Veronica Seaver, November 20, 2009

Title

Veronica Seaver, November 20, 2009

Subject

1929
1933
1947
Badger Park
Barbershop
Bassett Hospital
“Big Boat”
Boston, Massachusetts
Chicken
Chris-Craft
Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown, Otsego and the World…as seen by The Badger
Dennis Tallman
Echo
hutch
Ice cream
Ice skating
Main Street
Otsego Lake
Pilar Press
Robert Badger Seaver
Susan Jones Kenyon
Theodore Roosevelt
Trolley Ticketing Office
WWI flyer

Description

Veronica Gil Seaver moved back to Cooperstown, New York to raise her children in the late seventies. The daughter of Spanish and Italian immigrants, she grew up in the village, and recalls the way things were back then. Sharing the layout of the businesses on Main Street, she remembers Cooperstown before the impact of the tourism industry. From dingbat ice cream treats at the soda fountain, to street dances on the waterfront and sledding down Pioneer Street, Veronica demonstrates why she chose to raise her kids in her hometown.

Veronica's love for Otsego Lake is evident in her home located in the former trolley ticketing office at 160 Main Street, where a painting on the wall shows the view over the lake which she used to see from her previous home on Five Mile Mountain. Veronica's husband, Robert B. Seaver is the author of Cooperstown, Otsego and the World...as seen by the Badger, a compilation of his newspaper articles that she helped publish as a book in 2005. Together they enjoyed many activities on the lake, including ice skating and cruising in a 1929 Chris Craft boat.

One of the most unique aspects of the interview is when Veronica describes a kitchen hutch painted by a local folk artist that depicts her life in Cooperstown.

Mrs. Seaver's youthful personality is evident in her speech. She recalls anecdotes through conversations, and often defers to slang. I have attempted to normalize her speech for easier reading, but researchers are encouraged to consult the audio recordings to hear an accurate representation of her excitement in telling these stories.

Creator

Mandy Kritzeck

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2008-11-20

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
28.8mB
audio/mpeg
14.4mB
audio/mpeg
25mB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

10-087

Coverage

Cooperstown, NY
1929-2009

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Mandy Kritzeck

Interviewee

Veronica Seaver

Location

160 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Research and Fieldwork Course (HMUS 520)
Oral History Project Fall 2009
Interview with Veronica Gil Seaver By Mandy Kritzeck
Interviewer: Kritzeck, Mandy
Interviewee: Seaver, Veronica (Gil)
Date: November 20, 2009
Location of Interview: 160 Main Street, Cooperstown, New York
Archive or Library Repository: New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

VS = Veronica Seaver MK = Mandy Kritzeck

 

[START OF PART 1, 0:00]

MK:           

Okay, this is the November 20, 2009 interview of Veronica Seaver by Mandy Kritzeck for the CGP Community Stories Project.  We’re at her home at 160 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York.  So I guess I was wondering, you mentioned that you’ve lived in Cooperstown…you grew up here?

 

VS:           

I was born here.  February 23rd, 1947 at Bassett Hospital when it was just one building – the gray fieldstone building – and actually my mother worked at the hospital, she’d been a nurse there since the ‘30s, and my parents met here, they were married here, they had all their children here.  And so I grew up here living in 27 Pioneer Street, which is a white house across from Tillapaugh Funeral Home, and my parents owned that for over 50 years.

 

MK:           

What was it like growing up around here?

 

VS:           

Well it was very different than today, well, there’s a lot of things that are very similar, but a lot of things are different.  For example the whole – tourism wasn’t an industry until about 30 years ago, and it was very much a working village.  Everyone who lived in the village, worked in the village or around.  My dad was very fortunate, he was an immigrant from Spain, he came here when he was twenty-one, as a houseboy and servant for a wealthy family that lived here in Cooperstown.  And he learned English off the fly, you know just himself, it was very difficult.  But that was 1933, and he came from Spain directly to Cooperstown, where they had a summer home, over on that little road between Nelson Avenue and Pine Boulevard, that little teeny street there – I can’t think of the name. [laugh/coughs]  He worked for them and the man was a cripple so he had to carry him a lot.  That’s why they needed a houseboy.  And he and my mom met here in Cooperstown, and they dated.  She was living in the nurses’ quarters in the basement of the hospital where nurses used to reside and work there.

 

MK:           

And what was her name?

 

VS:           

Her name is Julia Madelone Gil, and my father was Jose Gil.  And my mother’s still alive, she’s at the Thanksgiving Home, she’s ninety-five, and Dad lived to be ninety-three.  They were together there for some years.  But they were hard-working and had a pleasant life here raising their family.  My mother worked at the hospital evenings in the nursery she was well known and helped deliver a lot of babies here with Dr. Severud, who was the O.B. doctor there – Peter Severud, his son, now runs the Scholarship office for the Clark Foundation, he’s my age, I grew up with Peter.  My dad became a mechanic and he worked for Everson and Wick – the car dealership that used to be right across the street where the Lemon Tree Shop is now.  That building was actually a Pontiac Buick Cadillac car dealership.  They used to take the front windows out of that building and drive the cars right in for the showroom.  And then if you go around the back of that building the ramp is still there, where the shop was – where, you know, my dad – he became the head mechanic.  He did well, and my parents, you know, people saved their money.  They paid cash for everything and they saved and saved and were able to not only buy their own home.  Which they totally restored themselves.  But also down across from the Great American is a strip of grass and some trees there now, there used to be a gas station there, and it originally was an Atlantic gas station, and that was built by my Dad.  He had his gas station business for quite a few years, probably twenty-some years, the ‘50s into the ‘60s, mid-‘60s or so.  He did really well, was able to basically retire when he was in his late fifties.  He loved gardening, so he worked for a few people around and sort of did their lawns and gardening for them, just because he like to do that.  And he did that till he was like eighty years old.  In fact the house to the right of the Otesaga, it’s now owned by the Otesaga, that used to be Betty Wright’s house, and her father was Frank Whiting.  Mr. Whiting was the architect for all the gray fieldstone buildings around here that the Clarks have.  And Dad did her gardens, he loved doing her gardens, and they were just beautiful.  So I grew up on Pioneer Street.  When I was a kid, ice-skating was a very big deal in the winter.  Of course being so close to the lake, we used to just – none of the houses were down there – you just walked out on the lake and went skating.  Or the ice skating rink is where the tennis courts for the Otesaga are now – that was the Knox School for Girls then – and that’s where we had ice-skating.  We used to go down there, and the house on the corner there, where Gib and Lynn Vincent live now, that beautiful brick house on that corner of Prospect Place and – there’s that little street – and Lake Street, that’s where Doctor and Mrs. Goodwin – it wasn’t Mrs., they were both doctors – Doctor Cam Goodwin and Doctor Mary Goodwin.  He was a pediatrician, and she was a pediatric psychiatrist, yeah she was an M.D.  Wonderful family, their son Danny is now gone but he was my age, and they had three children.  Jane Goodwin Duel – do you know her? 

