Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rose Hill Turns 175!

Over the years several families have called Rose Hill home and one of them was the William Strong family.  In 1835 Strong purchased the Rose home and property.   After amassing a fortune as a wool merchant in New York City, Strong retired and moved his family to Geneva.    It was Strong who built the Greek Revival mansion people see and enjoy today.  To build the mansion, the Rose house was moved to the north and converted it into a carriage house (currently the Rose Hill Mansion Visitor Center and Gift Shop).  The original 1809 kitchen was kept in place and Strong built his mansion around it. 

Though we know that the mansion was built between 1837 and 1839, the earliest reference date for its completion is September 7, 1839.  Why September 7?    According to newspaper accounts that’s when President Martin Van Buren visited Rose Hill.  Below are two very different accounts of the Presidential visit.  

From the Courier
Saturday the 7th inst. was signalized by the “grand entre” of the President of the United States into our quiet little village; and as the old Federal Gazette has been discontinued, it may be expected that we should give some account of the pageant.

. . . Well – the day arrived – and the steamboat arrived, (with less than her usual number of passengers,) and Van Buren arrived, accompanied by a long string of carriages . . .

On reaching the Hotel, the Marshal requested the audience to give “three times three,” with which a part of the company complied, and raised a feeble cry, which died away at number seven, and the two remaining cheers were dispensed with. 

Mr. Van Buren then, with the federal office-holders “near his person,” mounted the piazza, the timbers of which being, like his sub-treasury scheme, somewhat rotten, gave way, and very disrespectfully landed the little group of “spoils men” safely upon the ground.  We understand the “Northern man with Southern principles,” was a little frightened, and that for a few minutes, heartshorn [sic] and cologne were in brisk demand.  . . . Mr. Sutherland made a long speech to Mr. Van Buren, and Mr. Van Buren delivered a short speech to Mr. Sutherland.   . . .

After shaking hands with some of the citizens, the President retired to a private house to partake of the hospitalities of a personal friend, leaving the “dear people,” some of whom . . . had come from fifteen to sixty miles to help do him honor, to go fasting home, or to take their dinners without him at the public houses.  Mr. Van Buren attended church on Sunday, and yesterday morning proceeded on his way to Auburn, where we understand the next act of the farce was to be performed

Martin Van Buren
An excerpt from the Geneva Gazette

“On Monday morning, in company with the Committee of Arrangements, and a number of citizens, [President Martin Van Buren] proceeded on his way to Waterloo. After visiting the splendid mansion of W.K. Strong, Esq., on the east side of Seneca Lake, he was received by the Committee from Waterloo with a great concourse of citizens from Seneca County and with them proceeded on to that place. We have thus briefly given an account of the President’s reception at Geneva, sensible that the description falls far short of reality…”  
In honor of the 175th anniversary of PresidentVan Buren’s visit we will host a birthday party for Rose Hill Mansion on Sunday, September 7, from 2-4 p.m. Our Education Coordinator, Alice Askins, will present a program about William Strong, at 2 p.m. on the back patio. After the program there will be a behind-the-scenes tour of the mansion and, of course, birthday cake will be served. The event is free and open to the public. 

On a side note, after building his beautiful home, Strong did not live there for very long.  Four years after its completion, his wife died and Strong moved his family back to New York City.

William Strong

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Herendeens and the Summer of 1914, Part II

By John Marks, Curator of Collections and Exhibits

Last month’s blog ended with Frank Herendeen’s entry from July 25, 1914, when Austria declared war. Hotel guests immediately began fleeing by auto and carriage. The Herendeens stayed put for almost a week.  On July 31 “came a dispatch that the entire Austrian army was to mobilize, and immediately great excitement prevailed in the hotel.” The family left the next day, along with about 200 other guests; they traveled through Cortina to Bozen, then took a train to Munich. Frank wrote:  “The whole country is full of moving troops and horses, etc….Train after train of soldiers and reserves passed.

