Finding something I don’t know
Posted October 13, 2009on:
I always get in a muddle (a good kind) when I start looking into things that catch my eye.
Last week I made another trip to the Albany Institute and while admiring many of the pieces there, scribbled what notes I might be able to translate later and still take in the place in a somewhat timely fashion. I still have many more days to take on this task, since I barely completed a tour of the Culture & Symbols Gallery and glimpsed some of the gift shop.
The obsession that day was old buildings (one of the obsessions). I began admiring an engraving of the home of a certain Joel Rathbone, Esq. and the lithograph of a James Wagner c1860. I was able to find this page on the Rathbone home which details its history and end. (As I asked a friend in an email, what is it that always brings me back to Doane Stuart?) I have not been having as much luck discovering anything regarding the fate of the home of James Wagner, though since the structure strikes as something I remember seeing before, perhaps it still exists.
I have however been taken on a delightful tour of Albany County history from this. While I’m sure what I should be doing is raiding the NYS Archives the hard way, poring over pages, I am trying to find everything I can online first. I’m basically trying to find everything I can on something I don’t even know exists.
The same thing always happens when I start studying the huge lions that bracket rt 144 and Henry Hudson Park in the Cedar Hill area of Bethlehem, NY. Casual inquiry has found me little (I may have some more names to research than just Guy Park due to a reference here about a Francis Nicoll and the name Barent Winne Rd, referring to ), but the place always draws me to it. In one of those rebellious moments I had far more often in my twenties, I ignored the “No Trespassing ” signs that surround the property and walked through the wooded property they guard. An interesting place. I wish I’d had a digital camera those days. (Heck I wish I had a small one that I could always use to catch snapshots of all the nifty things I see in a day.)
At least here I am taking a far more proactive role in my curiosity (I just finished and sent out an email to the Bethlehem Town Historian regarding the place), but this isn’t my norm. I tend to write snippets, gather friends to show my obsessions to, and daydream.
And with joy and regret, after a morning of scouring pages, I’ve found these pages.
—- Lost Landmarks of Upstate New York: a collection of pictures and stories of buildings that have been either destroyed (or face imminent destruction) in the area
—- Old Abandoned Buildings of Northern New York: a complement to a rather nifty page I found a while back when I started looking up the history of the Roma people and got side tracked to a study of Albanian History (which in turn led me to read about King Zog and his home (2) on Long Island).
Sometimes it seems I jump from one thing to another, flitting about like a butterfly in a field of flowers, I like to scan the pages of history. The truth is that I’m always looking (and finding) connections throughout my journey, linking past and present, and the deeper I look, and the more side trips I take, the more connections I find.
It’s how life seems to work for me; I’m always digging for something I don’t know.