Thursday, April 28, 2011


The family of Stuart P. Taugher, left, the former mayor, county representative and a force in the establishment of the Cooperstown Emergency Squad, gathered at Doubleday Field Monday, April 25, for the unveiling of a plaque in the patriarch’s memory.  “His appreciation of Doubleday Field led to a renewed appreciation for this important piece of baseball history,” the plaque reads in part.  Mayor Joe Booan and Ted Peters, a colleague of Taugher’s in community-improvement efforts, spoke.  Taugher and wife Jody raised five daughters on Maple Street, four of whom were at the ceremony:  seated from left, twins Jacqueline Ruck and Colleen Sheldon, both of Milford, Pa.; Karen Taugher, New Hartford, and Patricia Schultz, Fly Creek.  (The fifth daughter, Marcia Pugliese, Cooperstown, was ill and could not attend.)  Standing are, from left, Jacqueline’s husband Richard; Colleen’s husband Scott and their son Liam; granddaughter Stephanie Nelen and her children, daughter Rory, son Miles and baby Lanie (on Colleen’s lap); granddaughter Bridget Bertram and her son Tyler; granddaughter Jacqueline Sheldon, and granddaughter Rebecca McManus with husband Jon and son Park.

This Byrd’s Wild About Folks Songs


McGuinn, Sebastian Perform At Oneonta

Roger McGuinn, right, will perform in the county Sunday, May 1.


It’s been almost 50 years since Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clark formed the influential rock group, The Byrds.  Now a solo act, McGuinn brings his trademark folk-rock sound Sunday, May 1, to the Oneonta Theatre in a double-headline show with The Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ John Sebastian on Sunday, May 1.
Fans can expect a full-fledged show from McGuinn, complete with Byrds classics, traditional folk songs and even a little storytelling in between songs.  “I just love performing,” McGuinn said in a telephone interview Monday, April 25.  “And I just chain it all into one big story.”
Folk music is a passion for McGuinn. Back in 1995, he noticed an absence of traditional folk singers performing the old English ballads, as many of them were turning into singer-songwriters. 
In conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, McGuinn started the Folk Den, an online collection of over 190 songs, complete with chords, lyrics and pictures, for musicians and listeners to download free of charge.
“I saw a possibility of old songs getting lost in the shuffle,” he said.  “I wanted to keep the old songs alive.”  He also found himself returning to his own folk music roots, playing solo shows with just his own four instruments on stage.
But it isn’t just touring and archiving folk music that keeps McGuinn busy.  He is also currently shooting a documentary about his life as a musician.
Tentatively titled “River Flows,” the film will trace his time both with The Byrds and as a solo act, featuring concert footage and interviews with fellow musicians such as Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Judy Collins, for whom McGuinn had been a musical director on her third album.
He compares the film to the out-of-print Hollywood Records collection “Live from Mars,” which featured acoustic versions of Byrds classics such as “Mr. Tamborine Man” and “Turn Turn Turn,” as well as some of his stories from the road.
McGuinn also designed a limited-addition guitar for Martin Guitars, the seven-string acoustic Roger McGuinn HD7.  This guitar captures McGuinn’s signature “jingle-jangle” sound with a doubled g-string--the second string tuned an octave higher,  it allowed McGuinn to play melody and lead lines on the g-string, a trick taught to him by George Harrison.

IF YOU GO:  Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Oneonta Theater.  Tickets $50 at door, or $45 in advance at Music Square, Eighth Note, Green Toad and Maxwell’s in Oneonta, Stagecoach Coffee in Cooperstown.