Fanny, wearing a Tyrolean outfit, and Frank Herendeen, in a studio portrait taken in Geneva after their return

The family reached Munich on August 3 and found the city under martial law. On August 4 England declared war on Germany, sparking a backlash that would continue during the Herendeens’ time in the country. English names were removed from hotels, banks would not issue money on letters of credit from English banks, and Americans were advised to wear small US flags on their clothing to separate themselves from the English.

Nonetheless, Frank continued to write about daily affairs. He found a fine hotel and hired a teacher for Fannie. They spent their days sightseeing and shopping while thousands of Americans were fleeing the country. “We shall remain here in Munich for the present…we are comfortable and safe here.” The US Embassy was advising citizens not to rush to the Netherlands or Belgium unless they had passage to America, as those countries could not handle more people. In mid-August Frank purchased steamship tickets to sail home from Holland in mid-October. The family moved to Berlin on September 6 and remained there until it was time to go home.

Frank was an ardent supporter of Germany and was confident of their victory. “No soldier can surpass the German soldier & the people have a right to be proud of their Army. To put in the field within 10 days 8,000,000 trained soldiers is a very wonderful thing – no other nation could do it.”

A month before leaving, he wrote, “I would, in fact, personally, like to remain here till the War is over, it would be a wonderful sight to see the victorious Army march through their Capitol [Berlin].” After returning to the United States, he expressed nostalgia for Germany: the streets were cleaner, the food was cheaper, and the war news was accurate.

Annie Herendeen kept a diary of the trip as well, and wrote a long letter home to her mother recounting the events of July and August. She shared a different perspective from her husband. As they left Karersee to travel to Munich, troops were mobilizing and she wrote, “One could scarcely look without sympathetic tears at the partings of father and son, husband and wife, sister and brother. There were many affecting scenes and the little balconies along the line of march were filled with red-eyed, sad faced women. At Lobloch where all assembled to take the trains night was made hideous by shouting and singing men in the cafes and streets.

She also wrote of the Germans’ crackdown on suspected spies.  One story involved the Herring sisters who were friends of Emma Herendeen. “They are unusually large, stout girls and were arrested in the street last week and surrounded by an angry crowd and accused of being men – spies – in disguise. The officer was intensely rude and took them finally to some station and had them undress and minutely examined by a woman and then did not even apologize for his mistake. Needless to say they were badly frightened as well as very furious.” As bad as this was, they were fortunate; Annie went on to write that a chauffeur who was slow in stopping his car and giving his name “was shot dead on the spot!

The Herendeens arrived home in Geneva on November 8. As with any travelers, the first week was spent unpacking and visiting friends and family; in this case, they wanted to hear about the war.  “Everyone I meet is interested to hear about our experiences in Europe and seem surprised that we had no disagreeable experiences or trouble of any sort. Practically every person I have talked with here feels that Germany in the End will lose in the great struggle, and no one has any clear idea of the great strength in every way of Germany, and of her ability to continue the war a long time.”

Frank continued to write about the war over the next four years. I have not read Frank’s diaries through 1918 to see if his opinions changed as the United States entered the war. He was not alone in either supporting Germany or American neutrality; some people held to their views throughout the war. History is often reduced to simple terms of “good/bad” and “won/lost”, but it was always more complicated as it unfolded. We are fortunate to have primary sources in our collection that offer different perspectives on history.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Festival Time

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

Cruisin' Night 2006

It is that time of year again.  Festivals are everywhere.  If there is anyone who can’t find something to do on a weekend in the Finger Lakes they must have their eyes closed and their cell phone glued to their ear.  Just recently in the area surrounding Geneva there was a garlic festival, a sauerkraut festival and the eclectic Park Ave. festival in Rochester.  From the start of the summer until the unofficial end on Labor Day there will be music, art, food, beverage and craft fairs and festivals. 

As I write this Walnut Hill Farm Carriage Driving Competition is going on as well as Empire State Farm Days.  While neither is technically a fair or festival the atmosphere surrounding both events resonates that of a fair. 

Walnut Hill is a very elegant affair filled with fine food and beverages, highly polished carriages and equipment, and absolutely beautiful well trained horses, and ponies.  The drivers and grooms are immaculately dressed and one day spent there can send you back in time 150 years.  

