2013, Sahalie Publishing

2013, Sahalie Publishing
256 pages, over 100 pictures

Limited edition...

The Brass Bell can be purchased online at Sahalie Publishing and Amazon.com.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Time Marches Onward

Marion Parsons' home today, contributed by the current owners

As the author, my speaking engagements for The Brass Bell have come to an end for this year. It's been an adventure since last June. The best part of the book tour was the launch event at the school. So many people who had loved and admired Marion Parsons from 1926 until she retired in 1952 were there to get their signed copy of the book. I have known all along that the popularity of the book has little to do with me and everything to do with those who have loved and admired my aunt's leadership and graciousness. She's been gone for over 40 years, but not forgotten.

As for her school, last month Cherry Road School was presented with the national Blue Ribbon Award, pronouncing it one of the best schools in the country. Oh, if only she were around to know  this!

As for her house, the darling house once featured in Better Homes & Gardens and Architectural Digest.... the wonderful people who live there now have shared some pictures. Looking at the picture of their front door in this picture, I can still smell the pungent odor of the juniper shrubbery at her front door, feel the warmth of her home as you stepped inside the vestibule, hear her laugh, hear her call out. By the look of this autumn snapshot, they love the house as much as she and her family had once so long ago.

I'm told the book will make a great Christmas gift for those who were lucky enough to live in this neighborhood, attend this school, or to have known Miss Parsons. For others, it will make a lovely gift for anyone with a penchant for the past and what we've left behind in quality of schools, strength of community relationships, and integrity of leadership. 

If you're wondering where you can purchase a copy, here are a few examples:

  • The Brass Bell can be ordered directly from Sahalie Publishing, or from
  • Amazon.com
  • For those in the Syracuse area, you can also buy directly from:
  • Onondaga County Historical Society's Museum store, 
  • the Marcellus Historical Society's store
  • Skaneateles Historical Society gift store
  • First National Gifts, Skaneateles, NY
  • Solvay-Geddes Historical Society..see their website
  • The Book Cellar, Solvay NY

Monday, September 23, 2013

Upcoming Author Events

Author, Camille Cole
Save the date:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Eastern Tour Complete

an evening at Barnes & Noble

Book Tour moves to Western U.S.

 

 

 

 

  



 I returned from the East coast exhausted but pleased with the overwhelming response to The Brass Bell. This project has so many supporters and enthusiasts in Central New York, I am grateful. Nevertheless, the work has just begun. The book tour now expands to Western United States...stay tuned Portland, Oregon, Okanogan County, Washington State, and Southern California.

If you live in the Central NY area and would like to purchase a copy of The Brass Bell, the book is available at:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Book tour underway!

Willis Parsons and family, 1915

The Brass Bell book tour

If you live in the Syracuse, NY area, don't miss your chance to meet the author and get your signed copy!

For more information about any of these events, call: 503.914.9515

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Launch Success!




Channel 9 Bridge Street visits Cherry Road School
That evening the book launch was a great success!

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Signing and Celebration of Marion Parsons Day

The Brass Bell is Coming!

I will be at Cherry Road School on June 20, 6-8:00 pm signing books and participating in a celebration of the school and of Marion Parsons Day. The event takes place in the original gym. A tribute read to Miss Parsons the day of her retirement in 1952 will be re-enacted. Alumni from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s will talk about the olden days. Don't miss this opportunity to remember our shared past, to learn what came before.

Everyone is invited!

See announcement:  Syracuse dot Com 

Earlier in the day, Bridge Street on Channel 9 WSYR will run a 5 minute segment live from the school as the students who have been selected this year receive the Marion Parsons Award for excellence.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Terry Road School, 1925
 Cherry Road School will hold a book launch party and book signing on June 20, 2013, 6:00-8:00 in the gymnasium.

Community members and alumni are all invited to celebrate what also happens to be Marion Parsons Day, and the release of the book that tells the story of her life.

The Brass Bell chronicles the life of Marion Parsons upon whose father's cherry orchard the school was built in 1927. It tells the story of the history of the school that replaced the old-time Terry Road School, and the close-knit community that surrounded both schools. The book was written by the great niece of Miss Parsons and the great granddaughter of Willis Parsons, and she will be on-hand to sign books.

