February 27, 1970. They say, basically, the same thing, except the price on the head, or rather the rattle, of a rattlesnake rose from $3.00 in 1948 to $5.00 in 1970 & foxes were no longer a nuisance because their previous bounty of $3.00 was revoked in 1970. Bobcats, bay lynx, & wolf or coy dog were fetching a hefty bounty of $25.00 in both 1948 & 1970. Porcupines were a paltry $0.50 each!
How did bounty hunter prove his kill? If you don't want to know, stop reading here.

bobcats, bay lynx, wolf, coy dog, fox- complete carcass
porcupine- the tail
rattlesnakes- "the rattles including at least three inches of the skinned tail with all the rattles unremoved [sic]"

Mr. Gillis of East Greenwich requested $50 for bobcats killed 1959

Town Clerk Elizabeth Wilson approved it

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Zip code 12848

When the United States Postal Service stated last week that they were considering closing some 3,700 post offices across the country, I didn't think of my brother and sister-in-law losing their jobs. I immediately thought of the little, white clapboard post office of zip code 12848, who's main purpose is to provide post office boxes to residents & businesses in and around the hamlet of Middle Falls in the Town of Greenwich. But, I needn't have worried. It is not on the list of potential closures.

So, I thought I would place a photograph of the previous post office in Middle Falls, to pay homage to rural post offices nationwide. It was the kind of post office that USPS wants to go back to, a store that provides post office like services. Everything old is new again, as the saying goes.

Middle Falls Post Office 1962

The following is on the back of the photograph... "First post office I remember. Middle Falls, N.Y. The only thing I bought there was gum. Either spruce gum or white parafine [sic] gum. I lived in a red brick house in the village at that time." Lee Fuller- July 1962

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Old Champlain Canal, Pottery & Lime Kilns

If you have been up US Route 4 between Schuylerville and Fort Edward you've probably noticed the two markers on a patch of grass along the side of the road near the intersection of County Route 77, AKA Bald Mountain Road. If you were really observant you would have noticed the hand cut limestone blocks in an almost triangular shape along the side of the road. You have been traveling part of the Old Champlain Canal.

Marker for Lock 12 of the old canal
 The Champlian Canal opened in 1823 as a way for farmers & manfacturers to ship their goods out to customers & to receive supplies. Hundreds of business sprang up along the canal route to capitalize on this technological marval.

This NYS marker has nothing to do with the canal

One such industry was the production of earthenware & stoneware. As early as 1810, earthenware was being made in the hamlet of Bald Mountain by Lemuel Rowell using local clay. By 1824 it is believed Rowell was manufacturing
stoneware by importing the materials from New Jersey by way of the newly opened Champlain Canal. In the 1840s Otto V. Lewis began working at the potters & married Rowell's daughter Sarah in 1846. After Rowell's death in 1850, Lewis moved down the canal to Stillwater, and the land was, eventually, sold to Robert Lowber around 1852.

Roadside marker at Bald Mountain & Lick Spring Roads

Eastern most part of Greenwich showing the canal, plank road & lime kiln
Lowber constructed two large lime kilns for the production of quicklime. Limestone is placed inside the kiln & heated to 1000°C (1832°F) in order to create a chemical reaction to create the quicklime used in building trades. Quicklime also glows, & was used for lighting before electricity, hence the term "limelight". The quicklime was then transported over the plank road built by Lowber down to Champlain Lock 11, where it was loaded on a boat & shipped. I was always able to see the old lime kilns when driving Bald Mountain Road as a child. My sister & I thought they were castles, & there was one for both of us. They are no longer visible from the road & may have been torn down.

Lowber's lime kilns c. 1970
So, the next time you are driving, or cycling, on US Route 4 pull over & take a look. Lock 11 is gone, but Lock 12 is still there. Just south of the pull off for Lock 12 is the Denton Preserve. It is a nice little hikinhg trail & you can see more remnants of the old canal. In the meantime, here are some photographs I took in October 2009.

