Reaney Days

Reaney Days

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

November 19th Book Selection Announced

Margaret Reaney Memorial Library’s In Search of Faith book club will meet Wednesday, November 19 at 10 AM.  The group will discuss Adriana Trigiani’s autobiography, Don’t Sing At the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers.
Publisher’s Weekly gave the book this favorable review when released in 2010.
“Fans of novelist Trigiani will be delighted with this guided tour through the author’s family history via her grandmothers, Lucia and Viola. She lovingly details the women’s lives and recounts the lessons she’s learned while offering a fascinating look at U.S. history from the perspective of her Italian-American forebears. Both Lucia and Viola worked hard from an early age, cooking and cleaning among any number of chores, and parlayed their work ethic and expertise into strong careers. Viola started out as a machine operator and, later, co-owned a mill with her husband, while Lucia worked in a factory and then became a seamstress and storefront couturier. Her grandmothers also took pride in passing along wisdom to others; throughout her life, Trigiani benefited from their guidance regarding everything from marriage to money, creativity to religion. Trigiani combines family and American history, reflections on lives well-lived, and sound advice to excellent effect, as a legacy to her daughter and a remembrance of two inimitable women.”
Anyone wishing to join the discussion is invited to contact library director Dawn Lamphere at 518-568-7822 to reserve a copy of the book.  A complete list of upcoming discussion titles may be found at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meloharp Comes Home

Margaret Reaney Memorial Library board of trustees, using set aside “museum” funds, recently approved the purchase of, and received, a St. Johnsville made Meloharp. 

        Trustee Sharon Fuller, in her extensive research of local businesses, discovered that the stringed instruments were briefly made in the village.  Fuller turned that information over to Trustee Mat Rapacz, who had been researching the piano makers Roth & Engelhardt and discovered the Meloharp connection to the piano company.  While browsing the Internet Rapacz located an instrument in Philadelphia and completed the purchase on behalf of the library.

        The Meloharp was invented by George B. Shearer of Oneonta in 1895.  St. Johnsville piano action makers Roth & Engelhardt soon enticed Scherer to locate his company in their “old cheese factory” building at the end of South Division Street along the railroad tracks.

        By March, 1896, seven styles of Meloharps, ranging in price from $6 to $30 retail, were made in St. Johnsville.  Meloharp contracted with Roth and Engelhardt to make 30,000 of the instruments for them.  About 9,000 were produced before a dispute over payment and quality turned into a lawsuit which resulted in the Meloharp Company leaving St. Johnsville.  Scherer attempted to revive his company in New Jersey, but was not successful.

        The Music Trade Review of October 26, 1895 described the Meloharp as a “remarkable instrument particularly in its quality and volume of its tone; no stringed instrument of its size has hardly any limit to its possibilities in automatic chord production.”

        Library trustees hope to have the instrument, in fairly good condition, restored enough to make it playable.  Library board President, Rebecca Sokol, commented that the board is absolutely delighted to be able to bring this very special piece of St. Johnsville history “back home”.