Empire Farm days is more of a “car show” for new agricultural equipment.  People arrive in jeans or shorts with entire families in tow.  What it may lack in elegance it makes up for in interesting displays and free samples.  The food is plainer but no less tasty and one day there can catapult you into the future of agriculture 25 years from now!

Unity Festival 2002

What do these two disparate events have in common? People, food, animals, equipment, and skill development.  I have attended both of these wonderful “fairs” and had a wonderful time at each.  I have also, at various times in my life, attended The Clothesline Art Show, the Corn Hill Festival, the Park Avenue Festival (all in Rochester, NY); the Native American Dance and Music Festival at Ganondagan in Victor, NY; The Highland Games near Dundee, NY; The Hemlock “Little World’s” Fair, in Hemlock, NY; the Monroe County Fair, near Rochester, NY; The Wayland Potato Festival, and the New York State Fair to name a few.

Seneca Lake Whale Watch

I have paid $2 for a side show (definitely not worth it), eaten funnel cakes, cheese burgers, tacos, hot dogs, butterfly chips, sugar waffles, and innumerable fair specialty foods dedicated to the fair or festival’s theme such as potato ice cream and candy or bison burgers. I have watched milking contests where some people who participated barely knew the head of the cow from the “business end”.  I have had a sweater sleeve eaten by a large Brown Swiss cow.  I have stood next to a 17 hand high (5’ 8” at the horse’s withers/shoulder) draft horse with a 7 year old sitting on him braiding his mane. I have walked through a variety of suspicious smelling liquids at agriculture fairs (and a few at street fairs).  I once even asked a vendor to write an “excuse” for me when I purchased a pretty expensive handmade teddy bear at a juried art/craft show.  There are only two things I generally don’t like about fairs and festivals. The parking is usually expensive or very far away and porta-potties.  Both leave a lot to be desired but are better than nothing.

Unity Festival 2003

Geneva had fairs in the 1800s and still has its “fair” share of festivals today.  Many of the churches run carnivals and fairs in the summer and I have been to several excellent ones.  The city hosts a fabulously fun event called Crusin’ Night, and more than one cultural event like the Italian Festival at the Sons of Italy and the Latino Festival.  We have had musical events like Whale Watch and even the Mussel Man Triathlon, which takes on a festive air.  

The first year I came to work in Geneva I attended the Whale Watch.  What fun!  There was the usual assortment of vendors for foods and souvenirs.  The Historical Society had a booth and took publications to sell.  We brought games for the children to play and taught them activities like “Graces” where decorated hoops are thrown and caught with pointed dowels.  There was even a cardboard boat race! And all of this took place on the shore of Seneca Lake. 

One year I attended Cruisin’ Night and encountered my cousin who had brought his race car to the event.  He and two friends, who had also brought their racing cars, were parked on the northwest corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets  where the antique tractors were set up this year.  Periodically, each of them would start the engines on the racers, starting from the least powerful to the most powerful sounding.  Even after I went home that evening I could hear the revving of these powerful motors in the distance.  For me, this is part of the joy of Geneva.  When Crusin’ Night is happening, everyone knows it even if they don’t attend.  Some might find this a joyless intrusion on their space, but I think of it as proof that something vibrant, fun and positive is happening in our city.  Geneva is Alive!

I urge all of you to take some time this summer to discover some of the wonderful events that occur in the Finger Lakes.  Every lake, every city has different and exciting things to do.  You can visit a festival any place you want in New York State you only need to take the first step and explore. Wine, cheese, apples, grapes, tomatoes, garlic, peppermint, onions, music, arts and crafts and more are all waiting to be discovered in Geneva’s backyard.  Don’t let all this summer fun pass you by!

Cruisin' Night

Friday, August 8, 2014

Currency, Finance and the Civil War

By Anne Dealy, Director of Education and Public Information

Banking in the early years of the American Republic was decentralized, inefficient and disorganized, leading to frequent panics and depressions. While attempts were made to resolve these problems, none were substantial or comprehensive enough to put the nation on a solid financial footing. As in many other areas of national development, it was the Civil War which prompted radical change in the country’s financial system.

