Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 12, 1945 and the non-accidental President Harry Truman.

Through all the years of studying history my singular favorite President of the United States has been Harry S. Truman and this winter with my study of books on the Great Depression, World War II, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt I have not changed my mind.  The press called him the "accidental President"…but he wasn’t…he was chosen.

When Franklin Roosevelt ran for his unprecedented fourth term he choose not to go with Vice President Wallace instead he went with Senator Harry S. Truman.  Many thought this was an odd move, but in studying the time closely you begin to realize that Roosevelt knew he was going to died in office and he needed a man capable of handling the peace negotiation after the war that was coming to a swift end in Europe, and a man who could deliver action to end the war in the Pacific with Japan.

Truman had worked for years in the Senate and had done a superb job on the Truman Committee on the Railroad situation and of stopping waste in the contracting of our military bases during the war.  In fact Truman was considered a true Democrat who did his President’s will and a sincere and honest man… a very rare commodity in Washington.  A man who could carry on his goal of gathering the World's powers into and organization to keep the world at peace. (The United Nations)

At the last Democratic National Convention before his death Roosevelt was adamant that he dump Wallace and that he put Truman on the ticket.  The trouble was Truman did not want the job.  He loved being in the Senate and it took much badgering and a direct call to Roosevelt to get him to accept the offer. 

The telling moment in history for me is when Truman meets the President before they start the campaign and the President asks Harry how he was going to campaign.  Truman replied “by air”.  Roosevelt turned to him and said, …”No…one of us has to be alive to be President!” 

Roosevelt knew he was a dying man and at that meeting Truman knew it as well when he saw how ill he looked.  Truman also knew the terrible weight that was about to descend on him, and at that point he didn’t even know about the Atomic Bomb!

On the evening of April 12, 1945 Truman became President number 33 and immediately took the reins of the government.  He was sworn in at the White House that evening.  On the following Monday he gave a speech addressing Congress at its conclusion he said, … “I have in my heart a prayer.  As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon: “Give therefore they servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between Good and bad:  for who is able to judge this… Thy so great a people?”

These words of one of my other favorite people in history, King Solomon who asked God for “Wisdom” not money…something we need in rulers today!  

Wish we could find another Harry Truman!

"A video of President Roosevelt's home and resting place from a visit I did on April12th last year!!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Memories light the corner of my mind this springtime....

I watched an old movie the other night, something I seldom do.  The movie was “The Way We Were” and what I found most interesting was the mini documentary that went along with the movie.  The most part that interested me most was the discussion of finding the right song.   They needed a song that would transport the viewer back to memories. 

The composer chosen for the job was Marvin Hamlisch and the wordsmiths… the Bergman’s.   They describe in the documentary their work to craft the perfect “vehicle” to set the mood.  They said the title, “The Way We Were” was wonderful all in itself, but that they had the first line originally “daydreams light the corners of my mind”.    When they presented the song to Barbra Streisand she changed… one note and one word, a word that became the most important change …  the word daydreams to “Memories”.

The song won the 1973 Academy Award for best song in a movie, a Golden Globe and became one of the songs of the century!   To this day I am sure many of us enter a little piece of reverie as we listen to it… since memories are a haunting part of our life; they are something that comes back to us …sometimes good, sometimes bad…sometimes happy…sometimes sad.

My memories seem to start in the  Spring, which is supposed to be a new beginning, a time of rebirth when the earth wakes from the sleep of winter.  The sap has started to run and the great giants on the hill have started to sprout buds that will soon bring leaves that will last until fall’s last call.  Added to this are my memories of the many summer days spent by the lake, by the glimmering water, with the brush of soft sand against my feet when I walked the shore dreaming of the future.  Never expecting it to be where I am today.

Spring for me brings both my best memories and my saddest memoires. 

My best are the many childhood weekends around Easter… since most members of my family shared April time birthdays.  Grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, mom, dad, myself… these birthdays all turned into weekend parties, one after another.  Parties where everyone got together and cousins played at life.  Easter meant seeing some cousins from a long distance that came to the city to visit Grandma.  These were fun times to be sure.

