Category Archives: Public History

Jumping The Alleys: The Age of Pinsetters


By on

0 Comments

The Historians LogoThis week on The Historians Podcast, Dave Greene and Bob Cudmore discuss bowling and pinsetting during the twentieth century. Pinsetters were boys and girls who manually set up bowling pins in commercial alleys before the advent of pinsetting machines. Fifty years ago a typical wage was ten cents a game, about the cost of a soda from the soda machines of the day. Pinsetters often “jumped alleys,” handling two bowling lanes at a time. Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

North Country’s Hal Smith, Mayberry’s Affable Town Drunk


By on

0 Comments

For millions of people, holidays are all about going home, returning to one’s roots of family and friends. That concept was epitomized by a North Country man who attained great fame in Hollywood, but to his great credit never forgot the home folks — and to their credit, the home folks never forgot him. Whenever he returned to the North Country, or old friends visited him in California, there was always an exchange of love, admiration, and deep appreciation.

He was born in northern Michigan in 1916 as Harold John Smith, about as anonymous a name as one can imagine, and likely one that stirs no sense of recognition. But if Otis Campbell were mentioned, many would instantly recall Mayberry’s affable town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show. Continue reading

24 New National Historic Landmarks Named


By on

3 Comments

department-of-interiorAs the National Park Service enters its second century of service, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the designation of 24 new National Historic Landmarks.

The National Historic Landmarks Program recognizes historic properties of exceptional value to the nation and promotes the preservation efforts of federal, state, and local agencies and Native American tribes, as well as those of private organizations and individuals. The program is one of more than a dozen administered by the National Park Service that provide states and local communities technical assistance, recognition and funding to help preserve our nation’s shared history, and create close-to-home recreation opportunities. Continue reading

The Silhouette Lady of Bedford Gardens


By on

0 Comments

01phoebehazlewoodA century ago, an emerging North Country artist made a name for herself in Jefferson County, but it was the many names she wore through seven decades that made her story so difficult to trace. She began life in North Dakota in 1883 as Phoebe Alice Weeks. During her marriage (around 1910) to Carl Warren, she was known as Phoebe W. Warren. During her second marriage, to Lewis Perry Hazlewood of Sackets Harbor in 1916, she was known as Phoebe Hazlewood (often misspelled as Hazelwood), but her middle name appeared variously as Alice, Weeks, and Warren, or the initials “A” or “W.” Decades later, there was a third marriage to Henry Morse, during which she again was described by various names, the most common of which were Phoebe Hazlewood Morse and Phoebe Weeks Morse.

What’s most important of course, is that she did in fact make a name for herself in the art world. From the time she was very young, Phoebe gravitated towards artwork created by cutting out paper shapes, which were then displayed over an offsetting background. For instance, a cutout from black paper was presented over a background of white paper. The method was known generally as silhouette. Continue reading

The Devil’s Kitchen: Warren County’s Nightmare for Drivers


By on

0 Comments

devilskitchenThe colorful name Devil’s Kitchen has been used in numerous book titles, restaurant names, and for hiking destinations in at least seven states. Close to home in upstate New York, we have a Catskill version, described here as “quite possibly the most hellacious [bicycle] climb in New York State.” The same area, with cliffs, numerous waterfalls, and slippery slopes, has seen many hiker deaths as well.

But there’s another Devil’s Kitchen farther north, located about midway on Route 9 between Chestertown and Warrensburg. Despite lacking the cliffs and stunning landscapes featured at other identically named places, deaths have occurred at the Adirondack site—which today exists in name only. Continue reading

Erie Canalway Touts NPS Centennial Accomplishments


By on

0 Comments

cyclists-on-the-erie-canalway-trail-near-bushnells-basinAs the National Park Service embarks on its second century, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in New York is celebrating the accomplishments of its centennial celebration.

Erie Canalway NHC programs and visitor information helped thousands of visitors, students, and residents find their way to New York’s legendary canals, Erie Canalway Trail, historic sites, and canal communities in 2016. Continue reading

Being A NYC Yellow Cab Driver in the 1960s


By on

2 Comments

jules-stewart-cab-driverThe afternoon I crashed my Yellow Cab into a fire hydrant in West 17th Street I discovered that Gotham Hospital, where I happened to be born, had long ceased to exist. That was not the hospital blown up by The Joker in The Dark Knight. Mine was quietly shut and bulldozed in the 1960s. But this perhaps helps explain a Batman fixation that endures to this day, the 77th birthday of Gotham’s caped hero. Continue reading