For more information on the Champlian Canal click on these websites:

To find out how a canal works visit:

A great source for information on stoneware in Upstate New York check out:
Pottery Works: Potteries of New York State's Capital District and the Upper Hudson Region by Warren F. Broderick & William Bouck- ISBN 9780838635384

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Song cycle of Susan B. to be performed

A few years ago, a local musician named Bob Warren was commissioned to write some music to commemorate one of Greenwich's most famous former residents... Susan B. Anthony. What Mr. Warren came up with was & is a beautiful, unpretentious song cycle that weaves Ms. Anthony's own words, her life & melodic phrasing into a wonderful tapestry. I have seen & heard it performed twice. I would have to say my favorite was the first time, along the Battenkill at the Greenwich Town Beach, a mile or two from where the Anthony family lived when they moved from North Adams, MA to Battenville in 1826.

c. 1979- Battenville home was built by Daniel Anthony in 1833
I am happy to announce that the song cycle Only the Message Mattered will be performed again this summer on the eastern shores of Lake George. The performance will take place on Thursday, August 4, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at the Wiawaka Holiday House. There is a fee which includes dinner & the performance. The three signers will be Brittany Rivers, Barbara Skiff and Rebecca Rogers. Monica Roach will accompany on cello, and Warren will play piano.

For more information on this event visit
or call 877-468-8128.

To purchase songs from Only the Message Mattered visit Bob Warren's artist page on itunes

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Climb Aboard the Suffrage Wagon!

The New York State Museum in Albany has an amazing piece of history... The Suffrage Wagon!

The what? Yes, you read right, the Suffrage Wagon! A Long Island suffragist named Edna Buckman Kearns hitched a horse to a wagon she dubbed "The Spirit of 1776" and campaigned for "Votes for Women" while riding around in it.

Suffrage Wagon on display 2010

& the NY Sate Museum has it. I was so excited to see it on display during Women's History Month (March) 2010. I went down with my daughter specifically to see the exhibit, if you could call it that. She loves the State Museum more than I do and would gladly go every week as long as I don't make her look at old furniture. As soon as I saw it in the front lobby of the building I knew two things;
1.) it was an amazing artifact &
2.) it was on temporary display. So, now it is in storage. Why, you may ask? Who knows? The fourth floor where the carousel is has any number of random artifacts on display from Teddy Roosevelt's car to Roycroft furniture to stuffed bats. Can't the curatorial staff find room up there at least?

What I would really like to see, & what Marguerite Kearns, granddaughter of Edna Buckman Kearns, would like to see, is the Suffrage Wagon on permanent display with other artifacts from special collections chronicaling the Suffrage Movement on the main exhibit floor. We would like this to be a reality prior to 2017 which will be the Centennial of New York State granting the right to vote to its female citizens. If you would like to see this happen as well, Marguerite has launched a postcard campaign. I have sent my postcards out. Will you help? I have some postcards to pass out, or you can contact Marguerite at

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In search of... books!

As you might guess, I am a book obsessed person. Once I started making my own money, I started frequenting bookstores. I've spent ten years of my life working in bookstores. Actually, if you count all of the museums I have worked at, it's closer to thirteen.

I am reading six books at the moment. Yes, six. My ten year old & I are reading aloud Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. I am listening to the audio book version of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron as I drive to and from work. I have a free copy of Eighty Years and More by Elizabeth Cady Stanton open on my nook (e-reader). Plus, I am in the middle of three print books: Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America by Carol Faulkner, Baker Towers: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh & Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden. Oh, & I waiting for my book club selection to arrive at the Greenwich Free Library. I had to request it through inter-library loan. Once that comes, I'll have to set aside a couple of other books & devote the majority of my attention to Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle. I have to have it read by July 17th!

So, you see, I also frequent the library as well. & not just the Greenwich Free Library which I can see right now from my office window. I have been to many of the local libraries. I just dropped off two books at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls today after work. Three days overdue, I owe a whopping $0.50. I never complain about library fees. I pay them gladly. On Monday, after the 4th of July parade in nearby Argyle, Mom and I spent less than $5.00 at the annual used book sale at the Argyle Free Library on Sheridan Street. I got some great children's books to read with my daughter & a thick biography of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.

Owl Pen Books 1970

But, I have to admit, my favorite place to get books in the area is an amazing bookstore called the Owl Pen. It's one of those you-can't-get-there-from-here kind of places. Even if you follow the handmade signs correctly and turn on Riddle Road without a wrong turn or three, you begin to wonder if you are on the right road, going in the correct direction. The green canopy of deciduous trees shades the dirt road. I always turn off the CD, roll down the window and slow the car to a walk. Partly, I slow down because the road is narrow, but mostly, it's because I think I'm lost. But I'm not. I've never been lost driving there. It's just a feeling that I could be.

