The days are going by way too fast, and this hits home whenever I think about how infrequently I post on the blog. I’ve been playing with all the new things I learned at Art and Soul when I get a few minutes, but these last few weeks have been consumed with my other love – our local history. To give a brief background, I live in Brightwaters, NY and had volunteered for the job of Village Historian years ago, although, with work, family and other circumstances, I wasn’t a very active historian. Plus, I wasn’t even sure what it was I was supposed to be doing. Then about a month ago, I came across an old email that had been forwarded to me by the village office from a man whose grandfather worked for the village in the 1940’s and 50’s. I hadn’t been able to help him back then, but now that I know a little more about researching and have found some good resources on the net, I picked up the search again. Eventually, I discovered the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives, a plethora of articles on life in Brooklyn and Long Island from 1841 to 1955. [brooklyn.newspapers.com] I really had to restrict my time reading the articles, or whole days could go by with me poring over page after page. It was time-consuming, but just so fascinating.
Well, all this research led to an idea that perhaps we should have a history column on the village’s website. Surely, there are others who would be interested in how it all started. And then maybe that would bring out more stories of days-gone-by from people who live here, grew up here. After speaking with our mayor and some of the trustees, it was decided that I should do a talk to introduce our residents to the idea. Now, public speaking is not my cup of tea, but I agreed to do it. We showed some great early twentieth-century pictures of Brightwaters, most of them from an extensive postcard collection of a friend of mine, that we were able to project onto a screen through the computer.
Also on display was a copy of an early map of the village that showed the available lots for sale, copies of the developer’s advertisements in the Brooklyn papers, and the favorite of the night, sheet music for the song “Brightwaters”, written in 1929. There was a good turnout the evening of the talk and lots of interest from those who attended. A number of people were eager to share their stories of what growing up here in the 1960’s and 1970’s was like, how things have changed. I was very inspired. As soon as the website is ready, we’re going to try a monthly column, and I hope to interview anyone who’s interested in adding their voice to the story. We’ll see where it leads!