Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs and artwork from people in all parts of New York State. Voices is the Societys membership magazine. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Join NYFS today to receive this new membership magazine!
Voices features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs, and artwork drawn from people in all parts of New York State, folklorists and non-folklorists alike. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Informative columns on subjects such as legal issues, photography, sound and video recording, archiving, ethics, and the nature of traditional art and life appear on a regular basis.
|Look inside ⇓
VOICES, Vol. 41, Spring-Summer 2015
What always strikes me about
Voices is its clarity and openness,
both in design and content. It’s
inviting, lively, and readable and has
plenty of variety. It presents artists
and communities with respect
and sensitivity, yet one learns too
about what folklorists do and who
they are. Voices gives a picture of
New York State and its people that
cannot be found elsewhere.
—Anna Lomax Wood, Director,
Association for Cultural Equity
LISTEN to New York Folklore Society’s executive director, Ellen McHale interviewed by Steve Black for his radio show, “Periodical Radio,” about Voices.
⇐LOOK INSIDE back issues of Voices
FROM THE EDITOR
From the Spring–Summer
2015 issue of Voices:
An explosion of pollen
sent us to the hospital
one May morning. A
long winter ended suddenly
temperatures and soaking
showers! Spring flowers
enthusiastically casting pollen into the
air, covering porches and cars in a fine yellow
dust. Heaven for those awaiting spring.
Hell for those suffering from allergies and
Many years ago, my wife’s difficulties were
with all those cherry blossoms, azaleas, and
other warm weather exotics in Washington,
DC. “Up North,” we wait for winter’s end as
crocuses and daffodils, more often than not,
poke up through snow.
That morning the fruit trees, suddenly
in bloom, were quite a sight, but the small
flowers of oaks and maples especially
caught my attention. “Tree flowers?” You
remember the acorns you used in fights as
a kid, and maple seeds you’d break in half, peel open, and stick to your nose—the fruits
of these small flowers. Millions of blossoms
softened the once bare trees on distant hills.
Poor Nancy, her eyes almost swollen shut,
could not appreciate the view.
Flowers of my childhood in the mid-
Hudson Valley included forsythia, its golden
flowers bursting forth before its new leaves
opened. It grew like a weed in our yard,
generating a new bush wherever a weeping
branch touched the ground. Shadblow,
or serviceberry, another early bloomer, was
said to mark “the shad run”—the migratory
fish swimming up the Hudson to spawn. I
often picked daisies, buttercups, black-eyed Susans, and other wildflowers for bouquets
for my mother.
An elderly neighbor gave my dad a variety
of young lilac plants with blossoms
of purple, white, and a deep French blue,
that grew to become a hedge alongside the
yard. What a sweet, heavenly scent! The still
young lilac bushes offered only few blossoms,
though, so we kids had to find others
to make bouquets for Mother’s Day. After
Sunday School, we’d walk the mile home
from church, crossing neighbors’ yards of
the village. About halfway, we’d pass through
an archway of a tremendous lilac hedge, so
loaded with purple and white blossoms that
the branches almost touched the ground.
Tolerant neighbors smiled from behind their
curtains, as we broke off armloads of scented
blooms to proudly carry home, where we
filled large vases for our grand bouquets.
These days, vases of lilacs are not good
for my wife’s allergies. We find common interest
in another flower of early May. Just
when yards and fields begin to green, in
some places vast swaths of gold overtake
the green. The dandelions have bloomed!
Opening for only a week or so, this humble
flower provides for our springtime ritual—
Nancy’s dad made dandelion wine north
of Syracuse years ago, and when we first
moved back to the upper Hudson Valley, a
neighbor served us some at a dinner party. A
local wine-making store sponsors an annual
contest. Still, it’s not a common activity.
Farm fields with acres of flowers are the
best picking. Early in my wine-making career,
I received permission to pick flowers
from the matriarch of a farm. While I was
filling my bucket, her angry son confronted
me, a perceived trespasser: “Just what do
you think you’re doing?” I humbly replied,
“Picking dandelions, sir.” We became fast
friends, though he refused my offer of a
bottle of the future product. Now each
spring Nancy and I receive hearty waves and
smiles from passing vehicles.