To further honor the coincidence that this is Marion Parsons Day, there will be a re-enactment of the tribute written for her retirement by long-time community member, Ivy Schuyler: A Tribute to Miss Parsons. In addition, several alumni from the mid-1900s will speak about what life was like at Cherry Road School and in Westvale during those times. The author will read an excerpt from The Brass Bell.

Refreshments will be served. If you have any questions or would like to participate in the event in any special way, please contact Nancy Camille Cole at: 503.914.9515, or email her at: schoolhouse2@comcast.net

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the book will go to one of the sponsors of The Brass Bell, the Solvay Geddess Historical Society.

For those who cannot attend on the 20th, book order forms are available on the publisher's website: www.sahaliepublishing.org

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Project Progress--updates

Camille Cole-Author
The Brass Bell is in production!  After two rounds of serious editing by two of the best editors in all the land, it is now in the hands of one of the best book designers in all the land.

If you haven't received an offer in the mail and would like to order the book, you can do so on the publisher's website: Sahalie Publishing.

I am currently seeking authors and experts to write blurbs for the book jacket. If you have someone in mind, please let us know.

Please spread the word that the book order forms are already posted on the website.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated from the bottom of my heart. This has been a true representation of community collaboration--something that's been going on in Westvale for a long, long time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time Marches On

Bill on left, George on the right
While working on The Brass Bell project I have met so many wonderful people who were once upon a time students at Cherry Road School when Marion Parsons was principal. Now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, they still love to share stories about those days.

Two charming men who have been friends since childhood, Bill Eriksson and George Kinder, met with me one afternoon and had me in stitches and in tears, telling me about the olden days, about Miss Parsons. There was a story about how she had excused them from school to go see the opening day of the Chiefs. Others who had skipped school wound up in detention. Their idea about confronting her with the truth paid off. Bill told me several stories about how Miss Parsons had made it possible for him to participate in paying events by hiring him to work around the nieghborhood. She trusted him so much, she would go to him and ask him to ride a sick child home on his bike. The two friends were always up to something, but it seemed as though they would somehow make the right decisions. One time they asked Miss Parsons to take them over to Solvay so they could buy a squirt gun.  Bill said, "She probably took it away from us the next day, but she took us nevertheless."

The sad part about this project is that some of those who have contributed to the book will not be around to enjoy it. We lost my beloved Betty Jerome recently. Yesterday I found out that we've lost Bill last December. There will be a memorial get-together for Bill on April 27, 1:00 p.m., at the Amber Congregational Church. A luncheon will follow at the South Onondage Fire Department where Bill was a long-time member and fire-fighter.

Bill will be missed but the excellent stories he shared for The Brass Bell will live on in the book.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Women's stories have not been told. And without stories
there is no articulation of experience. Without stories a woman
is lost when she comes to make the important decisions

of her life. She does not learn to value her struggles, to
celebrate her strengths, to comprehend her pain. Without
stories she is alienated from those deeper experiences of self
and world that have been called spiritual or religious. She is
closed in silence. The expression of women's spiritual quest
is integrally related to the telling of women's stories. If women's
stories are not told, the depth of women's souls will not
be known." ~ Carol Christ, Diving Deep and Surfacing.

A local writing teacher, Jennifer Lauck, posted this quote on her newsletter this morning. My thought upon reading it was that often, if we've lived a life worth telling, someone else will write our story. Hopefully we leave enough clues behind for the story to be told. Hopefully we've made a big enough impact on the world that others will want to read about it, will gain insight and inspiration and understanding about their own lives. I hope The Brass Bell is a story such as that.   The manuscript is with the copy editor. Soon the book will be in production.   Thanks to all for your support and encouragement.   ~Camille

Excerpts from the Parsons Family Association Newsletter

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Project Update


Book Project Update

It's been a while since I checked in and updated the loyal followers of this project, The Brass Bell. The book was held in "exclusivity" by a university press for well over a year. Time passes and things change. What happened in this case, the executive editor who loved the project left the press. Her replacement finally decided to pass on the book. That didn't degrade its value to me or to others, but it sure broke my heart and set us back a year, needlessly. Lesson learned.

