Category Archives: Endwell NY

Miss George and my theatrical debut #AtoZChallenge

M is for Miss George and my theatrical debut. Thirteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Halfway there — wish me luck!

My fourth-grade teacher Miss Helen George entered my elementary years in September 1959 — a landmark school year for me with so many new  things to learn.

My memories of second and third grades at Hooper School in Endwell, N.Y. do not stand out in the same way, although I am sure my teachers were able and dedicated.

Miss Helen George, my fourth grade teacher. I remember Miss George holding forth and coaching us on one topic or another — from cursive handwriting to deportment — and writing and directing historic plays that we fourth-graders appeared in.

But I recall many details of fourth grade, which began when I was 9 years old.

Foremost among them is Miss George holding forth and coaching us on one topic or another — from cursive handwriting to deportment — as discussed in my previous series about her.

“She was just great,” my mom told me years later. “The classical type of person you think of when you hear the word teacher.”

I take to the stage

Perhaps my most vivid memory from my year with Miss George is taking to the stage in my first acting roles — once playing a character and a second time introducing a play in Hooper School’s new auditorium.

Ready for my closeup in Miss George’s fourth grade plays (1959).

Miss George was a history buff who regularly used stagecraft to impart lessons to her students. And in 1959-60 she created two plays about town and state history for my fourth grade class.

In her play Hooper’s Favored Site, Miss George created a drama set in the 1800s about early residents of Endwell (called Hooper back then) — which sadly left out the area’s original Native inhabitants.

Although her script is lost to history, I remember appearing in that play in an old-time dress (sewn by my grandmother) that my mom or her sister Aunt Rita had worn when they were in grade school.

I do proclaim, “Samuel D. Champlain!”

For my second appearance, I had to stand alone onstage in front of the curtains and recite the prologue to the play — before a packed audience of parents and siblings. Much more anxiety provoking than a role in the play!

I don’t remember the soliloquy. What I do remember is that as part of the introduction I had to shout Miss George’s required pronunciation of SAMuel D. ChamPLAIN — a key character in her melodramatically titled play Year of Glory.

http://endicott.advantage-preservation.com/viewer/?k=molly%20charboneau&i=f&d=01011855-12311960&m=between&ord=k1&fn=daily_bulletin_usa_new_york_endicott_19591125_english_12&df=1&dt=1
My first theatrical review. Through online newspaper research, I was pleased to find this write-up of my performance. Not a review exactly — but still! Source: Endicott Daily Bulletin, Nov., 25, 1959.

My performance in the news

Fast forward six decades and through online newspaper research I was pleased to find the above write-up of my performance. Not a review exactly — but still!

There I am in the the third paragraph on the list of “principal characters” along with classmates I later went through high school with — some of whom I still see at reunions and on Facebook.

According to the article, our play was Hooper School’s contribution to New York State’s Year of History celebration. Well, leave it to Miss George to be sure we were connected to history!

Up next: N is for Norm: My thirty-something dad. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Lightning bugs and lakeside lily pads #AtoZChallenge

L is for Lightning bugs and lakeside lily pads. Twelfth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

After the scary Susquehanna flooding subsided and school was over for the year, my elementary years in Endwell, N.Y. were filled with childhood play and the wonders of nature.

First among them, in June, were lightning bugs — those sparkling miracles that would flit around after dusk and twinkle above shrubs and lawns. They loved the humidity near the river — and my brothers, neighborhood playmates and I would catch them in mayonnaise jars and marvel at their phosphorescence before letting them escape into the night.

Tiny toads

All sorts of flora and fauna sprang up along the flood plain — so we kids got nature lessons as we walked around or rode our bikes or played hide-and-seek to pass the time. And I learned not to be squeamish about our discoveries.

https://pixabay.com/photos/common-toad-toad-animal-frog-brown-5038043/
Common toad. When Susquehanna flood waters subsided the ground was covered with tiny toads. Every time you stepped, the ground seemed to leap in unison. Photo: Pixabay

For example, the receding river water left hatching toads in its wake — millions of them! When you walked on the drying mud near the river, the ground seemed to leap in unison each time you stepped.

The toads were brown and blended in, but we loved to catch them and marvel at their minuscule size — only as big as a fingernail. Of course our mothers were beside themselves, and told us firmly, “Stop catching toads!” as we headed out to play. But the little jumpers were so hard to resist — and so interesting to look at.

Milkweed and burdock

Right behind our back yard, there was a huge stand of milkweed — the smooth green pods waving in the sun and their white sap bitter on my fingers when I tried to pull one off. Monarch butterflies love the plant’s flowers, so we had plenty of those around, too

https://pixabay.com/photos/milkweed-seeds-milk-weed-3184823/
Mature milkweed dropping  tufted seeds. Best of all was when the milkweed matured and released thousands of white seed tufts floating through the air. We kids loved to blow on them to send them sailing. Photo: Pixabay

Best of all was when the milkweed matured and released thousands of white seed tufts floating through the air — so soft to the touch compared to the green pods of early summer. We kids loved to blow on them to send them sailing.

Then there was the bane of every mother’s existence — burdock! When we ran in the field behind our house, the plant’s rough seed coat (the inspiration for Velcro) got stuck to our clothes. Oh, how I hated coming home to face my mother with burdocks clinging to my socks! How could I know then that it was an edible, medicinal plant?