Then you finally come upon the beautiful white farm house and the red barn of Owl Pen Books. In 1944, Barbara Probst bought the dilapidated farm for $1,000 in war bonds. She started the bookstore in 1960 with 1,200 books bought for $25. According to an article in the Fall 1970* edition of Adirondack Life there were 40,000 books for sale ten years later. In today's world of, the Owl Pen is still a place you need to visit personally. Stroll around the grounds. Weave in and out of the bookshelves. Smell the paper, ink and glue. Touch the binding and open a book. It is an amazing sensation. You will probably find a book you didn't know you were searching for.

There is another reason I love the Owl Pen. Occasionally Hank Howard, one of the current owners, brings me a gift. Well, not me, really, more like the Town of Greenwich. These gifts are random bits of the past, ephemera. Photographs, calendars, menus, bylaws and constitutions of local clubs. I have an envelope full of pieces of Greenwich history. Here are a few such pieces...

The Owl Pen is located at 166 Riddle Rd Greenwich, NY 12834.
Their phone number is 518/692-7039.
but you should visit if at all possible.

*Mellon, Robert. "If You Can Find the Owl Pen You Can Probably Find That Book You've Been Looking For." Adirondack Life 1.4 (1970): 48-51.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Susan B. On Trial

While I was sitting here re-reading a little article in NAHO published in the Spring of 1984, I realized that last week was the 138th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's trial for illegal voting.

Susan B. (who lived with her family in Battenville & Center Falls here in the Town of Greenwich before becoming a teacher) decided to test the waters of the newly ratified 14th Amendment by voting in the interim elections of 1872. The 14th Amendment contains a citizenship clause that essentially overturned the Dred Scott decision of 1857 (which stated that slaves or decedents of slaves were not, nor could ever be citizens on the US). The citizenship clause says "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States." This amendment laid the groundwork for the 15th Amendment that states the right to vote cannot be denied based on race.

Nothing in the 14th or 15th Amendment said anything about sex. So, Anthony & some like-minded ladies of the suffrage movement decided to take a chance. They wanted to vote because they were citizens of the US. They were able to cast their ballots in the interim election of 1872, but were arrested. Would their votes be valid? A court would decide.

Susan B. Anthony in 1877
On June 17, 1873, after 2 days, Judge Ward Hunt instructed the jury to find Miss Anthony guilty. Judge Hunt's interpretation of the citizenship clause was that the right to vote was a State Constitutional issue & since NY did not allow women to vote, she could not vote. He fined her $100 which she refused to pay,  saying "May it please your Honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty."

It would take another 44 years for New York (male) voters to grant equal suffrage to women. The nation would follow suit with the passage & ratification of the 19th Amendment (nicknamed the Susan B. Anthony Amendment) in 1920.

Little known fact- The last state to ratify the 19th Amendment was Mississippi in 1984!

Books to check out:
The Trial of Susan B. Anthony with an Introduction by Lynn Sherr- 9781591020998
An account of the proceedings on the trial of Susan B. Anthony at the Presidential election
in Nov. 1872- 9781425518288

Thursday, June 16, 2011

School Days

In honor of the upcoming graduation of the Greenwich Central School Class of 2011 (Go Witches!), I have pulled together some random school photographs and documents from my office.

Class of 1904 Commencement invitation send to Mr. Sylvester Hearn in Thomson

Greenwich High School football team 1923-24

Greenwich High School girl's basketball team 1931

Class of 1933

Class of 1951- Senior trip to NYC in March

Congratulations to the Class of 2011. I wish you happiness and success, in that order.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back to my childhood...

I have finally reached the age where I can say "Thirty years ago, when I was a kid..." Songs I sang along with on my radio/cassette player are "classics". Books I loved are out of print (like Everybody Say Cheese by Betty Bates). Toys I played with, like the original Strawberry Shortcake, are now part of history.

Speaking of toys... Most of us from Greenwich  remember when the old chicken barn on Fiddler's Elbow Road in Middle Falls churned out wonderful cloth toys like the Velveteen Rabbit, Ratty and Mole from The Wind in the Willows, Puss in Boots and many more. Founded by John Gunther in 1973, the Toy Works, Inc. used the modern silk-screen process to re-imagine 19th century full color, cloth toys for children of a new era. With a focus on functional and decorative items for the home & now called Fiddler's Elbow (, the company is still in existence 38 years later.