Onward and forward, tuck and roll, a small independent press in Oregon is publishing the book. Sahalie Publishing has brought on-board the best of the best to work on The Brass Bell, including Ali McCart of Indigo Editing, Holly Franko, former Copy Desk Chief at The Oregonian; an award-winning magazine and book designer, J. Kiehle, and other literary notables who have come together to help Sahalie produce a stand-out treasure for all who have waited so patiently. This book will be a treasure, not only for those who attended Cherry Road School, who knew Miss Parsons, or lived in Central New York, it will be a must-have for those who love historical fiction and non-fiction, love to read stories about people's lives...for history buffs, for educators, and everyone who has a soft-spot for the one-room schoolhouse and its inhabitants.

The Brass Bell covers a time period from the late nineteenth century through post-WWII. It contains the voices of those who were there, from Marion's journal, from newspaper accounts, and the memories of a little girl who begged her great aunt for "stories out of her think, stories about the olden days." My Aunt Marion would begin her stories with "Jack hitched up the horse and buggy..." I would curl up and drift through a time I could imagine as though I had been there, thanks to Marion's story-telling ability.

The book will go to press sometime this spring and Sahalie will make pre-sales available for anyone wanting to ensure they get enough copies, or who simply want to help this small press with this enormous project. (Sahalie is a non-profit press making donations tax-deductable.)

I want to thank all who have helped, tirelessly, who have encouraged me to keep going. I want to thank the many who contributed their memories of days gone by. It saddens me that some have not survived to enjoy the finished product. The book is for them especially. Their legacy will endure, as will my Aunt Marion Parsons'.

If you want to be added to the mailing list, contact me at: schoolhouse2@comcast.net

I will continue to post updates on this site,
Nancy "Camille" Cole

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Successful Schools have a Strong Home-to-School Connection!


Class of 1940, Cherry Road School
 So many wonderful, common-sense strategies made Cherry Road School successful right from the start in 1927. One of the strongest of these strategies that flourished for many years was the partnerships formed with parents and neighbors.

More and more schools today are realizing this again. Here is a Home to School Resource Guide provided by Edutopia, a publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

This Guide is filled with suggestions on how to make parent partnerships successful.

Marion Parsons, the first and longest running principal of Cherry Road School, established the Mother's Club and the Parent-Teacher Association during her first year, and fostered and sustained these groups and these partnerships for 25 years. Without the help of these appreciated parents, the school could not have survived the hardships of The Great Depression, World War II, and troubled economic times that meant one teacher for each grade, sometimes as many as 45 kids in one classroom. With the help of the community, the school became and has remained one of the highest-rated schools in New York State!

Ask any alumni who is today in their 80s, even 90s, what was the most significant experience of their childhood and they will tell you without hesitation: Cherry Road School. Much of that success is the result of the strong home and school connections. These stories and others are chronicled in The Brass Bell.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Seeking Old Pictures!

This is Cherry Road School today. As I work on the finishing touches of the book, The Brass Bell, I am looking for pictures of the school, the people, and the area taken any time from 1890 to 1953.

I am also looking for original newspaper clippings. It's very expensive to purchase originals from the archives of the local newspapers, so if anyone interested in this story and this project would be willing to send me original pictures or articles (there were many articles written about the school and published in the Syracuse Herald or Post Standard), I will scan and return to you. Of course, credit will go to any contributors in the book.

If you have any pictures, articles, or stories of your own (it's not too late) you would like to contribute, please contact me at: camille@camillecole.com, or at my office: 503.344.4434.

Stay tuned to this site for progress updates! Thanks to all who have contributed so much already! This has been a labor of love and awareness of the importance of history for all involved.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Project Update

Patience is not only a virtue during the book publishing process, it's a survival technique. These things take time.

The current version of The Brass Bell is under final consideration through a peer review process at the university press. I have confidence they will like the book as much as everyone else who has read it, and then the contract will be finalized and the editorial and production phase will begin.

I fear it's taking so long that people think I'm making it up, that there is no publisher, and there is no book.

