Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A stray in my upstairs bed and breakfast revisited...Please help...

The cat of the upstairs attic bed and breakfast was a blog I did when the blind cat that lived up there  died last year....basically because I could not get her until she was too sick.

(Read http://backstreetmary.blogspot.com/2013/05/stray-cat-of-my-attic-cat-bed-and.html).

Within months of her departure the same mother cat dropped off a kitten that hid under the floorboards in the attic and wouldn't come out.  I fed her by going up and kept the wood stove going to heat her area but could not get her to come out when I was up there.  She was attacked while eating by other cats and I realized she could not see well.  She could recognize my voice and peer at me...but would not come to the snacks and food I tried to entice her with.

Finally this summer she went into heat and was chased by male cats outside and became exhausted and I grabbed her.  Ihad her fixed, shot, and she has turned into the sweetest, loving little cat who just runs around trying to please.

Barbara when she comes over is her favorite.  We both realized that she can see something close to her but obviously things at distance are a blur.

She has suddenly started acting like a real kitten and to see it is funny...but...I have her in a room upstairs and let her down when I am in the front of the house...but there is no heat... and I cannot afford the electric heater for her...and my house is freezing cold.

My cat Rascal will kill her as Rascal does not like other animals...and so I am writing this blog to see if someone can adopt her...even for the winter.

She is skittish as she can't see and is afraid of noises, so she needs a quiet person who doesn't have a dog, kids, or another cat and... she needs some love.

If you can help please email me at backstreetmary@yahoo.com.....she is beautiful and spunky but still not free of her worries about being attacked. She is smart blue eyed and obviously has some Siamese in her.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

History, upcoming cemetery tour, museum and Me!

The Historic Eaton Cemetery is one of my favorite haunts in October...yes it might be for the ghosts of old Eaton....but I think it is for the serenity and the history that lays all around you as you wander around.

This Saturday the 18th I will be doing something I haven't done in a while...a guided cemetery tour.  At 1 PM weather permitting (rain date the following Saturday) will will walk you around and tell you the stories of our Hamlet's former citizens.  The stories are too numerous to tell of course...but on sale will be a book I put together on the cemetery and its many occupants.  I includes the famous lady cooks and their recipes, obits for a number of them, and yes the stories of others.

There will be cider and cookies and of course our museum will be open so you can tour afterward.  The tour will start at 1 PM in the cemetery located on Landon Road just off Rt. 26 in Eaton and it is to benefit the Eaton Village Cemetery Society...so we are asking for a free will donation for my services...

I thought I would include just one of the many stories here...one that I love on a little known person...rather than one of our famous ones...the Rev. Smitzer..

The Reverend John Smitzer who was a minister at the Eaton Congregational Church was also immortalized by Melville Landon “Eli Perkins”  in his books.  One goes as follows:

Elder Smitzer and his special prayers!
Elder Smitzer was famous for making special prayers. In these prayers he used to tell the Lord everything. In fact he used to tell the Lord so much that he would have no space left for asking for the blessing. The elder would go on for an hour informing the Lord about everything in Log City, and in Asia, Africa and Oceiana. Once I took down the Elder’s prayer in shorthand, and it ran thus:
O Lord, thou knowest everything. Thou knowest our uprisings and or downsittings. Thou knowest thy servants’ inner most hearts. Thou knowest, O Lord, what thy servant’s children are doing. Thou knowest the wickedness of thy servant’s nephew, Francis Smitzer,-how he came home last night in a beastly state of intoxication, whistling, O Lord, that wicked popular air (whistling):
Sho’fly, don’t bother me!”
“Thou recognized the tune, O Lord!”

* Reverend Wilson and Reverend Smitzer and Francis are buried in the Historic Eaton Cemetery, as well as Melville Landon, of course.
So come out and visit...donate to you local Cemetery & Museum and enjoy History!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Little Berries, thoughts of traveling, and the beautiful Palatine Church...

The week has been busy with sorting elderberries  baking and getting ready for our little berry event.  In my heart however, I wanted to be on the road visiting my favorite places for fall travel...The one love the most is the old Palatine Church on the historic Mohawk trail to Albany near Nelliston.  I take people to it whenever we are driving by.... it is probably the most notable German Palatine structure in upstate New York.


