Ghosts at Green Hill, literature at the library

Jerry Snyder as Albert Vedder, John Naple as William Robb. Photo by Catherine Pikul.

There were two worthwhile events I was happy to be a part of this past weekend, events that repeat each year and are worthy of supporting.

The first event was the third annual Historic Amsterdam League’s dramatic production “Ghosts of the Past” tour through the Green Hill Cemetery. Ticket holders we bussed from City Hall up to the Cornell Street entrance to the cemetery, where they were met by the first of three “ghost guides”, who led the groups to see little known but still important internees of the cemetery. I took the tour on Friday night and was very impressed with the production. The performances were first rate and very enlightening. Observing the production from the behinds the scenes the next day, I found out the volunteers who supported them were also exceptional.

The ghost tours event was planned and executed over the course of about two and a half months by HAL members with expert oversight by Dory Polacko. The background material on the historical figures portrayed as ghosts was researched by Alessa Wylie, Jerry Snyder and HAL Secretary Dave Brownell. A pictorial display of the ghosts was created by Dave Brownell and displayed at the tour’s beginning at the City Hall lobby.

According to Snyder, in a conversation yesterday, the tour was a success in terms of the number of people who took it, but more so in the way it was received and experienced. All in all, in the words of Helen White, lifelong Amsterdam resident and tour taker, “I was introduced to a few former Amsterdam residents in the tour. It was a good experience, and one to look forward to next year.”

The players for the ghost tour were Rob Von Hasseln as John S. Maxwell, Jerry Snyder as Albert Vedder, Tom Pikul as J.D. Serziss, John Naple as William Robb, Kathi Allen as Fannie Bartlett, Vanessa Stark as Sarah Jane Sanford, Scott Hafner as Henry Schotte, Vincent Stark as Thomas Bunn, Paul Damiano as Joseph Shuler, and Ron Burch as Joseph Bartley.

The second event, the Amsterdam Free Library’s program titled “Creative Harvest,” was held this past Saturday, October 18th,2014. It involved nine local and regional authors reading from either their published works or works in progress, either fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or in one case limericks. Dan Weaver moderated the program and read last. Nicole Hemsley, director of the library, and her capable staff have pulled off two successful reading events this year, supported entirely by the library.

The event began at approximately 10:30 am with Michael Cinquanti, who read from his holiday novella, Not Just Another Christmas Story.

The authors and their works:

Bob Cudmore, Nero

Maureen Hand, from a short story titled Who’s Gonna Believe it?

Sandy Nellis Lane, The Trail Of The Wildflowers Part 1: Vermont And Great Britain 1882-1884

Dave Northrup, read from his forthcoming novel The Gandy Dancers

Tom Pikul, Limericks

Kathleen Pooler, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.

Jay Towne, A Pigs Eye View, Minutiae

Dan Weaver read from an incomplete essay titled The Local Boy.

The event was enjoyable to all who participated as an outlet for their creativity.

Kathleen Pooler said she wanted to send a message of hope. “The thing I had to answer was the question, how does a young woman make so many wise choices about her career but so many bad choices about her personal life…I’m living a great life now, but for years I lived with guilt and shame because of the poor choices I made…I want to share a message of hope, to women and men, who find themselves in situations that aren’t good.”

Asked if he enjoyed himself at the Creative Harvest, author Dave Northrup said, “Yes, very much so. I think that there should be a concerted effort to do more of this because there is a real fount of history and culture, and the raw material for some really interesting literature in Amsterdam.”

I was thankful to be involved this weekend with both productions, as they were two worthwhile events put on by scores of devoted volunteers from not-for-profit organizations, with the outcome being an experience worth remembering. I’m looking forward to next year!

(All photos by Catherine Pikul)

Jay Towne

Jay Towne is a resident of Amsterdam, has published six books and is the writer and director of a radio drama, Any Good Thing, that currently airs on WOPG.