My father died yesterday and I'm sad he didn't live to see the book about his childhood, his school, his grandfather, and his beloved Aunt Marion. I told him before he died it wouldn't be long and the book would be a reality, and he cried. They were tears of happiness.

The writing of a book is more than putting words on paper. Whether it's fiction, non-fiction, or narrative non-fiction, a book is given birth to from the author's soul. It is inspired by something that has touched them deeply, and it is never a solitary process. It takes support from family, from friends and colleagues. Without the help I've been offered by so many, there would be no Brass Bell.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Book Update

What's going on with the book project? The Brass Bell made its way through a peer review process at an academic press. The feedback was very positive and there were also a couple of very good suggestions provided. One of those is to include a where-are-they-now section to follow-up on the stars of the book: those who were there back when Marion Parsons was principal of Cherry Road School, when they held together as a community and made it through The Great Depressions and World War II, those who are generous and shared their memories, their stories.


So while I polish up the book one more time I am also requesting follow-up stories from some of the people who contributed significant stories about their past: What happened to them after they left Cherry Road and Westvale? Where are they now?

Once the book is submitted again to face the next round of the process, this version of The Brass Bell will be voted on by the Acquisitions Committee.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The book draft is complete!

Just a quick post to say the manuscript for The Brass Bell is complete and has been sent off for publication consideration. These things take time, patience, and a bit of a hard shell. What if they say no? Well, on to the next. I don't think I'll be wallpapering my house with rejection letters, but let's face it, these are tough times for any kind of business, including publishing. Nevertheless, I'm one of those who believes that books are as much a part of the human existance as eating and bathing. Life is not complete without books to hold in our hands, without stories to take us to another place and another life so that we might share and engage with humanity. There are so many of us here on the planet it's impossible for our brains to conceive the actual numbers. We are part of a teeming pot of people all like us in one way or another. Understanding how others overcome or transform keeps us sane, takes us out of our own predicament for a while, like heavy weights lifted from a sore back. Stories about the past take us to a place that has become somehow sacred through a feeling called nostalgia.



I remember so many happy times in front of the hearth in my Aunt Marion's living room. Perhaps some of you who knew her, who had the pleasure of visiting while a fire blazed in the stone fireplace will recognize the pen and ink drawing above.



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book almost Finished!

The first draft of The Brass Bell is almost complete! I could not have told the story without the help of those who were there and have been so generous to share their stories.

Every time I read the one about the boys stringing tin cans across the bottom of the stairs on a Saturday morning in hopes of hearing the janitor as he might unwittingly ascend the stairway from the basement, discover all of them in the gym playing basketball, I smile. These "boys" are now in their 80s, but to them, it was just yesterday. When they recount scurrying out the front door and across the lawn, they evoke a Saturday morning nearly 70 years ago, the sounds of their high-tops on the gym floor, the gasps of heavy breathing from running and from terror.

The biggest thrill for Cherry Roaders was the senior class trip. Each alumni I've talked with has recounted the events of that trip as though the train had just left the station, Syracuse fading as their train heads east and then south.

You can almost hear the cows mooing up at the Jeroms farm, the clanking of the milk bottles in Van Jerome's wire basket early in the morning. It's just a dream. Most of the farms are now buried beneath roads and shopping malls. The old tunnel that was part of a complicated system of cables, pulleys, and buckets, rigged to transport limestone from Split Rock to Solvay Process, was closed down a hundred years ago. Stories about running through the tunnel in the dark are embedded in the memories of those who were there. Until the neighbors plugged it up with cement, kids used the tunnel as a short-cut. They played in the abandoned quarry, took a picnic lunch, stayed all day until the street lights came on, their signal to go home.

The book is filled with people from the past. The wonder and the tragedies of their lives come alive on the pages.

There is much to be learned from the successes of Cherry Road School, from the first day Miss Parsons stood on the front step of the old chicken coop in 1926, and then on the front steps of the brand new red brick school in 1927, until the day she retired in 1952.

I'll keep you informed about the progress of the publication of The Brass Bell!








The Split Rock/Solvay Process cable system is pictured above....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Miss Parsons

Like Captured Fireflies


In her classroom our speculations ranged the world.

