Stickball in Brooklyn

My father received a medal from a place he led, a place where FDR, Clinton, many literary, artistic, scientific, and political luminaries held court at the palace, the open wooden Ampitheater that is a subject of controversy these days.

I sang in the State choir championships, first time on the Chautauqua grounds and at the Amphitheater at age seven and our choir came in second. That was the first time I ever saw it and remember where I stood to this day.

FDR gave his infamous “I Hate War” speech from the Miller Cottage. Reverends Miller and Vincent created the Institution over 150 years ago. The Millers are my neighbors and I do not live anywhere near the shores of The Bag Tied in The Middle, Lake Chautauqua. That was the name it was given by its former occupants, the Senecas. There is much more history that I am now reading.

My father had a vision decades ago, to restore Chautauqua through program enhancement and building maintenance/restoration and made it come true. I have his speech and he always credits the team, as he has taught me to do in life. No one can make it in life without help from team members.

Yes, my father grew up in Brooklyn and played stick ball in the street. He and a great team did renovations on a decrepit Victorian town. He had to sign every deed and supervise the police as well. All that and do his job. I would like to save the Amp. I’ve walked the cat walk before it was renovated (ladder, stairs, rickety ww2 bridge, balance…., my brother was a sweeper then Amp crew, sister worked landscaping then the garbage truck. We never lived Chautauqua, we worked Chautauqua so had no summer frolics. No friends. Hate letters. Police invasion.

Home for the summer from college, my sister never came home ’til morning and my brother ditched Boys and Girls Club to play chess with the old guys outside local hotels. I worked myself too hard, 14/7 and ran at night with the bats, they were protected and would come out at twilight and once one hit me in the head. I must have been jogging too slow. Never a jogger. It took me a while to figure things out.

I’d stop at the Amp for the performance and stand by the edge before jogging home. Learning is what it was supposed to be about. The Institution. Now it’s only about money. It has always been an inspiration to me and will remain so. Thank you for finally honoring my father for his accomplishments. Dee


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