Author Archives: ted

A Good “First Cut”

It was a fun and busy summer at Rowe Center, and while there’s a lot more work to do on the archives, I think I made a significant first cut on the project.

I went by the Rowe Historical Society, but they were closed, so I emailed them, introducing myself and explaining the archiving work I was doing at Rowe Center. A few weeks later, RHS board member Ellen Miller dropped off this copy of the fourth edition (2006) of Percy Whiting Brown’s great history of the town of Rowe. I found a copy of the second edition (1935, the 150th anniversary of the town) among the archive material, but it is less than half the size of this edition. The third edition was published in 1960, a couple years after Percy Brown died in 1958.

Co-author of this edition, Nancy Newton Williams, completed Brown’s work on the third edition, based on his notes he had compiling for many years; he’d left instructions for his notes to be sent to Nancy Williams. (She refers to “…instructions for his notes to be sent to us…” but I don’t know who “us” refers to, perhaps Ms. Williams and Percy’s son Ted Brown, who collaborated with Ms. Williams on the fourth edition.) And in this fourth edition, she has added several new sections written by other people:

  • Geologic History of Rowe, by Norman L. Hatch
  • Fort Pelham, by Michael D. Coe
  • Center Stage: Our Rowe Family, by Nancy N. Williams
  • Wildflowers of Rowe, by Susan A. Williams

There are also 20 appendices (though I don’t know how many were in earlier editions), extensive references and a comprehensive index… a whole lot of information for one little Berkshire town!

An interesting side note is that Percy Brown grew up in Brook Knoll, the house on Kings Highway between the Sibley Farmhouse (home of Rowe Conference Center) and Rowe Camp further up the hill; I believe Rocky Knoll was built by Percy Brown’s parents in 1899 or 1900. You can see it — along with our beloved Bonnie Blink, in this amazing 1901 panorama of Rowe, taken from up the hill near the current location of the Rec Hall — aka the “Super Blink.”

A panoramic view of the town of Rowe and surrounding area, taken in 1901 and from near the present location of Rowe Center's Rec Hall.
The house on the left is the Bonnie Blink, which the group of Unitarians who organized Rowe Camp rented for a week in July, 1924 for $25. The first house on the left of Kings Highway down the hill from Bonnie Blink is Brook Knoll, where Percy Brown grew up. The Sibley Barn is visible on the right side of Kings Highway; the other buildings near the barn are long gone, and I believe you can see a slice of the roof of the Sibley Farmhouse as well. Of particular note is how almost totally deforested the hills are for miles; in fact the vast majority of New England nearly completely deforested during the 19th century; now of course it’s all forested again.

Rowe Archives: Getting Started

After spending a few days with my sister Beth in Colonie, NY (between Albany and Schenectady — and during which time I forgot to get a few pictures of us), she drove me to Rowe on Saturday 24 July. It is so wonderful to be back in New England, and back in Rowe, Massachusetts in the gorgeous Berkshires.

The little town of Rowe was settled in 1762, and incorporated in 1785; here are a few shots around town.

Google Map of Rowe town area, indicating where Rowe Camp & Conference Center is.

Rowe Camp began in 1924, so the project I’ve signed up for is to organize, catalog and digitize as much of the 97 years of photos and various documents!

Now, a week or so into the project, I have completed the first round of going through most of the photos and documents, and organizing them by year, camp, topic, etc.

Here’s the beginning of organizing the photos, first by year and then which camp or conference; there’s an entire 4th box (not pictured) of undated unidentified pictures! There are also nearly a dozen (non-archival) photo albums and a few archival boxes of photos I have not yet gone through.

Rowe Archives Project

The Backstory:

In April 1975 I attended my first LRY* conference, the NERO* Spring Conference, which was held at Rowe Camp in the little town of Rowe, MA in the Berkshires of north western Massachusetts. I remember it was a lot of fun, and while I don’t recall the actual workshop, I do remember that I attended a workshop led by Rev. Douglas Wilson, who was then the Executive Director of Rowe Camp and Conference Center. And I remember well that a couple months later I got a call at my home in West Hartford, CT from Doug, inviting me to come be a counselor at Rowe Junior High Camp that summer. I happily said yes, and those three weeks in July of 1975 (between my freshman and sophomore years in high school) were a wonderful experience and the beginning of my long association with and love of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, sometimes affectionately referred to as “Rowe Cramp and Confusion Center,” which I believe was courtesy of Douglas’ clever and snarky sense of humor.

I worked at Rowe each summer from 1975 through 1982, and served as Counselor, Senior High Spirit, Assistant Director and Director of either Junior High Camp or Senior High Camp. And I have stayed connected to Rowe Center (they simplified the name from RC&CC to Rowe Center a few years ago) ever since, as well as close personal friends with Doug and his wonderful wife (and Co-ED of Rowe for many years) Prue Berry. (Doug let the Board know in 2010 or so that they would be retiring as EDs on 12/12/2012, a date he chose because that was the end of the Mayan calendar. In lieu of any real pension plan or salaries sufficient to have accrued much a nest egg for retirement, Doug & Prue asked the Board to help finance the construction of a home for them, on a parcel they purchased in the town of Rowe just a few miles from Rowe Center, and they now live there, having retired in 2012 as planned.)