Then things changed and I moved to the country where – ironically - all of the new neighbors shared April birthdays and the parties began again. 

Those times and people have all passed as well… and I am left here with only memories of them.  Lingering sad memories… as death end life.  In the past some of my best friends died on the three days around my birthday… and their memories though certainly fond ones, are wonderful… but they are sad.   They leave me with a feeling of being alone…. like sad memories all of my family who are no longer here. 

The wise man said that you can never go back… you can only go forward.  And so we must… we can only relive that past as “Memories” that light the corners of our mind.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A history, music, photography and a watercolor trip to Root Glen through my eyes.

This winter of 2013-2014 has really gotten me down.  The cold and the boredom of such weather for me is hard to chase off.  With wind howling and the snow falling last night I tried to force myself out of the doldrums by working on a project that I have wanted to do for a long time, a video of Root Glen in Clinton.

One of my favorite haunts of spring, summer and fall is Hamilton College... its historic campus and the beautiful layout of the college green.  A green that is towered over by famous architect Phillip Hooker’s historic three-tier chapel.

I love taking people on tours of the grounds while spouting history and then take them off for a visit to the cemetery.  A cemetery that contains the remains of some of our area’s past luminaries… people you read about in history books like Rev. Samuel Kirkland, Chief Skenandoah, Ashel Backus, Samuel Eels and so many more.

Last fall Mike and Donna Nortman, Back Street Barb and I went off for the history tour which includes the cottage of Rev. Samuel Kirkland, the hall that was the birthplace of Elihu Root, the marker set by General Von Steuben on behalf of Alexander Hamilton, the great Oneida Chief Skenandoah’s grave and then the walk through Root Glen.

After the trip during the fall I had chosen a special piece of music that I love for the pictures and video of the Glen.  Then last night… I finally put them together… but somehow it wasn’t right… the beauty was missing.  I came to the realization that it was because when I am walking the paths I see the pictures through my artist eyes… I call them.  Somehow every picture I snap reminds me of a watercolor painting that I could do at a latter date… but one I will never get to.

So I decided to redo the video and give you the viewer a glimpse of what my mind’s eye sees there. 

Photography and music are my art form that I put to video… I wish more people would visit my website at and not only learn the history of NYS but also enjoy the video images and music... a number of the videos I call my watercolor albums… of course they are my favorites!

Video of Root Glen!  Please play large screen and with sound enjoy it best!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Local history -Vassar College, John Raymond, the Beechers, the Morse family and oh yes Eaton History!

Burchard Familt with Alli, Anna and Louise

I read my mail today and realized that is still wonderful to open the mail and get information for the museum from Vassar College.  The fact is Eaton has a role in Vassar College’s history in its earliest days.  This dates to the college’s early President John Raymond and his wife Cornelia Morse Raymond and her cousins Anna and Louise Burchard.  It also dates to the founding of today’s Colgate University since Raymond taught at Colgate and on the Burchard side... Seneca Barton Burchard was a supporter and supervisor of the building of the  hall that today's COVE is located in.

Melville Landon
John Raymond met and married Cornelia Morse Raymond while at Colgate... he also became good friends with Henry Ward Beecher who visited him often up here.  Of course Henry Ward Beecher’s relatives in Eaton were Samuel Stowe of Stowe’s Tavern, and Mrs. Joseph Morse (Eunice Bigelow Morse)...(His grandmother was a Stowe)

Another part of the relationship appears to be Melville Landon (Eli Perkins) whose father John Landon moved his family to Eaton from Lichfield, Conn. home parish of Rev. Lyman Beecher... Harriets & Henry's father.  John Landon was an early supporter of the Olive Branch Newspaper (published in Sherburne, NY), which carried all of Beecher’s editorials and articles.  *Please note that the Beechers of the Sherburne area are direct relatives.  Melville Landon was a very good friend of Henry’s and the Morse family. (Also remember that Harriet Beecher Stowe married Calvin Ellis Stowe (Great Aunt was Mrs. Joseph Morse -Eunice Bigelow Morse) who became the assistant to her father at Lane Seminary in Ohio.

