CGP Community Stories

Hetty Adams, November 15, 2016

Title

Hetty Adams, November 15, 2016

Subject

Bassett Medical Center
School nurse
County Public Health Department
Poverty
Cooperstown Presbyterian Church
Kitty Ketcham
Church elder
Church choir
Worship team
Holidays
Fracking
LGBT friendly
Food pantry
Head Start
Cooperstown Community Band
Quilting
Knitting
Sports
Dating
Family

Description

Hetty Adams has long been a member of the Cooperstown community. She was born in Hobart, NY, in 1938, but moved to Oneonta when she was two years old. She stayed in Oneonta for college, getting her nursing degree from Hartwick College and her teaching degree from SUNY Oneonta. She met and married a man from Cooperstown and has lived here ever since. For the past fifteen or so years, Hetty has spent the winters in Myrtle Beach, but during the rest of the year she is still an active member of the Cooperstown community.

Hetty worked as a nurse for many years, first at the Bassett Medical Center and then at the Cooperstown Elementary School. She also worked for the Otsego County Public Health Department during the summers. This portion of the interview offers interesting insights into what nursing was like during the mid-twentieth century and how it has changed since.

Hetty also has been a member of the Cooperstown First Presbyterian Church for as long as she has lived in Cooperstown. She talks at length about the church’s importance to the community, from hosting Head Start and the Food Pantry to opposing local hydraulic fracturing. She describes how accepting and progressive the church is; when she first joined the congregation during the 1950s, the church already had its first female elder, and it has since become the first church in the area to be LGBT friendly. She also talks about the various ways she has been involved in the church, including being an elder in the past, serving on the worship team, singing in the choir for many years, and participating in the Women’s Association’s sewing group. Hetty also stresses the strong sense of community and family among the members of the congregation.

Hetty loves music; in addition to singing in the church choir, she also has played the clarinet for many years in the Cooperstown Community Band. She and her husband raised three sons in Cooperstown, and they now have four grandchildren, with a great-grandchild on the way.

I interviewed Hetty at the Cooperstown Presbyterian Church on November 15, 2016. The Christmas season was approaching, so Hetty mentions Christmas traditions at multiple points in the interview. Hetty was also preparing to go to Myrtle Beach for the winter at the time of the interview.

In the transcript, I make some minor changes to make the interview easier to read, such as removing vocal crutches, breaking up run-on sentences, and making incomplete sentences complete. However, Hetty is quite eloquent, so these changes are minor.

Creator

Emily Reinl

Publisher

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

Date

2016-11-15

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
28.8 MB
audio/mpeg
26.3 MB
image/jpeg
1.4 MB
2448 x 3264

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

16-011

Coverage

Cooperstown, NY
1938-2016

Interviewer

Emily Reinl

Interviewee

Hetty Adams

Location

Cooperstown Presbyterian Church
Cooperstown, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2016