 

MK:           

No.

 

VS:           

She’s very active with the SPCA, that’s their only living child left.  Anyway, it was kind of a joke because anybody that got bumps or bruises at the skating rink if you were skating, or something Dr. Goodwin was right there! [laughs]

 

MK:           

So you could go right next door.

 

VS:           

Go get a Band-Aid.  It was very lovely living, you know, you just walked down and went skating.

 

MK:           

Did they do a rink out on the lake?  You just went on the ice?

 

VS:           

Well if you wanted to skate on the lake you just brought your own shovel and kind of shoveled a path in front of you and skated behind it for a while and made a little zig zag and made your little space.  So that was fun.  [6:50]  And then years later when they started doing the winter carnival, when I was an adult, I used to put my kids in the back of my little station wagon with their buddies, and we’d go down and they had car races on the lake.  And we used to zip around during the winter carnival, the key is you never go out of first gear, you just kind of bump the – they had hay piles, and they had this little track.  My late husband and I used to get in his truck and drive the length of the lake once a winter, that was always a big deal.  But you know it’s not safe anymore because of all these new bubble systems – people have bubble systems now, so it’s changed the environment of the ice on the lake.  You have to be very, very careful now, like down at the lakefront, with all the docks, they’ve got bubble systems so the ice isn’t thick.  It used to be solid right up to the banks.  In fact, I wonder about these bubble systems, if they’re good for the lake – for the environment.  It’s normal for a lake to freeze.  And I’m sure it has to do with the temperature for the fish and the growth of the, you know, the environment underneath, and now with these bubble systems, and a lot of private people have them – I mean and I have property on the lake – I don’t think it’s healthy.  I think you should pull your docks and let the natural ice be up to the banks.  So that’s why the fishermen are mostly up by Three-Mile, because that’s their only access to get in there easily.  There used to be tons of fishermen down here by the lakefront park, I mean just tons, and now there’s not many at all, it’s mainly up towards Three and Five Mile, up that way.  So things have changed with that, because of, change.

                        And as far as tourism, we’re talking about tourism, I went way off the track there, but when I was a kid, mainly the early, early fifties, the Baseball Hall of Fame – I mean Hall of Fame was one day – it was on a Sunday, I think it was on a Sunday as a matter of fact, and I mean we used to just go as kids and go sit on the steps of the post office and look across the street while they had the induction ceremony right there in front of the front door.  There were maybe a couple hundred people, and then there was a ball game later in the day.  That’s all I remember of it.  But I can remember that there would be people around town, and I used to make pot-holders, you know in the winter months, we’d weave pot-holders.  And my mother would let me take my little crate of pot-holders up by the corner of Pioneer and Main, which used to be McGown’s Hardware store, and it’s now Mickey’s Place, and I’d sit on the corner and sell my little pot-holders – one for 15, two for 25 [cents] – I can remember that so clearly.  All excited because I’d be selling my potholders that I’d made.  And you know, you’d go to the movie theatre, and it was a quarter to go to the movies and that was a big deal.  Smally’s always had a big Christmas party.  You know, I miss the theatre a lot, it’s too bad that that’s a lost thing.  But Main Street was, before tourism, before all the t-shirt shops and all this baseball memorabilia stuff, Main Street consisted of like I said, Eversen and Wick Car Dealership, right on Main Street, we had a hardware store right across the street next to Sherry’s here where the Clip Joint is, and the other store that’s empty right now and the one above it, those three areas there, that whole big building was a hardware store.  And then there was Sherry’s Restaurant, where you used to get a dingbat, which was very big.  They had an ice cream counter, and a dingbat was like a local ice cream thing.  A friend of mine once made a bumper sticker – “Bring Back the Dingbat!”

 

MK:           

I’ve never heard of that.

 

VS:           

A dingbat was a dish of ice cream with, I hope I can remember this, chocolate sauce, and crushed nuts and malt, do you know, the powdered malt, and cherry on top.  So it was very good. 

 

MK:           

That does sound good! [both laugh]  [11:08]

 

VS:           

Back then Main Street had Witheys Drugstore where Danny’s Market is now, that was a drugstore with a soda fountain.  Church and Scott’s Drugstore, which is on the corner of Main and Pioneer, there’s a building there that’s a baseball shop, that was a drugstore.  Where CVS is now was J.J. Newberry’s, and it had a downstairs, I can remember going downstairs to the stuff down there and that had a counter in it where you could get a sandwich, or an ice cream, or food.  Soda fountains were big then, they were just all over the place.  We had one at Witheys, there was one at Church and Scott’s, there was one at Sherry’s, and there was one in Newberry’s.  I can remember going to Withy’s and getting a dish of ice cream for a nickel, the little metal tin with the paper liner in it, with one scoop of vanilla ice cream and for two more cents you could get the powdered malt on it.  And that was the only part of the dingbat that I liked, was the powdered malt, so I was very happy.  [laughs]

 

MK:           

You were mentioning how this house at 160 used to be the trolley ticketing office…?

 

VS:           

This was originally built as the ticket office for the trolley, which ended around1920, this was built in 1916.  And then it was several different things, it was owned by the Clark Foundation, at one time it was the office for, I think for the sheriff, no the state troopers.  At one time it had a long hall here, and it was – it’s only 25’ by 50’, this building, it was chopped into seven little rooms and for several years it was an annex to the Cooper Inn.  I have all the little keys downstairs, and it had all these bedrooms with just a sink in it, like a bed and a sink and it had one bathroom for everybody.  And it was little rooms for let.  And that went on until about 1959 I think it was, and when – there’s been big fires in Cooperstown – that I remember clearly – and in 1959 I was twelve years old, I was literally on the corner crossing to go to Auger’s to get the newspaper for my mother, about nine in the morning, nine or ten, and this gigantic explosion – and it happened right in front of my eyes.  Where the Cooperstown General Store is now was the Cooperstown Dry Cleaners, and next to that going towards the Hall of Fame, was a building that was owned by my godparents – Fannie and Charlie Navara – who owned this house at 160 Main, but they owned that building and it was their barber shop and their beauty shop, and then the building next to it was Danny’s Market, and then it was the Hall of Fame.  Well, the dry cleaner’s exploded, and I mean I remember Mr. Potrikus – lovely family, John Potrikus and his family, he had eleven kids, one of their daughters was my age – he came charging out of the building, people were flying out of this building, and of course it’s a volunteer fire department, my Dad used to drive old Number One [#1], the engine, he was the driver for that, in fact he picked it up in 1952 when they got that engine, the one that’s in the parades now was old Number One.  Because of that fire, Ambrose Clark offered [my godparents] to be able to buy this building.  And they sold him the property because their building was so damaged from the fire they had no place to go, and they had no children.  And so that’s when they bought this place, it was 1959, to have a place to live after the fire.  Then ultimately the Clark’s bought the market next door that was Danny’s Market, so all of that is now the gift shop for the Hall of Fame.  And the Clark’s I believe also own the General Store.  They rebuilt that and turned it into this General Store.  In fact, the building that was Aunt Fannie and Uncle Charlie’s that was destroyed in the fire, it didn’t go to the ground like the cleaner’s did, but it was water and fire damage, smoke, very bad.  But it was a four-story big building, they had a beauty shop, a barbershop and then there was a store to the side that they had within their building that they used to rent – it’s where the telegraph office was.