My… my… how things entangle as we study the past.

Louise Burchard
Cornelia’s relatives were Anna Burchard and Louise Burchard who were enticed to go to Vassar when John Raymond became President of the Vassar College, and today a scholarship still retains Louise’s name since she also taught at the college.  Louise wrote an early book on information for called Aid for Women Voters...published when the women first got the vote... she was an avid women's rights advocate. (We have a copy of her book at the museum)

Anna and Louise Burchard where the daughters of Sylvester Burchard and Allie Morse…Allie was Bigelow Morse’s daughter and Sylvester Burchard was the head of the Chenango Breeder’s Association that brought the first breeding herd of Holsteins to America.

Ahhhh…Eaton and its famous families have so much history that I will never be able to track it all…but the Old Town of Eaton Museum has artifacts that belong to all of these people and is a great place to learn the history of not only Eaton and Colgate…but also of the national figures who were missionaries, teachers, speakers, authors and on and on..

The Museum will be opening officially this year on Memorial Day Monday…come down and join us in our celebration of history!

A quick trip to the Old Town of Eaton Museum!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The true forest, poverty, Gordon Lightfoot and me the old folksinger!

I am totally sick that people can’t see the trees from the forest.  I have a number of FB friends who forward me stories on the homeless and the poor… yet do we really try to do anything about it… and yet things rage in Congress on cutting social programs, people who won’t work... minimum wage.   Nobody wants to live on the street unless they have mental problems... or are poor and unwilling to take a social program... or live in an area where there is no safety net!.

We are happy to pay big bucks to go to a game or movie and look with disdain on anyone who might be standing on a corner looking for a handout.

Other FBers go on and on about people unwilling to work…. without the causes of unemployment or the mere fact that after being down so long they are not fit for public employment because of looks, disabilities or even worse… ignorance. 

We forget that not everyone is born with enough common sense or intelligence to care for themselves...they need help. What if they have no family?

Oh yes let us not forget our red, white, and blue flag wavers who fail to feel compassion for Vets who have come home with mental problems and who “litter” city streets as the homeless. 

As I sat in the cold stoking my woodstove… alone… I thought of a Gordon Lightfoot song I had sung for many years when I was into folk music… and had lots of friends and family.  Got out my old guitar and sang it…I leave the words with you... and I have shared the actual song being played at the end of the lyrics…listen and learn.

Oh the neon lights were flashin'
And the icy wind did blow
The water seeped into his shoes
And the drizzle turned to snow
His eyes were red, his hopes were dead
And the wine was runnin' low
And the old man came home
From the forest
His tears fell on the sidewalk
As he stumbled in the street
A dozen faces stopped to stare
But no one stopped to speak
For his castle was a hallway
And the bottle was his friend
And the old man stumbled in
From the forest

Up a dark and dingy staircase
The old man made his way
His ragged coat around him
As upon his cot he lay
And he wondered how it happened
That he ended up this way
Getting lost like a fool
In the forest

And as he lay there sleeping
A vision did appear
Upon his mantle shining
A face of one so dear
Who had loved him in the springtime
Of a long-forgotten year
When the wildflowers did bloom
In the forest

She touched his grizzled fingers
And she called him by his name
And then he heard the joyful sound
Of children at their games
In an old house on a hillside
In some forgotten town
Where the river runs down
From the forest

With a mighty roar the big jets soar
Above the canyon streets
And the con men con but life goes on
For the city never sleeps
And to an old forgotten soldier
The dawn will come no more
For the old man has come home
From the forest....

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Depression coming? Herbert Hoover, Green Lakes, Chittenango Falls & the CCC and more...

Historians read history books to give them a feel for the past and to give them a way to understand what happened, why it happened, if it was good or bad, and if we can learn from it.  This winter, during this unbelievable spell of cold, I have been reading and reading on the years leading up to the Great Depression….how we tried to solve it…and what could have prevented it.

