Ansel Lurio, November 6, 2020

Title

Ansel Lurio, November 6, 2020

Subject

Accessibility
Education
Folk Art
Social Life
Religion
Hyde Hall
Fenimore Art Museum
The Farmer's Museum

Description

This interview details Ansel Lurio's time at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Ansel graduated in the class of 2009. Some major highlights of the interview include: Ansel's projects with The Farmers' Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum, his internship at Hyde Hall, his social life in Cooperstown, and the challenges he faced in regards to accessibility.

Creator

Nick DelDuca

Publisher

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

Date

2020-11-06

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
30mB
image/jpeg
548x691 pixel

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

20-006

Coverage

Westchester, NY
1984-2020

Interviewer

Nick DelDuca

Interviewee

Ansel Lurio

Location

Westchester NY
126 Chestnut Street,
Cooperstown NY
Zoom

Transcription

ND:
This is Nick DelDuca, I am interviewing Ansel Lurio who is at his place of residence for purposes of the CGP History Oral Interviews. [We are speaking over the Zoom videoconference platform.] The date is 11/6/2020. Alright Ansel, can you state your full name for me?

AL:
Ansel Lurio

ND:
Alright, tell me about how you ended up at CGP.

AL:
Well, I had basically been a docent at a local historical site near where I live, and I realized that I really wanted to work in the museum field. I'd also done an internship at the Smithsonian history museum back in, I think it was after my first or second year of undergrad. So, I had already done a little bit of museum work so I realized that I wanted to do museum studies so I looked for different programs. I mean, there aren't that many programs. I applied to a bunch of them, but the Cooperstown Graduate Program was the only one that had an interview weekend. So, I really got to know it and I decided I wanted to go there. I'm disabled, I use a wheelchair for mobility, so it was also about how accommodating they would be. But, Dr. Sorin told me that they would make sure to make things as accessible as possible, and to find me housing and stuff, which they did. So, I guess that's how I ended up at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Also, I'm a New York resident, so it was in-state tuition. So, it seemed like a good fit for a good price.

ND:
What was Cooperstown like once you got here? What were your experiences like in Cooperstown once you got here?

AL:
When I first moved, I wasn’t able to find accessible housing in Cooperstown itself, and I was actually living in East Springfield, which was a little off the beaten track. It took about half an hour to get to the graduate program. So, at first, my experience was being a little more distant than the other students, I guess. But, I found Cooperstown stuff to be very friendly and everything. I guess I was a little surprised at how quiet it was during winter, but it was probably good for studying.

ND:
Was that early period when you were more distant, did that make dealing with social interactions more difficult?

AL:
Yes, it did. It took me longer to get places, though in upstate New York half an hour was really not that long.

ND:
What were your classmates like?

AL:
They seemed nice and everything. I had a little trouble getting along with them at first. I was made lead for our first year project, so it was a little hard trying to get people together to do things.

ND:
In regards to the organization, did trying to organize group projects and the like smooth out when second year rolled around, or second semester?

AL:
For the most part, not completely though. I did seem to get into arguments about group projects, But I’ve always had that problem, at least in my schooling. I don't know if I have that problem anymore.

ND:
Outside of CGP itself, what activities were you interested in in town? You mentioned you did contra dancing I believe?

AL:
Yes, I did some of that. I guess, just hanging out at the bar, I don't remember the name of it now. I’m sure it’s the same bar. There are like two bars, one across the street from the other. Does that still exist?

ND:
I think it does, I think I know what you're talking about

AL:
Ok

ND:
A lot of stuff is shut down around here, though, right now

AL :
Yeah, ok, that’s true. Um, what else? Nothing too exciting. I remember going to the movies in Oneonta. What else? I guess there were a few parties. I don't remember being that social though. I'm not a very social person.

ND:
You mentioned the town got really quiet during winter, why don't you describe that a bit more.

AL:
Oh yeah, one thing I forgot. I was also involved in the synagogue in Oneonta. So, what's the next question?

ND:
It's all good. You mentioned the town got really quiet during winter, why don't you describe that a little bit more detailed.

AL:
Um, I mean there were always a few visitors, to the [National Baseball] Hall of Fame, even in the dead of winter, but for the most part there wasn't much going on, and once it got cold enough there would be ice fishing and people skating and stuff. But there isn't really, the mountains nearby aren't big enough for skiing, so there was no like, winter season. And I mean, my family has a house in the Catskills, so I know about places in upstate New York that are pretty active with tourists year-round, but Cooperstown doesn't really have that.

