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Voices, Spring-Summer 2012:
Follow the links on the Table of Contents to see articles and columns.
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Voices SS2012


Volume 38

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Growing Community in the Courthouse Community Garden
by Annette Nielsen

11 The Creamsicle
by Helen Condon

14 Sullivan County’s Diehl Homestead Farm: A Living Testament to the Heritage and Dedication of Six Generations on the Land
by Benjamin Halpern

20 Keeping Watch: The Practice of Poetry
by Margaret R. Yocom

26 Long Ago and Far Away
by Teri Blasko and Jeff Durstewitz

32 Local Sustainability in the Battenkill Valley
Focus of Folklorist Retreat in Washington County

by Todd DeGarmo

38 “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!”
An Erie Canal Music Celebration

by Lisa Overholser

Departments and Columns

12 Upstate: Over the River and through the Woods...
by Varick A. Chittenden

13 Downstate: Nations in Neighborhoods
by Steve Zeitlin and Amanda Dargan

19 Play: The Legendary Hall of Fame
by John Thorn

25 Good Spirits: Spirits of the Falls
by Libby Tucker

37 Foodways: Grandmother’s Chili Sauce
by Carol Gregson

44 Voices in New York: Grupo Rebolú
by Gabrielle Hamilton

46 NYFS News and Notes

48 Reviews

Cover: Milking time at Pete Diehl’s farm, 2010. Photo courtesy of the author, Benjamin Halperin.

From the Spring-Summer 2012 issue of Voices:

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has been the inspiration for my work in public sector folklife for some 30 years.

What is Folklife?
The everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation:

The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to

Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories

Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking

Our childhood games and rhymes

The way we celebrate life
  – from birthing our babies to honoring our dead

The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
  – religious, medical, magical, and social

Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions

The way we decorate our world
  – from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingoes in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies

The crafts we create by hand
  – crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs

Patterns and traditions of work
  – from factory to office cubicle

The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group

Folklife is part of everyone’s life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.

In the end ... we are all folk.
American Folklife Center
Library of Congress, Washington, DC

In the mid-eighties, I began my formal study of folklife under the guidance of John Michael Vlach at George Washington University. Academic conversations about giants of the field, opposing theories, conflicting definitions were a part of the excitement of learning a new academic discipline. Yet an essential, practical component for shaping my own sense of folklife was delving into the shelves of books, pamphlets, and exhibit catalogs arranged by region in the rooms of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress. A cornucopia of human activity was found on those shelves, all considered folklife. Under-the-radar customs and beliefs. Creative individuals from many groups. The focus on the small details, the nuances of culture. Not just old, but new and changing. Grassroots. Diversity. Inclusiveness.

Some 10 years later, in the mid-nineties, AFC helped create my home base, the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library. Crandall’s Board of Trustees was inspired to take a bold step for a public library in upstate New York. Seeing what was being done by their federal equivalent in Washington, DC, they could see local possibilities. They hired staff, carved out space, created a new department. Collecting the folklife of our neighbors could be preserved and studied in our own regional archives. Sharing folklife through performance, workshop, and display would be embraced by neighbors and visitors alike, and enrich the lives of our present and future public.

Today, I continue to draw strength from the AFC. “What is Folklife?”—I love how AFC staff answer the question, and leave it open to each of us to add our own bit of wisdom. It is inclusive, not narrow and confining. It has elements of old and new. It invites the individual to acknowledge the culture of the group in its many permutations.

As the newest member of the current Voices team, I am humbled by the folks who, for almost 70 years, have made New York Folklore (the Quarterly, the Journal and now, Voices) a place-in-print for celebrating our many diverse voices in New York State. We will continue to honor this tradition, and challenge you, the reader, to be inspired. We invite you to search your own life with AFC’s “What is Folklife?” as your guide. We all belong to many groups with their traditions, celebrations, crafts, and stories. We encourage you to work with us to share this folklife, to possibly inspire the next generation. We welcome your submissions with open arms. In the end... we are all folk.

Todd DeGarmo
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library


All of the over 300 students, staff, and teachers from Salem Central School in the Courthouse Community Garden on the inaugural Planting
Day on June 5, 2009. Photo: Annette Nielsen

The Diehl Homestead, 2010. Photo: Benjamin Halpern

Rex and Proteus floats were transported to New York for the Floral Fete.

Lunch with regionally sourced ingredients at Battenkill Valley retreat. Photo: Todd DeGarmo

Spring–Summer 2012, Volume 38:1–2

Acquisitions Editor
   Todd DeGarmo
Copy Editor
   Patricia Mason
Administrative Manager
   Laurie Longfield
   Mary Beth Malmsheimer
   Eastwood Litho

Editorial Board: Varick Chittenden, Lydia Fish, José Gomez-Davidson, Hanna Griff-Sleven, Nancy Groce, Lee Haring, Bruce Jackson, Christopher Mulé, Libby Tucker, Kay Turner, Dan Ward, Steve Zeitlin

Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore is published twice a year by the New York Folklore Society, Inc.

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