Imagine the drama of the moment: in a courtroom, Edward Perkins battling against the city of Beacon, New York, desperate to win on behalf of his poor family. The charge? They had been cold-heartedly evicted from their apartment by city officials, and for several chilly, rainy June days, he had searched for new housing.
Meanwhile, Edward’s wife and son suffered and his daughter fell ill, presumably from the terrible living conditions. The damages sought (in 1915) were $15,000 from the city, along with $30,000 from the police chief who had deposited all the family’s belongings on the sidewalk. The $45,000 total was equal to $1.1 million in 2015. Continue reading
Magic rites in the jungle seal the fate of a love triangle in the long-forgotten opera of H. Lawrence Freeman restaged on Friday and Saturday at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Voodoo was composed in 1914 and had its last performance in 1928. The music and libretto come from a composer who was a friend of Scott Joplin. author of more than 20 operas, and founder of the Harlem Renaissance’s Negro Grand Opera Company. The revival features Gregory Hopkins of Harlem Opera Theatre conducting in a production that drew on collaboration with the Harlem Chamber Players and the Morningside Opera. Continue reading
Following his election as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln undertook a train ride to Washington that took him through Albany. He arrived in the city on February 18, 1861 with his wife and three sons.
As their train passed the West Albany railroad shops, an electrical switch was turned off at the nearby Dudley Observatory, causing an electromagnet mounted on the roof of the Capitol in downtown Albany to release a metal ball that slid down a pole, signaling to military officials to start a 21-gun salute in Capitol Park. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with performer and teaching artist Dave Ruch from Buffalo. Ruch will perform traditional and historical songs of New York State at 7 p.m. on Saturday June 13 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site on Route 5-S in Rotterdam Junction, N.Y. The Radio Rounders will entertain as well. The event features beer, wine and snacks and is sponsored by the Schenectady County Historical Society. Listen online here.
The Museum of the City of New York will present Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, a celebration of the City’s role as a center of the folk music revival from its beginnings in the 1930s and 1940s to its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as its continuing legacy.
On Saturday, May 2, 2015 the Clinton County Historical Association and Museum in partnership with the City of Plattsburgh, SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for the Study of Canada, and The Strand Center for the Arts will commemorate film legend Jean Arthur with an all day celebration beginning with the official unveiling of a plaque at her birthplace
Born Gladys Georgiana Greene on October 17, 1900 to Hubert and Hannah Greene, Jean Arthur and her family resided that day at 94 Oak Street and lived in Plattsburgh, NY from 1887 to 1903. She died in 1991. Continue reading
In 1920, Charles Giblyn produced his first film for William Fox. (If the name sounds familiar, William founded Fox Film Corporation in 1915, the forerunner of today’s Fox TV and movie units.) The film, Tiger’s Cub, allowed Giblyn a homecoming of sorts. With his lead actress, Pearl White, who reportedly had the widest following of any star worldwide at the time, he came north for filming in Port Henry, about an hour south of Plattsburgh, where he once lived.
After producing a few more movies, Charles was sent to the West Coast on behalf of Fox, where he continued working. For a brief period, he assumed leadership of the Motion Picture Directors Association, but when Fox reassigned him to more movie projects back East, he surrendered the top spot with the MPDA and headed for New York. Continue reading
Last week, I described what I think is a significant perilous trend facing history and the American culture through the process of hypehnization. I argued that identity in a society nominally based on We the People and e pluribus unum was being replaced by one where people self-identify as hyphenated Americans, with corresponding history classes and museums to reflect these differences.
Diversity resonates in New York history. Take William Johnson, the the British royal agent in the 18th century, and an Irishman. His European world consisted of Dutch, French, English, and German (Palatines), all of whom were distinct from each other, as demonstrated for example, by the French and Indian War. Continue reading
By 1911, Charles Giblyn, now 40, had been acting for more than 20 years and receiving many great reviews for his theater work. That he often stood out was reflected in comments like the following, taken from the pages of the Los Angeles Herald: “Not Yet, But Soon, currently at the Grand Opera House, has just one thing to commend it to theater-goers. This is the acting of Charles Giblyn as a dope fiend. Apart from Mr. Giblyn’s work, the piece is silly, stupid, and boresome.”
