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But I’m NOT a Method Actress!

I’m afraid this blog may become All Roxy All The Time sooner than one might expect.  Opening night is one month from tomorrow.  Plenty of time, you say?  Perhaps.  But it is difficult to concentrate on other things, especially on nights when we have rehearsal.  And anyways, I thought of something new to talk about.

Roxy, for anybody just tuning in, is a play written by local author Jack Sherman about Roxalana Druse, who murdered her husband and was later hung for it at Herkimer County Jail.  The play is being presented by Herkimer County Historical Society at Ilion Little Theatre.  I play Roxy.

The historical society is going to great lengths to make the play authentic.  They have biographical information on many of the characters.  We have two costume designers who are striving to make the costumes true to the time period.  And then there is the set…

Since Roxalana Druse was famously the last woman hung in New York State (James Greiner wrote a book about her called Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse; good book, read it), one might expect to see a gallows in a play on the subject.  So the historical society got a gallows.  In fact, they got some folks at BOCES to build them a gallows just like the one used on the real Roxy.

These gallows were pretty interesting in and of themselves.  They were called the Galloping Gallows, because they could be taken apart and moved.  Herkimer County rented them for the occasion.  Additionally, this was not a traditional gallows, where the condemned fell through a trap door.  Instead, a weight was dropped, jerking the body upward.  Who thinks of these things?

I have to confess, I am feeling just a little bit nervous about this contraption.  I think it is a bit more realistic than is strictly necessary.  How do I know the guy playing the sheriff won’t get a little carried away with his part on opening night?  Do you suppose I should insist upon a stunt double?



Another Visit to the Historical Society

Last Saturday I got to introduce some friends to a couple of my favorite places, the Herkimer County Historical Society and the 1834 Jail in Herkimer, NY.  I know I have mentioned  both places before, but I think they rate numerous shout-outs.

My sister Cheryl and some friends had long been interested in visiting the jail, which is not open for tours on a regular basis. I suggested we watch for when the Historical Society holds its Open House in June, because the jail has been open that day at least for the last couple of years, when I have made it to the Open House.

We arrived at the Jail, on Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners on Main and Church streets,shortly after eleven, only to find out that the tours did not start as early as we had thought.  I suggested we check out the Historical Society, which is right across the way.

Of course I had to show off my knowledge and explain that the house had belonged to Dr. A Walter Suiter, although he had only used it for his office. Dr. Suiter provided medical testimony for two of Herkimer County’s most famous murder trials, of Chester Gilette and Roxalana Druse.

As we walked into the Queen Anne style brick mansion, we saw a display about the Gilette  case. We talked about the case and about how Hollywood did not get it right in A Place in the Sun (although that is a highly entertaining movie). I said that Chester Gilette was a player. I’ve read several books about the case.

As we walked around downstairs I pointed out the ornate Remington typewriter. I have a less fancy Remington typewriter myself.. We all admired the doctor’s study with its built-in bookcases and large fireplace. The woodwork throughout the house is beautiful.

Upstairs we noted the old bicycle with the huge front and tiny rear wheels. We marveled over the fact that a man rode it right across the country.

“And that was in the days before highways and Motel 6,” I said.

We also enjoyed looking at the dollhouses and the portraits of local people of note. I pointed out Margaret Tugor, because Cheryl had noticed a picture of the South Side School in a display about immigrants downstairs. Miss Tugor had been principal of that school, which was later named after her.

The third floor, which is not open on a regular basis, holds many artifacts and archives. We especially noted many typewriters, some chairs in need of repair, and a rather delightful baby carriage.

I suggested we go down the back staircase from the second back to the first floor, and that was another experience. The stairs are steep, narrow and curved. I think it is good to know what the servants put up with back in the day.

In the gift shop, I chatted up Caryl Hopson about the play Roxy, which the society is presenting at Ilion Little Theatre (I’ll be writing a lot about that as time goes on). I also ate a couple of cookies, which were from the Heidelberg Bakery. Who could resist?