 

MK:           

Oh cool!

 

VS:           

There was a telegraph office in Cooperstown, I mean, see all these things are like gone!  It’s very different.  So that’s how they acquired this building in 1959, and have owned it ever since. 

 

MK:           

And they just lived here as their residence?

 

VS:           

They lived here in the house, but it was the barber shop, it was still the many rooms that had been chopped up, so they had where we’re sitting now was a little tiny living room, and there was a little tiny bedroom back there  His barber shop was that door and that window, that little area there was a barber shop.  Her beauty shop was beyond that.  And the bathroom is where the bathroom is.  There was a little kitchen here and a little bedroom, it was very tiny, and the ceilings are so high that it was like living in the bottom of a well in every room, it was really hard.

 

MK:           

I can’t even imagine, it would be so interesting.

 

VS:           

Yeah, it was very different. [17:07]  So ten years ago after Uncle Charlie had died and Aunt Fannie was alone in her eighties, she and my Mom and Dad all went into the Thanksgiving Home within the same year.  She has no family so she asked me if I wanted the house, and I love the house, so I said, “Yeah!  Don’t get rid of the house, we love the house!”  So about seven years ago now, I gutted the whole inside and went to David Sanford at the Clark Foundation, who I grew up with, we’re the same age, and David gave me copies of the blueprints of this building, because it was built by the Clark’s.  So he gave me the blueprints so I could see what the original dimensions were inside, because it’s eleven foot ceilings, and the windows are twelves over twelves, and I really wanted to bring back the history – historically of what it was like inside, visually, you know, just for comfort.  So I gutted the whole building and I’m adamant about doing everything local, only local contractors, all local materials, I only deal with local people, and I gutted it back to the original dimensions of when it was the ticket office.  And I designed the island in the shape where the, that used to be where you got your ticket, at an angle where the thing was, and that little window was an outside window to get tickets.  So I’ve got that kind of the same where the kitchen window is now, but it’s all open.

 

MK:           

That’s neat.

 

VS:           

Really neat, isn’t it?  I felt bad, I wanted to keep the fir floors, but they were so fractured from so many walls, and all the plumbing for all the individual sinks that were in every single room, seven rooms, it was overwhelming.  And plus we realized that Aunt Fannie and Uncle Charlie had been heating Main Street – there was no insulation in this building – absolutely none, ever!  So I’ve totally insulated, put in all new plumbing and heating and it’s very efficient.

 

MK:           

How long did that take?  For the renovation and everything?

 

VS:           

To restore?  They started in October roughly.  And my husband and I used to go to San Diego in the winter for three months, I literally wasn’t here when a lot of it was going on, I was doing it by phone.  And they were done the following July, they finished July of ‘04.  Because, we’re all short in my family, and I did the little island so it sits like a table because I thought of Mom and Dad and Aunt Fannie sitting there and I could cook for them.  Plus I always thought of – wheelchair accessibility is important to me too, I always think about that.  I made it so that the floors are all flush going in and out of the bathroom – I mean you could use a walker or wheelchair – Mom and Aunt Fannie are still alive with walkers, so they come here and it’s easy for them to visit.

 

MK:           

That’s great.

 

VS:           

Who knows, maybe if I live like they have I’ll need a walker some day! [laughs] 

 

MK:           

I know, it sounds like the people in your family live really long lives!

 

VS:           

Longevity, yeah, I’m very fortunate. 

 

MK:           

Do you think it’s from growing up in Cooperstown?

 

VS:           

Well, you know, it could be, it’s healthy living, I used to complain as a child because you bring your lunch to school, and mine was always, everything was homemade, even the bread, and we never had soup – I always used to say, “Why can’t we have soup out of a can?” You know, the Campbell’s soup with the red can, with the kids on it, and my mother, everything was – and I like to cook, I inherited that from her – but everything was homemade, the old silly term “from scratch” but it’s true.  We ate well.

 

MK:           

And your mother…

 

VS:           

Is Italian.  First generation, she was born within months of them arriving in America.  She lived in an Italian community, and she grew up in Oneonta because her father was on the railroad, the D&H Railroad, as a worker.  She grew up actually not speaking English until she was bout six or seven.  But back to the food thing, I can remember – here’s another thing about the buildings in Cooperstown – right down the street here on Chestnut Street, there’s the Inn at Cooperstown, then there’s that new house they built, then there’s a building that’s for sale, that’s set back, now, that’s been several things.  A lot of people remember it as being Smith Ford, it was the car dealership for a while.  But before it was Smith Ford, back when I was a kid, that was a freezer locker and a butcher.  And you could go down there, I can remember going with my mom, and she would buy – now you have to remember that the farms around here were all Clark owned too – and you could go to the Clark – down where the scholarship office is going to Oneonta now, just outside of town – that was their butcher shop.  The next farm had pigs, their farm on the corner there.  And you could go down there and you could buy a quarter of a black Angus cow, you could buy part of a sheep, you could buy part of a pig, and you could buy their meat, and you could store it and rent space in the freezer locker here in Chestnut Street.  And that butcher also, at the freezer locker, had a case where you could just buy stuff that he happened to have there too.  So between getting our meat locally, raised beautifully on the grass around here, and everyone’s talking organic – organic, it’s sort of a joke.

 

MK:           

I wish we had that now!

 

VS:           

Because I mean, it’s just going back to what it used to be, but everybody has to put a big fancy name on everything, well.  And my mother every Easter would get about a dozen chickens, baby chicks, so we always had baby chicks on our back porch for Easter, chirping away.  Then she would take them to her friend, one of the nurses she worked with – two people were friends of hers, the Vatovek family over by 205 had a farm, and Anna Kraham, over on Kraham Road over in Middlefield, she and her husband Owen – we’d get the chickens and play with them and raise them for a few weeks and then my mother would take them to the farm, to one of her friends’, and they would raise them till fall when my mother would bring them back home where we’d butcher them in our cellar.  I can remember my mother butchering chickens in the basement, and letting us each have a foot.  This is a terrible thing to say – so you know what a chicken’s foot looks like?  And it’s kind of rippled?  Well if you take it, and you put it up your coat sleeve, and you go like this, the fingers move – so we used to go out in the neighborhood and freak out the kids.  The Sapienza kids used to freak out, on the corner there, and there was the Tillapaugh kids of course, Martin and David, and little sister Ellen, they were younger than me and they used to freak out.  Oh my god. [laughs]

 

MK:           

See, I had to pluck chickens growing up too, I know not a lot of people my age have done that but…

 

VS:           

Oh my god!  Good for you, that’s not an easy thing!  The smell is awful, isn’t it?

