Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Get out the VOTE!

& now it is time for my annual plea for everyone to VOTE!

I'd like to think that I don't need to remind everyone the importance of voting, but in today's political climate anger & apathy seem to be the main motivators, or deterrents regarding voter turnout. All I ask is that you exercise your right to vote. I know it is an "off" year, but in many ways, our local politicians are our most important. They are the ones that live here with us.

Click here for a sample of the 2013 ballot for the Town of Greenwich. Note there are 4 proposals to vote on in addition to the candidates.

For additional sample 2013 ballots- click here.

Woman Suffrage commemorative stamp from 1970
Election day is November 5, 2013. Please vote.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1976: Celebrating the Bicentennial (Part 1)

My grandmother, Jaqueline Martin (nee Drew) was a avid collector of stuff. She also, had a love of history & participated in the Bicentennial celebrations in Schuylerville, NY in 1976-77. With the death of my grandfather last year, my mother & I found a bunch of Bicentennial memorabilia which I will share with you over the next few moths. I will be featuring some things at the Washington County History Fair in Granville, NY this Saturday, October 26, 2013 also. (For more information on this- see my Facebook page.)

I hope that through my grandmother's collection & a binder full of clippings I have in the office, I can piece together a localized, personal view of the Bicentennial...

My grandmother loved to color. She would sit & color with us, or by herself, while she listened to "her programs" (game shows, soap operas) on the television. So, I thought I would start this series off with the Bicentennial coloring books in her collection.

Over sized coloring book put out by Colgate Toothpaste

My personal favorite by the Samuel Lowe Co of WI
 This coloring book by the Samuel Lowe Company in Kenosha, WI is thick & well drawn. It covers more events than the others in this collection. I love the suffrage page below. There is also a page on Chester Arthur, as the presidents are represented. Some omissions are the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, & specific suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony. Oh, well.

Radio and 19th Amendment pages in the Lowe coloring book

Slim coloring book covering 200 years of US history

Coloring book specifically on the Revolution

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Skidmore's GIS Project Is Coming to Washington County

Sandy McReynolds, Gill Room Historian & I went to a very interesting meeting on  Tuesday. Skidmore Professor Robert Jones & Greenfield Town Historian Ron Feulner gave a presentation on a project they have been working on in Saratoga County. It is a Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping project.

From Skidmore's website:
GIS is a combination of information, techniques, software, and creativity to present, analyze, manipulate, and interact with data that is geographically referenced. The data can be shown in relation to topics such as politics, environmental studies, geography, geology, biology, economics, business, and history.
Basically, a bunch of maps are scanned into the program and a series of layers are added. (In Washington County's case the maps include 1829, 1853, 1866, c. 1900, c. 1950, c. 1970, 2013.) Those layers can be roads, to see how they have changed, and moved over time. The layers can be the location of cemeteries, churches, or schools. Parcel maps can be included to show where people lived & who owned the adjoining property.

The best part about this project is that it is FREE. A student in Professor Jones' class will be assigned a town within Washington County, & using the information on the maps, will create the layers. Then I can have a copy for free. The Greenwich Free Library can have a copy for free.

 The historians, & other interested parties, were invited to the meeting to see the uses of the mapping project, which were illustrated by Mr. Feulner. Plus, we can provide input regarding additional layers that can be included or added at a later time. I'm thinking a layer of historic markers & monuments throughout the Town of Greenwich would be great. Additional information can be linked to the maps, like images, videos, & blog posts.

Washington County has a similar set of interactive maps on their website, including polling districts, types of soil throughout the county, watershed areas, et al. Check that site out here.

The ArcReader program that we will use to utilize these maps is available for free here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

5 Things I Didn't Learn as a History Major

A friend from high school & I were chatting on Facebook the other night about our respective careers & our blogs. He mentioned a "fluff" piece he should be writing instead of chatting with me & suggesting articles to read. His idea of fluff is different from mine. I think of something like celebrity gossip, he thinks of something you already know quite a bit about so no additional research is required. So, I guess what I am getting at is... Here is my fluff piece.

5 Things I Didn't Learn as a History Major

5.) Basic Office Skills
I didn't realize how much office work was involved in being an Historian. Call me naive, but I think this is one of the biggest issues with choosing a career. You have an idea that you like a certain field, but you have no idea the day-in-the-life-of that profession. Luckily, this is where all of those other jobs came in handy. I learned how to answer a phone, take messages, file, reply to letters & e-mail.

Subject files in historian's office

4.) Creating a Filing System
This is daunting. I had no subject files. You might think that growing up in the area meant I might have a clue about Greenwich History. I did not (& there are still many people who know more than me), but I do know how to look things up. The problem was I couldn't find the information. I had to create a filing system. I had a vague idea, but I went to a conference with APHNYS & one of the historians passed out her filing guidelines. I was so excited that I didn't have to start from scratch!