She aroused us to book waving discussions.

Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts, new ideas

Cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.

When she went away a sadness came over us,

She left her signature upon us

The literature of the teacher who writes on children's minds.

I've had many teachers who taught us soon forgotten things,

But only a few like her who created in me a new thing a new attitude, a new hunger.

I suppose that to a large extent I am the unsigned manuscript of that teacher.

What deathless power lies in the hands of such a person.


John Steinbeck

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Parent Involvement


The Cherry Leaf




Whether it's an old-fashioned ditto-mastered newsletter mailed to parents or a classroom blog, reaching out to families is one critical element for school success.


The leadership of Cherry Road School have always understood this. One of the first things Marion Parsons did when the new school was finished in 1927 was to establish The Mother's Club.


In 1932, a school newspaper called The Cherry Leaf began publication. Its masthead declared that it was "Published by the Pupils of Cherry Road School--School District No.1, Town of Geddes." Using it as a tool to teach children about running a business and managing funds, ads were sold to support the cost of printing and postage. Student reporters shared news and events. They wrote about fundraising luncheons, the advent of a new scoutmaster; purchase of new sports equipment, glee club, and drama club news. The Cherry Leaf had a staff of 11 student editors by its second edition in December of 1932. Lloyd Mitchell, as student Editor-in-Chief, used the metaphor of the stages of an acorn growing into a mighty oak tree as a comparison to that of "...a boy or girl through their life in school....if they don't start out right they won't end up right."


I've discovered in my extensive research into the history of Cherry Road School, through my many conversations with alumni, that students who attended from 1926 through the 1950s credit much of their success to the start they received at Cherry Road School. It was the strong element of parental involvement that motivated them in years to come. It was the parents' partnership with teachers and administration that kept them on the straight and narrow when they were in school....no room to play one side against the other. The adults were united, but according to the stories that by now have been re-told hundreds of times, they were fair. If a kid suffered a consequence, they knew they had it coming.


Many have told me that because of the strong foundation of parent involvement, this school felt like a family. And the students didn't want to let the family down, so everyone tried their hardest to do their best. Some of the most interesting stories are the pranks that were played by the kids who knew if they were caught, what the outcome would be...one alumni put it this way: "...if I had been caught, there would have been nothing left of me put a dark puddle on the sidewalk." They accepted what was right and what was wrong and had a great time trying to see what they could get away with. Each accepted their punishment when it came. They knew their parents would never defend them against the teachers. Imagine. Teaching in a supportive and supported environment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On the Home Front, WWII

"But there is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States--every man, woman, and child--is in action, that front is right here at home in our daily lives."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1942

Like school children all over the country, the lives of the students of Cherry Road School were changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On the home front activities included air raid drills and collecting seed pods, piling them up in the gymnasiam. The milkweed pods were used to make parachutes.

Older brothers had gone off to war. Patriotism was a way of life, and children of Cherry Road School were part of a community effort.

I'm looking for stories from anyone who was there during this time. What can you remember about those days that you would be willing to share for the purpose of the book, The Brass Bell?

Please comment on this post or contact me directly at:

schoolhouse2@comcast.net

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Time in Perspective



One thing I've learned while researching the history of a small farm community turned suburb, a one-room schoolhouse turned successful district school, is that time passes in less than a blink. People and the times in which they live are larger than life in that moment and then gone from memory just as quickly.

The women in this picture, from left to right, Grace Parsons Cole, Marion Parsons, Martha Parsons, and Julia Jerome, were young girls playing in a cherry orchard and climbing in haylofts. Before they knew what hit them, they were in charge of the future. Now they are part of the past that few who are still living remember.

The Brass Bell will tell the story and provide a marker in time to remind those of us who would take for granted our time on earth that what we do here counts, and that we've only a few minutes to get it done.