Inspired During Meditation, Belleau ‘Channels’ Reggae Icon Into Song

Listen to this:
In the morning of May 12, 2009, Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints in the Oneonta Theatre building for the past 25 years, was meditating, as is his daily practice.
“It was a very good meditation,” he reflected the other day.  “I was in quite a peaceful state.”
Suddenly, he experienced words rushing by overhead, the way signs on overpasses flash by as you drive under them on I-88.
“I knew better than to trust that I would remember,” he said. “I got up, took up a piece of paper and started writing.”
In 20 minutes, he’d written 70 lines of poetry, of song.  He’d never written poetry before.
“I thought it was kind of cool that this was happening,” he said.
Two days later, during meditation, it happened again.  He roused himself and in a few minutes had written two stanzas of a second piece.
“What is this?” he asked himself.
“Immediately, the answer came, ‘message from Bob’,” he said.  “I knew immediately it was Bob Marley,” the Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter who died in 1981.
“I’d write the first half of the line, and I would just wait for the second part of the line to appear,” said Belleau.  “Every time I sat down to write, it came; every single time I would to it.”
In four weeks, he had completed 14 songs, each one with a message.
Together, the songs formed was Jim calls the “Quantum Reggae Manifesto.  Message From Bob: Volume Oneness.”  He added, “I am claiming to be literally channelling Bob Marley.”
Jim Belleau was born and raised in Salem, Mass., and graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., and Emerson College.  He came to Oneonta in 1982 – “a woman,” he explained – joined  Principally Prints, and bought the business three years later.
A few years ago, he took up with Chris Rosenthal, who operates Harmony Hill Retreat Center, East Meredith, and they spent five years together.
The two began following the precepts of “A Course In Miracles,” published in 1977 by Helen Schucman, who developed it with her partner, William Thetford, originally psychologists at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Belleau said the resulting meditation caused him to let go of the “negative parts of my mind.  It also allowed what I call the quantum mind to gradually replace the ego-bound mind.  I began to experience states of peace that were unprecedented in my life.”
Bob Marley’s music advocates freedom as the best way to combat poverty, war, injustice.
“He is a worldwide symbol of freedom,” Jim said, adding that the Marley estate still grosses $100 million a year.  “His influence is huge. Go to any city in the world larger than 10,000, and Marley will be there.”
However, here we are, three decades later, and there’s little evidence that poverty, war and injustice are decreasing.  If anything, quite the opposite.
Last year, he found himself telling this story to a woman who stopped by the shop, and she offered, “I have a girlfriend who knows a Rasta-man,” who turned out to be Maroghini, a leading Jamaican percussionist who had performed with Marley; as it happened, he had been in Marley’s house the day the musician died.
Belleau sent off an e-mail, and received a reply.  Maroghini’s mother, who lives in Spring Valley, was ill, and “I happen to need to be in Upstate New York in two weeks.”
The Oneontan drove down, met the musician, told him the story and gave him the poems.  “If I can connect with it, I’ll do it,” Maroghini said.
“Two weeks later, he wrote back and said, ‘I have the first song,” said Belleau, who downloaded the track, “and I heard this beautiful song.”
It was “War is Gone.” The percussionist had recruited Donald Waugh and other notable Jamaican musicians to perform with him.
Maroghini rewrote some of the poems to work better as lyrics, and one or two new songs a month arrived for the next 10 months.
Meanwhile, Belleau got an agent, Bernie Walters of Indian Ledge Records in Albany, collaborated with Oneonta’s Dave Kenny in creating, which will go live on Friday, April 29 –’s day of publication – in time for the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death, May 11, 1981.
The music will be available through the site, but Belleau and his agent – on the same release date – also plan to send copies of the DVD, “Quantum Reggae:  Message from Bob, Volume Oneness” to national and international labels. In addition to the music, it contains the account of how it came about, and sales pitch.
Through Maroghini, Jim plans to make the release available first to the Marley estate.
“Why am I the one who gets to do this?”
Belleau has two answers, the first being “my relationship with the one-ness” developed through the discipline of his meditation and his training through “A Course in Miracles.”
Second, “I’m white.  The the product of a New England prep school” – the choice is both unlikely and one that would allow the creative and marketing steps taken to date to occur.  He adds, “and I’ve never written a song in my life.”
There’s also a logo, three slashes – one red, one green, one gold, the colors of the Jamaican flag – formed in “an interlocking chain of forgiveness.”
While Jim Belleau is excited about the events of the past two years, he is also energized by the possibilities of Bob Marley’s message for the world and everyone in it.
As this takes off, remember:  You read it here first.

Jim Kevlin/
Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints, the Oneonta frame shop, believes he’s been “channelling” Bob Marley, and is about to deliver the reggae musician’s message from beyond the grave.