 

MK:           

And we would do it in our kitchen sink so it would just stay in the house for weeks.

 

VS:           

Oh, I know it.  Where are you from?

 

MK:           

Minnesota.  Also a big farming community.

 

VS:           

Oh yeah, there you go.  Yeah, dressing a chicken sounds like it would be kind of cool, but you have no idea until you have that smell.  It’s like once you’ve smelled a skunk you can never forget it, it’s once you’ve smelled that, you will never forget that smell.  It’s really funny.  So to me a lot of Cooperstown had changed so much geographically, because of tourism.  Of course you can’t tell people what to do with their lives or how they run things, but when the Clarks moved the gym – where the Baseball Hall of Fame offices are now, was our gym.

 

MK:           

Where is that?

 

VS:           

You know where Cooper Park is?  That building, that’s the offices for the Hall of Fame, that beautiful gray fieldstone building, if you look at the Hall of Fame entrance, to the left, that part of the building – that was our gym.  And in that building was a swimming pool, and squash courts, and all that stuff – and there’s my mailman… [noise at front door] And it was really nice because the gym was right here for somebody like me who lived in town, my mom could be at work and we’d go to the gym.  Simon Acoutin (we called him the Colonel) was the man who ran it, he was a wonderful man, who escaped Russia and stuff, and he was just great.  The gym was a wonderful place, and I liked having the gym in the village.  And it’s kind of too bad that they didn’t put the Hall of Fame where the gym is, and leave the gym alone.  I mean, ha! it’s always easy to do something with other people’s money, but that sense of…you know what I mean?  With parking and everything for the Hall of Fame, it would have just been so much easier just to stick it out there in my opinion.

 

MK:           

That would have made much more sense.

 

VS:           

Yeah, I know, but I tend to be a little too practical.  Actually the original gym, which you probably know was where the village library is now.  The village library, 22 Main Street, was originally a Y[YMCA], and it had squash courts where the art gallery is, and it was built as a gym by the Clarks and it was a library in the front.  So it’s always been a library, but it originally was a gym too.  When you lived in town, you went to the gym, you went to the library, you know… The Knox students, at the Knox School for Girls that was at the Otesaga.  On Saturdays, the Knox students taught us art classes at the library.  I can remember doing finger painting in there, and different things, I can remember doing that as a kid, which was a lot of fun.  I don’t remember this, but we didn’t have Winter Carnivals, you just sort of had fun – the ice skating thing – but my sister, who was seven years older than I am – and of course that was one of those things when you’re really a little toddler, you think, “Oh when I grow up, I’m gonna get to do that!”  Oh, well of course they stopped it – but the town cop would close off Pioneer Street from the white Presbyterian Church, you know how it goes down the hollow and goes up towards Bassett Hall?  They would close off Pioneer in the dead of winter after a big snowstorm. Kids would take their toboggans and have toboggan races, and sleigh ride races going down that hill and up the other side.  So I used to think, “Oh I can’t wait till I can be big enough to do that!” and then they stopped doing it.  Another thing they stopped which I do remember, but just sort of watching and going, “Oh when I grow up, I’m going to do that” – at the bottom of Pioneer Street where the houses are now, the street used to just go down to the lake.  In the summer, they would hang regular-looking light bulbs, but in colored, all around the bottom of the street down there in a square, and they used to have dances at the bottom of Pioneer Street on the summer nights.  You know, just live music, turn the light bulbs on, and just have dancing on the street down there, which was really a cool thing.  I mean it’s – that’s a real cool thing.  And then where Templeton Hall is now, on Pioneer, at the top of the hill there, when I was a kid that was, at one point, the Cooperstown Community Center, which is too bad we still don’t have that.  Because that had sock hops on Friday and Saturday night, we used to go and dance there.  And before that, it used to be above the old Fire Department, which they tore down. [30:00 END OF PART 1]

 

[START OF PART 2, 0:00]

[Continued from Part 1]

…is where the new Fire Department is, I call that new, but it had a clock tower, it was a beautiful building.  You went up some side stairs up above and it had a little stage but we had dances up there too, teen dances up there before the community center was on Pioneer Street, it used to be above the [Fire Department].  It just seems to me that there used to be more for teenagers to do in Cooperstown.  There is not anymore, and I feel bad about that.  Everything’s about the little kids, there’s playgrounds and Badger Park – they’ve got this children’s thing.  I think it’s great, but I just think there’s nothing for teenagers.  I feel bad about that.  You have no idea, I mean when you’re in even sixth, seventh, or eighth grade, to go to a sock hop and dance, you know what I mean?  It was fun!  And I don’t know if kids do that anymore, they don’t dance!

 

MK:           

We always had our school dances, just at the school gym.  So maybe they do that.

 

VS:           

Yeah!  I hope so, because it’s activity.  And it’s fun!  You know when you socialize and interact.

 

MK:           

So I know we talked earlier about the book and everything, but I think, I kind of got the general idea – do you do a lot of outdoor activities?  Or nature stuff with your husband?

 

VS:           