The Birth of the Archives Project

Rowe Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and therefore has a board of 7–11 members and meets every other month. The September meeting each year is known as the “Annual Meeting” and all members are invited to attend. (Make almost any donation [annually] to Rowe and you are considered to be a member in good standing, though they do suggest levels of membership.) The weekend of the Annual Meeting is also the annual “Friends of Rowe Gathering,” in lieu of a weekend conference with a guest presenter. Well of course, like everything else across the US and around the world last year, Rowe Conference Center shut down and went all-virtual last spring; summer camp sessions were cancelled and replaced with virtual camp sessions, and this of course continued through the fall, winter and spring of 2020–2021. (Great news: The board decided at their April 2021 meeting that the Covid-19 situation has improved enough that summer camps will again be held in person at Rowe Camp! (They have a thorough Covid plan and Covid FAQ in place.)

Like so many groups and organizations, there are several Facebook groups of various “generations” of Rowe campers and staff; I am a member of the private Facebook group “’70s Rowies and Friends” and as the annual meeting was approaching last fall, there was discussion about the meeting and the weekend (a few people could spend the weekend at Rowe if they wanted), and discussion of having a ’70s Rowies reunion on Zoom following the meeting. Since I have a Zoom Pro account, I offered to create the Zoom event, and so on Saturday September 12, 2020, around 40 of us gathered online and had a couple hours of really fun reminiscing, catching up on what we’re doing, etc. (Around 20 or so met online again the next day.)

It was during the Saturday Zoom Reunion that several people were lamenting the fact that there are hundreds of old photos and documents, some going back to the 1920s, there at Rowe, but they are not being properly cared for, preserved or protected. Being the techie that I am, I said “It should all be scanned and digitized,” to which my dear friend Anna Hurwitz (fellow camper/staff from the ’70s and now an MLIS professional archivist in Seattle area) said, “You should go to Rowe and do that, Ted; you can be their ‘Archivist in Residence,’ just like they have occasional artists in residence.” Hence this idea was born! I spoke with Rowe Center ED Ben Werner a couple days later, and he loved the idea; he immediately started talking about where Jody and I could live for the summer, how we could eat with campers/staff at the Rec Hall or not, and more.

In the intervening months since last September, I have been in touch with Ben at Rowe, and Anna Hurwitz in Seattle; I read most of the book she recommended, Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives (Gregory S. Hunter, 2003; the 2nd edition was way cheaper on Amazon than the newer 3rd edition, so I decided that’d be good enough); and Anna gave me some great advice about how to approach this huge project, both at the “mile high” level of overall planning, organization and execution, and down to some of the nitty gritty details… As I write this on July 10, I am 10 days from flying SFO (San Francisco) → ALB (Albany, NY); I’ll spend a few days with sister Beth (who lives between Albany and Schenectady) then be at Rowe Camp by 7/24 or 7/25.

This is an initial post to provide background and how this exciting project came to be. I will do my very best to post several updates over the coming months. Stay tuned!

 

* About LRY and NERO

LRY was the high school-aged youth group of the Unitarian Universalist Association for many years; LRY formed in 1953 (as explained in this article from 2003), when the separate Unitarian and Universalist youth groups merged — 8 years before the two denominations themselves merged! (I’ll have to do more research to learn when it was reconfigured and renamed; there’s not much at their current website about LRY.) Officially, LRY stood for Liberal Religious Youth, but of course we also called it “Lesbian Refugees from Yugoslavia,” “Little Red Yo-Yos,” “Leftover Roast Yams,” “Luscious Raspberry Yogurt,” but the most accurate was “Lots of Rowdy Youngsters.”

Many UU Churches had LRY “locals” and LRY had statewide and regional organizations as well. During my 4+ years as an active LRY member (1975–1979, when I left CT and New England for undergrad studies at UCSC), I attended many weekend LRY conferences; most of them were organized by a local at a UU Church or fellowship, and dozens–scores of UU youth would descend on the church/fellowship on Friday evening and spend the weekend sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, hanging out, attending workshops, and enjoying ourselves as marginally chaperoned teenagers…

NERO was the NorthEast Regional Organization of LRY, and the spring 1975 conference that I attended at Rowe Camp was one of two annual NERO conferences.

(After graduating high school in June 1977, I moved to Boston in August or September, shared an apartment with 2 LRY friends, and in addition to flipping burgers and smoking pot, I was the volunteer NERO regional coordinator, or director; I don’t recall my title. As such, I helped organize the fall 1977 and spring 1978 conferences, and I recall I sent out a few newsletters as well.)

Sometime after LRY was reconfigured/rebranded (I think because its reputation for lots of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — at UU churches!), the HS-aged youth group for a while was named YRUU: Young Religious UUs, and a great question to ask: Why are you you? I don’t know how many iterations there have been in the intervening decades, but the current iteration is YUUP: Young UU Project.