Rising off the highway it stands on a hill near a spot that was once the settlement of Fox’s Mills. The limestone church dates to 1770 when it was erected by the subscription and the labor of a number of families in the area. The Garoga Creek, which flowed near by, provided waterpower for a number of mills and businesses in the small community, now gone which is today called Palatine Church.

Most notable among the families of the area was that of Hendrick Nellis who not only donated the land it stands on, but helped build the church with other community members.

Nellis and his grandson however remained loyal to the Crown at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and had to flee to Canada. Other members of the family remained so typical of the division of loyalties at that time.

History has it recorded that in October of 1780, when the Tory forces under Sir John Johnson dropped down from Canada with the allied Native Americans to burn the farms and harvest of the valley, the church was saved by a British Officer who stopped it saying he had promised Nellis.

The site is also a historic marker site as it was the camp of the American Army under General Van Rensselaer after winning the Battle of Clock’s Field retreated to this site to make camp. Van Rensselaer refused to pursue the Tory forces, an act for which he was later tried for treason.

Today the church has been restored including its famous raised pulpit with sounding board and has had its organ rebuilt by noted organ builder Robert S. Rowland. Rowland built it in the style of old colonial organs. The inside has many historic artifacts on display as well as a rare 13 star American Flag that was found during the renovation.

Visitors from all over the world come to what is today call “The Shrine of Lutheranism in the Mohawk Valley”, and all passing it on Route 5 still admire its Colonial beauty! I love it!
For more history and videos visit my website at www.historystarttproductions.com.







Sunday, September 7, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Lead Belly, Blues, Folk Music and Goodnight Irene!

With all of the Ice Bucket Challenges for ALS on line and on TV this past month, I got to thinking about a gentleman by the name of Huddie Ledbetter… better know to us Folk music aficionados as Lead Belly!

Lead Belly was a black man born in the late 1880’s on a Louisiana plantation who ended up in jail for murder and attempted murder and yet managed to leave that part of his life behind…using the experiences for learning… gaining the respect of not only the “Blues” community but also of many of the Folk music world.

I myself loved his renditions of Down in the Valley, House of the Rising Sun, Good Night Irene , Rock Island Line, Midnight Special, and marveled at the man who actually brought the 12-string guitar into the world of my era of folksingers.  He was also proficient at the accordion, mandolin, piano or just about any instrument he picked up.  It was said that he got out of a Texas jail by writing a song appealing to the warden after performing for the inmates and the warden’s friends for a number of years... and his name…well there are many theories or how he adopted it… but Lead Belly stuck.

In prison John Lomax who was doing folk music recordings for preservation as well as a written history of the genre, discovered Leadbetter who eventually toured with him as he lectured at colleges and universities.  Lead Belly’s drinking however, caused trouble and the two eventually parted.  Later in his life he picked up a relationship with Lomax’s son Alan and toured with him.

Over the years he wrote, arranged, and sang hundreds of folk, blues and spiritual standards… that have been adopted by musicians from Folk to rock…but for those of us my age and for me it will always be the popular “Good Night Irene that we remember.  I remember it the most for being my brother’s favorite song when he was a little kid; he made my poor Uncle Lou play it over and over and over when we visited his house..


Lead Belly’s great voice and 12 string eventually brought him from blues to a new set of “folk admirers”, as well as albums and gigs with legends like Woodie Gunthrie, and Josh White. In the end however, the man with iron hands and booming voice, and a figure larger than history, fell victim ALS.  Before he was unable to play or sing he did a much-remembered concert in Texas ending with singing “Spirituals” with his wife.  Another “Legend” felled by ALS!





Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day, my Mother & Father, Coca-Cola & Me!

Mother & Father's wedding picture
Today is Labor Day but few think about it as more than a Holiday.  My Mother and Father like so many others got married on Labor Day, as it was an extra day off.  They started in the hard times of the 1930’s and we tend to forget how much unemployment and poverty existed in America at that time.

For myself, I never got much better at making a wage as retail workers made the lowest wage possible in my city.  $30 per week was really not enough to live on in 1964.  They said then it was a starting position…humorously; …the biggest wage increases were only 10 or 15 cents a year.  The “old maids” in my department lived in horrible one-room apartments on the down side of town.

