Out of Vietnam As Saigon Fell, Covington’s Lt. John Hummel Rose to the Occasion By Carrie Hagen
E E R F he wind
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Volume 14 Issue 11
14 Local Drummer Puts the
Out of Vietnam
Fleetwood in Tusk
By Carrie Hagen As Saigon fell, Covington’s Lt. John Hummel rose to the occasion.
By Gayle Morrow
Mac tribute band playing back to back shows at Deane Center.
16 Smile and Say Cheese By Laurie Mercer
At Craigs Creamery, nothing goes to waste.
20 Time Travel
6 Art Doctor
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By Karey Solomon Zold Art Conservation in Corning brings new life to old works.
Callahan’s Antiquities nurtures deep roots in Montoursville.
24 Mother Earth
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34 Back of the Mountain
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26 Briggs Beer’s Back!
By Ann E. Duckett Steve Shaw revives a local brand in Elmira, the town he calls home. Cover by Tucker Worthington. Cover photo by Caleb Williams. This page (top) the USS Midway in the Pacific Ocean, 1974, courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command [Public domain], (middle) courtesy Klara Zold; (bottom) courtesy Steven Shaw, Jr.
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Knock on wood: John Hummel, with wife Jean Dewitz, holds a wooden scale model of the plane he once flew. 6
Out of Vietnam As Saigon Fell, Covington’s Lt. John Hummel Rose to the Occasion By Carrie Hagen
t 1300 hours on Wednesday, April 30, 1975, Lieutenant John Hummel stood on the deck of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier stationed in the South China Sea. As a light rain fell, John looked up at a Cessna O-1 Bird Dog circling overhead. He wondered about the pilot’s intentions. American and South Vietnamese pilots had flown numerous small planes like this one, but never onto an aircraft carrier. John thought it might be an enemy attack. Four and a half years before, the Navy had appointed John the Aircraft Handling Officer of the prime recovery carrier should South Vietnam fall to the North and the military need to evacuate Saigon. They called the plan Operation Frequent Wind. Over the course of the operation—which began on April 29, 197, and ended in less than forty-eight hours—seventy-one helicopters removed thousands of American citizens, South Vietnamese personnel, and their dependents from Saigon, the capital of the Republic of Vietnam. It was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. As part of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea, Lieutenant Hummel directed the launches and landings of many of these helicopters, but neither he nor his team anticipated recovering any winged aircraft, such as the Cessna O-1. He attempted to contact the pilot through emergency radio frequencies. There was no response. Concern spread through the Midway as the small plane approached and turned on its landing lights. “We had no idea of its intentions or desires,” remembers John, now seventyeight and living in Covington, Pennsylvania. For all his team knew in the moment, an enemy could have been planning to drop a grenade or use the two-seater plane itself as a weapon. John had to rely on an instinct honed by specialized military training to navigate the unknown.
The USS Midway was one of over thirty Navy ships involved in Operation Frequent Wind. Since his assignment as Aircraft Handling Officer, John had joined the operation’s leadership in twice-yearly trainings, including how to best recover and transport thousands of evacuees and refugees from Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) before they fell into enemy hands. That April, North Vietnamese forces were moving south faster than anticipated. If caught, any national, American, or other foreign national who had aided the South’s fight against the Communist North would face torture and/or execution. Tens of thousands had fled. Thousands remained. When John reported to the USS Midway on Monday, April 28, it was waiting along with other ships in Task Force 76, about sixty-five miles east of Saigon in the South Pacific. At 5:16 the next morning, twenty-eight Air Force special operations helicopters arose from the Midway’s deck. Over the next thirty-four hours, they and forty-three others would make 689 trips between the Seventh Fleet and Saigon, centering their recovery efforts on the United States Embassy compound. As Armed Forces Radio played “White Christmas,” the signal for the final evacuation, over 2,000 people waited for rescue inside the gates, and a reported 10,000 were desperate to enter from the street. Several hours after the operation began, American and South Vietnamese helicopters swarmed the guard channel leading to the recovery ships in the South China Sea. Almost every one had a low fuel emergency. “Every US Navy ship with a landing platform is recovering birds [helicopters],” John wrote of his experience soon after it ended. A typical passenger load on a South Vietnamese helicopter, he recounted, “included the pilot and his family, which included grandparents and