Patience is necessary. Some say to gather
the entire yellow blossom head; others say
use only the yellow petals pulled out of the green calyx. I pick, agreeing with some that a bit
of green adds to the final product. It also
fills the bucket faster. Sliced oranges, lemons,
and fresh ginger go into the dandelion
flower tea that steeps for five days, covered
with a cloth to keep bugs out. My daughter
laughs at childhood memories of Dad’s
stinky concoctions in buckets in the kitchen.
Nowadays, she and her college friends enjoy
The dandelion tea is then strained, the
liquid boiled with 10–15 pounds of sugar,
depending on whether dry or sweeter wine
is desired. When cooled, yeast is added to
start the conversion of much of the sugar to
alcohol. For one of my first batches, I used
Euell Gibbons’ recipe in Stalking the Wild
Asparagus that called for cake yeast spread
on toast to be floated on the tea. Now I use
champagne yeast, but not the additives some
winemakers use to kill wild yeast, stabilize
the wine, and hurry the process. The golden
liquid is then siphoned into a 5-gallon glass
carboy with an airlock for an oxygen-free
environment that allows the fermentation
gases to escape.
More patience. Leave it alone in the cool
dark of my stone cellar. Transfer to another
carboy to help clarify the wine. Transfer
again into cleaned, recycled wine bottles.
Seal with new corks. By fall, this cottage
wine is drinkable, but far better if aged longer,
even a few years.
An hour of driving, another hour or so
in the ER that May morning. The swelling
subsided. Heart rate was normal. The pollen
count this spring was off the charts, the
doctor agreed. All too soon the snow will
return, and a glass of dandelion wine by the
fire will remind us that spring will also come
again. We hope that perhaps the flowers
will bloom with less exuberance next year.
Meanwhile, let’s have another glass of dandelion
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library
The taxpayers are hollering,
and the state’s contribution
to this wonderful little
magazine has been
drastically cut. Those of
us who read it all the way
through have to all chip in.
—Pete Seeger, musician and activist,
Beacon, New York
VISIT our online gallery bookstore to purchase back issues.
|Meet Todd DeGarmo, Voices Acquisitions Editor|
Todd DeGarmo is the acquisitions editor for Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, leading an editorial team which includes Ellen McHale as executive editor, Patricia Mason as copy editor, and Laurie Longfield as Voices’ manager. Todd took over this editorship from Dr. Eileen Condon who served as acquisitions editor until 2007.
Todd is the founding director of the Center for Folklife, History and Cultural Programs at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Todd is a former board member and past president of the New York Folklore Society. He brings a wealth of knowledge and prior experience to the position of acquisitions editor, including a knowledge of Japanese culture, Adirondack studies, tourism, and architectural studies.
Send Your Story
Did you know that Voices publishes
creative writing, including creative
fiction (such as short stories), creative
nonfiction (such as memoirs
and life/work stories), and poetry?
We also publish artistic and ethnographic
photography and artwork, in
addition to research-based articles on
New York State folk arts and artists.
If you are one of New York’s many
traditional artists or working in a traditional
boat building, traditional healing,
instrument making, firefighting,
and nursing, to name a few—please
consider sharing your life or work
story with the readers of Voices: The
Journal of New York Folklore. Check
out our new column heading First
Person, which spotlights folk artists
and folk arts workers, giving creative
people space in each issue to share
their life stories in their own words.
First Person allows people to share
the reasons they have spent a lifetime
supporting or recreating New York’s
diverse traditions, passing them
down through generations—whether
it’s gardening, carving, roots music,
village dancing, egg decorating,
weaving, quilting, fiddling, traditional
singing, basketry, ethnic foodways,
traditional calligraphy, or home altar
building. Email the
acquisitions editor of Voices, at
Check our submission guidelines for authors.
Send your letter to the editor here
writers. We write
every day: monographs
articles, field notes,
festival and event brochures,
grant applications, final
reports, press releases, proposals. In fact,
I would say that time spent writing is more
than fifty percent of any folklorist’s annual
cycle of work. The essentials of folklorethe ethnographic materialare fundamental
to a great story. As any fieldworker can
attest, entering into the personal experience
of another individual is expansive and illuminating.
The everyday becomes novel when
viewed from the viewpoint of the uninitiated.
The job of the folklorist is to translate
that experience to those who may not get
the opportunity to go through it themselves
and to help the reader to find meaning in the
—Ellen McHale, PhD, Executive Director, NYFS
|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