He had also managed several stock companies, and in recent years had directed many stage plays and vaudeville shows at LA’s Belasco and other theaters. The experience would serve him well as he plunged headfirst into a new show-business medium: the world of movies. Continue reading
During research, trivial bits of information often lead to the discovery (or uncovering) of stories that were either lost to time or were never told. For instance, did you know that a North Country man once directed Harrison Ford in a movie role as a young adventurer? Or that a coast-to-coast theater star hails from Watertown? Or that a man with regional roots patented a paper toilet-seat protector two decades before it was offered to the public? Or that a northern New York man was once a sensation after posing for a famous calendar? Or that an area resident was the go-to guy for the legendary titans of a very popular American industry? Continue reading
Whitney Armstrong went to Los Angeles in late 1962. In less than a week, he tested for and won the role of Buck Coulter in a new TV series, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, with Kurt Russell among the cast members. After 14 episodes, Whitney was replaced by Charles Bronson.
By this time, his bulky name (Whitney Michael Moore Armstrong) was remade for Hollywood purposes. After jumbling it and dropping the “h” from Whitney, they arrived at Michael Witney. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading
If you’re just a regular Joe or Jane, you’ve probably at some point—say, while lying back in an office chair, or doing the dishes, perhaps mowing the grass—entertained a number of Walter Mitty-like fantasies. You know … stuff like, “What’s it like to be that guy or girl?” For men, that guy could be anything. What’s it like to be the smartest kid in school? The star center on a school basketball team? The ace pitcher on the baseball team? A great running back in football? Better yet, how about doing all that in college? Wow … BMOC, plenty of attention from the girls, the coolest among the guys. Might as well toss in a professional baseball contract … what sports-loving boy doesn’t dream of that? Continue reading
A Montreal-based circus group will perform in a unique historic space in Troy on Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st. F.A.Q. Circus will perform three 55-minute shows in the Troy Gas Light Gasholder Building.
The events are an opportunity to see a remarkable new approach to a traditional circus, inside of one of Troy’s most remarkable historic buildings. Built in 1873, the Gasholder Building is one of only a handful of such structures remaining in the U.S. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features Maria Riccio Bryce, the composer of the musical Hearts of Fire, a work that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the burning of Schenectady by the French and their Indian allies in 1690. The production was staged in 1990 and 1991. Bryce is now re-releasing the CD of the original cast recording. Featuring a cast of 60, the work is a powerful re-telling of the early struggles and sacrifices made by Schenectady’s first inhabitants. The CDs are available at Proctors Gift Shop and The Open Door in Schenectady and at Old Peddlers Wagon and The Bookhound in Amsterdam. Alternatively, CDs may be purchased by sending Maria Riccio Bryce a check for $21 to P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010. Bryce is also the composer of two other major works, Mother I’m Here and the Amsterdam Oratorio. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
The Schenectady County Historical Society will present its seventh season of the Howlin’ at the Moon concert series at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, NY, just west of Schenectady.
The 2015 season includes 12 scheduled evenings of live music, featuring regional folk and bluegrass artists events – one each month on the Full Moon. Continue reading
Malcolm Atterbury, who later became a well-respected character actor in Hollywood, married an Amsterdam woman and built a summer theater in the Adirondacks in the 1930s.
Kirk Douglas came up with his stage name when, as Isadore Demsky, the Amsterdam native was a stage hand and actor at Atterbury’s Tamarack Playhouse in Lakes Pleasant in 1939 and 1940. Continue reading
The Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany will celebrate the tradition of Seanichie, the traditional Irish Storyteller, at an event about the Irish in the Adirondacks featuring musician Dan Berggren and storyteller Joe Doolittle.
The Seanichie were travelers, carrying stories and news between hamlets and families. For the price of a warm meal, they’d share stories of the old ones and lively tales of romance and blarney. Continue reading
A film called “Mohawk” premiered in Amsterdam in 1956 and used some footage from the 1939 movie “Drums Along the Mohawk.” The 1956 movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox.
The movie tells the story of an artist assigned to the Mohawk Valley to paint frontier scenes. The artist is involved romantically with three women. There is a vengeful settler in the film trying to start a war with local Indian people. The film was directed by Kurt Neumann and starred Scott Brady and Rita Gam. Continue reading
On the evening of Saturday, December 6th, during the 58th Annual Holiday Greens Show at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, a special one-night-only performance will take place in the parlors of the historic Hart-Cluett House in downtown Troy.
Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Little Match Girl, Troy–based musicians Katherine and Calvin Young, who perform as Simple Souls, have written a new musical adaptation of the fairy tale, titled The Other Side of Visible. . Performed in the Hart-Cluett House’s front parlor, The Other Side of Visible weaves the historic interior into the fabric of the story creating a unique blend of house concert and theatrical storytelling. Katherine Young’s voice takes the audience on a journey that explores the themes of love, invisibility, and imagination. Continue reading