parents from both sides, brothers, sisters, wives, and everyone’s children.” A bird with seating for fourteen carried, on average, thirty. Many carried more. Smaller vessels, such as the Blue Ridge command ship, had a deck with room for only one aircraft to land at a time. During the rush of the evacuation, there was no time or space to refuel any helicopter when others with empty tanks needed to disembark passengers. To save as many people as possible, pilots repeatedly sacrificed their aircrafts, following instructions to land, unload, relaunch, and then “ditch” the helicopters beside the ship, ejecting themselves in the process. At 1 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30, the Midway held 5,800 evacuees/refugees. Nearly four hours later, its crew learned that all United States citizens had been rescued except for 140 Marines, and President Gerald Ford had given orders to stop evacuating Vietnamese. At the American Embassy, Marine and Air Force helicopters navigated ground fires and difficult landing zones to airlift the final Marines by 7:30 a.m. A few hours later, the Seventh Fleet received word that the Republic of Vietnam had surrendered to the North Vietnamese Army, bringing an end to the twenty-year Vietnam War. The number of evacuees in Operation Frequent Wind surpassed the military’s expectations and could have very well presented an operational nightmare. In By Sea, Air, and Land: An Illustrated History of the U.S. Navy and the War in Southeast Asia, Edward J. Marolda writes that the operation facilitated a “human tide” out of South Vietnam, and reports that in the final fourteen hours of the operation, Marine helicopters lifted “almost 8,000 United States military personnel, South Vietnamese, and their dependents.” See Vietnam on page 8 7
Vietnam continued from page 7
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When evacuees and refugees exited helicopters, military guards surrounded and directed everybody to move into lines, submit to a body search, and hand over any weapons. “They appear to be a thankful people,” John wrote. “I am certain not one of them has any idea of what is ahead of them, but it can never be as bad as what they just left.” • It was just before 1 p.m. on April 30, almost two hours after learning of South Vietnam’s surrender, that John noticed the Cessna O-1 winged plane—a strange sight in a sky full of helicopters. The Midway made a tight port turn, a signal to discourage landing. The pilot flew over the deck, indicating his intention anyway. Twice, the Midway’s crew noticed the pilot’s attempting to release something from the plane onto the carrier. At least one sailor thought it could be a grenade. John moved to a helicopter on deck and managed to make some radio contact, directing the pilot to ditch the plane in the water. Instead, the pilot tried a third time to drop something on deck. It was a note, now tied to the weight of a pistol belt. John held the paper. “Can you move the Helicopter to the other side,” it read, “I can land on your runway, I can fly 1 hour more, we have enough to mouve. Please rescue me. Major Buang, wife and 5 child.” The pilot, as John later learned, was South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly. He had flown from Côn Sơn Island off the south coast of Vietnam, a base deemed important largely due to its radio station. During the evacuation, Station Côn Sơn stayed on the air as long as possible to direct signals to aircraft and ships. Fleeing at the last possible second, Major Buang-Ly crammed his family of seven into the two-seater Bird Dog and took off amidst gunfire. Unsure of where to go, the major flew out to sea. Soon enough, he noticed a swarm of helicopters in the distance. He followed them to the Midway. John conferred with the ship’s captain, Lawrence Chambers (only the second African American to graduate from the Naval Academy and the first to command a Naval aircraft carrier). Major Buang-Ly wanted the helicopters moved because there was no room for a plane to land on the deck. (At one point, the carrier held 222 helicopters). Aircrafts were still landing on the carrier while John’s team decided what to do with the Cessna, and, in the meantime, Buang-Ly was running out of fuel. Out of options, John received the okay from Captain Chambers to call all available hands on deck. Together, they pushed twenty-two helicopters overboard to make room for the Cessna. Then the Midway crew waited to see if Buang-Ly could handle the difficult landing. He did it so gracefully that the deck erupted into cheers. The major followed his family off the plane. Hands raised to his head, Buang-Ly asked if he could refuel, launch, and go back for more people. He was denied. At 2:30, the Midway transferred evacuees to transport docks on the USS Denver, Duluth, and Blue Ridge. The Midway alone had helped to rescue 6,914 South Vietnamese and foreign nationals, and 575 U.S. citizens. John and the crew stayed aboard for a few more days, recovering people fleeing in small boats and on rafts. On Tuesday, May 6, Operation Frequent Wind ended. Reports reflect that during the evacuation, over fifty-four Marine, Naval, and Air Force helicopters (valued at $10 million) were pushed over the side of carriers to make room for those carrying more people. See Vietnam on page 10
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Vietnam continued from page 8
Pushed to the edge: one of fifty-four helicopters pushed over the side of carriers during Operation Frequent Wind to facilitate more rescues.
