28 Jan 2011, 12:49pm
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Walworth Seely Public Library

The Walworth-Seely Public Library: Our Gateway To Knowledge
A Time-line of Growth – Part I

Way back when, in the early days of Walworth, one Julian Findley erected a building located at North 11Marion Road. It was probably used as a carpenter’s shop and was also used to dry the waste material from a nearby dry house.
On April 1, 1904, Jay Seely (BORN December 25, 1853) purchased the building from Julian’s decendant, Jones Findley, to be used as his home. Seely was an inventor, plumber, tinsmith, musician, and respected citizen.
In 1930, after his wife Sarah died, Jay built the two-story rear part of the building and moved there in 1931. The Reading Room used to be his living quarters. The windows in the downstairs addition came from the Walworth Academy. The foundation stones are from the evaporator foundation Jay had just before World War I.
Following Jay’s death at the age of 90, September 12, 1943: the property was inherited by his daughter, Bessie M. Seely. She was the first woman graduated from the Law College of Syracuse University and was later admitted to the Bar of New York State
After years of being un-inhabited, Bessie M. Seely, sold her home to the Walworth Chamber of Commerce for $1 in August 1, 1958.
Loraine Finley remembered that the person that made the biggest contribution to the formation of the library was Jean Connor from the New York State Department of Education, Library Services Division. At that time, some people in the county were interested in forming a County Library System. Jean suggested that a library in Walworth be established first.
Mary Lou Fleming remembered that the earliest local benefactor of our Walworth-Seely Public Library appears to have been
Dr. William Horace Foster Newman (d. 12Aug1962), who began a successful letter writing campaign, assisted by his secretary/book-keeper, Mary Louise Fleming. The letters told of the community’s and Dr. Newman’s desire to have a public library, but funds were needed to accomplish this.
On January 27, 1960, The Walworth Reading Room first opened its doors as an experiment under the co-sponsorship of the Wayne County Library Board and the Walworth Chamber of Commerce. It was located on the first floor in the rear of the building. Mrs. Frieda Leisten, the first volunteer librarian, willingly donated her time for more than a year. Other members of the volunteer staff were Laura Radder, Marguerite Traugott, Shirley Huntley, Jay Taber, and Lorraine Finley.
On October 5, 1961, an appeal was made to the Walworth Town Board to establish a public library. The Board voted unanimously to establish the Walworth-Seely Public Library and appointed the first Board of Trustees: Ethel Henning of Lincoln, Doris Gardner and Esther Wesenberg of West Walworth, and Lorraine Finley and Jay Taber of Walworth.
On October 21, 1961, the first meeting of the Board of Trustees was held. Officers elected were: president Lorraine Finley, historian Doris Gardner, secretary Ethel Henning, treasurer Jay Taber, and publicity Esther Wesenberg.
On October 21, 1961, the Provisional Charter #8103 was received from the New York State Regents Board.
On March 16, 1962, application was made to the Wayne County Library System for membership; the first floor rooms were remodeled.
On February 23, 1962: Provisional Charter #8103 was received from the New York State Regents Board.
On August 19, 1962, a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house were held, attended by Bessie Seely, political dignitaries, and local residents.
Lorraine Finley remembered that the cover on the 1962 booklet was drawn by Frank Finley, her brother-in-law. The first sign for the library was made by Arnold Taber, Jay Taber’s brother. The ends of the ribbon were held by Kathy Duell Emerson and Kathy Triou.
It is interesting to note that in 1963, the first full year of operation, the Circulation was 7,112 serving a Population of 2,782 (1960 figures)
On March 5, 1969, the two-story building was purchased from the Walworth Chamber of Commerce for $3,000. Only the 736 sq. ft. on the first floor were accessible to the public. The heating was a bit lacking during the winters, so volunteers would heat stones to keep their feet warm!
Well, this brings us up to the time where some of us “new folks” came on the scene. Actually several of the “oldies” are still around, too, like Lorraine Finley and Mary Lou Fleming. This is the first article in a series of articles about the people who have worked in our library, as well as rreview a little more of the history of our Walworth-Seely Public Library.

“Readers today; Leaders tomorrow” a quote from Lyle Bassage during the Walworth Historical Society’s presentation to Lorraine Finley of the 2007 Community Service Award on May 21, 2007.
782 words
published Aug09-07 Wayne County MAIL newspaper

12 Jan 2011, 4:55pm
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Let It Snow

Let It Snow

“Oh, listen to how hard the rain is hitting the window,” I said to our four-year old as I carried an over-flowing load of clean laundry into the bedroom to be folded.
He ran over to the south-facing window-wall and exclaimed, “It’s snowing, Mimi. It’s snowing little balls!”
He jumped up and down, clapping his hands and saying, “I was so sad this morning when there was no snow. Now, I’m so excited!”
Ah, yes. Only through the eyes of little ones can we truly appreciate the finer details of life.