To pay for the men and material needed to fight the war, the government needed to increase revenue. There are three ways to do this: increasing taxes, borrowing funds, or printing money. The U.S. Congress took action quickly, increasing the tariff (the main source of government income to that time) and passing the first federal income tax in August 1861. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase started the first war bond program in American history to provide loans to the federal government. He sold government bonds both to financiers and ordinary people. By the war’s end, he had sold $400 million worth of “five-twenties”—6 percent bonds that could be redeemed between five and twenty years after issuance—and $800 million worth of 7 percent bonds (“seven-thirties”).

Newspaper ad for 6% bonds

Newspaper ad for 5-20 bonds
Ads for the new bond programs appeared in the Geneva newspapers. The local agent was at the Bank of Geneva.

The most controversial action was the 1862 passage of the Legal Tender Act, which allowed the government to print paper money (greenbacks) to pay its bills. Up to this time, the federal government had minted gold and silver coins but did not issue currency. The central government had last issued paper money when the Continental Congress printed dollars during the Revolution, which had become worthless by the end of the war. Fears of inflation, as well as constitutional doubts about the right of the government to print currency, led many Americans to oppose the Legal Tender Act

Greenbacks issued in 1862 were the first U.S. currency issued as legal tender.

The paper money in circulation before the Civil War was issued by individual banks, usually regulated by the states. There was no nation-wide uniform currency and no centralized control of the money supply. Bank notes could be redeemed at an issuing bank for specie (gold or silver coins). Since banks issued more notes than the amount of gold they had in reserve, a bank could easily go bankrupt if too many people tried to redeem notes at the same time (see our previous blog post  "Banking in Early Geneva").

Bad news on the war front in late 1861 led people to hoard gold. Those who had bank notes exchanged them for gold coins. By early 1862, both private banks and the Treasury were running short of reserves and had stopped paying out gold in exchange for their notes. Though Secretary Chase was uncertain of the constitutionality of the Legal Tender Act, he considered it an emergency measure, writing to Congress in February 1862, “Immediate action is of great importance. The Treasury is nearly empty.” Passed as a war measure, the action was viewed as temporary.

The legislation made greenbacks legal tender for all debts, except custom duties and interest on government bonds—these payments had to be made in specie to shore up the Union’s supply of gold reserves. To maintain these reserves, the new federal currency could not be exchanged for specie. Concern over these unprecedented acts on the part of the federal government actually led many Americans to clamor for higher taxes to pay for the war, rather than printing currency. “Resort must be had to taxes, direct or indirect, or both, to place the government upon a basis of credit which will enable it to command the required means [to fight the war].” Geneva Gazette, January 24, 1862

Secretary Chase cranks out greenbacks in this political cartoon criticizing the administration. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

The change to currency laws enabled the Union to pay its expenses with money it printed. It stopped the run on reserves, but caused inflation. Though far less severe than in the Confederacy (80% compared to 9000%), complaints about the Union’s actions appeared in the press:

Rise in Prices.—Almost every article of domestic consumption has doubled in price within the past two years, and in some instances has trebled; and upon those who depend upon fixed wages, for the support of themselves and family, have fallen heavily. There is no probability, so far as human foresight can see, of any change for the better. Just so long as Government keeps printing greenbacks, in almost fabulous amounts, just so long will prices tend upward of everything that can be bought and sold. A greenback representing one dollar is now worth only about 68 cents.—Geneva Gazette, November 20, 1863

Metal was in short supply for minting coins. Both banks and the Treasury had to resort to printing fractional currency so merchants could make change.
The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 consolidated and expanded on the changes to the financial system introduced in 1862. Based on New York’s Free Banking Law of 1838, these Acts had three primary purposes: to create a system of national banks under federal regulation, to create a uniform national currency, and to provide a market for government bonds to help finance the Union’s war expenses. The new National banks were required to purchase U.S. bonds equal to one-third of their capital, thus ensuring buyers for the bonds. They were to accept bank notes from other national banks at par or face value, and to circulate Treasury notes (greenbacks) in place of their own bank notes. A 10% tax on bank notes issued by other banks was added in 1865, effectively ending the use of state and private bank notes.