HA = Hetty Adams
ER = Emily Reinl

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]
ER:
This is the November 15, 2016 interview of Hetty Adams by Emily Reinl for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork course recorded at the Cooperstown Presbyterian Church. So Hetty, can you tell me a little bit about where and when you were born?
HA:
I was born a long time ago in Hobart, New York, which is in Delaware County, on May 15, 1938, which makes me 78 years old if your math is happening. I don’t remember very much about Hobart because we moved from there when I was two years old to Oneonta where I grew up.
ER:
Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood growing up in Oneonta?
HA:
Because it was during World War II my mother and father both worked for an aviation corporation and a lot of our care was given over to my grandmother for whom I was named actually, Hetty. I’m from a very loving family; my mother and father loved each other and us. There were four of us. I was the oldest of four. My next sister was a year and a half younger than I, and we shared a bedroom and a lot of other things, but fought a lot, as siblings will, and as she grew older we became very best friends. I have a brother and a younger sister.
ER:
Has your relationship with them stayed very close as well?
HA:
Pretty much, especially with my next under sister, Ruth.
ER:
So then can you tell me a little bit about your education?
HA:
I went to an elementary school in Oneonta, which is no longer, River Street School. There was no kindergarten, so I started first grade at age five, then proceeded to go to Oneonta Junior and Senior High School. I didn’t get very far from Oneonta because then I went to Hartwick College, which is in Oneonta. I graduated from there with my bachelor’s degree and my RN and worked at [Mary Imogene] Bassett Hospital for the next six years. Then I got a job at the school and went to SUCO Oneonta [State University of New York-College at Oneonta] to get my degree in teaching. I became a school nurse teacher.
ER:
Can you tell me what it was like being a woman in college at that time?
HA:
I was rather shy. It was a much smaller school than it is now. I was in a nursing class of 25 at the start. We ended up with thirteen graduating. At that time there were no men in our program. There are lots of very good male nurses now; I’m sure you’re aware of that. I lived at home so my social life was pretty much restricted to my association with the other nursing students. We left campus in the middle of my sophomore year to go on affiliations. I was at Columbia for ten months for some of my training: OBGYN, pediatrics, neurology, the eye institute. I enjoyed that immensely. We had a public health assignment. I was in Ulster County for three months. We had a psychiatric affiliation in Willard, New York, which is in the western part of the state.
ER:
Just to go back, you mentioned you got your “RN.” What is that?
HA:
A registered nurse.
ER:
Oh, okay, thank you. Why did you decide to study nursing?
HA:
When I graduated from high school, which was in 1955, girls typically became either married, a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher, and at that time I didn’t want to be a teacher. I had helped care for my great-grandmother when she was ill and rather enjoyed that sort of service to her and decided that nursing would be for me. I’ve not been sorry at all.
ER:
You mentioned that you didn’t really leave the Oneonta area and that you went to college there at Hartwick. Why did you make the decision to stay local?
HA:
Mostly because my family really didn’t have the financial wherewithal to support my living somewhere else, so that was the main reason. My tuition and board were paid by scholarship, so it was somewhat restricted.
ER:
How were you academically?
HA:
I was academically an overachiever, probably. I always enjoyed studying. I did graduate with a summa behind my name, which was kind of nice.
ER:
You mentioned that you worked at Bassett. Do you want to talk about that?
HA:
I did. Right after I graduated I worked at Bassett for six years, during which time I also married and had three children. At the end of the six years I was offered a job at the school as the school nurse teacher, which I really leaped at because of the fact that the hours would be the same as my children in school. That was a big factor in that decision-making.
ER:
When you were working for Bassett, can you describe a typical workday there?
HA:
Actually in the beginning I was working with the evening shift, 3 to 11, and I was a charge nurse on a female floor. After I had my first child, I worked nights four nights a week and was what they call a float, general duty, and the other two nights I substituted as the night supervisor.
ER:
How was it balancing having a child and also having a job that you were doing at night?
HA:
It was difficult. I know I couldn’t do it now, because I got very little sleep. I could sleep when the children were napping. Thank goodness they would go down for a nap and I would take a little one too. When they went to sleep in the evening I would take another couple hours before I had to go to work. I had very good caregivers during the day when I needed it.
ER:
Still while you were working at Bassett, can you tell me what your interactions with your patients there were like?
HA:
I really enjoyed that. We’re not supposed to get emotionally involved with patients, but I had a lot of difficulty not doing that. They became sort of like my family. I enjoyed the personal contact. Actually, nursing now for a degree nurse is much different from the way it was then. We had much more hands-on opportunity. We could sit and talk with the patients; we gave nightly back-rubs – that’s a bygone. I just enjoyed interacting with them and learning about their families.