As children, my younger sister & I both had a 6" Tabby Kitten from the Toy Works. At Christmas time, out came the 14" Sinterklaas with all the rest of the festive decorations. I had a Velveteen Rabbit that mom sewed together. I remember her having a hard time with it, even though she was & is an expert seamstress. She probably sewed & stuffed all of them because, not only were the toys available as "sew-it-yourself" kits, there was a once a year seconds sale. The weekend after Thanksgiving, mom would go to the sale at the factory & pick up seconds, remnants, prototypes... for a fraction of the cost. This sale has become a Thanksgiving tradition. My mom, my daughter & I still go over to Fiddler's Elbow for the sale, usually on Saturday (Friday can be a bit hardcore). Instead of cloth toys we buy hand towels to give as holiday gifts with homemade quick breads and cookies.

When I took the position of town historian in 2003 I was kind of surprised to find a 6" Tabby Kitten, a 14" Tabby Cat looking down at me from their perch atop one of the filing cabinets. It brought all of those childhood memories back & made me smile. A little while later I discovered some ephemera from the old Toy Works. So, here is a sample from the 1984 price list...

6" Tabby Kitten- unit price $3.00- sew-it-yourself kit $2.00
14" Tabby Cat & 14" Sinterklaas- unit price $8.75- sew-it-yourself kit $4.00
7.5" Ratty, Mole, Toad, Mr. Badger- unit price $4.50- sew-it-yourself kit $2.75
10" Velveteen Rabbit- unit price $5.00- sew-it-yourself kit $3.00
15" Puss in Boots- unit price $6.25- sew-it-yourself kit $2.75

Bunny, Green-eyed Kitten, Antique Teddy Bear, Tabby Kitten, Tabby Cat

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's in a (baby name? Part 3

As promised, some uncommon & odd girl names from the Town & Village of Greenwich birth records...

To start off, let's go with Latin. Quite a few uncommon ones here.
Generous- of noble birth
Flossie- flowering- diminutive of Florence
Mertie- evergreen sacred to Venus as a symbol of love- diminutive of Myrtle
Lucina- light- variant of Luncinda/Lucy
Retta- speaker- variant of Rhetta

Leitha Cronin- Witches Basketball- 1930
 Betris- bringer of joy- variant of Beatriz/Beatrix/Beatrice

The Greeks weigh in-
Ione- person of Ionia
Leitha- forgetfulness- variant of Letha/Lethia

Jerusha- inheritance
Rena- joy
Wanita*-God is gracious or pale skinned- variant of Juanita

Habla Espanol?
Verda- truth
Wanita*-God is gracious or pale skinned- variant of Juanita

On to the Scotts-
Iona- from the island of Iona
Melvina- gentle lady

American- What? Really?
Leola- lioness- variant of Leona/Leala
Enola- possibly "alone" spelled backward- modern

Anneke- gracious, merciful- diminutive of Ann

That leaves me with a few to scratch your head over-
Alveretta, Oviretta, Orvelia, Bellzora & Delsie.

Alveretta is probably an attempt to name the poor girl after her father, who's name was Albert (Why not Alberta?). The parents could have changed the "b" to a "v" themselves, or the person recording the name was confused & wrote what they thought they heard.

Oviretta & Orvelia were also, probably attempts at keeping names going in the family. Or maybe a lack of (or too much) imagination. I dislike both of these. Give the girls their own names!

Bellzora, if you take it apart can mean "beautiful dawn". Zora is Slavic meaning dawn & Bell/Belle/Bella means beautiful. I like Zora, but the whole thing is kind of a mouthful.

Delsie? I'm stumped. It's pretty though.

*I'm thinking I should give it to the Hebrews. The language has been around a lot longer than Spanish. Plus, the Jews probably brought the name with them when they migrated to the Iberian peninsula.

Thanks again to
& for the more unusual suspects-

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Treasure Trove secure

Last week I asked my mom if she would be willing to come to work with me on my day off. Crazy, I know, but she agreed & we did.

My order of archival materials had arrived from Gaylord, much quicker than expected (Love it!). So, mom & I went to work placing the glass negatives in acid free envelopes, cataloging each one, then placing them upright in an archival box.

Our work station in the hall

Mom looking at one of the large dry glass plates

Folding the edges around the dry glass plate

Almost wrapped

Cataloged and secure in their new home

Now that the 52 dry glass plates are protected, I have to figure out where to store them.Hopefully there is room in the climate controlled vault. Once that is done, I need to find someone to make two sets of prints- one archival & one for research.