Two national banks were started in Geneva in the 1860s. First National Bank of Geneva was begun in 1863 by several men with Canandaigua banking connections. Three years later, Alexander Chew, Phineas Prouty, Corydon Wheat, Thomas Hillhouse and Thomas Raines bought out the bank and made Chew President. Shortly after, First National constructed a building on the southeast corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets for doing business.

First National Bank of Geneva stood on the south corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets.

The Bank of Geneva, which dated back to 1817, was re-chartered as Geneva National Bank in 1865. The director was Samuel Verplanck, a former cashier at the Bank of Geneva. The bank was located in the newly constructed Bank of Geneva building at the northeast corner of Seneca and Exchange Streets, directly across from its rival.

Geneva National Bank was across Seneca Street from First National, on the north corner at Exchange Street.

The changes brought about by the crisis of war were the beginnings of the banking system we have today. Questions about monetary policy and economic control of the growing and urbanizing nation would dominate post-Civil War politics, particularly in years when the system failed to cope well with economic upheavals. The next major change to the financial system would emerge at the turn of the 20th century with the Aldrich Act of 1907 and the construction of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

Articles on banking and currency at Wikipedia, including:

Grossman, Richard S. “US Banking History, Civil War to World War II.” EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. March 16, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2014.

Jaremski, Matthew. “State Banks and the National Banking Acts: A Tale of Creative Destruction.” November 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2014.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet the Neighbors: John Delafield

By Alice Askins,  Education Coordinator at Rose Hill Mansion

When the Swans moved to Rose Hill in 1850 their neighbor to the east was John Delafield.  Most of our information about John’s life comes from the Centennial Historical Sketch of Fayette by Diedrich Willers, published in 1900.  John was born in 1786 on Long Island.  After graduating from Columbia College in 1805, he found work in a dry goods store. In 1808, his firm made him super-cargo on a brig going to the West Indies and other ports. A super-cargo managed trade for his firm.  Basically, he sold merchandise at the ports the ship sailed to and bought goods to bring back home.  A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts.  Used by merchants and the navy, brigs were fast and maneuverable.    

John’s voyage was not uneventful.  His brig’s captain died of yellow fever in Cuba, and the mate died two days after they left Havana.  At this point, John took charge of the ship.  Several days later, the crew mutinied and tried to kill him.  One of the crew helped him subdue the mutineers and the two men managed to get the ship to Corunna, Portugal.  At this time, Europe was in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, and France and England were wrangling over Spain and Portugal.

The USS Niagara is a wooden-hulled brig that was the relief flagship for Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The Niagara is one of the last remaining ships from that war.  It is usually docked at Erie, Pennsylvania, as a museum exhibit. It also often travels the Great Lakes during the summer. 

I have not found whether John’s ship was originally supposed to go to Europe from the West Indies, or why he sailed north after leaving Portugal in 1809.   He must have done so as Mr. Willers tells us the ship met a violent storm off the coast of France, and limped into Bristol, England, with a lot of damage.  There was tension at the time between England and the US that would eventually result in the War of 1812.  Mr. Willers says,

Mr. Delafield was here thrown into prison for some alleged violation of the revenue laws and although soon released he was detained within bounds of thirty miles around Bristol, a stranger and without money. He employed his time, however, in working for a cabinet maker, and in a drug store, remaining thus under British surveillance until the close of the war with the United States.

Eventually John was allowed to go into business for himself, and he married a Bristol woman.  When his wife died in 1820 he returned to New York City.  In New York John became a teller in the Phoenix Bank and ten years later he became the bank’s president.  John was an early promoter of the Hudson River Railroad, a director of the University of New York, and an organizer of the Philharmonic Musical Society. He retired from banking in 1841, and two years later he bought a farm of 352 acres near Rose Hill.  He called it "Oaklands," and dove into the improvement of farming.  He became president of the Seneca County Agricultural Society in 1846, and remained president until he died except for 1851.  That year he was president of the State Agricultural Society, and ran the State Fair in Rochester.  Oaklands won county and state awards.