So today I thought about labor unions and the fact that as sales people we could not organize…and that was in the late 1960’s.  We would have lost our jobs.  All we wanted was a more living wage…and so when I came across a pamphlet put out in 1974 I was reminded of those “Good Old Days” of retailing…however the article was on Labor Unions trying to be formed by Farm Workers.

It stated, “Child labor was outlawed in the industry in 1938…but it still thrives on the farms.  800,000 children under 16 still work in the fields, 5 % stop their education at the fifth grade, and that a 13 state study found that at least 90 children a year were killed in tractor accidents.”  Then it went on to give a wonderful story on responsible management via the Coca-Cola Company. 

The story started when the company acquired Minute Maid citrus groves in Florida.  10 years later the president of Coca Cola at the time, J. Paul Austin, told a Senate subcommittee on Migratory Labor about the horrible conditions of the 1,300 pickers associated with Coke.

Austin had sent a Mr. Smith to check on the workers in his groves in Florida and gave the committee  the report Smith gave him.  He said that Mr. Smith was so upset by what he saw that he flew to Atlanta in person to talk to him.  Smith reported that he was appalled by the condition of the worker in those fields.  He said,  "they cannot be tolerated by Coca-Cola",  so the company set out to invest 2 million dollars to change this.

From the report, “We (Coke) soon realized that merely to provide housing and transportation without facing up to the basic human problems involved, would to little more that temporarily ease the hardship of the migratory worker”. 

So instead Coca-Cola decided to attack what it called “a culture of despair and poverty, vested by generations of neglect.”  To help, Coca-Cola also signed a contract with the United Farm Workers of America.

What Americans today fail to realize is that this culture of despair and poverty still exists in many of the big companies that make millions of dollars off of the public.  The pamphlet also said something I agree with… "they will never stop the culture of corporate greed in America unless “THE PEOPLE” step up and stop buy from them...only Money talks!"  

I heartily agree! Don’t shop anywhere that does not give its employees a living wage and does not allow them to start a Union or grievance committee.


Stop bitching about people who work or worked for businesses that did not pay a decent wage who are on Food Stamps…remember but for the “Grace of God and how you were born…it could be YOU!”


Sunday, August 31, 2014

A grumpy hostess, school problems, tax revenue and the future of wind power and rural areas!

Wood House
We had the final dinner party for the museum group this past week…sometimes we invent reasons for them…but this time it was real birthdays.  As usual the locals turned out and the talk was fun and lighthearted except for the hostess who was in a bad mood (as always).  This ended up by winding down to an important issue facing the MECS district. 

The study on combining the two existing schools into one….and the reality is it would be at a ridiculous cost…and the study came to the same conclusion that I gave a full talk on at another dinner party.  It does not take a rocket scientist to know that you can’t put small children in a big child facility.

The cost of building an addition would be outrageous for a town of 5 thousand people and that selling the old building wouldn’t cover the bills of the old building. So why do we pay for these ridiculous studies?


Then the talk spread to the big problem of some lawsuit that is going to cause a tax reduction on wind farms assessment that is going to hurt the school tax income…well that would be a problem!  But where is the information on this?  Why don’t we know about this?  Who has this information?

I went on line and sure enough there are articles but none that give a clear answer. 

The existing problem is that we have no real tax base in this rural area.  “Agribusiness” is not the same as storefronts, sales tax revenue (food is exempt from sales tax) and no industry that pays a living wage and has benefits.  (I bet a good 50% work for government or schools that draw off more tax dollars)

We do have houses being sold for taxes in large numbers because people cannot pay their taxes and these are sold to people who cannot fix them up because they are poor… or to landlords who turn them into rentals. 

Rentals lower the tax value of the houses around them in the majority of cases…they also cause a fluctuation in the number of children who attend the schools…some years many more…some years many less.

The need is for single-family houses that are in good condition that raise the tax base and not for rentals that appeal to occupants that are prone… in a rural area… to be poor and draw on government subsidies, and yes that becomes a tax burden on the county tax payers.

So what is the answer???

The answer is a sustainable economy made up of the correct percentages of industry, agriculture, retail and residential…something we have ignored in this county for years…a county...I might add..that gives people working for it insurance for life after only ten years...is run by supervisors on a flawed weighted vote who are not particularly capable of spending enough time and energy on problem solving for the future… reactive rather than proactive.

Oh well...