[TRACK 1, 8:00]
ER:
Throughout your career as a nurse, how did you see that change happen?
HA:
I think now degree nurses are more likely to be in administrative positions and not have the opportunity to be hands-on at the bedside as much as we were then. It is different with all the computerization and all that. And nursing itself is much more technical than it was back then.
ER:
You mentioned that you ended up then taking a job as a school nurse.
HA:
Yes.
ER:
You mentioned you liked the work hours. Besides that, was there any other reason why you decided…?
HA:
That was primarily the reason that I changed, because I was enjoying what I was doing as a bedside nurse, but I don’t regret the change either, because I enjoy children. I was at the elementary school for 28 years. My favorites were kindergarten students and 5th graders. I don’t know why. I loved them all. It was a good 28 years.
ER:
What was your relationship with the students like?
HA:
I think in a lot of ways I was a mother figure sometimes. The children felt safe with me. I found that out more when I read letters that the children wrote at the time of my retirement – which was an experience in itself, a tearing situation – which I did recently again; I went through all of those. They thanked me for calling their mothers when they were sick, or for putting Band-Aids on cuts, or “I remember when you stopped my nosebleed when I fell on Kid City [playground],” things like that.
ER:
What about your relationship with the parents? What was that like?
HA:
I think I inter-related very well with the staff at school and with the parents of the children. I made home visits when necessary. Nurses are by breed teachers as well, so there was a lot of consultation at times both with the parents and with the other faculty members.
ER:
Can you elaborate on the home visits that you mentioned?
HA:
This may be a little itchy for both of us; mostly [it] was for head lice treatment, which is again hands-on, and we had help from the public health nurses at the time to do that. That was mostly the reason, or for poor attendance. At that time we did not have another attendance officer, so I would often go to homes to see what exactly the problem was when the child was not attending regularly.
ER:
Can you tell me about any memorable injuries or illnesses you had to deal with?
HA:
Actually I was very calm and cool most of the time, I prided myself in that, but I remember one day when my youngest son came in from the playground with his arm dangling. He had fallen, and I looked at it and I said, “Oh my word, he’s broken his arm. Do something!” The teacher had come in with him, and she said, “You’re the nurse. You do something.” He had broken mid-shaft both bones of his forearm, and I kind of lost it. That doesn’t happen ordinarily with me. Most of the things were run of the mill: scrapes and scratches and splinters and lost teeth. I was known as the substitute tooth fairy, because sometimes teeth got lost on the playground, and they really were lost. I would write a note to the tooth fairy affirming that indeed the child had lost a tooth that day and should be honored thusly. The kids remembered that when they wrote their memoirs to me, which was just funny. We had a couple of children who were diagnosed with diabetes during that time, and I was, I hope, helpful in helping the family and the child adjust to that.
ER:
What kind of things did you do to help with that?
HA:
We did finger-stick blood sugars, and if it was too low we would go to the cafeteria and get something to eat quickly. The cafeteria people were very cooperative in that regardless of the time of day. Of course [I did] counseling with the parents on diet, exercise, regular mealtimes, that sort of thing.
ER:
You mentioned how you were treating your son. What was it like working in the same place where your kids were going to school?
HA:
I don’t think that was really an issue. Although [they] especially wanted to have me [not] notice [them] when [their classes were] passing in the hallway, which is kind of funny. I treated them like any other child at school, except [when they were seriously hurt]!
ER:
So then you also were working for the County Public Health?
HA:
I did in the summers, because school only goes from September through June. I worked part time for the Public Health Department, and I found that rewarding as well. [It was a] totally different kind of nursing, though, because I was pediatric in the school year and primarily geriatric in the summer.
ER:
What is geriatric?
HA:
The treating of people of elder age. Most of my patients were mean age of 80, 85. Some [were] older than that.
ER:
Why did you decide to take that job?
HA:
I needed something to do in the summer, and it was a little more money. We were a young family that just bought a house. There [were] always bills coming in, and a part-time job was a good thing for me. It worked well.
ER:
What was your typical workday like there?
HA:
I worked usually Mondays and Thursdays from 8:00 until 4:30, 5:00.
ER:
What kind of things were you doing from day to day? I mean, you said working with older people but more specifically…?
HA:
More specifically geriatric? No. I don’t understand your question.
ER:
What kinds of things were you treating?
HA:
All sorts of things, really. Some of the patients were post-operative and needed dressing changes, that kind of thing. There were diabetics who needed insulin drawn up for them, because of either tremors of their hands, [so] they couldn’t manage the vial and the syringe, or vision problems, [so they] could not see it well enough. I did that very frequently, and medicine pouring period. We had organized medicine boxes to assure us and them that they were taking their medications properly. That was a lot of it. Skin care was a major thing with the elderly. In those days the public health nurse even did foot care. We cut a lot of toe nails! [I also enjoyed the interaction with people coming in to our immunization clinics.]
