Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bethlehem barns

I am thinking about barns this morning.  Bethlehem has a lot of them.  Historically, we are a farming town and barns are an important part of farm life. There is a great book called Barns of New York by Cynthia Falk (  Read and you will learn the difference between Dutch barns and English barns (both of which you can find and compare in Bethlehem.) and the importance of other agricultural buildings. Above is one of my favorite barns in town.  It is on New Scotland Road in Slingerlands. It is a majestic carriage barn with plenty of room for hay storage above. It perfectly suits the Victorian style main house (altho to my eye the colors clash!).  Other favorites are the Dutch barn on Elm Avenue and the big barn complex at the Meyers farm near the Jericho Drive in.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our Towne Bethlehem Then & Now for June

Be sure to visit Our Town Bethlehem for my Then and Now article about the Cedar Hill Observation Post.

Getting started

If any one is reading this, bear with me while I figure things out....

I tried to test drive this whole blog thing with a word document - see below for how well that worked out.

Tuesday June 25, 2013

So much for posting every day….I can’t even seem to do it on my test blog….

I am reading a book called Consider the Fork and learning about how culture and history effects how we prepare and eat food.  Facinating.  Today had me considering the recipe that calls for beating eggs (can’t remember if it is yolks or whites) for three hours .  Having the labor to beat and chop and grind food smooth was a mark of the wealthy.  I think the author said something like “refined food for refined people.”   So now that smooth refined food or as we like to call it now a days ”processed foods” are for the poor folk and we’ve got the raw food movement that is for the rich folk.  Oh how times have changed.


Thursday May 23, 2013

So yesterday I had a wonderful, if sweaty, time on the roof a Cedar Hill carriage house trying to recreate a photo from the 1940s Cedar Hill Observation Post.  The current owners have transformed the building into a cozy and inviting single family home.  In the process they made it difficult to access the roof and cupola where volunteers listened and watched for enemy aircraft 24/7 during WWII.  Pull down the attic stairs, plop your butt down in the dark at the top of the stairs, swing your legs over, hunch your way over to another hole in the ceiling and then hoist yourself into the light filled octagonal shaped cupola.  From which the door has been removed. So it is over and out the window to the roof.  A step back and it was easy to imagine where the listening device was located, however the trees have grown up so much, the Hudson River was not visible.  And boy was it hot. But I got my shot which you can see in the July issue of Our Towne Bethlehem -  part of my Then and Now series.


Friday May 17, 2013

Fear – that seems to be what it was all about.  The warden’s manual (actually from the 1950s) lists the major hazards of atomic warfare as fire, blast, radiation, and panic (which sounds like a sci-fi book series).   Reading all this not too much after the bombing at the Boston Marathon got me thinking about how history tells us what has changed (nuclear bombs vs home made pressure cooker bombs) and what has stayed the same (our desire to protect ourselves – duck and cover drills in the classroom – invasive scans at the airport). 


Thursday May 16, 2013

WWII seems to be the topic of interest this week. 

My daughter is studying for her AP world history by listening to series of youtube videos.  This morning in the car it was WWII, when did it really start – and why do historian’s teach about war? because they usually start and stop at a specific moment – then the professor goes on to d-bunk that myth

Locally in Bethlehem I have been looking into Civil Defense and tomorrow will be diving into the town’s archive to find something called The War Council’s Final Report – sounds ominous doesn’t? It is from 1946.  Did you know that the Cedar Hill Observation Post, down near Henry Hudson Park, was active through the war years?  A dedicated group of volunteers manned the post 24 hours a day listening and watching for enemy aircraft.  The anxiety and tension they must have felt – bringing this World War home to little old Bethlehem.  The archive’s civil defense records include lists of emergency billeting facilities, volunteer recruitment cards, and a warden’s manual.  All point to an active home front in Bethlehem during WWII.  What personal stories will come out of those records?  Stay tuned….