You have to remember that I was briefly married, just four and a half years, I was not living here and I moved back when I was very young.  26, divorced with two kids and a dog.  I moved back home.  Thought, you know, where am I going to raise my kids?  You know I’m gonna run around…and so I’m running around when they were visiting their dad weekends, he lived in the Albany area, and I would travel to Massachusetts, travel to Connecticut, go see my girlfriends, and try to decide where I was going to raise my kids and all of a sudden – and I was working at the hospital, I’m a practical nurse and I was working over there – so all of a sudden the light bulb went on and I thought to myself, “Veronica, everything you wanna give your kids is right here.  I mean, membership at the gym is so inexpensive, the library, the village, you’ve got your parents here, you know you have, it’s a great community to raise your kids especially as a single parent.”  So I decided to stay.  I was here for quite a few years, and um, it’s not a big social community so I didn’t date!  It wasn’t much, I mean I did, but it wasn’t like a big dating community, I mean you certainly weren’t here for yourself, you were here to raise your kids, as a 26 year old.  And I know everyone in this town, if you’re born here, you know it’s like living on a small college campus, you can’t not know everyone.  I mean, you don’t know them intimately, but you know, you see somebody, it’s a very familiar community.  Very womb-like, it’s like being in the womb.  I was 34 – this is kind of a romantic story actually – I was 34 years old and had been divorced all this time and was raising my kids, and I was working jobs around their school schedule to be able to – I was working at that time for Head Start, and so was traveling all over the county as a nurse for Head Start, which was a lot of fun, that was a great time too.  At the time I was living up on River Street, the little houses that are connected there?  Right on the river, which was great because you could walk out the back door and jump in the river and swim out to the lake.  I mean, I just loved it.  And my kids loved it.  So I was living on River Street, and my parents are on Pioneer, it’s nearby, and I had been here a while, my kids were eleven and twelve, a boy and a girl, Jim and Lori, and so we were here, and they were away on an Easter vacation break and I went to what’s now the Hoffman Lane Bistro then was called the Terrace Café, it had just been restored from being a private home and a little shop on the side.  And it had just been turned into a restaurant, I had met the people who were doing it over and I went over with a friend and she and her husband were going to go to the movies that night, they were gonna go to the movies, and I said, “I don’t feel like going to the movies!” we’d had dinner, and I said, “I’m just gonna sit here and have a cup of coffee in the café, the bar downstairs.”  There was a girl bartender, a young girl, and I said, “I’m gonna go home and walk my dog.”  So I’m sitting there and Bob came in, sat one stool away from me.  Well three hours later, we were talking.  And he was a recent widow, his wife had died, and of course I was a hospice volunteer with Emory Herman and this little volunteer program at Bassett, there I am, being the hospice nurse… [laughs]  listening to this man whose wife’s had died, but we hit it off!  I mean, it was like really weird because…I had never met him…he had never met me…I knew the name because his kids rode the bus with my kids at times.  His younger kids were older than my kids, he was older than I was.  Like I say, you know people in this town, but you don’t know them, well we ended up meeting and that was, I’ll never forget it, April 21st 1981.  He walked me home that night.  After that I saw him Memorial weekend, following, in May, end of May, and we started dating, and we were together ever since.  He died March 5th of ‘06.  It was like we knew each other for our whole lives, it was really weird, we knew all the same people – he was older than I was he was 22 years older than I was, but when I met him I thought, “Oh this guy must be a little older than me, I mean here I am 34.”  And he’s kind of a young looking man, and I thought, “Oh he looks like he must be about 40…or 45,” you know.  Well I almost croaked because he was 57 and I didn’t realize it.  But it doesn’t matter!  Love doesn’t have an age.  And we were so blessed to have truly 25 years together that were absolutely wonderful.  He has five wonderful children, and he was so good to my children and they’re good kids too, they’re wonderful and we meshed – our kids all get along well.  Bob was a writer, he had been writing a column in the local paper called the Badger, that’s his middle name, his name is Robert Badger Seaver, and he was writing an article on a weekly basis for the Freeman’s Journal.  He was very much a historian, a researcher, English major at college.  So he wrote this little column called “The Badger.”  A lot of people did not know who the Badger was, people had no idea who he was, he was sort of this little mystery character up there.  He became ill, and when he was sick, I said to him, “You know, Bob, I want to put together the Badgers for the kids, you know, all seven of our kids, we should put them together, they’re all so wonderful, and they’re such a documentation of our rides in the country, and looking at the places that you’ve taken me to, and just how we’ve experienced Otsego County and our life together.”  And he did most of his writing in the eighties when we were together.  And so, my middle name is Pilar, my maiden name was Veronica Pilar Gil.  So we put together Pilar Press, and I consolidated all the writings and called Wendell Tripp who said to go to North Country Books in Utica to get it published.  We went up to North Country Books together, where we quickly put together the book, Cooperstown, Otsego and the World… as Seen by the Badger.  It came out the October before he died.  Too bad I didn’t do it before that.  He did get to have a book signing, and it did very well, it’s still selling, which is nice to know, it’s sold at Auger’s, and the Book Nook here in town.  They used to have it at the museum, at the Fenimore Art Museum, but I don’t know if they have it anymore.  Anyway, it did really well, and it’s a great documentation of a lot of local history that’s been lost.  Bob was born in 1924, so he started coming here in the twenties with his family – he was born and raised south of Boston in Cohasset, Mass.  And even thought they lived on the ocean, and I mean literally on the water, that was their winter home, their summer home was in Cooperstown.  And his history is so wonderful because his grandfather built what was called “Wranglehurst” – because they used to fight all the time – but what’s now known as Highview.  It’s a beautiful yellow camp on the west side of the lake.  It’s a yellow garage, and then lower is a beautiful yellow building with a screen porch.  It’s a beautiful camp that was built by his grandfather.  His grandmother was from Springfield Center, and his grandfather was a Boston gentleman.  He was here because his father came here originally during World War I for R&R, he was a flyer in World War I.  And the flyers were brought into Cooperstown to go to what’s now the Thanksgiving Home, was Bassett Hospital, and they were brought here for R&R.  And it was a very big social thing, oh my God, flyers were like the heroes of America at the time because planes were pretty new and stuff like that, and so his father wooed a girl that was a farm girl from Springfield Center, he was a Boston sort of fancy guy.  And he loved it here, but she loved going to Boston, that’s why the camp became called Wranglehurst – they used to fight over it.  And in the book, there’s a photograph of a wedding, and the wedding picture is actually Bob’s parent’s wedding.  It’s his parent’s wedding, and one of the things I mistakenly did not do was put who was in the wedding. [Reference to photograph on page 70 of Cooperstown, Otsego and the World…as seen by The Badger by Robert B. Seaver (Cooperstown, NY: Pilar Press, 2005)].  This is Bob’s father and mother, and his name was James Seaver, and she was Margaret [inaudible].  [Both looking at book]

 

MK:           

Neat.  He’s talking about the flyers [in the article on page 70]. 

 

VS:           

Right.  And that article’s a good one, and it talks about the flyers and all this. 

 

MK:           

So he really liked history?

 

VS:           

Oh!  Unbelievable.  He would go to the NYSHA Library [New York State Historical Association] and do tons of research over there.  He was fascinated by local stories.  Actually it’s terrible to say this, I have about another – this is I think 111 articles in this book, and it was just a weekly column so I have about another hundred, I could do another book.  And I was supposed to, we were sort of working on it before he died, but it’s very hard for me to work on it because you know, it’s just…it’s very emotional.  And it was our life.  But I have [them].  He said to me, “After I’m gone, do the second book someday.”  And I really should do it, and I haven’t – I gotta get help doing that.

 

MK:           

They’re such personal stories.  But that’s what makes it…

 

VS:           

It’s very personal, and he said, “Do the same, just pick a different cartoon for the cover…same title, Cooperstown, Otsego and the World.  Volume II.”  So that’s what I need to do someday.  I have a bunch more downstairs.  But he did, he wrote about things like the Loomis Gang, I don’t know if you know about the Loomis Gang, but they were out at Nine Mile swamp, out on Route 20 going West from here in Waterville area.  Well, you don’t know Bob, but let me tell ya, well we went to Nine Mile swamp I can’t tell you how many times.  Drove around the swamp, went in the swamp, went all around the place, found out the history, and learned all about the Loomis Gang.  Then there was the Eva Coo murder.  Now, he read about that.  And he did the history on it.  Well he took me down to – we found the grave where Harry’s buried – the guy she murdered, is buried down in Davenport in the cemetery down there.  A lot of people don’t know that, but we ended up – I gotta tell you – we found the grave!  Then we would take rides around and just find these amazing things!  He was just such a wonderful person.  I know he got a lot from me, but I got a lot from him, I mean it’s just amazing.