ER:
On a personal level, what were interactions with these patients like?
HA:
I believe I was welcomed by them. It was pretty easy to establish a relationship with most of them. There were some who were not so eager to have us come in the home. There were a few times when I was frightened by a dog that was not very friendly. It got so when I was expecting to visit that particular patient, I would call him and ask him to shut the dog in another room so I didn’t have to fight that. (I’ve lost my train of thought.) They really become extended family more than hospital patients, because you visit them in their homes. You see them where they live and how they live. It’s enlightening. When I first moved to Cooperstown, I viewed it as kind of an up-scale community, but getting into the homes not only with home visits from the school children but as a public health nurse, you realize that there are a lot of poverty places here that most people don’t recognize: people who don’t have running water, some didn’t have electricity, seven people living in a one-bedroom place. Yeah, things like that.
ER:
Have you seen the community do anything to try to help with that?
HA:
There’ve been a lot of changes since I retired twenty years ago. It’s different. Head Start is much more active now, and there’s a preschool program. The Food Pantry has made a tremendous impact on a lot of families, which is a positive thing for sure. Nobody wants to be hungry.
[TRACK 1, 18:20]
ER:
Going back to the career discussion, out of the different jobs you worked, which one did you prefer, would you say?
HA:
Oh, I was afraid you were going to ask me that. It’s like asking me what my favorite season is. It’s usually the season that it is. I love fall, but I can’t wait for spring, and I miss winter, because we go to South Carolina. I don’t know. Of all the jobs I’ve ever had, I probably enjoyed the job at school, because I do love working with kids.
ER:
Do you want to elaborate more on what you liked about it?
HA:
I seemed to relate well with children, even here in church. I check them out. I don’t know what more I can say. I really enjoyed my relationship with the parents as well. When I retired I missed the other staff members as much as I did the kids, because it was a great group to work with.
ER:
What specifically did you like about working with them?
HA:
They were very accepting of ideas that I might present to them, something different. [They were a] very cooperative group. They helped each other as well.
ER:
Kind of switching gears a bit, I’d like to talk a bit about your church life, so can you tell me what church you belong to?
HA:
I belong to this church, the Presbyterian Church. As a child I grew up as a Baptist, because there was a little church around the corner from where we lived, which necessitated my sister and me only crossing the street once, and that was right in front of our house. My grandmother could supervise us crossing, then we would go round the block to the church and back without dealing with traffic. We were quite young when we started there. I was baptized in the Baptist Church when I was eleven, about the time we moved out of town. We continued going there when we could get there. When I became a college student, I started attending here, because two of my professors from Hartwick were also residents in the house where we were residents, and I thought, “if they can walk down the street to the Presbyterian church, I might try that” and found that I really had a home here. So after I graduated and married a young man from Cooperstown, I stayed in this church. I’ve been a member for over fifty years.
ER:
How did coming to be in the Presbyterian Church differ from the Baptist Church that you were used to?
HA:
Not a great deal; it’s the same God of course. Basically there are some rules of the church that are different. [The] Presbyterian Church is guided by the Presbytery. I didn’t know about synods and presbyteries and General Assembly until I became a Presbyterian, but there aren’t that many differences. Baptists believe that to be baptized you must be of age to know what you’re accepting, and they do total body immersion in a pool of water. Presbyterians don’t do that. They anoint with water from the font on the forehead and do baptize babies as well.
ER:
Can you tell me a little bit about the first female elder in this church?
HA:
Kitty Ketcham. Katherine. [She] was also one of my basic med[ical]-surg[ical] professors at Hartwick. She was my clinical instructor. She sang in the choir here. She led bible study here. She was very active in the Women’s Association here. I just saw her certainly as a leader, carrying out her Christian convictions in every aspect of her life, and she was a good teacher.
ER:
How would you say knowing her influenced you?
HA:
I tried to emulate her in a way. I never could come up to that standard, I’m sure, but I’ve tried. I joined the choir and became active in other ways in the church. I’m very regular in worship, which was very important to her.
ER:
Since she was kind of, I suppose you could say, almost like a pioneer in being the first female elder here, has that influenced you in any way?
HA:
I saw this congregation as accepting and forward looking in the fact that they accepted a female in that role. She was very effective as an elder. I subsequently became an elder.
ER:
What does it entail, being an elder here?
HA:
I should be able to answer this question better than I’m going to, I expect. There are several levels of eldership. The teaching elder is the pastor, now [Rev.] Elsie [Rhodes]. I was a ruling elder, meaning I was on the session. There are ten of us at a time, and we take care of the business of the church, moderated by the pastor – financial [business], ways of worship, in adherence to the book of order, of course.
ER:
How long have you been doing that?
HA:
I’m not, I’m inactive now, but I served two terms, two double terms much earlier. Actually [it was] when my children were still young and in school.
[TRACK 1, 25:10]
ER:
How did that sort of change your relationship to the church and other people in the church, being a part of that?
HA:
I don’t know that it changed so much, but while you’re on the session other members of the church look to you for clarification of issues, for instance. Other than that, I don’t know.
ER:
Okay.
HA:
We look to the elders as leaders in the congregation, which is onerous, humbling, for sure.
ER:
What church activities are you involved with?
HA:
I sing in the choir regularly. I’ve served on the worship team for a long time. I can’t even tell you how long. Reverend [Bob] Hearst was still here when we had the first worship – then we called it a worship “committee” – now we’re a “team.” We worked closely with the pastor and the directors of music to plan worship services.
ER:
Tell me a little more about the choir.
HA:
Oh, the choir, which can vary. Sometimes we have eight or nine, and sometimes we have an overflow in the choir loft, which is always a welcome thing. We have a wonderful creative choir director, Katie Boardman, whom I think you know, because she’s associated with your program. Peter Deysenroth is our organist, and we are so blessed to have his talent. Both of them are amazing. Katie puts up with a lot of nonsense from us and tardiness in coming to rehearsals. We’ve been known to have a couple of dogs in attendance at rehearsal. [In] fact one of our dogs has a special blanket, which is laid down in the middle of the floor whenever he arrives. I just enjoy singing. We are not a big choir, obviously, so we can’t do big [operas], but Katie and Peter try to keep the available voices keyed to the pieces that they pick on a particular day. They work very closely with Elsie, the pastor, too, [and] coordinate the theme of the day, so that it coordinates with worship and the lectionary passages, often.
ER:
I’m sorry. Continue.
HA:
I also love being – speaking of lectionary – the lector of a morning, leading the call to worship and reading the Old Testament lesson. I enjoy that. Some people say “no” when you ask them, and I don’t understand that, because it’s not scary.
ER:
Have you always enjoyed doing sort of public speaking type of things?
HA:
Not public speaking in itself. In fact, one of the B’s I got when I was in college was in speech. I hated that class. I do enjoy being the reader. I’ve in the past given the children’s time during the worship service, and I think that’s fun.
ER:
The children’s time?
HA:
It’s like a mini sermon [or] a small person’s lesson, and we can be small persons of any age. I have often found the children’s story to be equally informative and good for my soul as the sermon itself.
ER:
Can you elaborate more on what types of things you talk about with the children?
HA:
This past Sunday it was in names – nametags. The woman who gave the story had a bag full of different tags that she had worn in her history. She’s also a nurse. [They were] evolving from her first nametag, which had her maiden name on it, and then another nametag, and then the nametags that we wear at church to identify ourselves to other people who might not know us by name. She related that to the fact that
[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]
HA:
God knew us by name before we were born and that we belong to God and are called by God. I thought that was a very good lesson.
ER:
You also mentioned being on the worship team. Tell me a little bit more about that.
HA:
It’s a group made up of the pastor, the director of music, Katie, and the organist, who are ex officio members, and then a member from the session is on that team. We get together and talk about upcoming seasons and what particular ideas or techniques we can involve in the service. Right now [we] are, of course, coming up into Advent, so a lot of our meetings are directed towards planning for special services during that time.
ER:
What types of special services?
HA:
We have Christmas Eve service, several of them, actually. We have a children’s service in the afternoon, and the children put on a pageant later in the evening. It used to be 11:00. Now I think it’s 10 PM. The choir sings and it’s [a] candlelight closing, which is very moving.
ER:
Is there any particular type of service that you really enjoy, whether from the singing perspective or just the overall service?
HA:
Of course we all love Christmas. That’s a birthday party of Jesus. Easter’s always special. It’s very triumphant. The music is awesome no matter where you are. I happen not to be here at that time. I’m in South Carolina, and I attend a larger church there. We have a 45-voice choir. They sing wonderful music and often have instrumentalists at that time too, which is exciting for me. We have had in the past – and I’m not sure if they still do because I’m not here – what we call the jubilee band. Various people play instruments for the Sunday before Christmas here and sometimes at Easter, as well.
ER:
You mentioned that your church in South Carolina is a much bigger church. How does the atmosphere of the church compare to the smaller one here?
HA:
There is a large contrast, really. Here it’s [a] small group. The congregants are my family; they really are. I love them all. I hope I’m loved by most. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it’s a wonderful church. It’s a very welcoming church. I was welcomed into their choir there, as well, even though it’s a large one and there’s a professional singer in each section, which is not something we have here. People don’t know you as yourself the way they do here, maybe because I’ve grown up here. I’ve only been attending there the last fifteen years or so, and they only see me at choir rehearsal and on Sunday.
ER:
Elaborate more on the sense of family you mentioned that there is here at this church.
HA:
Here I think we care for each other in a lot of different ways. For instance, we had a member of our church who recently had surgery, and the group got together and took meals to her and also stayed with her during the day when her partner could not be there due to work obligations. We try to keep track of shut-ins by visiting, taking them to hospital appointments, that kind of thing. We try to be aware of people who are alone and check up on them frequently. We are an aging congregation. There are a lot of people who are now alone, and it’s a lonely place to be. We’re supportive of each other if we let the deacons or someone know that we have a need. We also have the Stephen Ministry; I don’t know if you’ve heard of that? [ER shakes head] There [are] trained members of the congregation who can give additional support in whatever way. A lot of it is counseling, listening, [or] directing you to appropriate care if that’s indicated. It’s a good thing.
ER:
All right.
HA:
And the love. Don’t forget the love.
ER:
A few years ago the church adopted a resolution opposing hydraulic fracking. Why did the church take that position?
HA:
We are very, I think, aware of environmental issues and try to be good stewards of our environment. We considered fracking something that was against that in this area.
ER:
Okay.
HA:
We have to take care of the earth that we’re given, or it won’t be here.
ER:
Kind of along the same vein, what role has the church played over the years in dealing with social issues?
HA:
I think we’ve been fairly proactive in a lot of ways. We were probably the first congregation in this area, well this immediate area anyway, to be inclusive of lesbians and gays. In fact [we] have married couples here. That’s not accepted in every congregation. I think that’s a big one here.
ER:
Do you want to elaborate a little more?
HA:
I don’t know if I can.
ER:
Okay. The church also hosts the Cooperstown Food Bank, so tell me a little bit about that.
HA:
Ellen St. John, one of the pillars of our congregation, was very instrumental in getting the Food Bank started here, and we’re housed downstairs. It’s been a very valuable addition to the community. We serve many families. I can’t tell you numbers – Ellen could – but it’s impressive when I hear the numbers of families that are served by the Food Pantry every month. It’s increased, and now that the holidays [are] near it’s increasing even more.
ER:
What sort of things do the congregation members do to help out with that?
HA:
Every month at communion we give loaves of bread as part of our gift. Many members also contribute monetarily, and there are a lot of members who volunteer there on a regular basis. On any given day you see people you know in and out of the food bank.
ER:
What other kinds of things are going on here that we haven’t already talked about?
HA:
There’s a yoga class that’s housed here. I just passed a lady coming in today. The Quakers meet here. They used to meet during our worship time on Sunday morning, but now I think it’s changed to a different time. They still use our facility for that. There are dance classes that happen on Friday nights. I don’t know if it’s regularly; I’ve not participated in that, so I can’t say for sure. What else is happening? Social Services in the past has used this place as a visitation area for the parents and children who are estranged for whatever reason. Head Start was here before it moved to the school. It was here for many years.
ER:
What was that like?
HA:
It was before the Food Bank, because it was the same area of the church that was used. Esther Fink was the organizer. [She] started in Oneonta and came here, and it was a big asset to the community, giving less privileged children kind of a leg up before school.
ER:
Thank you. Now kind of switching gears again, you’re in the Cooperstown community band, so I was wondering if you could tell me: how did you first get interested in music?
HA:
Again, I had a wonderful role model, when I was in the fourth grade in school, who taught us Tonette, which is a little plastic whistle sort of thing. I liked that; [I] did it quickly and loved it. The next year [I] started playing clarinet. [I] continued with it [in] junior high, senior high, and the college concert band when I went that far, and after graduation I kind of missed that. [I] moved to Cooperstown [and] found out about the community band, and I’ve been in that for 55 years.
ER:
Why did…oh, sorry.
HA:
I just love music, and I enjoy being part of that. I’m not great, but I try my best, and that’s all you can ask of anybody.
ER:
Why did you choose the clarinet?
HA:
Again, I hate to keep saying my family was poor, because they weren’t really, but my aunt had a clarinet, and I could use that, so I did. [I] liked it and have continued to play that.
ER:
What is the band’s performance schedule like?
HA:
We play starting Fourth of July, usually at the Springfield Fourth of July extravaganza. We have a concert at noon at the school there. Then [we play] every Wednesday night at the Otesaga and usually three or four times for the village. We play down at the lakefront on the bandstand. We play all sorts of music, from marches [to] some concert [and] some Broadway stuff. [It’s] varied.
ER:
What type of music do you prefer playing?
HA:
I rather prefer concert music. Marches are fun, but they’re often fast and hard. I like the Broadway show music too. See, it’s just like choosing my favorite color. I can’t tell you; it changes so often. I guess my favorites are varied.
ER:
What’s the community within the band like?
HA:
We have a lot of music educators who play in the band during the summer, and they often bring along promising students from their musical groups at their schools, so there’s a variety of talent levels.
ER:
Is there…?
HA:
Which is good. The fact that the kids get involved and enjoy it means that the program will continue when a lot of us old folk aren’t here anymore.
ER:
Is there any sort of tutoring that goes on between the more experienced players and the less experienced players?
HA:
Not tutoring per se. We help each other, but I wouldn’t say there’s any real tutoring going on other than the fact that the educators that are part of the band continue to mentor the kids that they’re bringing along with them.
ER:
What opportunities do you have to play during the offseason?
HA:
I don’t, really. There are groups, but I don’t have the time available, even though I’m retired. I don’t know how I ever found time to work. I don’t play in South Carolina, so that’s a five-month hiatus in itself. I get my clarinet out in May when the rehearsals for the band start and put it away Labor Day, that’s it.
ER:
How do you find that that effects your playing if you’re not playing half the year?
HA:
Adversely, because you know you should practice regularly, and I don’t continue to improve. I just stay status quo. This I can play, and beyond that I’m not capable anymore. I don’t find the time. I don’t make the time. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that, because I probably should. I could be more supportive of the band if I were keeping up with it more.
ER:
What types of things are taking up your time?
HA:
I’ve become very much enamored of quilting. My husband says I spend way too much time in my sewing room, but I don’t think so, of course. I enjoy sewing here at the church on Mondays. We have a group, part of the Women’s Association, that sews for the Advent workshop sale [and] for the ice cream social. They sell baby quilts and placemats and potholders and all kinds of things, and I enjoy working with that. It’s a social experience too, working with the group of sewers downstairs. We talk about stuff, learn about each other [and] enjoy a lunch together, which is provided by one of the members.
ER:
What…?
HA:
That takes a lot of my time. Plus I have grandchildren, which took a lot of my time for a while. Now my youngest is 22, which doesn’t seem possible. They all have jobs and lives of their own that make it impossible for them to spend quite so much time with Grandma. That’s been a happy thing to take up my time for a while.
[TRACK 2, 15:39]
ER:
What types of things do you like to make when you’re sewing or knitting?
HA:
I make wall hangings. I do quilts. I made I don’t know how many quilts, probably fifteen. I don’t sell anything. They’re all for give-away eventually. I enjoy sleeping under a quilt myself, so I use the quilts and then I give them away eventually. Right now I’m planning to make some baby quilts, because I’m about to be a great-grandmother in May, which is something I recently learned. I’ll be making some baby clothes of our own.
ER:
Is there…?
HA:
I also like to knit. [I] brought my knitting with me today. I knit socks. I used to be the laughingstock of the community, in a way. My kids played basketball, and I always brought my kitting to the basketball games. At first they laughed at me. Pretty soon I saw a lot of other knitting needles clicking away on the stands as we were watching the game. The higher the anxiety in the game, the faster the needles clicked. It was kind of funny. I got a lot of knitting done that way.
ER:
How has what you like knitting changed over the years depending on…?
HA:
Yeah, depending on what was in vogue and what the necessities were. I knitted my way through college. Every guy I knew had argyle socks, which is a very hard thing to start with, if you can imagine, multiple colors and bobbins hanging off everywhere. Then when I had family, I knitted baby things and then children’s sweaters. In high school my kids had sweaters, and a lot of their friends had sweaters that I had made too. Now I really don’t knit that much; I’m more likely to be sewing [or] quilting, except for the socks. I’m into socks because they’re very portable.
ER:
Sort of another hobby-related thing: what about sports? Tell me about any sports you play.
HA:
I’m probably Cooperstown’s non-athlete. I like to swim. When I’m in Myrtle Beach, there’s a pool right in our building. That’s been a disadvantage this summer, because the pool is closed, so I haven’t been able to do it recently, but in a couple of weeks I’ll be back in the pool. My husband, unlike me, is very athletic. He was lettered in almost every sport there was in school and continued to play softball until he was well into his 50s. [He] is a sports nut. We don’t watch television very much in our house, because there’s always a game of some kind on, either football or basketball or baseball. That’s the channel we’re tuned into, so I’ve become a mini fan by osmosis.
ER:
Tell me a little more about your husband.
HA:
He’s a native of Cooperstown. He, as I said, was very active in school in sports. He had a congenital hearing problem and was quite dependent on his ability to lip-read well until he got a hearing aid at age forty-something, forty-one or –two, which was a miracle in our time together, for sure. He was very active in the community. He was in the fire department for thirty-some years. He worked for the post office [and] I think [for] 34 years was the carrier on Main Street. [He] belonged to the Lions Club. He was Scoutmaster for a period. [He] coached baseball with a friend of his from the mini leagues when our kids were really young, [from] minor leagues up through the legion age. [He] enjoyed that; he would have been a very good coach. He graduated from Paul Smith’s College up in the Adirondacks, then got a job in Wyoming and subsequently went to the University of Wyoming and was majoring in Phys Ed. Then a girl came along, and he was afraid she was gonna get away, at least this is the story he always tells. [He] came back here before he graduated, and we did marry after I graduated from college. She didn’t get away.
ER:
How did you meet him?
HA:
Oh, this is a funny story. I mentioned before we were living as students in Bassett Hall. He lived on Beaver Street further down with his parents and his younger sister, and he said he saw this girl walking along, with her ponytail bouncing, up toward the hospital, whistling. I’m sure that wasn’t true, because I don’t know how to whistle. He got together downtown with some of the college kids and asked around, “Who is that girl?” The young man he was talking to said, “Well, I know who that is. That’s Hetty Hanford; she’s my girlfriend’s roommate. I can get you a date with her.” He gave [him] the telephone number of Bassett Hall, and he called. I said, the first time he called, “I can’t go out because my aunt’s coming to town.” He said, “Oh, well, forget that. That’s pretty lame.” He went back and talked to the young man again. He said, “Oh no, that’s true. Her aunt was in the service for years, and she has been in another country, in Germany, for two years. It’s the first time she’s been home. [Her] family’s very close. That’s true. She is meeting her aunt. Try again.” He did. My roommate, after several telephone calls where I just put him off, said, “You don’t have to marry him. Just go out with him.” We went roller-skating with her and the other young man, and I, being the non-athlete that I am, fell a couple of times. He said to himself, “She’s sturdy. I think I’m gonna keep her.” We don’t do much roller-skating anymore. I’ve an artificial knee and arthritis in the other one, so that takes care of that.
[TRACK 2, 22:45]
ER:
What was it like when he was involved with the fire department? What was that like for you?
HA:
[It was] stressful, in a way, because it’s a dangerous job. I was always glad when he came back home. Whenever I hear the fire whistle, you automatically send a little prayer for the safety of the firemen, because they do put themselves on the line every time.
ER:
Tell me a little bit about your kids now.
HA:
I have three sons, who are quite wonderful, of course. My oldest son, Dan, is what we call a computer geek. He is a private contractor for the military in Fort Huachuca, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I don’t get to see him very often. He was an excellent student, again an athlete like his father. My middle son, Michael, is an engineer. He’s a regional engineer for the county. His office is down in Otego. I don’t know if you know where that is. [ER shakes head] It’s on Route 7, south of Oneonta a bit. He has a family. His wife is the art teacher in Cherry Valley-Springfield. They’ve two sons, the oldest of whom is also an engineer, [an] environmental engineer. The younger one is an industrial electrician enjoying his job very much. They’re both very handsome young men, of course, because I’m their grandmother. I’m a little bit biased. My youngest son, Tim, is a very talented hands-on person. He works for Leatherstocking Corporation. He can do masonry. He does carpentry. Right now he’s helping to cut down the Christmas tree for the Santa village here in town from our property, ’cause we have many spruce trees up there. He’s divorced from his wife [and] has two children. His oldest son, John, his only son, works as a pharmacy tech at Bassett, and his daughter, Nicole, married last year and is the one who’s going to make me a great-grandmother in May.
ER:
What are you most looking forward to about being a great-grandmother?
HA:
Oh, you can imagine. Spoiling the child whenever I get a chance. I remember when my son’s son was born. My baby is having a baby. Wait till you get [to] that age. It’s awesome. It’s hard to describe. Something that we started is now proliferating. It’ll be fun to hold the baby. [It’s] been a while. Since my two younger grandsons are both over six feet tall, [it’s] been a long time since I’ve had them in my lap. [I’m] looking forward to that.
ER:
What was it like watching your grandchildren grow up and become adults?
HA:
[It’s] awe-inspiring, in a way, to think that my kids could do such a good job with their own children. They did. They’re great kids.
ER:
We’re almost out of time, so what last thing do you want to talk about?
HA:
What would you like me to talk about, Emily? I think it’s important to be involved in a church. If not in a publicly recognized church congregation, you need a relationship with a superior being. For me, it’s here. [phone rings] That’s my phone. I forgot to turn it off.
ER:
It’s okay.
HA:
We all need support of one kind or another. I find God in this church, and it’s important to me.
ER:
Thank you very much for your time and for talking to me.
HA:
It’s been fun. You’re welcome.

Duration

30:00 - Track 1
27:25 - Track 2

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Time Summary

Track 1, 01:46 - Nursing
Track 1, 19:55 - Cooperstown Presbyterian Church
Track 2, 09:26 - Cooperstown community band
Track 2, 14:13 - Quilting/sewing/knitting
18:57 - Family

Files

Citation

Emily Reinl, “Hetty Adams, November 15, 2016,” CGP Community Stories, accessed August 21, 2017, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/272.