“I doubt the crew of the carrier really realized that they had just participated in a significant event,” John reflects, forty-plus years later. “I really don’t believe such thoughts went through my mind. Even today, I don’t dwell upon it much. I guess my biggest feeling of accomplishment was that I was there and pretty well successfully accomplished my duties.” • In June 1976, one year after Operation Frequent Wind, John retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. It was a career that had begun in boyhood dreams. “Since he was a little boy,” says his son-in-law, Steve Jaso, “he wanted to be a pilot in the Navy.” Born in 1941, John grew up in Smethport, Pennsylvania. He learned about aircraft carriers around age five, and never envisioned doing anything but flying planes on and off of them. “My parents were determined that wasn’t going to happen,” he laughs, remembering his mom’s safety concerns. Nevertheless, he enlisted in the Navy right out of high school. After boot camp, he attended Naval electronic programs before receiving his first assignment with VW-11, an early-warning naval air squadron that flew the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line, a series of radar stations placed across the North Atlantic to detect incoming Russian air attack. Just hours into his first operational mission near Iceland, John received a message saying he had been accepted as a candidate in NESEP (Navy Enlisted Scientific Education Program) and needed to respond within twelve hours. Landing in Spain on a See Vietnam on page 12
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Vietnam continued from page 10
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Friday, John had to get to San Diego by the following Monday. He flew into Roanoke, Virginia, and hitchhiked to the West Coast. After a six-week preparatory program, he attended Penn State on a full scholarship and graduated with a BS in Aerospace Engineering in June 1963. Two years later, after finishing Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, John was flying a Naval F-4 Phantom off an aircraft carrier in Southeast Asia. To get there, however, he had to prove he was physically, intellectually, and psychologically qualified for carrier aviation, a process he calls “an extensive evaluation.” First, he attended a seven-day sea and land SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program in Pensacola, essentially a selection camp that qualified future aviators for the thirty-day SERE program at a remote training site in southern California. To survive these competitive programs, John says, pilots have to have the right mindset. “Your concentration abilities have to be very strong in carrier aviation. Your mindset says, ‘By God, I can do it.’ I thought I was invincible. Every fighter pilot is invincible.” After he finished the thirty-day SERE training, he received his first deployment to Southeast Asia. But he wasn’t yet ready to fly combat duty in Vietnam. First, he had to complete an additional ten-day jungle survival program in the Philippines. It was an exercise that would save his life. • The Navy’s survivor school curriculum is classified, but a senior naval officer (who asked to remain nameless) familiar with aviator preparation shared that the program involves “fire-building techniques, natural shelters, identifying edible plants, learning to assemble some kind of primitive first aid kit, and survival navigation.” A candidate like John Hummel would also have needed to learn to make compasses and train in distress signal techniques, such as whistling patterns and assembling logs on a beach. • John flew combat missions in Southeast Asia for three years before he had to test his survival training. On November 27, 1968, as part of Navy Fighter Squadron 161, he and his Radio Officer were flying north of Hanoi when the North Vietnamese Army targeted their plane. As it caught fire, John directed his RO to hit the ejection button, which See Vietnam on page 32
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Local Drummer Puts the Fleetwood in Tusk Mac Tribute Band Playing Back to Back Shows at Deane Center By Gayle Morrow
ho puts the USC Trojans Marching Band front and center on a pop album? Fleetwood Mac, that’s who. It’s been forty years since the band released Tusk, their twelfth studio album (October 12, 1979, was the actual release date). As a follow-up to the huge commercial success of Rumours, Tusk was, in some circles, an out-there creation, a headscratcher that was expected to flop. The naysayers were wrong. The album, perhaps something of an oddity when compared to its predecessor, was a number one in the U.K. and gave Fleetwood Mac two top-ten singles in the U.S.—Lindsey Buckingham’s title track, “Tusk”, and Stevie Nicks’ ethereal homage to the mysterious poet in our hearts we know as “Sara.” 14
Fast-forward a few decades to find Liberty resident and former music teacher Tom Nelson living his dream: performing music. As the drummer in a Fleetwood Mac tribute band known as Tusk, scheduled to play at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts November 13 and 14, Tom admits he’s in his happy place. “Making music for a live audience is a great thing,” he says. “This has been a dream for a long time.” Tom grew up in New Jersey, played percussion in high school, and was a member of the marching band. He attended West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where he met his wife, who is from Liberty. The couple moved to Liberty in 1993, and Tom got a job as the band director
at Williamson High School. In 2000, a teaching position opened up in Liberty, he was hired, and he taught music there until 2018. “I enjoyed teaching,” he says, but admits he “always enjoyed playing music, and always wanted to be a performer.” Tom has played with the Williamsport Symphony, with the Wellsboro-based Spare Parts, and other with other groups. Over the years, he had kept in touch with his “musical performing friends” in New Jersey. Some of them were interested in doing a Fleetwood Mac “one-off tribute band” performance and asked if he was interested in participating. No need to ask twice. The event “went really well,” he continues, and the one-off became a semi-regular gig.