Armed with this information …13 books later… I have decided that the conclusion I can draw from this past history is that if a Republican is elected President in the next two elections we will begin the cycle of the Great Depression again.  We are already starting because of today's Congress. 
What became most striking to me this week was the cutting of food programs for the poor while paying subsidies to the wantonness of large agricultural farm corporations and subsidiaries...including Monsanto. Especially dsiscouraging in the face of proven paid lobbying done by the corporations they benefit!

How sad to think of it happening again.

The depression was also fueled by the great dust bowls that ruined much of our farmland and sent poor farmers in vast number into  foreclosures of their poverty… basically the addition of Mother Nature’s wrath.  (Global Warming?) 

Everyone should read up on this lamentable and preventable dark period of our American history.  If you do you will see that during this time large wealthy corporations, wealthy companies, and wealthy people flourish.  You will also find that the head of the  U S Treasury for a good part of this period was Andrew Mellon…yes that rich Andrew Mellon.  (Sort of like a Koch brother as Treasury Secretary tody!) The wealthy remained wealthy, the middle class disappeared and the poor class embodied a vast hopeless swath of America.  

When we elected Herbert Hoover he swore hw could change it all by asking Americans to voluntarily help the sick, hungry and jobless.  He said that we did not need handout programs in the government.   It did not work.  The nation’s leaders (Congress) said that the problem was lazy people who needed to find jobs…. of course, of which there were few.  I part the trouble was because companies were inventing ways to mechanize workers jobs and force them out of industry, enabling them to make more …profits.  (Now we send the jobs overseas)

When things became totally desperate we did something…we made FDR President and he started work programs. Yes work programs.  The complaint then was that the government was giving them “leaf raking jobs”.  It was providing jobs.  These programs included among them the WPA, CCC, and a new National Guard force… it employed millions in government subsidized labor programs.  Programs that enabled us to build up our infrastructure, parks, community projects, repair schools, playgrounds, highways…and all of this done with these  supposed “lazy people” who didn’t want to work.

Today we in CNY have a wonderful array of parks done by some of these programs ...including Green Lakes Park, Robert Treman State Park, Montezuma, Trails in Brookfield, Gilbert Lake, Chittenango Falls Park, Selkirk Shores Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and many, many more….

Time to wake up America…learn history…don’t rely on FOX News and TV and Radio Commentators who choose to stir the pot so that their “sponsors” and stations pay them more.  Get out and enjoy what these supposed laborers did for us!  Remember but for the grace of God you have a job...this could all change in a heartbeat... 

Here is a video I did of Green Lakes State Park once called Green Pond!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter, the color white and Kermit the Frog!

I know I am going to catch some flack from some of you but....I hate winter....

While wandering around the internet I found that there is a historical marker for Kermit the Frog and he (sort of) links in a strange sort of way back to the Leland Jim Hanson his mentor is from Leland, Miss.  founded by Lelands. This is just what you would expect from a "History Junkie" right!

And altho winter in all it white is a drab part of our culture… I know so many of you like it… I know you sports enthusiasts love it…I know you can take pretty pictures…but really...not much color out there.

Some say it is a empty page for us to gather our thoughts and actions together on, write ourselves a note on what we want to do in the spring kind of a thing.  It is a long list for gardeners, yard keeping people, and those with swimming pools…but for me…nothing.

White is white…cold, without color except gray and dirty in places or mixed with dirt and muddy at thaw.  Some think winter brings a special solitude that only comes when the earth is sleeping beneath its white clean blanket…. poppycock…snow is cold, kills, threatens, and breaks the spirit of the poor, homeless, elderly and cold…snow is snow and it is white!

I know optimists will hate my feelings and spiritualists will poo poo this as white is “Pure & Holy”, but white is white …it is boring and snow is COLD!

So butt out of the happy thoughts and pray for a thaw and hope for a new color…GREEN… but then again...”its not easy being green!”