Sunday, July 27, 2014

This Sunday morning, thoughts and singing "Early Morning Rain"

Sunday…I can think of a number of Sunday songs that have been popular but today it is Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain” that I am singing, especially since I only have a dollar to my name.  It is raining and quiet and truthfully I wish I could be anywhere but here today.  Wish I could hop a “Jet Plane” and go to some place quiet where there is no news programs, no starving people, no Ebola, no war, no missiles coming in, no sadness.

The news has brought WWIII closer in my estimation.  The media needs stories and just placing this out in the public sector I fear encourages bloodshed.  I can’t imagine killing anyone or anything… think of walking down your street and shooting people or blowing them up because they go to a different church.

Religion and Nationalism have cause more deaths than can be counted by normal means.  We hail our warriors as heroes…and yes those that have to serve are… if they protect us. But why should they have to protect us? 

Towns and cities destroyed because of hatred… Who owns the land?  Who has rights to the water?  Who is right - who is wrong?

If we could all live by that old-fashioned “Golden Rule”…do unto others, as you would have them do unto you the world would be a different place.

What kind of man can kill a child or pass it by as it cries for help because of his nationality or religion????  What sort of person can run over an animal in the road for fun? 

Nothing has changed under the sun since the world began I am sure… but shouldn’t we all learn and become wiser?  Why is it we can’t learn from our mistakes?  What is the main fault of man?

People are worried about climate change…maybe we should be more worried about changing how the world views itself… If climate change occurs and wipes this era of man from the earth… really would that be a bad thing???

All things I am thinking about on this the last Sunday in July 2014…

You cant jump a jet plane, like you can a freight train.  So I best be on my way… In the early morning rain!”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tornados, storms, neighbors, loss and Jimmy Durante!

Few, who celebrated the Fourth of July after Madison County lifted its travel warning, seemed to give thought to their neighbors in distress.  Not even the press really covered the impact of it…. although now with trails closed in Brookfield perhaps a few might wonder what happened. People going through Pooleville might think about it as it looks so different. Roads were closed... Hubbardsville Fire Department had to clear trees to get out of its station (30 on one side 60 one the other) Some of the local fire departments and farmers in the area tried to clear roads…the old way of helping your neighbor... but few others.

The tornado that struck in Smithfield garnered all the publicity and the deaths were a heart-rending end to two weeks of thunder, rain and hail, it finally brought the public out…

All these days I had been thinking of my old family and neighbors who would turn out to help at any time of trouble…they are all dead now.  I felt sad to think of them.  In so many ways they were the pioneering stock that cleared valleys and fields to plant and farm.   They survived horrible winters, loss at childbirth, death from diseases they did not have cures for…it made me wonder what they would have said or done.  Brought tractors, saws, food, water and just comfort I guess.  I miss them; I miss that world, a world that didn't need Television to turn them out.

I found myself singing an old tune… I guess going back in time to when families lived close, neighbors were part of the family… and no one was afraid to work.  I remember the phrase “many hands make work light”.

The song was written by Sammy Fein and Irving Kahal and came out in 1938…just before the war.  I think it was sung by every Big Band Singer and continues to be recorded up to this date with renditions by Anne Murray, Brenda Lee, and even Queen Latifah…but the rendition I remember best is by old Jimmy Durante…

So I have put it up with this blog…. To all those who are gone -  my friends, family and to the neighbors in Smithfield…

”I’ll Be Seeing You…in all the old familiar places…”

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nursing, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple, Hercule Periot & Me!

I was going through my Internet posting yesterday and came across one sent by my "almost a cousin" Emma Messere who works with the Red Cross in Italy. The post was from the UK asking for volunteers to help transcribe WWI card information on Nurses who served during that time.  The picture furnished was of a woman who had served at the hospital in Torquay, England.

Torquay had been a spot on the English coast that was a favorite spot of the wealthy because of its warmth and location near warmer waters.  I realized ...ah, yes Torquay...once home of one of my favorite writers as a young person.