Family Name files in historian's office

3.) Dealing with someone else's  Filing System or Two!
I am still dealing with this. Since the filing system (family names) is functional, if a bit redundant, I have yet to change it, though I did weed out some duplicate files while moving my office.

2.) Assembling office furniture
I have assembled 2 bookcases, one swivel chair with casters, & more than a few of... I don't know what they are called. Those metal things that go inside a filing cabinet drawer to hold the hanging files. (see image below) These things I learned from my parents & sisters after trips to the Joy Store &, more recently, IKEA & Target. (Tip, never throw out the Allen wrench. Put it in a plastic, re-sealable bag with the instructions & any leftover hardware. Tape it to the underside or back of the furniture or keep them all together in one drawer.)

The most difficult bit of office furniture to assemble
 & finally...

1.) Customer Service
I have worked in a number of retail & service oriented jobs. Customer Service is the most important skill you can learn. There are a myriad of books, training videos, seminars, etc on this topic. But, the only way to learn is to practice. I think everyone should have to work retail or in a restaurant before they are allowed out into the "real world," but my main philosophy on customer service is this: if you can help, help; if you can't help, find someone who can.

Fluff piece out. We will return to our regularly scheduled blog posts next week. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Small Town Saturday Night: Hal Ketchum of Greenwich

Before I went in to the office this afternoon to pack up more of my office, my mom & I were chatting in the kitchen. We were talking about the price on concert tickets, & my sister wanting to go see Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds in New Orleans, but tix are pretty expensive. Not to mention my daughter wants to see Little Mix when they tour with Demi Lovato next year & One Direction should be announcing US Dates for 2014 (cha-ching)! Anyway, we got talking about the Michael Bolton concert she & I & the afore mentioned sister saw at SPAC. To this day it is the only time we have seen Celine Dion in concert (& she was Michael's opening act!).

At the office, I was boxing up the files from my 2 filing cabinets & noticed one on Hal Ketchum. I put it aside thinking "Blog post!" Back at home I flipped through the slim folder of clippings & a photocopied newsletter & noticed an ad for the Hal Ketchum & Emmylou Harris concert at SPAC- August 1, 1994. Another clipping was of the SPAC calender for that same season & Michael Bolton's picture was staring back at me. That concert mom & I were talking about a few hours before was on August 27, 1994.

Reading though the folder & a handful of websites, it is intriguing to me that Hal "made it" at such a mature age. He was playing drums locally by 14 or 15 years old, left for Austin, TX in his late 20s & played that scene a bit while honing his songwriting skills while working as a carpenter. An independent release paved the way for Past the Point of Rescue to be released when he was almost 40!

Hal Ketchum's sophomore and debut releases on cassette

Hal became the 71st member of the Grand Ole Opry on January 22, 1994, a few months short of his 41st birthday, joining the ranks of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton & Marty Robbins. I was kind of surprised that Alabama & Glen Campbell are not members. To quote the Opry
There's no magic formula, no secret code that grants access to one of the most coveted invitations in all of music... But the Opry doesn’t simply pass out invitations to the biggest stars with the most hits. Opry management looks for a musical and a generational balance. Opry membership requires a passion for country music's fans, a connection to the music’s history. And it requires commitment – even a willingness to make significant sacrifices to uphold that commitment.
 I don't know what the Opry saw, or heard, but for me it is Hal's clear, rich vocals & thoughtful, intelligent lyrics .

What Hal says about those early years, playing the local scene in Washington County (from the bio on his website)
It was a great lesson in sociology because the bars would move the pool table over in the corner and put a three-quarter-inch piece of plywood on top, and that would be my drum riser. At 15 years old I'd get to sit up in the corner of these joints and just watch the evening progress. Friday night everybody would get paid from one of the local pulp mills, and they would wander in and be very generous during the first set. Then by halfway through the second set they're dancing with one of the girls. And by the third set they're fighting. I learned never to stop playing during a fight. That was an important part of my education.

Ketchum stated the 1994 show with Harris at SPAC was
an important show for me. I saw so many shows at SPAC when I lived in Washington County: Santana; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Creedence Clearwater Revival. I saw Sarah Vaughan bring down the house at the Newport Jazz Festival. But never, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be performing here.*
Washington County residents were even offered discount tickets the day of the show, according to the Post-Star article. Guess that is what the Opry meant about caring about the fans!

I leave you with a live version of "I Know Where Love Lives" from 2007 I found on youtube.

*"A Dream Come True for Hal Ketchum." The Post-Star. Glens Fall, NY. (July 31, 1994) C2.