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In These Otsego Hills

February 2, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: This and that ...

We have found the weather so far this year to be on the unusual side. And while we have no problem with the fact that we have received very little snow, we are of the opinion that what we have had instead is not particularly to our liking either. In fact, we are very hesitant to venture out much as we live in fear that the rain will turn to mixed precipitation which will freeze into a sheet of ice. And we are definitely opposed to encountering a sheet of ice underfoot. In fact, we are so hesitant that we now have taken to canceling our participation in events based on what just might be a dubious forecast.

In fact, we canceled the January meeting of the Literary Discussion Group because we thought the forecast was dicey. And while everyone who is on the membership list for the group, received a telephone call, unfortunately a number of answering machines were reached and so we imagine there may have been those who showed up only to discover the meeting had been canceled. And for that inconvenience we do wish to offer our apology. However, just as we have become a fair weather friend, we fear we have also become a fair weather facilitator.

Nonetheless, the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Village of Cooperstown Library, weather permitting.

The meeting will first discuss January’s book, “Milkweed” by Jerry Spinelli, before moving on to February’s book, “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough. The discussion of “Milkweed” will be lead by Grace Kull while Ellen Bonhote, Cathe Ellsworth and Mary Leary will lead the discussion of “The Greater Journey.” The meeting is open to the public.

We note that the Fenimore Quilt Club’s annual quilt show will be held at the Cooperstown Art Association from Saturday, Feb. 11, to Sunday, Feb. 26. The show will be open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

We believe, although we are not 100 percent certain, that this will be the Fenimore Quilt Club’s 22nd annual show. And having worked on it ourselves for a number of years, we can attest to the fact that the show is no small undertaking. Thus we salute the members of the club for their continued effort to present the show each year. It is always a welcome addition to the winter season.

It has come to our attention that there will be a silent auction of a Lester G. “Red” Bursey painting of Christ Episcopal Church.

The painting, which is owned by Robin Lettis of our fair village, will be auctioned to help raise money for the Stained Glass Window Fund at the Presbyterian Church here in Cooperstown. Silent bids for the painting may be made between Feb. 5 and 5 p.m.

March 5 by contacting Robin Lettis by email at roblet22@, by telephone at 547-8343 or by snail mail at 22 Eagle St, Cooperstown. The minimum bid for the painting is $275.

Although we well remember Red Bursey, we suspect that there are many residents of the area whose only knowledge of him might possibly be that the gymnasium at CCS is named for him. According to The History of Cooperstown by Coopers, Shaw, Littell and Hollis, on June 30, 1925, “Lester G. Bursey of Chelsea, Mass., who had been appointed director of physical education at the Cooperstown High School and coach of its athlete teams, arrived in Cooperstown to have charge of the Cooperstown Playgrounds which were conducted here for the first summer through the cooperation of several local bodies.”

Red continued to work with the children of the area for the next 43 years. In the summer of 1965 he announced his retirement after 41 years as director of the Cooperstown Summer Playground program.

And he retired from CCS in June of 1968. During his tenure he touched the lives of many, many students many of which we are certain remember him most fondly to this day. Thus it could not have been a surprise that in 1975, the gymnasium at CCS was named in his honor. In addition to his work with the children here, Red was also a well known local artist.

Over the years he painted many pictures of scenes of the Cooperstown area, a number of which we acquired. And we greatly treasure them as a part of our collection of Cooperstown memorabilia. Thus we suspect that the painting which is up for auction will be of interest to a number of people in the area. We also think acquiring a Red Bursey painting today is not easy as those of us who have them are loath to part with them.

We frequently receive all sorts of information from our many readers. And we think one of the most interesting one arrived recently from former Cooperstonian Alice Whitaker Whippen who now lives in East Berlin, Pa. Alice sent us a clipping about the Sheep to Shawl Festival held on Jan. 13 this year as part of the 96th annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show. We must admit we had never heard of the Sheep to Shawl Festival but we do think the concept sounds most intriguing.

According to a report we found on line at the Waynesboro Record Herald website “The competition starts off with the fresh shearing of a sheep on the floor of the small arena. As soon as the sheep is sheared, the rest of the team sweeps the fleece up and begins carding and spinning it out to be woven into a shawl. Seven six-member teams participated. Teams are given 2 ½ hours from the first shear on the sheep to completion of a shawl.”

The team that won the competition, Time Warp, finished this process in one hour, 43 minutes. The team that came in second, Friends Through Fiber’s, finished its shawl in one hour, 53 minutes. But evidently that extra 10 minutes proved valuable as the Friends Through Fiber’s shawl sold for $1,850, while the Time Warp shawl only sold for $1,300.

We thank Alice for letting us know about Sheep to Shawl although we must admit we cannot imagine taking part in the competition. However, we do think it might be interesting to watch.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at

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