Thursday, June 25, 2015
Today I had two absolutely wonderful experiences at a couple of local schools. This morning I was pleased to be invited to a special morning program at DH Robbins Elementary School. My three co-guards and I were recognized for our service in playing a role in keeping our children safe on their walk to school. I know I speak for us all when I say it has been an immense pleasure, a great honor and tremendous fun; even in the occasional torrential downpour and subzero temperatures! This evening found me at the Johnstown High School for the 8th grade promotional program. It is official; my great niece Emma will start high school in September. I am so proud of her. Throughout 7th and 8th grade she has carried a 94+ average keeping her on the high honor roll. More importantly, she is a kind, thoughtful, and respectful young woman. The end of a school year can be bittersweet and that was evident this morning at DHR in the face of its upcoming closure. The flip side of that profound feeling of loss and disappointment is hope; hope and excitement for the future. In the faces of all the children I saw today, from the wiggly giggly students of Kate Yoder to the newly minted high schoolers in Johnstown, I saw potential, potential for great things, both big and small, and that should give us all hope for a very exciting future.
Speaking of graduation……In the St. Johnsville Room of our museum, we are missing in our collection of school group photos senior class graduation pictures from the following years: 1943, 1948, 1949, 1950,1951, 1953, 1954,1955,1956, 1957,1958, 1963, 1966, and 1968. We would LOVE to have copies of these missing years. If you have an original, we can make a copy and return the original to you. If you can help us out please call the library @ 518-568-7822.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
We had a howling good time here in Libraryland today when 63 members of the OESJ Wolf Pack Nation stopped by for a visit. The students were accompanied by their teachers; Mrs. Eakin, Mrs. Blanc, Mrs. Pedrick, Mrs. Snell and several assistants. Like a caravan of nomads riding a camel train two busses, one big one small, rumbled up and out piled dozens of happy, excited children. I spoke to the children about getting library cards and how to take care of the books they borrow. Always a hit is when I mention the most dangerous creature on earth for books; babies! Endlessly drooling, chewing, ripping and occasionally having “diaper issues” babies can be terrors, BUT, I stressed how incredibly important it is to begin sharing books with them at an early age. The diaper talk always makes them giggle After we shared a story the kids then had the opportunity to browse. This is always a blast as dozens of books came flying off the shelves were eagerly paged through. Each of the kids received a book bag containing a library card application, book marks and a brochure listing our hours. I hope to see them over the summer. As I told the kids, your brain is like a muscle and you have to keep it exercised and reading is a good way to do that. When they left, it was quiet as a tomb and I spent the greater part of the day re-shelving. Kindergarten comes to call on Thursday; good times!
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Speaking of the prison at Dannemora….. Several years ago I received a telephone call from Dr. Tamsin Spargo, a professor at John Moores University, Liverpool, England. She was researching the upstate New York train robber, Oliver Curtis Perry. As it turned out, Perry had ties to the Irish Settlement, just north of us in Fulton County. Eventually, Dr. Spargo came to the US and Marta and I assisted her with her local research for her book which was published in 2004 as Wanted Man the Forgotten Story of Oliver Curtis Perry, An American Outlaw. At the time of its publication Publishers Weekly had this to say about the book. “Captivated by a photograph of the handsome Oliver Curtis Perry (1865-1930), Tamsin Spargo vividly relates his dramatic life in a popular but prodigiously researched biography. In 1892, Perry robbed the American Express Special of a fortune in jewelry and cash as it sped out of Syracuse, N.Y. Identified by a former colleague, he was pursued by Pinkerton detectives while his exploits were sensationalized in tabloid stories that celebrated his daring. Five months later, trying to rob the same train, he was caught after an exciting chase that included Perry's hijacking of another train. Severely emotionally damaged by virtual abandonment in childhood, Perry could still be charming and worked the media to his advantage. Spargo vividly describes the trial that resulted in a 49-year jail sentence, as well as Perry's desperate attempts at escape, which led to his incarceration in facilities for the criminally insane (first in Mattewan State Hospital in Fishkill, then eventually Dannemora State Hosptial for Insane Convicts in Clinton County). During this period, Perry deliberately blinded himself and went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. While entertainingly bringing her subject to life, Spargo also reveals the terrible conditions that existed in New York State prisons and asylums during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Perry is buried in the prison cemetery at Dannemora. The book is a page turner; if you have not read it come on by, and as we like to say here in Libraryland, check it out.