“QUANTUM REGGAE MANIFESTO.  Message From Bob: Volume Oneness,” become available today at

Cherubini, Brahms Focus Of CSO’s Season Finale


Fifty singers from the SUNY Oneonta Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Choir Alumni will perform Cherubini’s “Coronation” Mass at the Catskill Symphony Orchestra’s final performance of its 2010-11 season at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the college’s Hunt Union Ballroom.
The work, “Messe Solennelle in A Major,” was written in 1825 for the coronation of King Charles X of France.  Cherubini (1760-1842), best known for his operas and sacred music, served 22 years as director of the Paris Conservatory.
The evening will begin with Symphony No. 1 by Brahms, an admirer of Cherubini.  It premiered in 1876 after a 21-year delay because Beethoven’s nine symphonies dominated the field during that period.  Brahms’ work was dubbed “Beethoven’s 10th.”
The concert is sponsored by the Bassett Healthcare Network with additional support from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Two adults to bring any number of children to this concert for free. For more information, call 436-2670 or visit



Saturday, April 30
11:00 Police - Community
11:00 Benson - 6th Ward (F-2)
1:00 Reinhardt - N. Eagle
1:00 Royal - N.B.T. (F-2)
3:00 V.S.H. - ELKS
3:00 C. Club - Up Country (F-2)

Monday, May 2
5:45 V.S.H. - Police
5:45 6th Ward - Stero Lab (F-2)

Tuesday, May 3

5:45 N. Eagle - Elks
5:45 C. Club - Royal (F-2)

pictures from our 2010 archives...

Amanda Hoepker/Hometown Oneonta
Clockwise from left: VSH catcher Patrick Calhoun goes to make the catch as the Elks’ Bennett Eggler slides into home during Friday, May 7’s 2010 game at Doc Knapp Field. Tanner Jennings takes a swing for VSH. Alex Brannan gets advice from the Elks’ first base Coach Geoff Hassard. VSH pitcher Kaleb O’Neill winds up.

Wilber Bank’s Paul Zimmer, Owen Mann, Lucas Wilder, Tyler Henderson, Reilly Catan, Mackenzie Catan, Sam Goff and Coach Chris Goff look up at the Stars and Stripes while the National Anthem is sung during opening ceremonies for the Oneonta Little League 2010 season Saturday, May 1, at “Doc” Knapp Field.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MARLY YOUMANS: ART REVIEW: ‘Snared In The Moment When Things Go Awry...’

"HOMEBODIES,” by Cooperstown’s Ashley Norwood Cooper, on display through Saturday, May 14, at the Earlville Opera House.

The Freeman’s Journal
Cooperstown’s Ashley Norwood Cooper touches up a painting in her Lake Street attic studio.

Cooperstown artist Ashley Norwood Cooper has a strong solo show of 18  casein-on-board paintings, “Homebodies,” at the East Gallery of the Earlville Opera House. These pictures are part of the resurgence of narrative, representation and pictorial beauty in painting.  They are resonant with half-told stories and rich with mystery.
They demonstrate a fascinating relationship to what in the past has been considered a traditional, often-scorned woman’s subject, domestic life.  Her statements about her work may sound modest: “I try to paint life in a small town as thoroughly and honestly as I can. We live with our families, protected from the elements in houses built on the bones of the past.” She finds that “mundane details are fraught with mystery and meaning.”
But the paintings have something powerful and not at all modest to say. Houses have been cut away so that we see simultaneously the ordinary and the terrible intrusions created by nature, accident and danger.  These are not paintings removed from real life, located in some distant arena of action. They are the places where we live and die, where transformation is continually happening. Their middle-class interiors remind me of a poem by Mary Jo Salter in which “hidden in the house a fine / crack – nothing spectacular, / only a leak somewhere – is slowly / widening to claim each of us.”
The entire world functions as a kind of doll’s house, where we are allowed to see into the earth or through private walls.  The bones of a bear seem to stir, longing to attack a heavy-racked deer that lowers its head to drink from a child’s wading pool in the dream-like “Night Secrets.” Not knowing that mystery is only a few walls away, a man and woman embrace inside the house. Here and elsewhere bones of the past remind us of the scope of time, that it is large and that our lives in the shelter of homes are small.
In “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” my favorite of the paintings, children play an occult game down in the basement, lifting a girl into the air with only two fingers from each hand. Weird light spills onto her face; her mouth is open, and she is in the grip of something ecstatic. What have these children conjured? The gold and green gleams shed from a streetlight through a basement window and the face of the half-thrilled, half-horrified child are uncanny. 
That uncanniness is contagious.  It infects the entire house as well as the yard and street glimpsed outside, where bats jitter and swarm in the twilight.  A figure leaving a car seems strangely vulnerable to the open air.  Upstairs, reflected eerily in a big-screen TV, a naked man stoops, seeking to get into bed with his wife, who has stiffly ensconced herself in the very center of the bed, her body as pale and cold as the sheets. Outside, a skeleton under the ground gropes upward, as if awakened by the séance game and wishing to snatch at life.
The figures in “The Bear,” Ashley Cooper’s most recent work on exhibit at Earlville, show signs of wanting to escape the dimensions of her current paintings. They have grown large and suggest that the artist is looking for bigger rooms to inhabit. She is looking for generous studio space where she can work on a larger canvas and has ideas about a new project. It will be interesting to watch where she goes from here.
In the cut-away interior of “The Bear,” a family is frozen at the moment when a bear knocks over the aluminum garbage can outside – awakened, caught up, and alarmed. Picasso once said that we see a painting better when it’s not hung tidily on a nail but is hung crookedly. These paintings are crooked in just such a way: their human occupants are snared in the moment when things go awry. Life is illuminated by strangeness and is suddenly more real and intense than it was a moment before.
Ashley Norwood Cooper is an artist with a vocation, one that we locals ought to support with our attention and time and, yes, money. From now through May 14, pay a visit to her work at the Earlville Opera House, a model for arts programs in our area.