Long Time No Blog…

Wow, my last post was August 2020, and before that it was June 2018… A lot has happened in my life (and the world) since then! As I write this now in July 2021, we in the US are slowly climbing out of the pandemic, and I’m getting ready to fly east to spend the summer at Rowe Camp in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts — about which I will blog more soon and throughout the summer.

Ēriks Ešenvalds song cycle “Sunset in My Hand” World Premiere Concert (May 2017)

June 2018: At the time of this concert, May, 2017, I was asked not to post it, since it was still before the big “World Premiere” at Carnegie Hall, NYC. Now it’s a year later, so I think I’m OK posting this…

To celebrate their mutual 25th anniversaries, Ensemble Monterey Chamber Orchestra, and Cantiamo! Cabrillo Chorus, commissioned a new piece by renowned Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. “Sunset in My Hand” is a song cycle of 6 pieces, each inspired by the landscapes and beauty of California, and drawing on the poetry of various writers.

With apologies for some poor video quality, here are the six pieces, performed Sunday April 30, 2017, at Peace United Church of Christ, Santa Cruz, CA. This was the second of three scheduled premiere concerts; the first was the night before in Carmel, California, and the third was June 26, 2017, at Carnegie Hall, NYC. Wow, my son Kevin is going to sing at Carnegie Hall! (How did he get there: practice, practice, practice!)

1. The Storm

The Storm is based on…

2. Ode to the Smell of Firewood

Ode to the Smell of Firewood is based on…

3. Prayer at Winter Solstice

Prayer at Winter Solstice is based on…

4. The Redwoods


The Redwoods is based on…

5. Evening Ebb

Evening Ebb is based on…

6. I Hold the Sunset in My Hand

I Hold the Sunset in My Hand is based on…

And here are (L-R) Kevin, Cabrillo Choral Director Cheryl Anderson, Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, and Ensemble Monterey Director-Conductor (and Cheryl’s husband) John Anderson.

Fall 2016 Chorale Concert

Kevin performed in the Fall Chorale Concert at Cabrillo College; he’s top right on the risers, lookin’ good, sounding good!


(Mozart wrote this at age 12, Choral Direct Cheryl Anderson told us. Does that means words and music, I wonder?)


(Apologies: this recording was interrupted by my phone ringing, and continues in next video below. Darn — forgot to go into airplane mode!)

Kevin Sings Opera

And tonight, just 1 week after the Spring Chorale concert, Kevin’s Lyric Diction class recital was tonight, and Kevin sand two solo pieces — in Italian!

  • “Togliete mi la vita ancor,” from Il Pompeo by Alessandro Scarlatti
  • “Chi’o mai vi possa,” from Siroe by Georg Friedrich Handel

Cabrillo Chorale Spring Concert

Another great evening of vocal music, with Kevin among the Choral group. Here are the 16 pieces they performed:

(List of all singers at bottom of page)


“Father William”
Music by Irving Fine, lyrics by Lewis Carroll
Three Madrigals
Music by Emma Lou Diemer, lyrics by William Shakespeare
The Coolin
Music by Samuel Barber,lyrics by James Stephens
Homeward Bound
Men’s Chorus of Cabrillo Chorale
By Carl Strommen
Brothers, Sing On!
Music by Edvard Grieg, lyrics by Herbert Dalmas
Alto Rhapsody
By Johaness Brahms
Men’s Chorus with soloist Dana Simms
Joshua Fit the Battle
Women’s Chorus
By Jill Gallina
Wayfaring Stranger
Arranged by Larry Schackley


Shine on Me
Arranged by Rollo A. Dilworth


Fields of Gold
By G. M. Sumner, arranged by Roger Emerson


When You Believe
By Stephen Swartz, arranged by Audrey Snyder


Der Hirt auf dem Felsen
By Franz Schubert
Soloist: Jennette Moretti, Clarinet: Saki Hidaka, Piano: Maryna Thomas


Kyrie
By George Fenton
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)


Sparrows Jig
By Bruce Sled
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)


Human
By Christina Perri and Martin Johnson
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)


Der Herr denket an uns
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, libretto from Psalm 115
Violins: Eri Ishgaki, Shannon Delaney, Rachel Mangus-Hartman
Viola: John Wineglass
Cello: Kristin Garbef
Piano: Elizabeth Bunch
Timpani Drums: NAME

Cabrillo College Chorale, Spring 2016:

Soprano:
Sharon Bailey
Kerri Hughes
Dakota Hult
Michelle Miracle
Jeannette Moretti
Dana Simms
Terry Waters
Jasmine Montgomery

Alto:
Caitlin Buse
Thyra Butler
Julia Dennis
Diane Marvin
Naomi McNeill
Caitlyn Turley
Alyssa Watson
Ellen Reay

Tenor:
Milton Abbott
Landon Norton
Ulises Patino
Graham Swann

Bass:
Kevin Altenberg
Jeremiah Bokulich
Paul Bokulich
Jason Erece
Christopher Monroe
Joshua Porter
Bob Bailey
Cristian Rincon