John was crucial to the farming revolution that John Johnston brought to North America.  When Mr. Johnston was installing drain tile on his farm Viewfields, his neighbors were skeptical.  They assumed that an underground system could never work.  Many thought the system would clog up and the tiles would all smash from draft horses or oxen walking over them.  Ten years after Mr. Johnston put his first tile lines down, he uncovered one of them, planning to increase the capacity of that drain.  While he had it open, he asked John to come see it.  It looked just the same as it had when it was buried in 1838.  John decided that under-draining could work after all, and he imported a Scraggs Tile Machine from England.  Benjamin Whartenby of Waterloo was the potter who had been hand-making drain tiles for John Johnston.  John gave Mr. Whartenby the machine, in return for one quarter of the tiles produced with it.  This machine inspired the spread of under-draining in North America – once one machine was here, someone else imported a second one, a third man copied the first, and so on.

In 1850, John published a history and survey of Seneca County.  It was the most extensive and accurate account that had yet been published.  The work he was most devoted to, though, was the establishment of an Agricultural College for New York State.  He was involved with that at the time of his sudden death in 1853, at the age of 67.  John was survived by his second wife, whom he married in 1825, and by three sons and two daughters.  John’s sons became successful businessmen in New York City and elsewhere.   

The agricultural college was to have been centered at Oaklands, but after considerable time and debate it was located at Cornell.  The Agricultural Experiment Station, part of Cornell, is still with us in Geneva to remind us of John Delafield.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Herendeens and the Summer of 1914, Part 1

By John Marks, Curator of Collections and Exhibits

A common quip in my profession is, “I’m a historian. I read dead people’s mail.” Even more revealing are the diaries and journals that have been given to the historical society. A particularly interesting collection is the diaries of Francis (Frank) Herendeen from 1914 to 1929.

In 1868 the Herendeen family began making farm implements and steam boilers in Geneva.  Frank was the secretary of the Herendeen Manufacturing Company, which became part of the U.S. Radiator Corporation in 1910.  After 1910 Frank’s role in the radiator company is unclear, but apparently he had time on his hands. In 1914, he decided to take his wife Annie and only child Frances (Fannie) to Europe for the year. (Genevans will remember the daughter as Fannie Truslow, wife of Tommy; they lived next door to the historical society on South Main Street.) Catherine Rankin, their live-in domestic, also traveled with them.

Annie Boynton Herendeen, Frances (Fannie) Herendeen, Frances (Frank) Herendeen
Both Frank and Annie had traveled before their marriage.  Frank noted in his 1914 diary that he had not been to Europe since 1900. Part of his desire to travel again was to expose their seven year-old daughter to the world while being tutored. He was particularly impressed with German educational methods as Fannie had received German lessons in Geneva.

The family left Geneva just after New Year’s 1914. (I should mention that Annie also kept a diary. While she wrote of exhaustion from packing for a long trip, Frank mentioned packing in passing and said that everyone had been busy.) Sailing from New York, they spent time in Spain, Algiers, Monaco, and Italy.  In June they moved to Austria. Their first stop was Botzen in the Tirol mountains. (I am using the spellings as found in Frank’s diary.)

Fannie Herendeen posing in the Borghese Gardens in Rome, April 1914
Annie was not feeling well and Frank brought in “the best Doctor here to attend her.” The diagnosis was “thin blood” and the prescription was two raw eggs in milk every two hours and daily arsenic shots. Surprisingly, she did gain more strength.

