Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dorothy Stanaitis: Living History

Today, I had lunch with a dear old friend of over 4 decades.  We met when Dorothy was Children's Program Director of the Gloucester City Library, back in the 1970's when I was just out of college.  She hired me to work in a Federally Funded Outreach Program to deliver Library Services to children's homes.

Dorothy and I are both graduates of Rutgers The State University.  Dorothy is also a Trustee Emeritus.  

Since her retirement, her career has taken man turns, but the ones I wanted to mention here, because they have to do with writing and with history, are her program designs for her Storytelling career, and her family memory writings for various publications.  Her storytelling career has moved from camps and libraries to assisted living centers and she is also an on-foot tour guide for the Philadelphia Association of Tour Guides.  Some of her program  titles have been "Scandals, Rumors and Dirty Rotten Lies" and "Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief."  

Together one years back we wrote and present Moments In Time, "Red White and Blueberries" a program on Betsy Ross, Clara Barton and Elizabeth White.  At that time, we also presented for Historical Societies.

Dorothy's published memoir stories number around 150 so far.  We are in a writing group together that meets at Dorothy's home and so I have been fortunate in hearing many of the storie which were later sold and published.  A number of them center on Dorothy's childhood on Ogden Street in Philadelphia.

One memory that Dorothy shared with me today had to do with the tree burnings after Christmas in Mount Ephraim, where we have both lived.  A large bonfire was built of old Christmas Trees, supervised, of course, by the local fire brigade, and the fire whistle would blow to let residents know when it was time to light the bonfire.  Hot chocolate would be served at the firehouse afterwards.  

Today, I was thinking, after we had parted after our delicious lunch at Sabrina's in Collingwood, that I would like to write profiles on some of the people with whom I share an interest in history and who have put that interest to work.  

To name just a few, I'd like to do profiles on:  2.Bonnie Beth Elwell, president of Genealogy Society of Salem County, and now head librarian at Camden County Historical Society who also had published for Arcadia, a book on Upper Pittsgrove, Elmer and Pittsgrove.  3.Barbara Solem, author of Ghosttowns and Other Quirky Places in the New Jersey PineBarrens, The Forks, and most recently, Batsto, Jewel of the Pines.  Barbara was also the main developer of the opening of Atsion Mansion for tours during the past 3 years or more. 4.Marilyn Schmidt, proprietor of Buzby's General Store in Chatsworth, NJ, and a publisher of numerous booklets on cooking and Pinelands history.  5.Vonny Camp, who wrote a fascinating account of her time as a nurse during the Burma Campaign in World War II.  And there are countless other people living lives steeped in history and keeping history alive for others that I would like to interview and or profile here.  Also, 6.Albert Horner, photographer of the Pines, who has also worked diligently in preservation efforts.  Al also has a gorgeous book published of his works, which I bought and gave out as Christmas presents a year or two ago when it first came out.  Last on this list, but certainly never least, my mentor and advisor, 7.Carol Suplee, who wrote a historical account of Willingboro, which is in its second or third printing.  She made many presentations in regard to this book as well.  It was Carol who saved me when I was trapped in the purgatory of 'formatting' and 'converting' recently when I was finished my third book.  Having already negotiating these rough and dangerous waters, she generously offered her guidance in getting me through it  I am sure as I move along in this project, more people will come to mind and the list will grow.

As Faulkner is often misquoted as saying, "The past isn't over, it isn't even past."  And these individuals have helped to keep the past alive and lively!  We have all shared a love of history and most of us a love of writing too.

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