Caryl suggested we walk a couple of doors down, where another archaeological dig was going on. I had pointed out in the society’s yard where a dig had been going on last year. A glass case in the gift shop displayed many of the artifacts that had been found. Included are a surprising number of intact glass pharmaceutical bottles.

At this year’s dig, a guy was down a well on a safety harness, sending up buckets of dirt and stones. Four people were sifting through them. They explained that they were hoping to find the exact location of Fort Dayton. The house they were digging behind belongs to a member of the Historical Society. She invited them to dig in her back yard, because she knew it was a likely spot.

Making our way back to Main Street, we saw people in front of the jail. We discovered that they were waiting for Jim Greiner to come give the tours. I was pleased to hear that. Greiner wrote the book Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse. He is very knowledgeable about the jail and local history. I’ve taken the jail tour with him and enjoyed it very much.

While we waited we were allowed into the basement and on the first floor. I shared a few of the things I remembered. The lady who let us in told us more, particularly about a house-shaped clock made by a prisoner out of cigar boxes.

I left when Jim arrived, because I did not have time to take the tour. After the jail, my sister and friends were off to Utica to tour the Rutgers Mansions. That’s something I’d love to do next time.


A Walk for Tabby

I was unable to write my intended post today (no excuses, just the usual reasons). I see it has been two weeks since my last Pedestrian Post, so I submit the following.

I felt I owed our schnoodle, Tabby, something fun. Last night (Wednesday) we went to the laundromat, a new activity for us, as regular readers may recall. Tabby saw us loading the car and got all excited. We must be going somewhere fun! In her defense, that is usually the only time she sees us making multiple trips between the vehicle and the house.

She looked so happy, I wanted to cry. I knew she would forgive us as soon as we were back home, but still. I suppose the operative thing to have done would have been to take her for a walk immediately upon our return. Or even before we left, so she might be tired and sleep while we were gone. One can often see the perfect thing to have done after the fact.

Be all that as it may, Tabby and I went for a nice walk just now. Yesterday gave us the deliciously cool fall-like temperatures that I love (yes, yet anther reason it would have been a good idea to walk yesterday, will you give it a rest?). Today was warm but not stinking hot. I put on my crazy old lady had and sunglasses and off we went.

It was pleasant in the shade, especially when a breeze blew. We walked one of our usual routes, down to Church Street then over towards Tabby’s and my beloved Historic Four Corners. This was also good for me, because I saw how long it takes to get there. I intend to walk to the Herkimer County Historic Society (one of the four corners) later tonight for a program on Wicked Mohawk Valley (preview of coming attractions).

Tabby did her business before we got to the Four Corners, which was nice, because there is a trash can right in front of the 1834 Jail (another one of the corners). I had another bag in case of further need so did not scruple to get rid of what she’d done so far.

On down Main Street we went. As always I admired the historic looking buildings and lamented the closed businesses. I noticed Christ Episcopal Church is offering a free dinner on Sunday. That might be fun and tasty.

We turned at Park Avenue. Burrito Jones is still promising to come in on that corner, but we did not walk past it, so I could not observe current progress. A young lady passed us going in the other direction and said, “Hi, puppies.” There were two rather adorable dogs across the street in front of the Post Office, so perhaps she was talking to them as well. Or maybe she thought I’d like to be a puppy, too. You never know, I might make a good one.

Meyers Park was especially pleasant with the trees and grass making it a little cooler. We went up the shadier side of Bellinger Street. Some people never cleaned off the mud during the flood so now there are thick patches of dirt on the sidewalks. At least it’s a little softer than bare pavement.

We enjoyed our walk. I had been hoping for a little more excitement, since I intended to write a blog post about it, but one must make do. Now to get ready for the program at the Historical Society, Wicked Mohawk Valley. I ought to fit right in.