By Jane Harrison
The last weekend of March was a reminder of what life used to be.
Friday night was THE JOHNNY JULES BAND at CABERNET FRANK’S in Parksville. It was just the ‘feel good’ music I needed after spending so much time inside my house. Plus, I had come into a very special night, as there was a surprise birthday party scheduled for ED SCHUTTE of TREESTALKERS TREE CARE LLC. I was introduced peripherally by what can only be described as glowing recommendations of his understanding of tree services. So not only did I get to hear my favorites from Dylan to Elvis to old timey Country and Bluegrass but met the Birthday guy with the best smile ever.
Saturday afternoon found me at the HURLEYVILLE GENERAL STORE for a talk by Sullivan County Historian JOHN CONWAY and MYRON GITTELL, the man instrumental in the publishing of Manville B. Wakefield’s TO THE MOUNTAINS BY RAIL in this beautiful, glossy edition. As you may remember from previous writings, this book captured me when I was lent a copy in my first few years up here and how thrilled when I learned a 50th anniversary publication was in the offing and I could have one my very own.
I have attended a few talks by JOHN CONWAY and I always come away with bits of knowledge that I didn’t have before. This was no exception. I was not aware that Manville B. Wakefield was the Sullivan County Historian in the 1960’s, which all by itself lends more credence to this book. I was surprised to learn that there are times in Sullivan County history that were tagged as the SILVER AGE (ending around 1915) and the GOLDEN AGE, (which was the age of the major hotels, ending in 1965). These terms are familiar, but I had never attributed them to a county. I acquired a new understanding of the prosperity that was here and how the rail lines contributed to that, something that eluded me having moved here in 2009.
The second part of the talk was by MYRON GITTELL and involved the difficulty and successes of publishing this volume. The easy part was getting Wakefield’s widow to agree to allowing the publication. After that, it’s not as easy as copying a page, changing the size and calling it a day! He shared with the crowd a mock-up of the early days of what would become a treasure. The most difficult were the photos (and this publication is loaded with 600 of them), the placement of, the reproduction of, the sizing of, and so on. All of which gave one an intense appreciation of the tremendous amount of work that went into this book which is really a work of art.
The book is available at the SULLIVAN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY and MUSEUM, and at THE HURLEYVILLE GENERAL STORE.
And then on Sunday afternoon, off to what became another ‘standing room only’ event at CABERNET FRANK’S, the tribute to drummer NICKY RED who passed away in February. Organized by guitarist GREG HATTAN, it became an all-star review with some of the best names in the Sullivan County music scene. The weather, of course, did not co-operate. While in Parksville, there were only snow showers, in other parts that afternoon, full on frequent blinding snow squalls kept some away. Many of his friends and I agreed that this was Nicky. He would have hated this, hated the attention. And it was interesting that the snow flurries would stop when certain people took the stage and would start again immediately when the stage was turned over to someone else. I was not the only one to notice this. Approval and disapproval from beyond? We will miss you, Nicky!
Until next time…….