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“About a year and a half ago, the band started taking off,” Tom says, and he found himself having to make a decision. “I couldn’t do both anymore,” he reflects, “both” being touring with Tusk, which was playing all over the place, and teaching. So, while he has not officially retired, he gave up teaching in December of 2018. “So here I am,” he laughs. “Now I’m a drummer for a Fleetwood Mac tribute band.” Is his drumming as famously frenetic as Mick Fleetwood’s? “Sometimes I act the part,” Tom says. “It depends on the crowd and the size of the room.” Sean D. Gilday, who is in partnership with Rachel Hill at Blue Raven Entertainment (offices for real in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, and for fun in Siberia) and serves as agent and manager for Tusk, characterizes Tusk as “the most accurate representation of Fleetwood Mac in the world.” He “discovered” the band about a dozen years ago when someone suggested he check out Kathy Phillips on YouTube. Kathy is a New Jersey singer/songwriter who looks and sounds a lot like Stevie Nicks. From there, Sean continues, he heard Tom play. “He’s got one of the greatest drum solos going,” Sean says. “He’s in the top ten of drummers I’ve worked with.” He then connected with the band as a whole—“I got with them when they were first starting out”—and it’s been all uphill, in the best possible way, ever since. “They’re very hard working people—they work as hard as they can to make it good,” says Sean. “They never say no to a fan request.” Perhaps part of the reason Tusk has enjoyed such success is that the band members have remained friends (unlike the animosity that developed amongst the original Mac). “It’s the same five people since we started,” Tom notes. Those performers are: Kathy Phillips, who takes on the Stevie Nicks role; Kim Williams, Tusk’s Christine McVie, is classically trained on piano and voice, and can replicate Fleetwood Mac’s close harmonies; Scott McDonald handles vocals and guitar, and credits Lindsey Buckingham as one of his earliest musical influences; Randy Artiglere plays bass and he does a great John McVie while adding his own style to the mix. The band has a heavy touring schedule during the summer, and weekend gigs throughout the year. “We have a large van and a trailer,” Tom says. “That’s generally how we travel.” There is, however, a West Coast tour lined up for next year, and a spring date in Hawaii that might involve an airplane or two. Sean points out that travel for Tom usually involves extra time, just because of where he’s starting from. “When the band has to drive two hours, he has to drive five,” says Sean. But for these Deane Center shows, Tom’s the lucky one in terms of travel. “It should be two fun shows, and it will be great to see some [Wellsboro] friends,” Tom says. “The Deane Center is awesome—I love it there.” For ticket information, call the Deane Center for the Performing Arts at (570) 724-6220, or visit deanecenter.com. Find out more about Tusk at blueravenartists.com.
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Perfect partnerships: Craigs Creamery in partnershilp with Arla Foods and the Dairy Farmers of America was created by eight upstate New York family farms. This is just a part of the group (three and four generations of upstaters) that makes it possible, standing in front of the new 30,000 square foot, $50 million creamery. Chris Noble (right) introduced the idea to harness green energy, used to fuel dairy, homes, and the new plant.