ND:
Would you say that Cooperstown is definitely more, like, how do the two seasons vary?

AL:
During the summer there's lots of tourists around, seems pretty active. There aren't that many people who live in Cooperstown, year-round at least.

ND:
In regards to the summer season, you mentioned that you had an internship over at Hyde Hall, why don't you tell me about that.

AL:
Yes, well that kind of turned out to be a bit of a disaster, because my boss quit halfway through the internship. So, that was a bit crazy. The thing is, I didn't want to have to leave the Cooperstown area during the summer. Looking back on it, it was also sort of, I thought about the internship too late, I think if I had started earlier, I would’ve gotten an internship at the Hall of Fame or something. But in a way, it was a nice place to have an internship, though, because it’s in Glimmerglass [State] Park, so you could just go to the beach down there, which is nice. I don't know what Hyde Hall is like right now, but when I was there they were still doing a lot of restoration work. So, it was kind of interesting seeing that happen. I just remembered the restorer was very, very slow; it was taking, like, years to do it.

ND:
What did you do during the internship there?

AL:
Oh, I helped to put together a few community programs. I put together a bike race or something. I tried to do things with the Girl Scouts, because there’s some connection between that site and the Girl Scouts. Also, I just did like front desk work, took tickets and sold merchandise and stuff.

ND:
You mentioned that part of the reason you were interested in CGP was because Gretchen said they were going to be good about accessibility, how did that all work out?

AL:
Yea, they kind of recruited me, I guess. They kind of recruited me. What about it?

ND:
Did that all work well? Did they manage that well?

AL:
Um, I mean the housing was definitely a problem. And, it was also difficult, I mean, I have an aide to help me, and it was difficult finding good aides. The problems weren't really, were sort of out of control of the program itself. And I also realized that I didn't really like living in such a rural area actually.

ND:
Were you out in East Springfield through the entirety of your time here in Cooperstown?

AL:
No, no, the second year I found a place in town, on Railroad Avenue.

ND:
You mentioned having an aide, how did that affect your experience?

AL:
Um, I mean I guess it affected it in the sense that the aide had to drive me places. I guess the only way it affected things is that they were sometimes around. I had two aides that quit, so that was an issue. But, I mean, nothing really that directly affected the program.

ND:
Were there any aspects of the program schoolwork-wise that were particularly difficult?

AL:
The group projects, I would say. Um, I don't know, I didn’t find anything else that difficult.

ND:
Overall, would you say that going to CGP and having the experience at CGP, did it help strengthen you overall?

AL:
Yeah, yeah, I would say so. I guess I thought it would help me more in my career than it did. That's the one thing I would say.

ND:
So, it was less directly impactful than you thought it would be?

AL:
Yes, exactly

ND:
Okay. Do you have any particularly strong fond memories of, or not fond if you want, memories of your time here?

AL:
I definitely have some fond memories of my time.

ND:
Well, why don't you tell me about one or two of those?

AL:
I have fond memories of doing the thesis because I got to travel for researching stuff. So, that was good; I liked doing that.

ND:
Why don't you tell me a little bit more about that?

AL:
Well, my thesis was about what The Farmers’ Museum can learn from farm-based education, so I went to Shelburne Farms in Vermont, Stone Barns here in Westchester. I feel like there was one near New Paltz. I don’t remember but I did get to travel and that was interesting.

ND:
Along the notes of travel, were there any particular field trips or the like?

AL:
Oh yeah! The field trips were great. The field trip to Philadelphia was really a lot of fun.

ND:
What did you guys do over in Philadelphia?

AL:
What did we do? We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; we went to the Barnes Center, right before they moved, so they were still in the suburb of Philadelphia, which was kind of weird. I don't know, we went to some sort of mill. A house, it was the [Wharton Esherick Museum] house or something; it was an eccentric artist’s, we went to his house. We went to the Philadelphia Waterworks. Yeah, it was a lot of fun, actually.

ND:
Were there any other field trips that were particularly exciting?

AL:
Well, I mean the one to Toronto was also really good. I remember we went to the shoe museum there, the Bata Shoe Museum, which is pretty incredible actually. We went to the Royal Ontario Museum. We stopped by Niagara Falls, which is actually the only time I’ve ever been to Niagara Falls. What else? We went to the Stickley factory, that was pretty neat.