As I studied the picture I realized that the card was the registration for that person ...Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie was resident of Torquay while her husband was in the service and she indeed had served as a nurse and as a worker in the dispensary where they mixed potions and medication.  As a matter of fact she hated the mixing of medicines as she had nightmares of making mistakes.  This service did her a favor however, working there she learned about poisons.

It was in Torquay at this time that she thought of writing mystery novels and it is there that she wrote her first novel ... The Mysterious Affair at Styles... and it is there that the famous character Hercule Periot was born, a character who would appear in 33 novels and over 50 short stories.

My favorite of her characters was Miss Marple and I love and use Miss Marple’s wisdom that I believe to be true...that there are only 30 “types” of people (personalities) and they keep repeating themselves with each new person you meet.  Though with today’s cookie-cutter society I have narrowed in to 15.

Christie’s love of travel, something she had started as a child with her mother, and which she continued with her husbands, brought her to many locations and allowed her observations of different people that would lead to a career that would make her one of the world’s most prolific writers. …And interestingly enough…there were over 80 poisonings in her books…information she gained in her service as a nurse and dispenser of drugs in Torquay.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The 175th Madison County Fair opens amid damage and sadness for the county!

The Madison County Fair will be celebrating its 175th run starting tomorrow and running until Sunday.  The event is an opportunity for young and old alike to savor the era of small county fairs that are a nostalgic view of rural America's past.  The early Fairs were the hi- light of the year and for many the only time chores could wait a bit and entertainment took the forefront.

This weeks unfortunate weather and storms has reeked havoc for the Town of Brookfield and the surrounding Madison County area ad the Fair.  Strong storms and a Tornado have managed to set the minds of all to the question of "is the weather changing"?  Actually is very cyclical and the early 18oo's brought many storms and freezing cold winters to this upstate rural county.

Tornados have occurred in our area in the past, one in Beaver Meadows (near today's Brookfield) wiped the small community off the face of the earth in the 1800's.  The storm was 2 miles  wide and struck in the middle of the night.  The locals called it "The Big Blow" and for many years would mark time by it saying.."This was the year before the Big Blow..or that happened 5 years after the Big Blow!"  The storm was so wide it looked like the end of the world coming toward the locals as one black wall of clouds.

Brookfield isn't just remembered for that event but if you attended an event at the the Madison County Fairground in 1945 you would have known about the tornado that tore apart the grandstand and did much damage that May!  As a matter of fact for the 170th Madison County Fair which I was one of the directors, I was notified that a possible tornado was bearing down on us that Saturday and the fierce wind made us all uneasy..Luckily it missed.

There have been many "Blows" as they were called but few were actually recorded as "Tornados" because there was really no way to know or spread the word.  We have actually only been keeping official track of these storms since 1950. 

The Church St. Mary's in Hamilton was hit by a tornado and today it is rebuilt in stone.  Areas in Smithfield have been know for severe thunders tomes many of which acted like a tornado...and how do we know?

The best we can do is to learn the weather patterns, mourn for our neighbors and their loss, congratulated the Town of Brookfield and the Madison County Fair group for getting it together and taking the time to visit and become part of its long and well remembered history...It was once called the "Biggest Little Fair in NYS".

Tell them I sent you!!schedule-of-events/cigq

PS... Of interest....during the 1945 tornado a barn was severely damaged.  Some Amish families from Pennsylvania took the train to Hubbardsville and proceeded to the farm to help rebuild the farmer's barn!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Come to the FAIR! Madison County is celebrating its 175th Edition!

This year marks the 175th time Madison County has put on a County Fair.  In itself this is quite an accomplishment for a rural area that in recent years has seen itself in a new light.  Before now a Fair was guaranteed to bring in local people who look forward to it and planed it into their yearly events.  Not so today as events and fancy destinations seem to steal families with glitzy rides and amusements that once were taken for granted attendance to attend the Fair.