Smile and Say Cheese
At Craigs Creamery, Nothing Goes to Waste By Laurie Mercer
ssuming you are the kind of person who likes to read food labels, the label on the newly introduced Craigs Creamery cheese, founded by eight local New York family dairies, gives tantalizing hints to the full, environmentally friendly story: “Our creamery is powered by renewable energy from our own biodigester.” Here's how it happens. Seventh-generation farmer (and former Manhattan-based financial guy) Chris Noble, vice president of the Livingston County-based Noblehurst Farms (linwoodag.com), is the driving force behind Natural Upcycling, a service that helps alleviate the problem of uneaten
food waste. The bad news for all of us is that, from farm to table, 40 percent of the food supply is wasted. Diverting that food from landfills to a biodigester will help reduce methane gas in the air we breathe. The digester (imagine a red, circus-tent-like structure with no charm) sits on some pricey real estate. This is not a compost pile. The 440-kilowatt facility includes a concrete tank, 100 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep, sunk to 10 feet below grade. The total cost is $3.2 million, including a $497,520 grant. “If a business isn't growing, it’s dying,” Chris says in reference to their significant investment in tech. But, in order to get the food waste to
the digester, Chris had to create a specialized trucking company. Research at Rochester Institute of Technology indicates that it is only economically feasible to haul waste within 100 miles of a digester. Natural Upcycling collects food waste from Wegmans stores in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and the Syracuse corridor, and from smaller facilities like a jail in Hopewell and a public school in Pavilion where young kids were quick to learn how to separate their leftovers. By the time they graduate, it will be second nature. Food waste is trucked to the Noblehurst operation where the incoming non-edibles are scooped, so to speak, and deposited onto See Cheese on page 18
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hamiltongibson.org Manicure Spa Pedicure Waxing
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Cheese continued from page 16
Courtesy Burt Cleveland
a conveyor belt—the gatekeeper to the digester process. From conveyor belt to power takes about 28 days. Because they service tote-based customers who will return those totes to their stores, Chris’s trucks are even “somewhat selfcleaning.” While some food is still looking pretty tasty as it climbs up the conveyor belt to its doom, cow manure is added using a computer formula Chris constantly monitors and tweaks. The resulting electricity fuels the energy-burning dairy, family homes, and the new 30,000-square-foot, $50 million cheese-making plant, established in partnership with Arla Foods, a Denmarkbased cooperative and the fifth largest dairy company in the world, and Dairy Farmers of America. Chris says that at his farm alone, they can divert 500 tons of waste from landfills every month, eliminating 409 tons of carbon dioxide emissions—the equivalent of taking 1,046 gas guzzlers off the road. And the packing that we try so hard to get rid of—a river of plastic, a mountain made from cardboard, and a tsunami of foil, caps, bottles, and cans—becomes putty in the Craigs Creamery workers’ hands as they separate canned and packaged foodstuffs from layers of mostly useless, polluting, waste. Enter Arla Foods. It’s always good to have friends, and for Noblehurst Farms and their seven other family-owned dairy partners, hooking up with Arla Foods was a game changer. The type of cheese that Arla could not produce in the U.S. is a natural for upstate New York. Constructing a $50-million cheese-making plant is beyond the pale, so to speak, for today’s dairy industry where they have nut “milks” and shaky trade agreements to contend with. So it’s from forming positive, working relationships with friends abroad that new artisan foods, the ones that, like Craigs Creamery make, are gaining coveted refrigerated shelf space in stores. Currently the Craigs Creamery assortment includes flavorful blocks, slices, and shredded cheeses in cheddar types, Muenster, and whole milk mozzarella. Will consumers pay $4.29 for 7ounces of pure, low-moisture, shredded whole milk mozzarella from local cows? I certainly will. It tastes great, is environmentally friendly, and is produced by adventurous regional farmers who are now partnering with their bovines in a different and sustainable way. Noblehurst Farms employs 120 people, forty of whom work directly on the farm, with cheese-making just part of the operation. The family’s mission statement highlights land stewardship and respect for one’s neighbors. They might add hands-on farming practices that reflect personal responsibility for a planet at risk. At craigscreamery.com, plug in a zip code on the tab for “store locator” and you'll find area Tops stores that have Craigs Creamery cheeses, including Elmira, at 830 Consumer Service Plaza; Watkins Glen, at 504 ½ Franklin Street; Penn Yan, at 321 Liberty Street; Corning, at 360 W. Pultney Street; and Wellsboro, at 11 Main Street. Laurie Mercer, writer/photographer, grew up in a city (Baltimore) while yearning for country living. She now has two kids and enjoys life on a large dairy farm in upstate, New York. She rides horses, gardens, and lives with peafowl.
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(4) Courtesy Michael Callahan
Lifetime triumph: Ed proudly displays his 2014 Denis McCormick Award for lifetime achievement from the Triumph National Rally.
