Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

March 7, 2013

'This is Your Brain on Music'

Cooperstown Crier

---- — We note that the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown, will be held on Thursday, March 28, at 2:30 p.m. at the Village of Cooperstown Library. The book selection for the meeting will be “This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel J. Levitin. Vivian Steinberg will lead the discussion of the book. The meeting is open to the public.

And, we hasten to point out that we have already started reading “This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” and are finding the book to be absolutely fascinating. Thus we are delighted it was one of the book selections for this year as we rather doubt it is a book we would have chosen on our own. Thus we are very glad that being a part of the Literary Discussion Group presents us with the opportunity to read a number of books that we otherwise suspect we would not read. And since we seem to be on a bit of a reading jag at the moment, having already finished eight book since the beginning of the year, we are quite enjoying ourselves.

Of course, we have not spent all of our time reading. In fact, we have managed to return to working on research for what we hope will be a book of oral history of Cooperstown gleaned from the columns we wrote with our late husband, the he-we, from 1984 to 1999. At the moment we are going through columns from 1990 and, as is so often the case, we come across items we have long forgotten having written. And perhaps not surprisingly, some of these items still seem as appropriate today as they did when originally written.

For example, on Feb. 28, 1990, this little piece appeared in the column:

“The following thoughts on how to maintain a strong local economy appeared in the Freeman’s Journal in 1928 and were reprinted there in 1978. ‘A thriving community, regardless of its size is always at its best...when it is practically self supporting...Thus, Cooperstown has tried to keep her citizenry supplied. There is little that is obtainable in the largest cities that one is not able to procure here...A good citizen is usually interested in his community and will try to patronize his own town. He tries to back up his own merchants, because he knows they are deserving of such backing...Back up your merchants and you prosper with them. By boosting the ‘Buy-at-home’ movement you will help put your community on the map?’ Some food for thought perhaps.”

As we read this, we could not help but think of the village’s current Economic Sustainability Committee, which is trying to find ways to improve the economy of the village. However, we rather doubt that the committee will find a way to return the village to 1928, but we do think the concept of self-supporting community no doubt had an impact on the viability of the village in the past. Unfortunately, it is a concept that would not seem terribly suited to the way the economy seems to work today. Not only would it not seem possible for Cooperstown to be self-supporting, we are not even certain it is possible for New York state, or even the United States, to be self-supporting in the current global economy.

And while on the subject of the village, we also found what we think is a rather interesting discussion of the village’s official seal. On this subject, we wrote, on Jan. 31, 1990:

“Not long ago Hugh MacDougall of Elm Street asked if we had ever taken careful note of the official seal of the Village of Cooperstown. Indeed we had examined this seal closely several years ago. On the seal one sees an assortment of tools some of which are easily identified and at least one of which is rather difficult to recognize. One can discern a shovel, a rake, a pitchfork with two prongs instead of three and a scythe. One can also see a hammer or mallet and a sickle which tend to impart a somewhat communistic look to the seal. There is also a tool which resembles two milk bottles connected to a rod. No one seems to know from whence came this seal or when it was first used. Someone suggested that the implements displayed thereon were all farming tools and therefore most appropriate for a village in an agricultural area.”

We followed this original mention of the village seal with the following on Feb. 2, 1990:

“... someone has suggested that the collection of tools found on the Cooperstown village seal mentioned last week probably represents the combining of the implements of husbandry and industry. After giving the matter some thought, we feel that the tools depicted on the seal actually reflect the modern village rather well. The rake represents those who wish to rake in even more tourist dollars. The scythe symbolizes those who want to cut down the number of visitors. The fork stands for those on various governmental boards  — village, school, town and county — who continually ask us to fork over more of our hard earned money when they stick us with even higher taxes. The shovel is for those who enjoy shoveling that well-known substance which seems to abound these days. The hammer and sickle might represent those who wish to slice out new development and hammer out franchises. Perhaps the tool which no one seems able to identify is actually a 19th century pooper scooper and what could be more appropriate in modern Cooperstown.”

As far as we know the village has not in the past 23 years changed its seal. And we have not heard that it has any intention of doing so. At least we hope that is the case as it is perhaps a most interesting seal, giving one any number of things about which to ponder.

And while we always enjoy our travels through history, we also get a kick out of current items that come to our attention. In fact, when we read the following piece of advice, we could not wait to share it. We think it quite hits the nail on the head with its message which reads:

“Don’t get all weird about getting older! Our age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying us!!”

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