ND:
Which class would call your favorite class?

AL:
Probably Culture and Collections. Very hands on, we got to see different artifacts and stuff, so I really liked that.

ND:
Tell me a little bit more about that.

AL:
We had to have journal entries for different objects, which was sort of neat trying to go into the collection. I actually used some artifacts of my own for a couple of those, so that was kind of interesting to see what I had. Provenance. I had a little coffee table I looked at, some silver I inherited from my great aunt. I think I did do one of those.

ND:
Were there any parts of the curriculum you didn't particularly enjoy?

AL:
I can't remember the class, it’s the one where they talk about the correct humidity of objects, and stuff like that. It was pretty boring. Collections management, I guess. Pretty dry stuff.

ND:
You mentioned being involved in contra dancing here in town, why don't you tell me a bit more about that?

AL:
I thought it might be hard to participate, but I managed to dance from my wheelchair, so it worked out. I don’t know, it just seemed like something I never really heard about, but seemed to have a following upstate, so it seemed like an interesting thing to go to, and they were. I like folk and traditional music, so.

ND:
So, contra dancing, I’m trying to wrap my head around what it is, why don't you describe a little of what it is.

AL:
I guess it’s kind of like country dancing, it’s one of those things where you are in a line, I guess. It’s very structured dancing. Country style type dancing. I don't actually remember; it’s been quite a while.

ND:
You mentioned being involved in the synagogue in Oneonta, why don't you tell me a little more about that?

AL:
It was the first time I’d lived in a place with very few Jews, so I felt a little uncomfortable about that. So, I was happy that there was a community down in Oneonta. It was nice going to services down there but it's hard to integrate yourself into a community like that in such a short period of time. But I was glad they were there, especially during the Jewish holidays when I couldn’t go back home.

ND:
Overall, did you stay in the Cooperstown region during your breaks? Or, did you head back home?

AL:
I don't remember exactly. Because of my internship at Hyde Hall I didn’t go anywhere during the summer. Well, actually I did go to Scotland later that summer with my family. I don't exactly remember when I went back and stayed in Cooperstown.

ND:
You mentioned the bars here in Cooperstown?

AL:
Well, the bar, singular.

ND:
Well, the bar, yes. Why don’t you tell me a little about that?

AL:
It was a pretty friendly place. Seemed like all the graduate students went there; a place to blow off steam. Complain about the teachers, things like that.

ND:
Generally speaking, regarding class work, did you end up doing any of that. I know CGP has a lounge. Did you end up doing any of that at the lounge, or the bar, or anything like that? Or did you only do that at home.

AL:
No, I worked at the computer lab in CGP. Never the bar. Some people do that, but I can't imagine that. Sometimes at the library. I don't even know what it’s called right now, but it was the New York [State Historical Association] at the time.

ND:
I've only ever heard it referred to as the public library, but I could be wrong, unless I’m thinking of a different library.

AL:
I mean, you're talking about the one that’s...

ND:
On Main Street?

AL:
No, the one that's next to the art museum.

ND:
Oh, I was thinking of the wrong library.

AL:
Oh. No, I didn't go into the public library very much.

ND:
Weather wise, to roll back around to the winter, was the weather itself particularly nasty during the winter, or was it relatively calm? Because, I know winters around here can be interesting sometimes.

AL:
I mean, I remember the lake [Otsego Lake] freezing over sometimes, I don't know if that's happened yet while you've been there.

ND:
Not yet it hasn’t. It’s still relatively warm here right now. I think we've had one big snowstorm.

AL:
Ok. I meant. Oh, this is your first year, right?

ND:
Yeah.

AL:
No, I remember there were ice huts and stuff, people ice fishing.

ND:
Neat.

AL:
But I don't know if that happens every year, and maybe it's gotten too warm. I don't know.

ND:
How was the building itself? The Cooperstown building. How was it for accessibility purposes.

AL:
Well, I was there when they had the older building. So, the downstairs was inaccessible, not that there was anything down there really. I know a couple people actually lived down there. Yeah, I think most of the stuff was on the main floor, so it was mostly accessible. There were some buildings at The Farmers’ Museum that weren't accessible, but for the most part everything's been pretty accessible.

ND:
During your time here, if you guys had professional speakers, were there any speakers in particular that stood out to you?

AL:
I can't remember any of them. Yeah, I can't really remember any of them.