Callahan’s Antiquities Nurtures Deep Roots in Montoursville By Linda Roller
a l k i n g i n t o C a l l a h a n’s Antiquities in Montoursville is like walking through a time portal. A wide variety of antique furniture, jewelry, glass, toys, signs, and textiles fill the front room, whose walls are lined with prints and original framed artwork side by side with antique signs. Cases of coins, jewelry, and small unusual items beckon. The shop is full almost to the point of overflowing with a welcoming abundance, arranged to give shoppers a chance to let their eye wander—and perhaps enjoy a memory. For proprietor Michael Callahan (above), the story of an antique is most important. And at Callahan’s, all the roads and all the stories lead to home and to family. 20
Michael wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m the fifth generation of Callahans in Montoursville,” he says, of the deep and strong roots that influence everything he does. For him, the history of a picture or an antique jug is as important to preserve as the item itself. Even the shop’s building has a great story. He’s researched the structure back to the 1840s. It was once the grocery store and ice house for the borough, and by the time his father bought the building in the 1970s, it was a barber shop, a beauty shop, and had room for more. The Callahans owned it for about a decade, then sold it to a neighbor. When that neighbor moved and needed to sell, the Callahans simply bought it back. It was in this building that young Michael started his
antique business, first from the back of the building (originally the ice house portion) and then working his way to the front. As he expanded and renovated, he eventually bought the building from his parents, and today occupies most of it. The collection is eclectic, filled with some of the major design categories from the mid 1800s to right around World War II. The Callahan’s Antiquities website says it best: “A Fine Selection of Mid Century, Arts & Crafts, Victorian, Primitives, Precious & Costume Jewelry, Military, American Indian, Crocks & Jugs, Vintage 1950s-60s, Deco, Oriental, Antique Weapons, Advertising, Architectural, Coins, Sterling Silver, Scrap Gold & Silver and Fine See Callahan on page 23
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PINE CREEK VALLEY Callahan continued from page 20
Art & Prints.” Whew! What makes it all special, however, is the care and the selection. Michael uses a personal touch for all his buying, from going to people’s homes for one item or acquiring an entire household collection. By going directly to the collector, not only does the person selling know exactly how much they will get for their treasures, the historical stories that accompany many beloved items are retained. By buying directly and privately, the items that Michael offers have not been available to buy somewhere else for some period of time. “It’s all fresh to the market,” he notes. With local connections, he knows Montoursville folks and the community’s history. That can be critical not only in getting a special item to another person who will cherish it, but in providing the all-important history of the item (called provenance in the antique and appraisal businesses), which makes it more unique and more valuable. Having been in the antique and collectible business since 2004, Michael has seen changes. The younger set has less interest in collecting, he says, but he has the secret weapon of history and storytelling to combat this. He teaches a third-grade class on local history, making both the history and the artifacts that help tell that story come alive. He also speaks at museums, clubs, and appraisal fairs. Everywhere he speaks, he talks about history, the stories of local people, and the things that they used and cherished. By doing that, he breathes life into a small piece of the past for others to see. He also shows people the value of antiques. “If people spend the time and develop an interest, especially in furniture and jewelry, they will get better quality items for their money, and also have the history of the piece to share,” he says. Michael notes that the prices of early twentieth century furniture are low at the moment, which means that you can buy an antique table in oak, or other beautiful wood, for about the same price as a new table that is either pine, or maybe not even constructed entirely of wood. Callahan’s Antiquities does things “the old-fashioned way”— including being a stand-alone store, not part of a cooperative, or a larger store, or a chain. Michael is the one who has purchased what you see, and he is selective—there are no reproductions or other “antique-like” merchandise scattered through the shop. He does try to carry high quality items, but that does not mean that everything has a high price. There is a wide price range, and he buys what he likes, and what he hopes his customers will like. And for Callahan’s, business means family. His own family works with him and he is surrounded by them as he, his dad (also Michael), and his wife, Kristen, work to prepare items for sale and to greet customers looking for that special something or to add to a growing collection or interest. Kristen works with computer sales, keeping the books, and all the work of running a shop. There is even room, in the back area, for their two young children—growing up in a shop surrounded by all the stories that antiques can tell. Find Callahan’s Antiquities at 381 Broad Street in Montoursville. Call them at (570) 368-2597 or visit callahansantiquities.com.