 

MK:           

That’s what I was going to say – were you interested in history before you met him?

 

VS:           

It was interesting, growing up and being born here, you just took it for granted.  My children now live on the North Shore of Boston.  It’s kind of funny, both my kids are over in that area, and I just came back from Ipswich, Mass. where I’ve sublet an apartment to go be near my grandchildren in the winter months.  But be back and forth because of my…[interrupted by doorbell ring.  Dennis Tallman, Mrs. Seaver’s house manager dropped by].  [14:57 END OF PART 2]

 

[START OF PART 3, 0:00]

VS:           

Well, we just took a break, and while taking a break, I thought of something I wanted to tell you that used to be a lot of fun.  When I was talking about the skating on the lake – Bob loved skating too, we both [did], and he used to ski, and cross country ski.  We lived up in Pierstown, in an old stone house and we had sixteen acres of land, we used to do a lot.  [Points to a painting] And that’s the view from my kitchen.

 

MK:           

Oh wow.

 

VS:           

It was just really beautiful up on top of Five Mile Mountain.  Anyway, when I was dating him, back when I was on River Street, that first winter, he called me up one day and he said, “Black ice! Black ice! Get the kids!”  It was like a Saturday, he says, “Meet me [laughs] I’ll be down there in a minute!”  I said, “Oh my God, Bob!  What’s going on?!”  He says, “Just get some pillowcases, each one of you, you and each of the kids get a pillowcase.”  So he comes and we have our skates, bundled up, got the pillowcases, we go to the lakefront park – and black ice is when there’s been a rain, and then all of a sudden there’s an amazing freeze all night long, and it’s like absolutely smooth, gorgeous black ice.  It’s just beautiful.  And the ice was perfect for ice skating.  And there was a south wind, and he was very aware of the natural elements – if something like that happens, to him you just don’t go to work that day, you capture it because it’s not going to happen again for ten years.  And he was right!  So I got the kids, and we met him, and he’d brought some yard sticks, and some sticks, all about three, four feet long.  We went to the lakefront – and I’d never done this before – had our skates on, and you take a pillowcase and you put two yardsticks in it, and hold it up like a sail, and the wind from behind blows you.  Well I got going – and you don’t move your feet, you just stand still – I got going so fast I got to the Country Club and I was screaming!  My kids are freaking out, and I’m pulling my sail down, because I got scared of going too fast! [laughs]  “Bob!  I’m going to fast, I’m going to break something!”  He goes, “No you’re not, keep it up!”  I was like, “Oh my god!”  And we had this like terrific day!  We became the sailboat!  I mean, it was such a great thing.

 

MK:           

Wow.

 

VS:           

You know, it’s kind of like, it doesn’t take much to have fun.  It really doesn’t.  And it’s hard because I see kids with all this stuff today, and I say, “Oh my God!”

 

MK:           

All you need is a pillowcase and some yardsticks.

 

VS:           

A pillowcase and two yardsticks, or two sticks from the woods!  You don’t even need the yardsticks!  But it was truly – he was just so much aware of “oh my gosh, this is the perfect day for this!”  That is one of the reasons why he gave the land where Badger Park is.  And they nicely named it after him, it used to be called the Village Gardens and they named renamed it – which we always called it Badger Park anyway in our own little world.  He really wanted to give the village a place for permanent ice skating.  Because the ice skating had moved around, it was like I say, it was at the tennis courts when I was a kid, then it moved to behind the Cooper Inn, in that hollow on Lake Street, there’s a low lawn area on Lake Street that connects to the back of the Cooper Inn, right around the corner here, and that’s where ice skating was for many years.  And then they couldn’t do it on the Willow Creek, then that ended and they had it down at the lakefront, sort of the backside of the motel for a while.  But then with the bubble system it did become difficult worrying about kids – I mean what kid is not going to go on the lake, if you’re going to go ice skating – I mean, come on.  Then they didn’t really have a place for permanent ice skating, and that’s why, when he gave the land – you can’t give anything with conditions – so he gave the land to the village and wrote that it was in hopes that it would be a permanent place for ice skating.  That’s why I’m really excited this year that they’re finally getting it together with the ice skating down at Badger Park, because that really meant a lot to Bob.  The ice skating, and being outdoors, and it’s just a fun family activity.  And anybody can ice skate, I mean basically, you can put a kid whose in a wheelchair on ice and push ‘em along, I mean, anybody can ice skate.  That’s how I feel about it, so.

 

MK:           

I’m excited by the rink too!  Oh yeah, I’ve got my skates!

 

VS:           

Oh good, see!  Well you know were there used to be ice skating in Cooperstown, you know where the Farmer’s Market is – that was an ice skating rink. 

 

MK:           

That’s what it looks like, yeah!

 

VS:           

Yeah, it was.  Not in my time, that was before me.  I don’t know when that was an ice skating rink.  You have more questions?  What were you…

 

MK:           

What were we talking about?  How you went on your drives around…

 

VS:           

Right, oh!  And like the Loomis Gang and the Eva Coo mystery, so he did all the research on those, and then he wrote about them, and his documentation is very – in fact it’s sort of interesting because I know the girl who owns the Book Nook, Karen Johansen, said to me that she liked selling Bob’s book to people who wanted to know local history because he has some good articles, for example, like “why are the Clarks here?”  When I was a kid, a lot of the houses within the village were painted the cream and the dark green, because all the farms in the perimeter of the village, and a lot of the village – like the people who work for them, live in houses that were in the village but they’ve now been slowly sold off privately.  So a lot of this community, especially when, not even Jane’s father, but more Ambrose her uncle.  Ambrose Clark, when I was a kid, I mean he literally, in the mornings would come down from the home and be riding his horse and carriage down out towards the museum.  He gave me a ride in his carriage once.  Picked me up on the corner.  He knew who I was, because like I say, everyone knows – he knew all the people who worked in town and stuff like that.  So as a little kid I jumped up on the carriage and took a ride.  I wanted to tell you something about the school.  It’s really too bad they tore down the old high school which was a beautiful school, where the Cooper Lane Apartments are, there was a beautiful school building, you should look it up, because the pictures, it was a pretty building.  And they tore that down, but when they were building what is now the elementary school – it wasn’t built yet – when I was a kid, because I was a product of the war babies, even though my father wasn’t in the war, kids born in the late forties, there were too many of us to go to school, and so kindergarten time came and they used one of the rooms in the basement of the Village Library for kindergarten for a couple years, so that’s where I went to kindergarten, before going to school.  And then I did go to school in Cooperstown for four years, and then I went to St. Mary’s in Oneonta.  My parents sent me to Catholic school.  And then I went away to boarding school for high school.  So I didn’t really spend a lot of time here as a student.  But I lived here, I mean, this is my home.

 

MK:           

And then I wanted to ask you about – you were a nurse?

 

VS:           

Practical nurse, yes. 