Back in Oregon, work has resumed on the book. Thanks to those who contributed to my efforts on this last research trip to Syracuse. This past weekend John and I stumbled upon an old log cabin in the hills outside Portland. On the Oregon Trail, the home is preserved by the local historical society. As I stood by the old hearth, imagining a cold winter day in 1840-something, a deeper understanding of the importance of historical preservation crept into my psyche. I will try to work as hard to finish the book on time as was the volunteer who was digging weeds in the front yard of the old homestead. It wasn't that long ago that a family who crossed thousands of miles in a covered wagon piled log upon log to build the cabin in which the family lived for nearly a century. I will strive to be half as brave as they.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Visit to Syracuse

Researching The Brass Bell

Next week, on June 7, I take off from Portland, Oregon, and fly to Syracuse for my final round of research for the book: The Brass Bell. I'll be there from the 7th until the 22nd.

I'll be in the area talking with alumni, with members of the Solvay-Geddes Historical Society, poking through the files at the Onondaga County Historical Society and the Onondaga County Library.

If any CRS alumni, especially those who attended Cherry Road School any time from 1927-1953, are nearby and have a story or any memories to share, I'd love to hear from you while I'm in town.

Most of the research is complete and the book is well on its way to the finish line, at least the first finish line. Making a book is a long and tedious process as those of you who have done it know. Once the first draft is done, there are rewrites, and more rewrites, editors, peer reviews, more editors, production staff, artists, marketing staff, and endless outreach, once the book is actually printed, to let people know that the book is available. Those of us who do it believe that we were born to complete the task. Without that drive, the sane person would give up and get a "real job."

Writing The Brass Bell is a labor of love, love for Westvale, love for my Aunt Marion, and love for the education process.

Marion Parsons affected the lives of thousands of people who now live all over the country. Many still live in Westvale; some have returned to Westvale. They all share one thing in common: love and respect for the diminutive woman who had a giant impact on their lives. The Brass Bell is a tribute to her, the teachers at Cherry Road School who worked diligently beside Miss Parsons, and educators worldwide who struggle to find ways to engage students in a love of learning.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day

Honoring Cherry Road School Veterans~

In honor of Memorial Day, and the young men who served over 60 years ago, some of them a mere 17 years-old, anxious to serve, willing to bend the truth to be there. The following men are graduates of Cherry Road School who served in World War II:

Lester Wilbur Marco Terziev
Robert E. Doehner Loyd Mitchell
Arthur Meyers Leland Mitchell
Harry Castleman Fred Baxter
Edward Browning Bradford Sherry
James Stewart John Sherry
John Terziev Irving Avery
William McArdell Sidney Spillett
Raymond McArdell Herbert Hardisty
Robert McArdell Robert Hardisty
Sidney Bannister David P. Cole
Peter W. Cole Van Jerome
Richard Henry William Male
Bradford Vineall Richard Pollard
Edwin Vineall James Male
Francis Powell Robert Klock
Raymond Hackbarth Fay Bailey
Kenneth Bailey John Farnham
Donald Calkins John Pyle
William Brady Alfred Colbourn
Raymond Smith Dan Salisbury
Stanley Smith Robert Coulter
James Robinson Edward Lundy
James Rowe Herbert Curtis
Jack Trowdridge William Patterson
Gordon Peterson Quentin Wells
Morgon Cooper Fermin McKaig
Richard Ryan Franklin Brady
Wendell Horrigan Donald Porter
Robert Horrigan Peter Zavalauskas
Robert Tetrault John Gould
James Sherlock Richard Owen
Ralph Bristol John Hennessdy
Matt Windhausen Harda Haight
Charles Windhausen Kenneth Meyers
Bernard Windhausen Frederick White
Melvin Merrill Eugene Allen
Ralph Amedro Nicholas Krascella
Donald Cole James Murphy
Willaim Harley James Payne
Vernon Roth Richard M. Cone
James Ryan C.E. Sillion
Harold Avery C.W. Hewlett
Carl Bausch Richard Schwartz
Nes Goodwin James P. Furlong
L.Adell Havens James Cosgrove
Frances Terziev Alden Sherry
Mary Gere William H. Stewart, Jr
Margie Bealer Schuler Edwin M. Baylard
Edward W. Sweeney
James C. Connelly
J.D. Hillyer

A plaque with these names once hung in the hallway of Cherry Road School. Since then it hung in the home of Van Jerome and he passed it along to Leland Mitchell who donated the plaque to the Solvay-Geddes Historical Society last fall. The now President of the Historical Society, Susan Millet, copied all these names off the plaque and sent them to me so I could post them on this site.