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Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania. 23
Winter Coats By Gayle Morrow
noticed about the end of August that one of my horses was starting to put on a little hair. His sleek summer ’do was getting fuzzy. WTF (that’s “what the fur”—what were you thinking it was?), I wondered. Seems a bit early to me. Does that mean we’re in for a bad winter? Could be. Not necessarily. Ask me in April. Horses, dogs, cats, deer, all kinds of mammals (except for us, and the reasons for that are a mystery) shed hair in the spring and grow hair in the fall. Sometimes they simultaneously shed and grow—the shedding is the lighter, softer, summer undercoat and it’s being eliminated to make way for the thicker, stiffer winter undercoat. Anyway, while it’s all mostly due to hormonal changes in response to the light/dark cycle, you can’t help but wonder if a seemingly early and extra-heavy accumulation of hair is not indicative of something dire in the weather department. For horses and other mammals, the skin is the primary barrier between the innards and the outards (OK, outard may not be a
word). The hair serves as insulation; when it’s especially cold, a small muscle in each hair follicle gives the hair the ability to puff up—it’s called piloerection and it cleverly increases the hairs’ ability to insulate. We, however, are not by nature quite as furry, so even if you notice the hair on your arms or legs bristling a little more in the cold, it’s really not enough to get us through a sub-zero spell sans outerwear. We need coats. I don’t know about your mom, but my mom was a firm believer in mothballs, as in “clothes belonging to the season you’re not in belong in mothballs.” Mom did not necessarily make what my sisters and I now fondly recall as “the great clothing switch” according to the calendar. It was more of a weather and a when-is-a-good-time-to-ask thing. We’d start our serious pre-winter shivering usually around mid-October. By November we’d be begging, “Please, Mom, can you get our winter coats out, and, oh yeah, our quilts, while you’re at it?” She’d sigh and resign herself to the task. Not that she wanted us to be cold.
You’d have to have known my mother. It was not, for her, as simple as going to the closet or the trunk or whatever space she had designated for storing the out-of-season stuff and getting that stuff out. No. Because when you got things out, you then had to put things away. That meant everything had to be clean, so that meant washer/dryer or dry cleaner time. And then there was the problem of the stinky clothes that had been residing in mothballs. It’s no fun going to school in sweaters newly emerged from naphthalene. They need a chance to air out. But—Mom worked. Dad worked. Sometimes they worked Saturdays. Mom would not do laundry on Sundays, at least I don’t remember that she did. So a mid-week request for that extra blanket or your favorite wool skirt was kind of a big deal. (And don’t think for a second that, over the years, we didn’t tease her mercilessly about it.) Anyway, Mom might have appreciated it if we’d been able to grow our own coats, but then there would have been that shedding problem in the spring.
Model Train Day
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Courtesy Klara Zold
Zold Art Conservation in Corning Brings New Life to Old Works By Karey Solomon
ven on a gloomy day, Klara Zold’s art conservation studio at 271 Wall Street in Corning is filled with light. It streams through skylights, bounces off white-painted walls and a light-colored floor. It focuses attention on works of art that have been hurt or grime-darkened with the passage of time, and thus need meticulous, informed care to return them to their once-vibrant selves. Art conservation is a complex discipline involving a deep knowledge of art history and chemistry, and a variety of studio art skills. It’s a healing art, sometimes using tools and a philosophy similar to that of a physician, including using as little intervention as possible, observing the “patient” closely, working gently to bring things back to normal. Klara says she was always attracted to art and design, this from her earliest years when she sewed with the women in her family and thought she might become a fashion designer. “I love color and texture, designing and making my own patterns,” she says. A shared passion for study took Klara and her husband, Peter, from Romania to Canada, where she studied art and became particularly interested in frescos. That led in graduate school to studying art conservation
under a variety of mentors. “It comes down to how many paintings you’ve handled,” she explains. She moved to Corning and established her conservation laboratory and studio here seven years ago when Peter was recruited to work for the Rackow Library at the Corning Museum of Glass. There are several areas of specialization among conservators, each requiring particular skills. Objects to be restored can range from submarines to crystal; paper conservators work with drawings, photographs, and watercolors. Painting conservators like Klara treat painted objects including frescos, polychrome sculptures, and paintings. In recent years, she has worked most often on nineteenth century oil paintings. Some are owned by museums, some by private individuals. She lifts one from the vacuum hot lining table, a structure about the size of a large dining table, used to help adhere additional supporting fabric to the back of a torn or deteriorated canvas. The back of this painting has been reinforced with additional fabric, something she tries to avoid unless a large tear makes it necessary. Canvas can also be mended using fine needles and those sewing skills Klara honed early on. The studio is also equipped with