I used to love taking long Spring, Summer, and Fall walks with my “A-team”. We’d hike west to Ralph and Ruth Miller=s cow pasture, north along its eastern boundary to Dave and Diane Wilbert’s orchards. Turn right and walk along it’s southern border to the eastern edge of Joe and Marcia Englert’s acres. Another turn right to head south into the valley opposite our home on the hill. The last leg of our journey was the most difficult, because we were tired and yet we had to trudge west, up the hill for a reward of a cool glass of lemonade. We’d take this same route in the winter on cross-country skis, and later, on snowshoes to our reward of hot cocoa.
As we walked, I would often stop to point out the tiny little wild flowers, busy ants, and small animal footprints in the mud. We’d stop and stand very still in the woods to hear the different birds in the tree tops, look for them and identify who made that sound. Our noses could tell us when we’d crossed from the damp woods into the drier pasture, even before the warmth of the sun reached us.
Now, when I make forays into our yard with our “B-team”, they are the ones who stop me to describe what they see, shove something under my nose to smell, and thrust my unsuspecting hand into mush for identification.
My friend, Don Miller, still shares his hikes with his grown children and grandchildren via e-mail. He recently wrote: “…Took a hike to the woods in the valley today, and found that the salmon are spawning in the creek. They are very large, about 24” to 30″ length, and they splash as they go upstream through the shallow water. There is a log across the creek and it was fascinating to see a large one try to get up and over the 1 ft high falls. It tried from short distance and did not make it, and then went downstream about 40 ft in deeper water, turned around, sped to the falls very fast, and chickened out. Did not even come out of the water like the other times.
I waited for another five minutes to see another missed attempt, but then moved on.

the trees are 3/4 bare, but some are still green, others are yellow and the small maples in our yard and neighbor’s yard are deep red. Just a great view from our “tree” room as well as down in the woods!
This AM I woke at 7:30 to a beautiful sunny display of the trees described above, and then for about 5 min. we had a hail sleet storm dump a white layer about 0.25 inches to cover the deck. All is melted now as it is 39F out there. Then as the cloud moved east it blanked out the sun, but only temporarily. It is bright and sunny again.
I hope that you all have the same delight at seeing the changes in weather that we both have. Lynn constantly expresses joy at the sunrise and weather. Of course I have my pass and skis ready!…”
“Mimi,” my pre-schooler’s excited voice brought me back into the warm bedroom. “Fluffies are falling everywhere. The grass is all white!”
Oh, dear Gussie. What’s a mother to do? I put down the laundry and went to the closet to rummage around for the snow boots, puffy winter jacket, knitted beanie and water-proof mittens.
We went out to explore this wonderful, world of cold, wet, white fluffies, so, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow.
(This essay appeared 11/17/2004 Wayne County STAR Newspaper; Cornucopia by Kate Chamberlin; Copyright 8 2004 by Kate Chamberlin. All Rights Reserved.

12 Jan 2011, 2:08pm
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Guide Dog Chronicles: Snow Fun

Guide Dog Chronicles: Snow Fun
We’d just been dumped on! It was the most snow in one ‘cell” since 1978. I’d previously had a path shoveled out so I could easily take the girls (two big, Black Labs) out to piddle and park.
We gracefully exited the porch door and marched down the snowy brick path. So far so good.
The girls walked calmly, with decorum, and were careful to not tangle their leashes or run me into the fence. At the end of the brick walk, where the path was not so distinct and the drift was at its highest, they (or I, as the case may be) lost it.
Each girl bounded off with the enthusiasm and exuberance only a freshly fallen snow to play in can bring. One went northwest, the other went south west. I, however, fell due west, face first into the waist high snow drift.
I lost the leashes and lay there a moment. My first thought was to get right up and call the dogs. My second thought was “Why?” They were running in my fenced in backyard and no one was watching.
I laughed and rolled over on my back. As I giggled and squealed, the snow flakes fell into my mouth and I happily made a snow angel.

The girls stopped their tug-of-war with the cong and came to investigate this strange behavior that their Lady had never previously displayed. Finchlee tried to sniff my moving hand, trampling one perfect angel wing. Wheaton came right to my head and licked my face, as if to say, “There, there, My Lady, everything will be alright.”
I got up and tossed loosely packed snow balls for them. I could hear their powerful jaws chomp shut and their bumping bodies thunder past me. I know how they love to run with their face under the snow. When their head rises, it has a perfect snow hood in it, which is gleefully shaken off.
Eventually, the cold and wet began to seep beneath my outer clothes and sanity returned. Two dogs with lolling tongues and one out of breath Lady frolicked into the house for lunch and if I hadn’t told you, none would be the wiser.
Note: This essay appeared 02/11/1999 Wayne County STAR Newspaper; Cornucopia by Kate Chamberlin, Copyright © 1999, 2011 by Kate Chamberlin. All Rights Reserved.