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Voices, Fall-Winter 2012:
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Volume 38

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Drummer, Give Me My Sound: Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Frisner Augustin
by Lois Wilcken

13 Flash Fiction
Stories by Joseph Sciorra

14 Keeping the Adirondack Arts, Crafts, & Traditions Alive
by Jim Mandle

22 Andy Statman, National Heritage Fellow: Innovating across Musical Worlds
by Pete Rushefsky

30 Rounding up the Memories: Personal Histories of the Dude Ranch Days in Warren County, New York
by Annie S. Yocum

38 Hanging on to Tradition
by Andy Flynn

Departments and Columns

12 View from the Waterfront: Eyes on Sandy
by Nancy Solomon

20 Upstate: Sir David and the Covered Dish Supper
by Varick A. Chittenden

21 Downstate: The Humor Pill
by Steve Zeitlin

28 Play: Who Remembers Pushball?
by John Thorn

37 Good Spirits: Children Who See and Hear Ghosts
by Libby Tucker

44 Voices in New York: Dawnland
by Lisa Overholser

46 Foodways: Life with a Gingerbread Man Cookie
by Elsie Borden DeGarmo-Smith

47 NYFS News and Notes

Frisner Augustin
Cover: Portrait of Frisner Augustin in a Vodou temple in Brooklyn, 1998. See Lois Wilcken’s article, “Drummer, Give Me My Sound: Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Frisner Augustin.” Photo by Martha Cooper. Courtesy of City Lore.

From the Fall-Winter 2012 issue of Voices:

The Schoharie Creek, which has its origins near Windham, NY, feeds the Gilboa Reservoir in Southern Schoharie County. Its waters provide drinking water for New York City, turn the electricity-generating turbines at the New York Power Authority, and are then loosed again to meander up the Schoharie Valley to Schoharie Crossing, the site of an Erie Canal Aqueduct, where the waters of the Schoharie Creek enter the Mohawk River. Because it is a “captive river” (in that its waters do not flow unheeded and are interrupted by the dam at Gilboa), the Schoharie Creek in summertime is sleepy and unhurried. In my little hamlet along the Schoharie, summertime visitors clamber over rocks to float in the dwindling swimming holes, which shrink as the summer heat intensifies.

In August 2011, the Schoharie Valley experienced mass destruction and loss of property as Hurricane Irene barreled through the northern Catskills region and down the Valley. Originally forecast as headed for New York City and Long Island, Hurricane Irene caught residents unaware, as torrential rains engorged creek beds and toppled trees, and strong winds tore roofs from buildings. The Schoharie Creek swelled to over a mile wide through the Schoharie Valley, flooding homes and businesses in numerous Catskills communities and destroying historic landmarks such as Blenheim’s historic Covered Bridge that had stood since 1855 as the longest singlespan covered wooden bridge in the world. The Schoharie’s waters then accelerated to the rate of flow of Niagara Falls as its path narrowed, uprooting houses and trees, before bursting onto the Mohawk River, just west of Schenectady to flood Rotterdam Junction and the historic Stockade section of Schenectady.

A year later, in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the metropolitan New York area, causing widespread flooding, wind, and storm damage. Clean up from this storm is taking place throughout the entire Northeast Corridor of the United States and will continue for years to come. In its aftermath, folklorists around the metropolitan New York area have been meeting to talk about their communities’ responses to Sandy and the role that culture plays in one’s response to climate change. Dubbed “SandyLore,” this group has expanded to include folklorists in other parts of New York State who were hit by earlier storms, such as Irene. Climate change and cultural sustainability were the theme of the 2013 New York State Folk Arts Roundtable that took place in Schenectady in May. Other initiatives exploring the intersections of cultural sustainability and responses to climate change will be ongoing.

Ellen McHale, PhD
Executive Director
New York Folklore Society

From the Fall-Winter 2012 issue of Voices:

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m the one who asked his mom to share her Gingerbread Cookie recipe and Christmas story as guest contributor for our new Foodways column. And, why not? It’s really not that we couldn’t find someone else [be in touch, if you’re interested!]. Rather, I think it’s good practice and quite humbling to turn the cultural investigator glass upon oneself from time to time, and to participate in at least a bit of the intimate sharing that we routinely ask our subjects to do for our profession.

The Christmas of my youth is an example of a wonderfully layered holiday tradition, with religious and secular elements, family and community all intertwined. We were not immune to the Christmas of 1960s–1970s. We got caught up in the trappings of a rosy cheeked Santa with a reindeer sleigh led by Rudolph, a real tree decorated with colored glass ornaments and aluminum tinsel, multi-colored lights outlining the house, and the many TV specials. We kids expected the overload of toys and gifts, marking up the Sears Christmas Catalog as a wish list of our many desires. I remember being quite shaken when my older brother, home from prep school, labeled it a “manufactured holiday of corporate commercial interests.”

Of course, we knew “the real meaning of Christmas,” as recited in the final scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It reinforced what we were learning at our United Methodist Church—in an Advent season full of Gospel stories, familiar hymns and carols, costumed pageants, and choir cantatas, leading to the finale of the candlelight service on Christmas Eve and the birth of the baby Jesus, adored by his earthly parents and surrounded by the gaggle of shepherds, wise men, and angels.

But it was Mom’s own personal touch that created the magic of the season. Her credo of reaching out to others, caring for the lonely and downtrodden, even though she, herself, might be grieving for lost husbands. Along with the gingerbread man tradition, she had us, at an early age, sending our own homemade Christmas cards and gifts to extended family, including many elderly folk in town.

Her large, open house Christmas Eve buffets always ended with a reading of Clement Moore’s The Night before Christmas by Miss Lulu Kisselbrack, with all the animation one would expect from a beloved second grade teacher. Everyone left happy, driving off to the candlelight services at various churches in town, wishing each other a “Merry Christmas.”

Folklife is not neat and sterile. It’s messy and personal and wonderful. People follow the ritual but also make it their own. I encourage you to turn the glass upon yourself and think about sharing some of your personal traditions with us.

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


Pack baskets

Andy Statman

Cowboy at rodeo

saranac winter festival

Fall–Winter 2012, Volume 38:3–4

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

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