Ashley Norwood Cooper’s latest work, “The Bear,” is among 18 paintings displayed at the Earlville Opera House through May 14.

Marly Youmans’ eighth book is just out – a collection of poetry, “The Throne of Psyche” (Mercer University Press, April 2011.)


‘Grand Reopening’ Due May 20

Jim Kevlin/
Walmart Store Manager Paul Wasko, left, discusses the expanded TV section, featuring HD and Internet-connected models, with Alex Ewaniszwk, with R.L. Spencer, the Syracuse contractor.


When Paul Wasko arrived as Walmart store manager here six years ago, a “fixup-cleanup” was underway, but nothing like this.
All 188,000-square-feet are getting a redo.
The back wall where the TVs are displayed has been lengthened, to make way for HD and Internet-connected models.  Walmart’s new Vizio brand is “a big seller,” he said.
The book and stationery section has been moved to the back, to make way for a “Celebration Center” – everything from balloons to pinatas – next to greeting cards in the front.  
Women’s and men’s clothing used to run vertically back from the front, side by side.  When the renovations are done, women’s clothing will stretch along the front, parallel to the cash registers, with men’s clothing behind.
cash-register islands are a light-wood tone.
The renovation, the most extensive since this store opened in 1995 on Southside, began March 27, and is expected to be complete by May 20, when a Grand Reopening is planned.
“It’s more state of the art, more shopper friendly,” said Wasko, a Johnson City native who after decades in Florida moved back Upstate to take this job.  He lives in New Berlin.
During a tour of the store, he bumped into Zimmerman and Jennifer Walston of Norfolk, Va., who are part of a corps that oversees Walmart redos nationwide.  Each do 5-6 a year.  In a 10-year career, Walston estimates she’s been involved in 60 such projects; Zimmerman has only been at it about a year.
Wal-Mart Store, Inc. – that’s the company’s official name, but the individual stores are called “Walmart,” one word, unhyphenated, said Katie Johnston, the company spokesman – is always renovating stores, said Walston and Zimmerman.
The 709 regular Walmarts, 2,907 Walmart Supercenters – Oneonta’s outlet is a Supercenter – and 182 neighborhood markets all have a spot on the company’s systematic renovation schedule, they said.
Wasko proceeds through the store calmly, an earpiece keeping him up-to-the minute on the goings-on in the huge building.  Employees – he is hiring 50 new ones; 15 vacancies remain to be filled – come up to him with various challenges, and he listens and suggests commonsense outcomes.
Renovations in Kingston, he lets on, are two weeks ahead of Oneonta’s, so when really thorny situations arise, he calls his colleague down there, who’s usually already figured out a solution.

Barbara Deitch of Westford, accompanied by grandson Christopher, rolls through the space next to greeting cards that will soon be the new “Celebration Center,” featuring party supplies.

Janet Blatsos, Milford, fills prescriptions in the bright, open new pharmacy.  The windowed previous site is in the background.

to see more pictures, visit our pictures page --Wal Mart: THE NEXT WAVE

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lady of FINLAND & They Do Adore Photographer At Tampere’s Vapriikki Museum

Lady Ostapeck, the Fly Creek portraitist now living at Oneonta’s Nader Towers, is just back from Finland, where 60- by 20-inch blowups of her photos and 100 costumes from her extensive collection are on view at the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere through March 18, 2012.