Many of the veterans listed here are no longer alive. Many of them are and have important stories to tell. Those of us who are interested try to gather as much of the history as we can while it is still available from the people who were there.

Thank-you all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Miss Parsons Retired


When Marion Parsons retired as principal of Cherry Road School, it was a huge event for the community. She had become an institution. We have many artifacts in the family collection of Aunt Marion memorabilia of this time. There had been luncheons, dinners, ceremonies, and edicts of a special day in June to be held each year: Marion Parsons Day.

One artifact I have in my possesion is a letter written to Marion by a trustee on the School Board. It is written on letterhead of The Merchants National Bank and Trust Company of Syracuse, and signed by Trust Officer, Kenneth F. Barton. Dated May 7, 1952, the letter reads:

Dear Miss Parsons:

I consider that I personally am very fortunate to have the privilege of advising you that a resolution was unanimously passed at the annual meeting of the School Board held on May 6, 1952, expressing to you the very deep and sincere appreciation of the residents of the district for the long and faithful service which you have rendered to the School and the community and in particular, to the children of the Westvale area.

I am sorry that you were not present at the meeting so that you could have realized from the manner in which this resolution was adopted how very deep the feeling of the people was and in what esteem you are held in the community.

Sincerely,
Kennneth Barton

Sunday, April 3, 2011

History of a Suburb

Almost every city in the United States has what became known as "suburbs" during the post-war housing boom of the 1950s. Most of these 'suburbs' were at one time farmland--dairy farms, apple orchards, cattle ranches.

Cherry Road School grew from a one-room schoolhouse in a farm community called Westvale. The area had been settled during the 1800s by several families. Over time, as their children grew up and had families, they stayed close by and built farms of their own. The barn in the picture above was the Jerome Dairy barn. The Jerome family lived and farmed in Westvale. Many of the farms in Westvale were able to survive for a while as the city grew around them. A vivid memory of my 1950s childhood is Van Jerome delivering fresh milk in the morning, glass bottles clanging as he placed them inside the tiny milk door in the kitchen. You could hear him whistling all the way back to his milk truck.

Eventually the Jerome dairyfarm, too, would have to make way for shopping malls, neighborhoods, freeways, more schools....During the second half of the 20th century, a lot of the landmarks and the familiar faces of Westvale disappeared in the name of progress. The Jerome barn came down in the late 1960s to make way for Route 695. The new road cut a swath through fields where cows and horses once grazed lazily, where children delighted to ride on the backs of big wide workhorses, help pitch hay in the barn, watch Ned Jerome hard at work running the dairy started by the family in the 1920s.

Just up the road, prior to the 1920s, my great grandfather,Willis Parsons turned a dirt farm into prime orchards. He began his work in earnest during the 1890s. Eventually his farm would be parceled off to create one of the early neighborhoods of western Syracuse. His foray into real estate came about not because he lost interest in growing prize fruit, but because he could no longer make a living doing so.

In a Syracuse Post Standard article dated 1917, titled: County Fruit Growers will Inspect Orchards, the writer notes that, "...the Onondaga County Farm Bureau will devote most of next Saturday to an inspection trip....The party will assemble at 10 o'clock at the farm of President Willis Parsons on the West Genesee Street road and spend the balance of the afternoon looking over his orchard." The story continues, "The Parson's orchard is a remarkable one of young trees of apples, cherries plums, and other fruits."

What is left of the cherries today is a street called Cherry Road, and a school named Cherry Road School. The most interesting part of the story is what the sons and daughters of the Jeromes and the Parsons and other Wesvales families did to guide their families through an economic crash and a great war.

That tale will be told, in part, in The Brass Bell.

There are many stories about Westvale, Solvay, Geddes, Fairmont, Camillus--small communities clinging to the western boundary of a small American city, just past the New York State Fairgrounds. This one reveals a cherry orchard, a hen house, a school teacher, and a handful of children eager to learn, eager to live up to handed-down farm values, eager to be part of a community.