Karen Peters called the meeting to order and we began the open discussion of the “History of Communications of Wilmington—from the Telephone to the World Wide Web.” Guy Stephenson passed around a photo of the telephone operator switchboard located in Dominic and Mary Gebo’s house across from the Little Supermarket. The switchboard was in operation until the 1960s. Bob Peters brought in an early telephone and explained the technology behind it. Guy Stephenson told us about Wilmington’s fire phone system and he also related a story about how intercom was used to allow one of his school mates to attend classes from home for an entire year. Karen shared some newspaper articles and Doug Wolfe talked about the first telephone line to Whiteface. The line was run from Lake Placid in 1909 and the telephone on the summit was the highest telephone in New York. Doug gave a history of broadcasting from Whiteface. During the 1980 Olympics Whiteface was used to relay microwave television broadcasts from Lake Placid to all around the world. It was the last use of land line point to point transmission before everything went to satellite.
Karen called for the Secretary’s report. Guy moved to accept the minutes as read and Bob Cressey seconded the motion. All voted in favor. Bob then presented the treasurer’s report. The bank balance is $3,722.66. We had income of $73 consisting of $23 in donations and $50 in memberships. Our expenses totaled $229.99 and included $100 for honorariums, $65 for copying and $64.99 for office supplies. Guy made a motion to accept the report as given and Doug seconded the motion. It carried unanimously.
Discussion then turned to communications. Karen sent a thank you note to Joyce Morency, Supervisor of St. Armand for donating an original Whiteface Highway Brochure from 1935. She also sent a thank you to Jay O’Hern for his program on Noah John Rondeau and also for donating some photos of Rondeau in Wilmington. Karen sent an email to Keith Herkalo and the manager of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association to inform them that the Stephen Partridge headstone has been repaired. Nancy Sinkoff, who previously donated a hand drawn map and a picture of an apple tree probably planted by Noah John Rondeau, expressed regrets that she could not attend the program about Rondeau. Robert Sturges emailed a photo of himself standing next to a Jeep that he had gotten stuck on a muddy road off of Rt 86. Sue Lawrence sent a note to say that she has done hours of family research using one of the links from our website.
Laurie Bepler donated some books and a diary found in a house on Hardy Road. Gerald Bruce gave us a copy of a document in the town records that identifies members of the Grand Army of the Republic post.M
Karen reported for the Library, Museum and Historic Sites Committee that Gil and Linda Dyke worked on indexing our collection at the last research night. We also had some visitors interested in Wilmington history. Karen showed them some of the items from our collection and gave them a brief rundown.
The next Atmospheric Sciences Research Center lecture will be August 7th on “Ecological Conundrums.” Lora Bushy has been giving us publicity on our programs in her newsletter. There was an article in the Lake Placid News about the Noah John Rondeau programs. This program was extremely successful. We had record attendance and many favorable comments. Our next program will be “Links, Chains and the Mallory Grant” by Joe Provoncha, Essex County Clerk. Nancy Cressey gave the Membership and Nominations Committee report. Since our last meeting we received five memberships accounting for six people. Our total membership now stands at 124. Reminders to those who have not yet paid their dues for 2012 went out via mail and email on July 27th.
Guy reported that the Cemetery Committee met and did a tour of the cemeteries on July 31st. Nicole Forbes did some research on cemetery rules. Prior to doing work on headstones we are required to contact the families or post a notice in the newspaper for three weeks. The committee wants to try to reset damaged stones. They can try to get inmates to help with the labor and ask the town for funds to buy cement. Guy said they still need to present their ideas to the town board. Patrick McIntyre revamped our website to display our programs on the first page as the result of a suggestion we had.
Karen said she has not yet filled out the paperwork for the Festival of Colors because she is waiting to hear from Sid Ward on whether he will be able to sell cutting boards for the WHS again. She reviewed the list of items that we will need for our display and Doug said he would bring some chairs. Doug suggested that we bring the Wilmington series books to all of our programs and he will bring the rack to display them. Karen will make a “Like us on Facebook” sign and bring the whiteboard. Doug and Karen and Bob Peters will be in charge of set up at 8 AM and Karen will get volunteers for time periods throughout the day.
The WHS book committee met and went through over half of the photos. They will meet again on August 13th and review the remaining photos. Mr. O’Hern will be sending some Noah John Rondeau photos. Guy sent about 15 more photos and he has contacted Peggy Betters about pictures of her father, Fran Betters. Karen will meet with Bea Lawrence sometime in the near future.
Doug reported that he had met with James Griebsch about digitizing and restoring the 1929 Roosevelt film. Mr. Griebsch told Doug that film is in good condition and can be brought to very high quality. We would need to purchase a high definition video disk drive in order to accomplish this project. We all agreed that the film is of great historic significance and value. Bob Cressey made a motion to allocate funds not to exceed $800 to purchase the required equipment and proceed with the project. Guy seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously. Our next research night is Tuesday, August 21st from 6-9 PM.
Karen completed the Path Through History form which is designed to establish an inventory of North Country historic and cultural tourism sites.
The Champlain Region Roundtable for Museum Educators will take place at Fort Ticonderoga on September 7th, 10 AM to 3:15 PM. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and history professor from the University of California at Davis, Alan Taylor will give a lecture on the War of 1812 at Plattsburgh State College on September 5th.
Karen gave four reams of paper to the town hall to replace copy paper used by the WHS.
The Northern New York Library Network will give training in the Basics of ContentDM, which is a program that allows libraries and archives to post digitized content on the web. This training will take place Tuesday, August 21, 10 AM to 1 PM at the SUNY Plattsburgh, Feinberg Library, Room FL 105.
On August 14th, 7 PM there will be a program of Historic Motion Pictures of Saranac Lake at Paul Smiths Visitor Information Center.
Guy moved to adjourn the meeting and Bob seconded. All voted in favor.
Wilmington Historical Society