You may know the story of Lady Ostapeck’s narrow escape while still in the cradle.
It was 1919.  The baby’s mother had died in childbirth in Brooklyn, N.Y., and she had been sent to live with an aunt in a Finnish community in rural Brooklyn, Conn.
One day, a farmer name Koski emerged from his house with a hatchet in his hand, turned left and butchered everyone in the next five houses, hanging himself in the barn at the end.
If he had turned right, Baby Ostapeck would been one of his first victims.
The baby was returned to Brooklyn, where she was taken in by Mama Jansson, who lived in Edgewater, N.J.
Mama’s three young children and her husband had died, Lady related in an interview the other day, wearing a black sombrero and sipping coffee from a paper cup.
“I got all the love she would have given her babies – all of it,” she said matter-of-factly.
Mama Jansson’s love and sincerity was such that girls contemplating suicide would cross the Hudson River for her counseling.  Not a one went through with it, Lady said.
As it happens, she had just returned from Finland, where more
LADY/From B1
than 400 people crowded into the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, the country’s third-largest city, for the opening of “A Lady of Style: Lady Ostapeck’s American Costumes & Portraits.”
In her speech opening night, on the podium with the Finnish minister of culture and tourism, Lady Ostapeck gave credit to Mama Jansson for everything that has happened to her in the 90+ years since.
Did you know Lady Ostapeck was originally a seamstress, trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology?
By the time she arrived at her Greek revival cottage in Fly Creek a half century ago – she lived there until moving to Oneonta’s Nader Towers two years ago – and began her career as a portraitist with an unusual muse, she had already collected dozens of vintage costumes.
She continued to do so, at thrift shops and auctions, and as she produced hundreds of photo portraits of subjects in vintage clothing, her costume collection – it includes two pith helmets – grew into the hundreds of examples as well.
Periodically, Lady has been invited to display her photos in Finland, and 10 years ago she met Marketa Frank, now a curator at the Vapriikki, who was interested in antique clothing.
One thing led to another, and last summer a team from the museum visited the Fly Creek Valley cottage, where it identified more than 100 gowns and other articles from Lady’s collection.
When packed, Lady said, the clothes filled 19 of those movers’ wardrobes.  “Next year,” said Lady, “they’ll be getting another set.”
Lady’s promoter and friend Nick Argyros, director of the Photo Center of the Capital District in Troy, had collaborated with Marketa Frank in organizing the exhibit and intended to accompany the photographer.
But, just before they were to depart in mid-March, he suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass.  Lady’s Fly Creek neighbor, Barbara Lyon, was recruited for the task and the two departed from JFK Sunday, March 13, aboard a Finnair flight, courtesy of the Vapriikki.
“Non-stop to Helsinki,” said Barbara.  “We flew
LADY/From B2
over the Arctic Circle, looking down on glaciers and ice-blue rivers.  It was incredible.  It reminded me of ‘Dr. Zhivago’.”
Met at the airport, the two were driven the two hours to Tampere – a metropolitan area of 300,000 known as “The Manchester of Finland” –  and immediately went to the museum.
It was “a wonderful factory building on the river,” the Tammerkoski channel that connects the city’s two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi.
The exhibit included most of the clothing, examples of Lady’s photos, blown up to 16- by 20-inch sizes, and detailed texts of her life and work.
“We spent every day at the museum,” said Lyon.  “She had interviews every day.  There were ones that weren’t planned, and those that were planned.”
One morning at breakfast, the waitress approached with a copy of Aamulehti, the daily paper.  “This is you, isn’t it?” she asked, holding up the front page of the feature section, dedicated completely to Lady’s exhibit.
Then came the big night.  The museum’s reception area was filled.  Champagne all around.  Finland’s minister of culture and tourism was there.  Also a cousin of Lady’s who was a member of the Finnish parliament, and a nephew who was Finnair’s director of marketing.
Lady had had a rough winter.  She had been hospitalized twice over Christmas, then had spent time in rehabilitation at Otsego Manor.
“All I want is to go to Finland, and then I can die,” she told Barbara.
“After the reception,” her friend recalled, “she said, ‘This is the highpoint of my whole life.  I can die now’.”
If you die in Finland, would you want to be buried here? asked Barbara.  In addition to wanting to know Lady’s wishes, she was pondering the logistics of transporting her back to the States.
“No, no,” she said in that abruptly frank way those who know her would recognize. “I have a plot in Fly Creek. You have to bring me back.”