Lakeside lilies and giant hogs

Not long after we moved to Endwell, my parents bought a small lot on Page Lake in New Milford, Pennsylvania — about a 45-minute drive away — where we used to go on weekends. Our camp was located on the opposite shore, as shown in the photo below.

https://www.lakehomes.com/pennsylvania/page-lake-new-milford-twp/e-shore-page-lake-dr-new-milford-pa-18834-lhrmls-00562255
Page Lake, New Milford, PA. My parents bought a small, narrow lot on this lake toward the right side of this photo. We went there on weekends, and it was a great place to learn to swim and explore nature. Photo: lakehomes.com

That’s where my brothers and I learned to swim — and one of our first jobs was to dive under water and pull up the water lily plants that blocked our access to the lake. Those lilies were pretty — but boy were they tough. We would dive and yank at the roots and come back up for air, then back down again. But by the end of the first summer, we managed to clear them so we could enjoy our swims.

https://pixabay.com/photos/lotus-lilly-pad-water-lily-238452/
Water lilies: pretty but tough. My brothers and I learned to swim at Page Lake — and one of our first jobs was to dive under water and pull up the water lily plants that blocked our access to the lake. Photo: Pixabay

Access to our lakeside lot required driving over the hill behind it, shown in the lake photo above, on a road that traversed a local farm. When we turned in from the main road, one of us kids would get out to open the farm gate — then we would drive between two styes filled with huge, napping pigs (the largest I had ever seen!) and down to the lakeside road.

Blackberries and fried fish

https://pixabay.com/photos/blackberries-bramble-berries-bush-1539540/
Blackberries: a natural dessert. In the woods behind our lot on Page Lake there were blackberry bushes where we could eat our fill. Photo: Pixabay

When we weren’t swimming, my parents liked to take us for walks in the woods above the lake. The woods were cool and pretty, with a mix of pine and deciduous trees — and there were blackberry bushes where we could eat our fill.  A nice, natural dessert after a pan-fried dinner of fish we had caught in the lake — both still favorites of mine.

Up next, M is for Miss George: My fourth grade teacher. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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KDKA and radio mania #AtoZChallenge

K is for KDKA and radio mania. Eleventh of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Toward the end of my elementary years in Endwell, N.Y., I became a big Top 40 radio fan — as did most local tweens in my neighborhood and at school.

During the daytime, especially on weekends when the record chart came out, I listened to our local station WENE — located in nearby Endicott in a one-story building with glass brick windows.

Former WENE Radio building in Endicott, N.Y. (2018). In my late elementary years, especially on weekends when the Top 40 chart came out, I listened to our local station WENE — which was located in this building on Main St. near the public library. Photo: Molly Charboneau

But after dark my musical vistas expanded as powerful Top 40 AM stations turned up their frequencies to broadcast across the northeast. Thus began my years of KDKA and radio mania.

World’s coolest radio set

My maternal grandfather was a machinist who shopped at auctions with my antique-dealer grandmother. So Gramps came across all sorts of cool gadgets and electronics in his travels.

Vintage radio. About the time I got interested in Top 40 radio, he gave me the coolest gift of all — a giant, portable AM, FM, shortwave radio with a built in reel-to-reel tape recorder.

About the time I got interested in Top 40 radio, he gave me the coolest gift ever — a giant, portable AM, FM, shortwave radio with a built in reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was housed in heavy case that had the look of a World War II relic, but I didn’t care — because with that radio set I could listen to big city stations located miles away from Endwell. What a thrill!

On summer nights in particular, when I could stay up really late since I had no school, I would patiently turn the dial hunting for DJs playing Top 40 tunes — then flip among the various stations in hopes of hearing a new song our local station wasn’t playing yet.

Top 40 radio mania

That’s how I discovered powerhouse stations like KDKA in Pittsburgh, CKLW in Windsor-Detroit, WABC in New York City, WBZ in Boston and WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana — and how I became a fan of some of the late night DJs.

One DJ who I particularly liked was Bruce Morrow (Cousin Brucie), one of WABC’s Good Guys — and one time I wrote him a letter about something he said or played on his show. To my astonishment, he wrote back — a letter I am sure he typed himself because I remember it had errors and corrections, not at all like an official correspondence.

https://echoes.org/2007/06/18/radio-heroes-and-acolytes-dick-summer-stars-end-and-beyond/
Top 40 DJ Dick Summer back in the day. I had a huge crush on Dick Summer from WBZ in Boston, so I took part in the various fun activities he publicized on the air. Photo: echoes.org

Another DJ that I had a huge crush on was Dick Summer from WBZ in Boston — so I took part in the various fun activities he publicized on the air. For one thing, he had a pet Venus flytrap — and I believe offered them for sale from WBZ. So I saved up my allowance, ordered one and had endless fun feeding it hamburger — an early lesson in botany!

He also offered “boy watcher’s” and “girl watcher’s” cards — pre-printed postcards with his photo on the flip side and a circle you cut out to watch/meet boys or girls at the beach. I didn’t live near the beach — but I still felt a part of his show having my boy watcher’s card propped up next to my carnivorous plant.

http://www.wvnh.net/summer/dicksummer.htm
Dick Summer Girl Watcher’s Card. Even though I didn’t live near Boston or the beach, I ordered  a Boy Watcher’s card and propped it up in my room near the radio where I listened to WBZ on summer nights. Photo: wvnh.net

Shortwave syncopation

Those faraway DJs made our local station seem small and provincial — especially when it took weeks for WENE to play the new songs I was hearing on late night radio. And sometimes, as a break from Top 40,  I would turn to the shortwave dial to see what further-away wavelengths had to offer.

That’s how I ended up listening one night to the Red Army Chorus –broadcast from the former Soviet Union. The U.S. may have been coming off the McCarthy period, but my mom was a school music and choral teacher — and I knew good singing when I heard it. So I tuned in again from time to time to hear their stirring tunes.

And thus, bit by bit, radio mania in my elementary years piqued my curiosity about the world far beyond my street, my school and my small upstate New York town.

Up next: L is for Lightening bugs and lakeside lilies. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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