Reading together nurtures a love for reading.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The other day I was having a Facebook “conversation” and the name of our wonderful, late mayor, Wilfred Y. Kraft, came up. Since October is the month when the spotlight is shown on our local fire departments and the great work they do I wanted to share my memories of a very special individual; a singularly unique gentleman who was absolutely committed to this community he called home. He was Mayor Kraft to me and in return he would address me as Library Director Lamphere. He was a good friend, an incredible storyteller, a proud volunteer fireman and always comported himself with dignity and grace in his role as mayor.
Frequently, Mayor Kraft would visit the library and when I saw him coming up the sidewalk I would say to Marta “Stop working, the Mayor is here” because once we started to visit, you might as well just sit back and enjoy the conversation. Mayor Kraft’s broad and extensive knowledge of St. Johnsville was unmatched and I enjoyed listening about his many experiences with the people he had encountered during his tenure. Since his passing, there have been many occasions when I’ve thought, “If Mayor Kraft were here, he’d know the answer.”
He and I shared a tremendous respect for the written word. Several times during our friendship he would come to me and ask me to review something he had written; perhaps a mayorial letter or a newspaper editorial. One of his great passions was, of course, the St. Johnsville Fire Department; how very proud he was to have been a member. It was for the fire department that I have a last memory of “tweeking” a piece of writing for him.
Mayor Kraft brought in a copy of a fireman’s prayer, a piece that would be read during a memorial following the death of a fellow member. His concern was that now the department had some female members, the prayer was not inclusive and there were a couple of other passages that he was less than pleased with. I told him to leave it with me and I would work on it. Each and every word I labored over trying to get it just right. Once I had finished, he came in to review it and you can imagine my chagrin when the re-write was NOT deemed 100%! That’s how the Mayor rolled though, always saying what he thought and expecting you to respond in kind at a higher standard. He left the prayer with me again and I labored some more; writing, crossing out, writing until finally he was pleased with the result.
We have in our collection an old toy fire truck given to us by Mayor Kraft and his brother. Amazingly, the truck actually pumped water and, with a big smile lighting his face, the Mayor took great delight in telling me that he and his brother would build “small fires”, a bit of paper or some cardboard, and put them out with the toy truck. Mayor Kraft also arranged for us to receive one of the old pull boxes for our collection and after his death, his turnout coat was given to the library.
Out of the past……My great uncle was Don LaLone, known to many as “Baloney”. He was an avid and active member of the St. Johnsville Fire Department for many years. My dad used to say Uncle Don was like an old fire horse; once he heard the alarm go off, he would be out the door pulling on his coat, tugging on his boots and charging down the sidewalk to the fire house.
To the members of St. Johnsville’s Flying Saints and to my brother David who serves as a deputy chief in Canajoharie, on behalf of our grateful communities I say thank you and may God bless you and keep you safe as you go about your duties.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Just as geese fly south and bears begin to hibernate, this time of year guarantees that children will be coming for Toddler Time and Story Hour; and what great joy they bring with them!
Each program runs for about 10 weeks after which we take a winter hiatus and resume in the spring for another 10 weeks.
Almost 20 years ago we were the first area library to offer a Toddler Time program and it has proven to be very popular ever since with children coming not only from our tri-village area but also Dolgeville, Little Falls and Bleeker
Toddler Time and Story Hour are a lovely way for children to be introduced to the wonder that is the library and hopefully start them along the path of a lifelong love for reading.
It’s a blast and absolutely one of the best parts of my job.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
As work continues in our museum a wonderful piece of Americana was discovered in storage; a political banner from the presidential election of 1844. The election pitted Democrat James K. Polk and his running mate, George M. Dallas, against the Whig party ticket of Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser) and Theodore Frelinghuysen. Polk won the election with 170 electoral votes to Clay’s 105.
The very colorful Clay banner features the tagline They Understand and Will Carry Out the True Principals of the Government; still a worthy sentiment 168 years later! To learn more about Henry Clay visit www.henryclay.org
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Over the course of the many thousands of books I have read some stick, not only in my mind, but also in my heart. One such book was "A Mother’s Story" by Gloria Vanderbilt. It is a poignantly written memoir about the suicide of Vanderbilt’s son Carter Cooper; brother of journalist Anderson Cooper. As painful as the book is, it is a profound testament to the human spirit that allows us to keep putting one foot forward even during the most devastating of tragedies; one slow foot at a time as we find our way towards a new kind of normal. Published 12 years after Carter’s death in 1988, Publisher’s Weekly had this to say about "A Mother’s Story".
“The author's 23-year-old son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper--Princeton graduate, editor at American Heritage, outwardly confident and in control of his life--committed suicide, falling from the terrace of her Manhattan apartment as she watched helplessly. This luminous, wise, healing and deeply moving memoir opens with Vanderbilt's flashbacks to other personal losses, including abandonment by her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, who left for Paris in 1925, dumping her at the age of one year on her maternal grandmother and an Irish nurse; the death of her father, Reginald, three months later; and the death of her actor/screenwriter husband, Wyatt Cooper, in 1978 after he suffered several heart attacks. Some of these traumas were covered in her 1985 autobiography, Once Upon a Time, and the self-conscious narrative is padded with diary excerpts from 1971. But when Vanderbilt finally recalls her son's death--which she believes was the result of a psychotic episode induced by a prescription allergy drug the writing shines, communicating her almost unbearable pain and sorrow with shattering intensity.”
Frequently over the years I have found myself going to the stacks and pulling A Mother’s Story off, re-reading and drawing strength from certain passages. I would end my recommendation of this book by quoting Ms. Vanderbilt as she writes;
“Each day, each year that passes as I live with Carter’s death, I come to see it in the perspective of the tragedies that have happened and are happening every day in our world---the Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia---tragedies so indescribable that one mother’s pain is maybe not so important after all. Except to me, of course. But perhaps in some small way it will be to you---perhaps if you are suffering from loss and feel you can’t go on, it will reach you, for what I am trying to say to you is: Don’t give up, don’t ever give up, because without the pain there cannot be joy, and both make us know we are alive. You have the courage to let the pain you feel possess you, the courage not to deny it, and if you do this the day will come when you wake and know that you are working through it, and because you are, there is a hope, small though it may be, a hope you can trust, and the more you allow yourself to trust it, the more it will tell you that although nothing will ever be the same, and the suffering you are working through will be with you always—you will come through, and when you do you’ll know who you really are, and someday there will be moments when you will be able to love again, and laugh again, and live again. I hope this will come true for you as it has for me.”
"A Mother’s Story"….a slim book with a huge message.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Get'em while they last!
Winter is almost on our doorstep and we don't want to see anyone without something to read as the wind howls and the snow piles up. To that end, we are having a book sale of library discards and donated books that we can't use. Mark your calendars....October 22 to December 1. The books will be sold for $3 per bag which we will provide; an absolute bargain no matter how you look at it!
Friday, October 5, 2012
Last April we received notification that the library had been approved for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Recently Joe Peruzzi, assisted by several members of the American Legion, affixed a plaque to the front of the building in recognition of that honor. Mr. Peruzzi is shown with Bill Meier.