The entrance to the complex that contains the Vapriikki, which means “factory” in Finnish.

 to see pictures, see our picture page or visit our facebook album -- Lady of Finland, Lady Ostapeck, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retirees Remain At Home

You Can Renovate For The Longterm

ARA Content

Because so many Americans are aging in place, they’re looking for ways to make their homes safe and comfortable for the long term. With just a few modifications, retired couples can make their homes perfect sanctuaries for their golden years. Here are some modification ideas to help you keep your heart right at home:

• Stay connected. There are video/television systems and services available that allow you to chat with a person from a care program while sitting at your dining room table. Program staff can also monitor your house and contact a relative or emergency service if they notice you haven’t moved in awhile.
• Independence is also very important for seniors, and this is especially true in the bathroom. Climbing over a bathtub wall becomes more difficult as people age, and can also make the bathroom very dangerous for slips and falls. Walk-in baths are one option.  Because the door opens and seals shut, this walk-in bath allows you to sit down prior to running any water, which can help prevent a slip or fall. Hydrotherapy jets also add additional health benefits, so you can comfortably soak as long as you want.
• Car manufacturers are adapting vehicles to accommodate seniors with such options as seats that swivel to face out the door so you can sit down or stand up easily and not have to bend down at an angle to climb into the seat. Other available adapters are dashboards that push back until the driver is in the seat and ready to start the car, buttons to control the radio and temperature on the steering wheel, and sliding cabinets that help a person load items into the trunk – and get them out easier.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FROM “The Angel with a Broken Face,” inspired by Cooperstown’s Christ Church.

Stained-glass image is from Christ Church, Cooperstown.
For as I stared, fixed there as surely as if I had been nailed to the spot, the swirling air from the open doors increased in color and in brightness, so that the entire chamber of the room was stained.  For the first time I grasped what I should have noticed before, the eerie wailings of the wind, tearing through the yard of stones.  Then I heard a sound as if the entire world had been uprooted and disassembled:  an immense slow wrenching followed by a complex series of crashes.  The perfection of the angel’s face exploded into shards that made, for one instant, a corona around its head.  Something struck my face.  I heard a voice screaming, tearing like a pennant in a storm.  I realized that a branch had smashed through the window; the leaves ripped from the limb like a flock of butterflies, seized and crumpled.  The angel’s mildness had been destroyed, shot through by the raw flood of air and the stab of wood.  The green mysterious air had entered my lungs, and I seemed hell-bent on expelling it.  The noise in my ears increased to a roar as I saw Father Martin rush toward me, his bathrobe flapping behind him.  The sanctuary collapsed in black dots; I saw nothing more.

BY Marly Youmans

descendant Walks In Steps Of POW Who Fled Captivity

“CAPTIVE! The Story of David Ogden and the Iroquois,” by Jack Harpster and Dr. Ken Stalter, the Oneonta surgeon and Ogden descendant, has just been published by Greenwood Publishing Group.

Joseph Brant – the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait hangs in The Fenimore Art Museum – comes off well in “Captive!”
The story of David Ogden and his ordeal is one of many similar stories of people being captured by the Iroquois during the American Revolution as it played out in Central New York.  Among the other such captivity ordeals of local interest is that of Daniel McCollum of Middlefield Centre, who was taken at a young age and recovered many years later. 
In that sense, the ordeal of David Ogden may not be unique; what is unique is how well Ogden’s ordeal has been documented and how well it is recreated in this book.
The best source of the Odgen experience is indeed from Ogden himself, who related his tale to Josiah Priest in 1840.  It is on this narrative that Harpster and Stalter (a descendant of Ogden) base much of their fine work. 
The basics of the tale are rather straightforward.  For safety, Ogden’s family went from Otego to Cherry Valley, by way of Newtown-Martin, or Middlefield Center, during the early stages of the American Revolution.  They were in Cherry Valley during the Massacre. 