The little group that puts this event (not the county) on each year, struggles to find ways to attract people and to think of ways to entice “Fair-goers” to drive to the country to view animals and learn of the Fair’s agricultural “Hay-day”.

Picture Kevin Orr
The Fair has managed to sustain itself with courage and the conviction that small county fairs must not disappear… fairs that represent the fiber of Rural America.

From its early purpose of not only showing animals and rural products, but as a way for farmers to learn of new methods and see new products that included remedies for animal ailments…(the day of the traveling veterinarian…did not exist) fairs have evolved into an opportunity to look at rural America the way it is today.

The past’s farmwomen were able to share their home crafts and ideas as well as to win a prize. I remember a friend telling me that her grandmother went home from the fair …took a jar and filled it with beans then emptied it and counted them one by one so she could win a prize at the fair… which went to the closest guess of number of beans in a jar!

Children brought their favorite pet to enter into contest…something the 4-H clubs still do today!  They got to ride rides and see shows and tour mid-ways...Wheelock Rides will be there this year!

All-in-all today’s Madison County Fair still represents family values with the “Youth Tent and rural values with agricultural and animal displays.  The Tractor pulls and Demolition Derby still sends the crowd to the Grandstand.

The Fair is still a great way to take a deep breath and walk away from our busy world that just keeps spinning. Help keep it alive!

So go to the Fair! Drag grandma and the kids… Tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How about a little Madison County Fair History..some fun facts!

Picture by Gwen Lacell
It is getting close to Fair time again and stories of the Madison County Fair abound among the older residents of rural Madison County’s southern hills. The once well-known fair, called in the 1930s and 40s the “ Biggest Little Fair in New York State” attracted crowds estimated between 40,000 and 50,000 people. Today our modern cars, fast-paced life-style and our yearn for all that’s electronic, has left our rural roots behind. America it seems has become beautiful color pictures and oh so much nostalgic talk to a generation of text messagers and computer “geeks." But all that said, it has been a joy to read through the stories of the Madison County Fair’s past glory.
In the early fairs wrestling was the fair’s highlight of physical endeavors and the wresters were well remembered including some that made it into the Professional Wrestlers Hall of Fame. One such lad was John Bonica who worked the fairs as a wrestler in the summer to pay his way through college. (Later he became a famous Doctor.)
The best remembered story about John is the one telling how he pulled the famous Professor George Keller out of a ring of wild cats and helped resuscitate him. The story account actually came from an article in the Saturday Evening Post of November 6th, 1943 recounted in the book “Brookfield’s Pride” written by the Brookfield High School class of 2007. The story is about legendary wild animal trainer Professor George Keller. Keller is remembered as the only trainer who was able to put many varieties of wild cats into a ring together.
Keller started his career as a young man growing up in a town like so many American towns that welcomed the circus every year. After seeing the wild animal act, George went home and got the children of his neighborhood to dress up like wild cats so he could tame them. This included clipping a few pet cats to look like the “real thing”. One year while he was at college, one of his old friend “buddies” sent him a wild young cat in a box and told him to train it, and he did!
Keller as part of his wild animal act always put his head into a lion’s mouth. The lion would close his mouth around Keller’s head with Keller’s neck between his fangs and on the count of ten, Keller would tap the lion’s mouth and the cat would open it. Well on this rain day in Brookfield the cat did not open his mouth. In the article title “I’m scared All of the Time,” Keller recounts waking up to the voices of Bonica and firemen who dragged him out of the ring and resuscitated him. Keller had suffocated, and when he went limp was drop like a dead mouse by the lion. Keller was considered dead for three minutes before being finally resuscitated by the firemen, regained his composure and called for the cat to come back into the cage and redid the stunt, this time the cat opened his mouth.
In the “Brookfield’s Pride” book, Hobie Morris recounts interviewing Keller who said he had to do this, or the lion would have thought him afraid, though Keller never performed that trick again.

For the 2014 Fair schedule, or more information on the Madison County Fair one of the oldest in America go to the Madison County Fair Facebook Page!