As his wife was bedridden for several weeks, Frank spent his time exploring the area with Fannie. He hired a local woman to walk with Frances every morning and talk in German with her. He recorded his days in great details. The day that caught my attention the first time I read his 1914 diary was June 28, 1914. He wrote of the weather, his activities with Fannie, Annie’s health, and then:
“This eve at 7 o’clock at dinner, the news came of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand heir to throne of Austria & Hungary & of his wife the Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo, the Capitol of Bosnia, by a student of Servia, one Prinzib.”
A few days later Frank mentions the town mourning the Archduke with black streamers, but otherwise there is no mention of political events. They moved to a higher, cooler altitude at Karersee once Annie felt strong enough to travel. On Friday July 24, at the end of an entry about a day trip to San Martino, Frank wrote,
 “Ret[urned] to Karersee at 9 p.m. found the Hotel excited over the 48 Hour ultimatum of Austria to Servia – the news of which had just arrive. It may mean war.”
Frank’s entry the next day reflected the chaos of uncertainty:
 “Nothing was discussed so much today as the probability of a great European war & of the immediate importance of the visitors here leaving at once, in such case for their homes...The dispatches are posted as received & seem contradictory – First that Servia had protested – then later that she had agreed to all of Austria’s demands. When this came there was immense relief and happiness all around….About 10 p.m. came the next telegram that King Peter had fled & Austria had declared War…Many people are now preparing to leave tomorrow…We may soon leave here too.”
Needless to say, things got more interesting in Europe very quickly. I will pick up the story in next month’s blog.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

A few weeks ago I went to a wonderful Strawberry Social at a local church and found on each table a lovely centerpiece with 3 brightly colored fans standing like straw flowers in a garden.  The note on the basket encouraged the people sitting at the table to use the fans for their comfort if they were warm and requested that when they leave they replace them in the centerpiece so the next diner could use them.


Those fans brought to mind the old song about the “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” and how very glad I am summer days are here.  I know quite a few folks who dread the summer heat, but not me.  The summer warmth reminds me of the days of back yard swimming pools which killed your grass (until someone dropped a snapping turtle in them and the pool was punctured), fireflies, raspberries picked right off the bush and warm from the sunshine, dusty dirt roads by summer cottages, and swimming in the lake from the end of May until the beginning of October. 

I love the way the warmth embraces me when the humidity is just right so that the air feels “soft.”  I love the smell of warm roses, warm honeysuckle and warm earth.  I love to see things grow!  Tomatoes, cabbage, yellow beans, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, and potatoes just spring out of the ground.  Strawberries, blueberries, and melons arrive in abundance, while cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums ripen on the trees and bend the branches toward me so I can pick them.  The grass not only requires lots of mowing, but also beckons me to walk through it in my bare feet and feel the carpet of green blades between my toes.

Firemen's Parade, 2007
I remember days spent on a lake with my dad fishing, canoeing, and boating.  I remember nights spent toasting marshmallows by campfires.  I love the freedom of no boots, coats, scarves or mittens.  I enjoy watching my cats sit in the windows as dusk falls relaxing comfortably on the windowsills and sampling the smells on the night air circulating the neighborhood. 

Cruisin' Night
Do any of these memories from my childhood on a different lake in a different New York State town relate to Geneva?  Oh yes!  I now watch the fireflies infiltrate the back yard behind my apartment and the sound of the Pulteney Park fountain plays gently on the air with the songs from the Methodist Church carillon drifting through my window.  I share ice cream with friends at one of several ice cream/frozen yogurt stores and cookouts and chicken Bar-B-Qs abound.  I thoroughly enjoy the fireworks display the American Legion puts on at the end of their carnival each year.  I love the local church carnivals, the parade on Memorial Day Weekend, the Firemen’s Parade, the Sons of Italy Festival, the Latino Festival, the Plein Air Festival, Crusin’ Night, Music on Porches, the Garden Walk, the Tour of Homes, Geneva Music Festival, Medley of Tastes, Jane Austen Day at Rose Hill, Farm Heritage Day at the Johnston Farm, and the Rose Hill Mansion Food and Wine Celebration.  Wow, that is just a partial list.  I am overwhelmed with the wealth of summer fun that abounds in the Finger Lakes region.  There are cheese trails, wine trails, brewery trails, farmers market, stands and stores selling homemade ice cream, the list just goes on and on.  I don’t think it matters where you are in New York State, you will find many activities to participate in that will remind you of summers past.  And with a little effort you can encourage your children to make memories that they can fondly look back on each time summer roles around anew. 

Pultney Park, 2006
I hope each of you steps out into this bountiful and beautiful area we call the Finger Lakes and make a memory today.  Don’t pass up the chance to eat ice cream, go swimming, see wildlife, visit a local museum, smell and taste the summer.  We have about 3 months to recharge ourselves before winter; last one to the lake is a rotten egg!