Ogden descendant, surgeon and author Ken Stalter
Ogden enlisted in the war effort and was captured by the Iroquois, led
by Joseph Brant, on March 2, 1781, while chopping wood for Fort Stanwix (Utica).  He had to endure a winter march to Fort Niagara, where he and other captives had to run a gauntlet.  He was adopted into an Indian family, who, after he proved a poor surrogate for their dead son, was given back to the Tories.  From thence he ended up in Oswego, where he escaped and literally ran back to Warren’s Bush, where his family had made their home.
Throughout the book, the authors make a point of differentiating how Tories and the Iroquois treated prisoners of war. To a great extent, the Iroquois were generally more humane in terms of keeping prisoners well fed and comfortable, notwithstanding forced winter marches and the running of gauntlets. Indeed, in general, the Iroquois are treated quite sympathetically throughout this book.  Even Joseph Brant, leader of the Iroquois who was reviled by Americans for much of the 19th century, is shown to be a much more decent warrior and much less barbarous then early works have portrayed.
To their credit, Harpster and Stalter do not merely retell the tale as Priest told it.  Through extensive primary and secondary source research they have been able to flesh out many more particulars about Ogden’s life and what his captivity may have really been like.  To be sure, to do this there is a fair amount of “filler” which helps to bring the people in the book to life. 
For example, there is a detailed description of the Indian Yaup early in the text which can be based on nothing more than a supposition of what this Iroquois looked like and could have been wearing.
This book makes admirable use of primary source material to tell Ogden’s story more completely than did Priest.  Ample use of the Brant manuscripts, the Campbell Family Papers, the Haldimand Papers, and the orderly books of the Fourth and Second New York Regiments among other documents was made.  These sources give the book both an air of authority and reliability. 
Among the highlights of this book is the detailed telling of David Odgen’s run to freedom from Oswego to Cherry Valley.  This part of the story is told vividly in light of Stalter’s own experience retracing his ancestor’s steps.  I am at a loss to think of many historians who have taken the time to recreate such a trek made by their subjects.
On the whole, this book is an excellent retelling of an aspect of the American Revolution that is not often heard.  This is a  personal tale of one man’s harrowing experience and through his experience it helps shed light on other aspects of the human toll of the American Revolution.
In the hands of Harpster and Stalter, the tale comes alive and reads both as historical narrative and as well-crafted fiction.  In the reading, one could easily lose sight of the fact that this is a true tale and not a novel.  The story moves at a fast pace and, as the title implies, “CAPTIVE!” is captivating.

Dominick J. Reisen is author of “Middlefield and the Settling of the New York Frontier” and past president of the Otsego County Historical Association.

Spooky, Special GLIMMERGLASS

Under Its Spell, Marly Youmans Writes, And Writes...

Jim Kevlin/
Kingfisher Tower and the source of the Susquehanna are among the locales that have figured in Marly Youmans poems, novels and stories.


‘T here’s something very cozy, being up in your room, writing, when it’s snowing outside,” Marly Youmans said the other day, sitting in the back room, a modern kitchen attached to one of Cooperstown’s earliest homes at Main Street’s east end.
Up there one night – it was a Twelfth Night, Epiphany’s eve – she looked out and there were 12 deer, led by a stag, crossing the bridge over the Susquehanna River.

I saw the twelve crossing the bridge.
They paused to meet my eye
Before floating along the ridge
Where river mansions lie

Youmans – she’s a prolific writer, with numerous novels and books of poetry to her name, and six more books (including “Glimmerglass,” a novel) at various publishers – didn’t intend to find herself here.
She was born in Aiken, S.C., the daughter of a professor of analytical chemistry, and was raised in Louisiana, Kansas and Delaware before returning South to Cullowhee, N.C., where her
father taught at Western Carolina.
“I was a passionate reader,” she remembers. “I was wild to read.  I didn’t go anywhere without a book.”
She graduated from Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., did graduate work at Brown and Chapel Hill, and in the 1980s found herself teaching at SUNY Potsdam, an associate professor.
There, she met Michael T. Miller.  The couple moved to Albany for his medical school.  They had married and, while pregnant with her first child, she wrote her first novel, “Little Jordan,” (1995), which begins with a 13-year-old girl finding a little girl’s body along a river in the South.
She had sent the manuscript to David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston, never thinking it would be rejected.  “I was just very innocent, because I was a poet.”  It wasn’t.
The couple moved to Cooperstown for her husband’s residency at Bassett and, pregnant with her daughter, Rebecca Miller (a CCS grad, now a student at Bard), wrote “Catherwood” (1996) in the backyard of their Fernleigh Drive home, listening to her son play.  (Son Ben Miller is now a college student in the Carolinas; son Nate Miller is a CCS eighth grader.)