 

MK:           

So after high school…

 

VS:           

I graduated from Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, and then I went into nursing at Albany Med, they had a practical nursing course and I was dating my then about to be husband and my life then was a little crazy, and you know, you shouldn’t date somebody you met when you were sixteen and marry them, that’s all I have to say! [laughs]  I did get my practical nursing and we got married, and then I had a child, and he was in a senior year at college when we got married.  And he was at the University of Pennsylvania, so we lived in Philadelphia for a year.  Had two kids, boom boom, and it wasn’t a good marriage, so I got out of that.  Just for my own self-respect.  Decided I could raise my kids and do fine.  And I did!  I have two fabulous children from that relationship so I can’t complain.  You know, too young, too dumb, what can I say?!  Oh, you wanted to know about the hutch?

 

MK:           

Yeah.

 

VS:           

You know Susan Kenyon?  You know Todd Kenyon, he works at the museum, or NYSHA.

 

MK:           

It sounds familiar… I should know…

 

VS:           

Todd Kenyon’s wife, Susan Jones Kenyon, they’re a young couple that have been here probably thirty, maybe twenty-five years now, they live on Susquehanna in a cute little house, and he works for NYSHA, she is the Activities Director at the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home.  She has never had an art class in her life.  She is an amazing artist.  [References a painting on the front wall of the house, closest to Main Street]  She did this on a ladder from photographs [inaudible].  That is the view from my house in Pierstown, called Stonewood.  Stonewood was Bob’s mother’s summerhouse and it was built in 1924.  Susan did the fresco up above, with the geese.  Isn’t that beautiful?

 

MK:           

Oh, I didn’t even notice that at first.  Yeah.

 

VS:           

And then when I moved here, [both looking at cabinet] this little white cabinet was from Aunt Fannie, from the kitchen – it’s from the forties – and I said, “Do you think you could create my life in Cooperstown on this cabinet?”  She just finished it, she started last October, it took her almost a year to do it.  It did take her a year, actually, because she wasn’t feeling well, and she was doing it in between work and everything else.  Susan put a barber pole on the side, she recreated the little 160 Main Street when it was a barbershop, and on the side it has Aunt Fannie and Uncle Charlie Navarra who owned the barbershop.  Then it has several of my grandchildren as little children, a lot of them are older now.  It has Bob’s and my seven children and all of their spouses.  My Dad and the old Number One Fire Engine, like I told you, he was the driver that picked that up in 1952, the Old Mac – it’s in the parades now.  Susan knew my Dad, because she worked at the Thanksgiving Home, therefore she knew his expressions.  And then she created a street there, and there’s our dog Sadie, and my Mom and Dad, my two sisters, Dolores and JoAnn, and my brother Jose, who passed away when he was twenty-eight, he had Downs Syndrome.  Our house at 27 Pioneer is now white aluminum siding because of some salesman that went through in the sixties or whatever, but it originally was brown shingles, which I had her recreate.  Then on the far side are three of my grandchildren, Bob’s three daughters in the water, and the lake, with our old wooden Chris-Craft (Big Boat) with Bob in the boat, sort of shooting away.

 

MK:           

Oh wow.

 

VS:           

That’s another neat story, I’m the fourth owner of that boat (Big Boat).

 

MK:           

Okay, yes.  I looked you up online, and I found…

 

VS:           

Am I online?

 

MK:           

I know, it’s kind of weird when you find out what you can find out about people.  There was an article about an auction, where you were going to take people on a lake tour.

 

VS:           

That’s right.  I did that to raise money for NYSHA.  Yeah, it’s a 1929 Chris-Craft that was originally bought from Michigan and brought right to Cooperstown in 1929, and has never left this lake.

 

MK:           

Oh wow.  That’s good for the environment!

[Both laugh]

 

VS:           

Let me show you.  [Goes to get a small figure replica of the boat]  I’ll show you, this is broken, I’ll have to reattach this [the windshield window on the replica], but this is what it looks like.  It’s a triple hull, ’29 Chris-Craft, and it’s called “Big Boat” – so the kids put “Small Boat” [on the replica] – But it’s called “Big Boat,” isn’t that great?  It was built in 1929, it was brought to Cooperstown, and its owner was one guy named Bob Adler, I think was the original owner.  Then it was sold to John Logan, who Ann Logan still lives here in Cooperstown, she’s a very good – sort of like a surrogate mother/Aunt for Jane Clark, and they’re a very close family.  Ann is a lovely woman,  and then she bought it for her husband John.  Then my Bob bought it in the mid-sixties, around 1966, and we’ve owned it ever since.  So it’s been, since 1966, in the Seaver family.  And Bob taught me how to drive it, I’m the only one that’s not intimidated driving it, because it’s 22 feet long, it’s a very big boat.  And I really wanted to keep it and so I’ve kept the boat, and in fact I now own it outright with my son, Jim Patrick, who happens to love boats, and he has a place on the lake here and he and I are having – it’s being restored as we speak.  And it really needed it, big time.  But the thing that’s sort of scary to me was this past August I had to have it taken out of here to get it really totally gutted and restored.  Engine, and wiring and boat, and everything, I mean it’s eighty years old and it’s needed to be done really completely.  And so the place it gets done is called Halls in Lake George, H-A-L-L-S, look them up online, it’s an incredible boat place for [restoring] old boats.  But anyway, it’s being done, I’ve been up to see it twice.  The mechanic from Smith’s Boatyard, Jeff, he’s been up to see it.  Dennis Tallman, who works for me, he’s gone up to see it, I mean everybody’s excited about Big Boat getting fixed.  But I was a nervous wreak because I’m going, “Oh my God, it’s never left here… and it’s going to be on the Northway!”  And I’m like, freaking out!  “Oh my God!  Big Boat’s going to be on the Northway!”  And so I’m calling the insurance people, and “Oh my God, don’t let anything happen to this boat!  Because I can’t replace it!”  To me it’s symbolic of a lot of my days with Bob.  When I was first dating him, he would literally putt-putt down the lake and come down the river in this huge boat, and pick me up to go for an evening boat ride.  I’d pack a little picnic and we’d go out with a couple beers and a sandwich and cheese and crackers and tool around the lake in it.  So my kids have these fond memories of Bob and I taking off in the boat all the time.  And we really loved it, and we loved being on the lake.  It’s kind of like getting on a Harley – the sound and the…

 

MK:           

The smell…

 

VS:           

The smell…all those things, it’s just very soothing for me.  So, I’m hanging on, with the help of my son, thank God, because, you know, it’s not your basic boat.  It’s hard to take care of something like this. 

 

MK:           

I can’t imagine.  That’s great though.

 

VS:           

It’s gonna work out, so I’m getting it done.  So that’s the boat.  So that’s online, huh?  You saw that online?

 

MK:           

It was just an article right before the auction that that was one of the items offered was you giving a tour.