ND:
We talked about Hyde Hall, but did you have any experiences with the other museums here? Like any projects or partnerships or anything like that?

AL:
With the Fenimore Art Museum, yeah. Because I took a Folk Art class. I remember making an audio guide for the folk art collection. And then at The Farmers’ Museum I put together a distance learning program there, about sustainable agriculture. Working with Pathfinder Village for a special tour for The Farmers’ Museum. So yeah, I did do some work with those. Nothing with the Hall of Fame.

ND:
Why don't you tell me about the project with the Fenimore?

AL:
It was for children. I guess that was actually one of my favorite classes, the folk art class. Mainly because it's a lot of interesting characters that have made folk art over the years. A lot of the art is kind of oddball and stuff. It's definitely interesting, though.

ND:
Why don't you tell me a bit more about that class then?

AL:
It was taught by Paul D’Ambrosio, I don't know if he's still there. I think he's still there. And, he had written a book about Ralph Fasanella who I really liked, and we saw that some of the subjects of Ralph Fasanella included Westchester, where I grew up. I thought that was kind of cool. A lot of connections with New York City. I remember a lot about Ralph Fasanella. I also remember reading and writing some stuff about this folk artist who is disabled. I can't remember if he used a wheelchair, but he lost use of his legs. I thought that was a very interesting story.

ND:
In regards to The Farmers’ Museum, you said it was a distance learning project? So why don't you tell me a bit about the apparatus behind that.

AL:
I worked with Katie Boardman on that. I was the only one in my class who was interested in museum education. In prior years she had had more people in class, but I was the only one in class that year. I remember there was some sort of distance learning conference at The Farmers’ Museum that year or something. And this is when they were just first starting to use that as a tool. I used a lot of videos and stuff that could be transmitted without them being there. I tried to use a lot of props and stuff. I remember doing the actual class at least once.

ND:
While you were there, did CGP have a science track?

AL:
No, just the history track

ND:
Do you have any other stories regarding your time that you would like to share?

AL:
Not really, no.

ND:
Alright, let me see if I have any other questions for you. I can ask this one. You mentioned that CGP while was really helpful for you, it wasn’t particularly helpful in your career. Would you say that there were any other ways it helped you, or was it just character building?

AL:
Writing a thesis definitely helped with my writing skills. It taught me about how to better work with groups. It definitely enhances my knowledge when I visit museums, I can critique them well. Yeah, I can't think of anything else.

ND:
That's all the questions I have, so if there's nothing else you want to talk about, I think we'll call it here. Thank you for your time. This has been Nick DelDuca's interview with Ansel Lurio for the CGP Community Stories project.

AL:
Well, I guess one other thing. I want to talk about when I did exactly what you’re doing, with the interviews. I actually interviewed the oldest living graduate in Cooperstown at the time, who was in his 90s. I interviewed him, and he actually passed away a few months later. So, my interview was a bit emotional.

ND:
Well, why don't you tell me a little bit more about the interview itself then?

AL:
Well, it was interesting to see, when he went to the graduate program, he was one of the first students, but he was also a lot older than everyone else. He was in their folklore program or whatever it was called. His house was sort of off the beaten track. I'd have to listen back to the interview. It was an honor to interview him, and for him to pass away just a few months later, for me to get his story before he passed.

ND:
Well, I think that's everything this time. This has been Nick DelDuca's interview with Ansel Lurio for the CGP Community Stories project. Ansel, thank you for your time and all your wonderful information.

Duration

41:48

Bit Rate/Frequency

101kbps

Time Summary

Track 1, 0:00 Start - Basic data
Track 1, 1:48 - Admissions to CGP
Track 1, 2:59 - Impressions of Cooperstown and area
Track 1, 3:30 - Classwork/Program
Track 1, 5:57 - Cooperstown social life/ tourism
Track 1, 9:29 - Hyde Hall internship
Track 1, 12:15 - Accessibility
Track 1, 15:00 - Schoolwork/Program
Track 1, 23:20 - Contra dancing
Track 1, 24:52 - Synagogue
Track 1, 27:00 - Classwork/Building
Track 1, 30:00 - Fenimore/Farmers projects
Track 1, 37:00 - Closing impacts
Track 1, 40:00 - Ansel's interview experience

Files

AnselLurioPicture.PNG

Citation

Nick DelDuca, “Ansel Lurio, November 6, 2020,” CGP Community Stories, accessed September 16, 2021, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/453.