On chilly days the women cut and sewed around the fireplace, but on sunny days they carried a bed rug outside and sewed on the grass.  Baby Edmund would lie on his back, clouds reflected in his round eyes.  When Cath held the child, she imagined the two babies sitting close together, one unborn, separated from the other only by a narrow wall.

In “Catherwood,” inspired by the woods and terrain between here and Albany, the heroine goes to visit a neighbor, gets disoriented and spends months in the wilderness. It was a Literary Guild alternate.
“I thought of it as a souvenir of Cooperstown,” she said, “because I would never be coming back.”
The family moved to UNC Chapel Hill where Miller was head resident.  He then served a fellowship at Duke, before joining a practice in Greenville, N.C.  When that didn’t seem to be working out, “I just knew we were going back.”  She told her husband, “I would never live north of Cooperstown,” and here they are.  He is a Bassett neurologist.
Busy enough with two kids, she plunged into a Civil War novel, “The Wolf Pit” (2001), set in the Union prison camp at Elmira, visiting the scene, exploring archival records.  She would write until 4 a.m., then get up at 7 to get Ben and Rebecca ready for school.
“When I’m writing,” she said, “I think about it all the time.”
The South.  Elmira.  The wild Upstate woods.  In “Ingledove” (2006), Youmans created Adantis, a fantasy forest world, where Ingledove accompanies her brother in search of a serpent demon.  “Val/Orson” (2009), the tale of a stolen twin, plays out among the Sequoias.
“Am I whimsical?” she asks of these various settings.  “I just get easily bored.  A lot of writers write the same novel over again.  I’m not interested in that.”
Edward Taylor, “our only metaphysical poet,” influenced her, as have Indian captivity narratives, “a lot of Puritan writings,” Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales,” and – of course – Cooperstown and Otsego Lake.

The creek surged above the bank – the boy was gone – and she flashed away, her feet sliding on patches of ice, past the cottage with its seven doors wide open, past the firs, and through the formal stone gateway with its arch and ironwork griffins.  A wave tangled with her feet, slammed her to the ground.  She picked herself up and raced on in deepening water.

“Glimmerglass,” due to be published next year in the U.K. – “one of my stranger books” – is set in a fictionalized version of that stone gatehouse on Route 80, across from Pierstown Road.  (The Rev. Sam Abbott, former Christ Church, Cooperstown, rector, and his wife, Edith, lived there when they moved to town, and Marly got to know the house quite well.)
“It’s the story of a woman who’s a failed painter, never been married.  She doesn’t like her life.  She comes to Cooperstown and thinks she can begin again.”
Not to ruin the anticipation, suffice it to say it involved a young man and scenes “on the lake and under the lake,” Youmans said.
Fans or would-be fans will have the chance to hear Marly talk about her work at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the Village Library of Cooperstown, along with novelists Alice Lichtenstein of Oneonta and Peg Leon of Middlefield’s Beaver Meadow section.
Or you can look forward to “A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage,” based on her father, Hubert’s, early life as a sharecropper’s son who ran away from home repeatedly, then serve in World War II as a tailgunner.  Even before publication, it won Mercer University Press’ Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for 2010.
Or you can plunge into the poems, stories or novels for more depictions of local scenes, however obliquely, of Kingfisher Tower, the source of the Susquehanna, Hidden Island...

At midnight I went down to the lake, and there
I saw the Northern Lights as seven swords
Of long-dead kings that glimmered in the sky.
They were as thin and cold as icicles,
Set evenly above a shoal of cloud—
The winter’s glittering eyes drew low to see,
Its glories made into one burning look.
I stepped onto the marble arrowhead
That points the way to North forevermore,
And though I stood below a canopy
Close-crowded with the bright burrs of the stars,
And though I held my love, and though our children
Were safe and sleeping at my back, I met
And knew a loneliness beyond all heal.

Meanwhile, Marly Youmans will keep writing.  “It’s how I navigate through my life.”

Editor’s Note:  The excerpts are, respectively, from “The Kirkyard Deer,” “Catherwood,” “Glimmerglass” and “The Exile’s Track.”  “Catherwood” is a novel; the rest are poems.