" Sage Hall: Experiments in Coeducation and Preservation at Cornell University" By Jennifer Cleland and Robert Stundtner

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It’s been said that you could seat a wise professor on one end of a log and a dedicated student on the other and you’d have a university.  Of course the needs of the society and demands of the generations require more. Ezra Cornell established the university that bears his name in 1869 guided by a simple vision: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”  (Cleland and Stundtner suggest in their book that it’s possible the university’s first president, Andrew White, dressed up the words of his plain-spoken colleague who may have actually said, “I’d like to start a school where anybody can study anything he’s a mind to.”) But the great challenge during CU’s first years, as it grew into a world-class institution awarding degrees in everything from aerospace to zoology, was not simply curriculum but co-education, serving “any person”. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-989587.mp3

Cornell was among the first universities to admit women, disregarding the mores of the 19th century that believed women should tend to the home.  But to do so the institution had to seriously consider both academics and accomodations.  Male students could feel insecure around bright women classmates (many still do) and everyday life in Ithaca was not easy for men or women — a lack of public transit forced many students to trek up long hills to the campus.  But these encumbrances were eased thanks to one of Cornell’s first and most influential benefactors.  Henry Sage was a lumber magnate who endowed the Sage Residential College for Women on the Ithaca campus, as well as the Sage Chapel at the distinctly secular university.  Sage Hall was designed by Cornell’s first architecture professor, Charles Babcock.  Construction began in 1872, the first students entered in 1875.  It later became a graduate dormitory and the only mixed residential and classroom building on the central campus. The story of Sage Hall also opens up the stories of Cornell University, American higher education, social standards and the effort necessary to bring the building up to 21st century standards.  The old dormitory now serves as the home of the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.  These developments are described in a new documentary history, “Sage Hall: Experiments in Coeducation and Preservation at Cornell University” by Jennifer Cleland and Robert P. Stundtner.  Ms. Cleland is a musician and holds a Ph.D. in Romance Studies from Cornell.  Mr. Stundtner is Cornell’s Director ofCapital Projects and Planning and was project manager for the Sage Hall restoration.  Bob and Jenny are also husband and wife, and “Sage Hall” is partly a personal autobiographical work which has the effect of placing the book’s theme of male-female relations into a contemporary context. But “Sage Hall” is still basically the inside story of a structure.  It is told primarily in the words of those responsible for the initial construction,
I believe that we have made the beginning of an institution which will prove highly beneficial to the poor young men and poor young women of our country.  This is one thing which we have not finished, but in the course of time we hope to reach such a state of perfection as will enable any one by honest efforts and earnest labor to secure a thorough, practical, scientific or classical education.  The individual is better, society is better, and the state is better, for the culture of the citizen; therefore we desire to extend the means for the culture of all.

"The Seneca Army Depot" By Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg

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The preparation for military conflict is called “mobilization”, and the distinctive glossary of warfare speaks of deployment and matériel and ordnance.  Things that have to be moved into place can be as big as a battleship or as small as a bullet.  It doesn’t even have to be tangible; Edward R. Murrow said of Winston Churchill, “He mobilized the English language.”Mobilization can mean setting forces into action or getting stuff out of the way. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1024916.mp3

In the days leading up to American involvement in World War II and for the next five decades a section of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State was the scene of high-level mobilization.  Some 11,000 acres of rural countryside in the Seneca County towns of Romulus and Varick were impounded in 1941, fenced off, placed under heavy guard and became the Seneca Army Depot (SEAD).  The depot served to warehouse and distribute explosives for the war against Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, remained active through the Korean conflict, supported American readiness during the Cold War and finally was important to the success of Operation Desert Storm. With the phaseout of the depot the entire history can now be told and a new book “The Seneca Army Depot: Fighting Wars from the New York Home Front” covers both the national policy dimension and the effect on the local community.  The book was written by Seneca County historian Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg, director of the Seneca Falls Historical Society.  Mr. Gable taught social studies in the SenecaCounty schools for thirty years and was president of the New York State Council for Social Studies.  Ms. Zogg is an art educator and served on the board in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the women’s rights movement.  Both authors hold degrees from Syracuse University. “The Seneca Army Depot” tells the story of a secretive institution that came into existence prior to America’s official entry into World War II.  The Finger Lakes location was chosen for its geographical, transportation and even geological benefits.  About 150 families were evicted from their homes and farms, some with only three days’ notice.  The book lists all their names.  There was some resentment on the part of the dispossessed individuals, although the official proposal by the War Department said that “the Army’s neighbors are 100 percent American” and would patriotically accept their loss.  Construction of bomb-proof “igloos” began quickly and preparations for storage of ordnance moved forward more efficiently than did accomodations for thouands of workers and their families.  At the same time the depot stimulated a wartime economic boom for the region. The book details military activity and community life during and after World War II.  It also tells about how the Army depot became something of a fenced-in wildlife refuge with the presence of what is believed to be the largest herd of white deer in the world.  But the chapter in the Depot’s history that has attracted the most attention begins on page 82:

Approximately two thousand barrels of uranium pitchblende, as part of the Manhattan Project, were stored in igloos E0181 through E0811 on the south end of the depot.  Depot employee John Stahl spoke specifically of the first box of Mamhattan Project materials that was brought into the depot.  He operated the forklift truck that took the box from the railroad dock to the small igloo where it was to be stored.  He remembered thinking at the time that it was odd to him why an item marked “Manhattan” would be coming here to the depot rather than to New York City.

"The Seneca Army Depot" by Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg

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The preparation for military conflict is called “mobilization”, and the distinctive glossary of warfare speaks of deployment and matériel and ordnance. Things that have to be moved into place can be as big as a battleship or as small as a bullet. It doesn’t even have to be tangible; Edward R. Murrow said of Winston Churchill, “He mobilized the English language.” Mobilization can mean setting forces into action or getting stuff out of the way. In the days leading up to American involvement in World War II and for the next five decades a section of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State was the scene of high-level mobilization.

"Bygone Binghamton" By Jack Shay, Betty Casey and Tom Townsend

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History was not always kind to Binghamton, NY.  Binghamton was named for Pennsylvania politician William Bingham who owned the acreage but likely never even visited it.  It was tied into the state’s canal system just in time for the railroad to make the canal obsolete.  Until the 20th century, Elmira rather than Binghamton was considered the principal city in New York’s Southern Tier.  But even if the town doesn’t have a major claim to fame (even Schenectady had a popular song written about it) it does have a claim to the attention of its residents and people elsewhere. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1024526.mp3
Binghamton has made important contributions to the world’s progress — Ed Link’s flight simulation, Ansco’s giant paper coating machine — and it’s done its part to advance many facets of modern life, from shoes to space travel.  For most of the past century the Triple Cities — Binghamton, Endicott, Johnson City (despite that latter name only Binghamton is officially a city) —  has been a lively, productive metropolitan area, a pleasant place to live with a generous share of attractions, strivers and cool characters.  Its history and civic life have been rich and exciting enough to merit a new historical study, a packed, authoritative, anecdotal and often delightful book, more than a thousand pages long!  Move over, Syracuse. “Bygone Binghamton: Remembering People and Places of the Past” is the work of Jack Edward Shay in collaboration with Betty Casey and Tom Townsend.  Shay is a native of Broome County who began a journalism career here before spending twenty years as a public information officer for the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Upon his retirement he settled again in Vestal, NY and began a decade of research and writing that became “Bygone Binghamton”.  Betty Casey grew up in nearby Susquehanna, Pennsylvania and for 30 years was a community relations manager for IBM-Endicott.  Tom Townsend is also a native of Broome County and runs Adaptive Driving Services, Inc.A widely-travelled student of history, Tom did much of the work finding archival material.  The two volume study (in soft cover it all weighs  nearly four pounds) covers the extraordinary amd the everyday with an emphasis on the second half of the twentieth century.  Jack Shay explains in the introduction:
 Volume One deals with three general topics: food (restaurants, groceries, dairies, bakeries, penny candy and ice cream); work (factories like GAF, GE, IBM, EJ and the Erie Shops); and business (downtown shopping, stores, bars, car dealers, gas stations, hotels and newspapers and magazines). Volume two also includes three general topics: leisure (movie theaters, TV and radio, musicians and musical events, parks and playgrounds, and all the activities we did when we were kids); notables (politicians, sports figures, actors and unforgettable people); and the spiritual side of life (family radio, churches, cemeteries and inspirational themes). Shay, Casey and Townsend feel an obvious affection and great curiosity about Binghamton and environs and are not satisfied to let bygones go.  They tell the big stories about IBM and Endicott-Johnson and President Reagan’s 1984 visit, but there’s also space to remember the origins and operation of Little Venice Restaurant and Red’s Kettle Inn and Frankie & Johnnie’s luncheonette with its Curly-Que fries (now it can be told: the spuds were run through an apple peeler).  There are word portraits of distinguished persons — Mayor John Burns, writer Rod Serling — but also a chapter on “Masty Huba”, a homeless wanderer for years around the streets of Binghamton who never amounted to much.  The authors spoke with more than twenty people whose memories of Masty add up to a story of human survival.