 

VS:           

And it was pretty interesting because I was sick, I happened to have pneumonia the day of that tour thing, so my son did it for me, Jimmy knows how to drive the [boat], he’s the only other person I think who’s not too intimidated by the boat.  So he drove the boat and took these people on a tour around the lake.  It was a lot of fun.  It is a lot of fun.  So when it comes back next spring if you’re around I’ll take you for a boat ride. 

 

MK:           

That would be so cool.  We went out as a class, we all went on a little ecological tour from the Biological Field Station.  They told us all about the lake.

 

VS:           

Did they take you to the echo?

 

MK:           

They didn’t!  What’s that?

 

VS:           

See, there you go!  You gotta go with me!  I’m sure they told you a lot of stuff but not all the little secrets. 

 

MK:           

            What are the secrets of the lake?

 

VS:           

There’s a place on the East side of the lake, north of the camp there – where the Baptist camp is now, Pathfinder – if you go north of their dock, within about fifty feet of shore, and turn your engine off, when it’s a calm evening – because we used to do this when we’d go out – if you go hoot! hoot! up into the mountains, it hoots right back.  It’s the best echo you ever heard in your life. 

 

MK:           

            Are you sure it’s not just someone up in the mountain hooting back at you?

 

VS:           

No it’s not. That’s the hoot, the grandchildren love that.  Or you can toot the horn, and it toots back, or you can say things and it comes back clearly.  Yeah you can say your name, I mean the kids just flip out, they think it’s the coolest thing.

 

MK:           

Yeah I bet, because if the hills go –

 

VS:           

The hill is just so steep there, it’s just right.  Of course there’s a lot of rock on our mountains around here, a lot of shale.  This is an old glacier lake.  But it is just a little north – between that point and the next one – about fifty feet from shore, you just stop dead right there.  A lot of people don’t know that.  And now you know a secret.  Probably Harmon doesn’t know about that. 

 

MK:           

I hadn’t heard that before, what other secrets does the lake have?

 

VS:           

I don’t know, that one’s pretty cool, they always say there’s an airplane that went down in the lake many years ago.

 

MK:           

Really?

 

VS:           

Yeah, that’s true.  And I don’t know if there are still parts down there or not.  I think the old ship Mohegan, which Bob writes about in the book, when it burned, I think it burned off Five Mile.  And I think people were collecting stuff from there for a while – there’s the old Mohegan the steam ship [page 5].  Here’s him [Bob] as a kid,  even though his parents, he lived in Boston like I told you – it was his grandfather who built that camp, because his grandmother was a Briven, from Boston.  His parents got married at the camp, and his father was a flyer in World War I, so it’s just coincidental.  But as a child, even though they have this beautiful camp on the lake, starting at age six they kept sending Bob every summer over to Camp Shenango, across the lake, for the whole summer.  And I should have marked which one was him, but in this picture of kids on page 73 of his book, he is on the front row, I think he’s the third one in from the left.  That one there [points to picture], this little blonde guy.  Yeah, that’s him, so isn’t that cute? 

 

MK:           

Yeah.

 

VS:           

And that’s fun to read because he talks about Pop Fisher, he was the man who ran the camp, and all that stuff.  [Paging through the book] He had a lot of good insight with a lot of good stories, and of course, he grew up in a time when he knew – here’s Fred Hunt, the man that I have on tape that you might like to hear someday, who talks about the cheese factory.  He and Bob are up in the same grave, are up in Springfield Center Cemetery.  Oh, and everything in this book is truly accurate, and the only fiction is the one that’s Wednesday, August 25th 1908, but it’s accurate.  How I explain this is, Bob wrote this as if he were a little boy, named Robbie, going from Cooperstown to visit his grandfather to go see Roosevelt in the parade in Springfield Center.  Now all of the events in this are accurate as to how a person would have gone up on the ship and then been picked up and gone.  And the actual event is accurate, that really happened.  In fact, you should go someday to, while you’re here, if you go to the Jordanville Library, it was built by Roosevelt’s sister.  It was the dedication of the library that day.  And Bob went up there, he took me up, but he came home one day flippin’ out and he said, “I gotta take you someplace, you can’t believe this.”  He went up to the library and he said, “You know, I understand this library was built by Roosevelt’s sister.”  And this woman sitting up there, sort of this little library, still in Jordanville, beautiful old building.  She kind of goes, “Oh yeah, I think I’ve got a book.”  And she just reaches in a drawer in the back room, not protected or anything – you know how the museum is so – pulls out the registry book from that day, from early 1900s when this was dedicated, and on one piece of paper written are the signatures of all the guests, including the President of the United States, and his brother, and his family, and his sister, and all of these dignitaries.  Bob said – and of course he was a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt – I was standing there looking at this document and saying, “Don’t you think this should be locked away someplace?”  Bob was not – we never locked our doors – but I mean, the woman had no clue that she had this amazingly, just historically valuable document sitting just on a shelf in the back room of this library.  Pretty amazing.  You should go there, as a field trip, your class, that’s an amazing little library.  In Jordanville.  It’s about a half hour north of here, just up the lake, Jordanville.  Anybody can look it up for you, you’ll find it.  So I don’t know I’m trying to think about anything else I can tell you about growing up in Cooperstown.

 

MK:           

It’s been about an hour and a half, is there anything else you wanted to talk about?

 

VS:           

Oh wow, plenty of talking. 

 

MK:           

Because this has been great, especially [points to the hutch].

 

VS:           

The hutch, you’re welcome to take pictures of it.  It’d be great for Susan.  My stepson just sent me the Atlantic sign that I just stuck there just for fun.  And she took what my china looks like and recreated the apples and the grapes up above.  She did a beautiful job.  She really did a nice job.  I mean, and the girl’s never had an art class in her life.  She’s so talented it’s unbelievable.  And I didn’t tell her what colors to use, or what – I said, “You do whatever time of year you want, whatever season, you’re just talented, you’re the artist.”  So I gave her sort of a free palate and she just went away, she did a beautiful job.  All I said is, these are the people I’d like incorporated.  And these neat caricatures.  I mean, she’s done a neat job.  She also painted the ceiling at Bradley Goodyear’s Cary Mead farm dining room.  You know the Cary Mead house?

 

MK:           

No, where?

 

VS:           

Up the lake road, the Cary Mead farm, where the Glimmerglass Opera is?  That used to be Cary Mead farm, so the estate that’s there on it is Bradley Goodyear Smith’s and Susan did something in her dining room, on the ceiling, with arrows and stuff.  She said it was really cool, it turned out well, she was happy with that.  So that’s kind of neat. 

 

MK:           

Alright well thank you.

 

VS:           

It’s been fun, I feel like I’ve over talked.

 

MK:           

No, no, not at all.

 

[26:01 END OF PART 3]

 

 

Duration

30:00 - Part 1
14:57 - Part 2
26:01 - Part 3

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps
128 kbps
128 kbps

Files

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veronica-seaver_book_11c49ec8bd.jpg

Citation

Mandy Kritzeck, “Veronica Seaver, November 20, 2009,” CGP Community Stories, accessed January 23, 2020, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/27.