a fume extractor for the times she works with solvents, a microscope, and a variety of lights. Behind a sliding door is her personal art studio, which also serves as Peter’s music studio. For relaxation, Klara paints abstract works in oil. A bright red swing hanging from the ceiling in her painting studio can take her into either room when the door is open and her husband has been known to tease her when she’s on the swing—is she going to work or is she going to play? The distinction isn’t always important, she says, because she enjoys it all. The conservator’s process begins with a detailed examination of an old or damaged work, under different lights. She’ll take photos and notes at every stage of the restoration process. Cracks in an old oil painting “can be aging or mechanical,” she says, adding that “aging cracks are important, they’re part of the chemical process and they can be beautiful.” But if a painting got hit or scratched from behind, repairs may be called for. A painting on the wall can absorb dust, pollution, and grime from the people sharing its space, dulling its colors and beauty, so she also considers how to clean it. One of her professors made students invest hours in learning how to create a perfect See Zold on page 28
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PARADE OF LIGHTS
A dazzling nighttime event where participants are covered in lights. Begins 7:30 PM
Join us for the 45th Annual Sparkle on Historic Market Street. 5 – 9 PM
An OSFL Holiday Concert
with Readings from Mark Twain’s Christmas Letters
Chorus of the Southern Finger Lakes Ivy Walz, mezzo soprano Susan Laib, oboe Augusto Diemeck, violin
Double Concerto by Bach Gloria by Vivaldi Bendictus from the Armed Man by Jenkins Hallelujah Chorus by Handel White Christmas by Irving Berlin Sleigh Ride and Bugler’s Holiday by Anderson Traditional Holiday Singalong
SATURDAY, DEC. 7 • 4:00 PM • CLEMENS CENTER • ELMIRA, NY Avoid long lines. Buy tickets early. 607-734-8191 or clemenscenter.org Sponsored by the Hilliard Foundation and Donor Tributes in Honor of Dr. James Hudson Free Under 18 provided by the Anderson Foundation
This concert season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes
Free Under 18 provided by the Anderson Foundation
This concert season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes
Come experience Watkins Glen and Schuyler County, New York Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park Photo: Marie Frei
Zold continued from page 26
tiny cotton swab as a tool since Q-tips have the wrong shape and could cause damage. “It seems like a small thing, but you have to pay constant attention to details,” she says, noting that she must consider the least invasive method to achieve the artistic goal. “It’s the most exciting moment in cleaning when you can figure out what will give the best result.” One of the paintings in her studio was previously cleaned in a restoration attempt that removed some of the original paint. She saw some of the coloration on the grapes in a still life that had appeared when the original artist hadn’t fully cleaned his brush between colors—a painting habit she’d once been scolded for in fine arts classes. The previous cleaner tried to remove this, unfortunately, with some success. Seeing the centuries-old traces of the same habit in the painting on her work table was delightful, and also made her determined to respect the integrity, and the mistakes, of the original. Once the painting is clean and stable, repairs to the surface may be made. “In-painting” replicates the brush-strokes and colors of the original. Klara says it’s as though she’s meeting the painter. “It’s like a conversation with them,” she says. “That color? Really? Why? And, okay, you used this brush. I am following…” generally by using an extremely tiny brush, not the one the artist might have used. And at the end, there’s the satisfying final comment to the long-gone artist: “Okay, here is your painting, back to normal.” Great moments, she says, are always there. Before beginning her private practice, Klara worked in the school lab and in museums, where she had the company of other conservators and the benefit of highly sophisticated equipment. Surprising results can sometimes emerge when a painting is X-rayed, like the time an entirely different, older portrait was discovered behind the one on the surface. Both subjects were pictured in the same dress, but the heads had been changed. She clearly loved that environment, but she also finds special rewards in working with clients in her own studio, hearing the stories behind their pictures, bringing pictures back to life. Sometimes these are rare and valuable works whose worth can’t be measured by the market. Once, she recalls, she had a heartbroken client whose art was vandalized, damaging treasured works painted by the woman’s mother. One piece, an antique teddy bear, was referred to an objects conservator, while Klara went to work on the paintings. “When I’m finished, the painting should look like nothing happened,” she says. They talked about the work, and the client slowly came to believe the paintings could be returned to their former state. “Of course it’s exciting to have a painting by a master,” Klara says, “but here is a client for whom it makes a big difference.” Those older stories may be told now, but because confidentiality is all important, what’s happening now in the studio can’t be discussed or pictured. At any time there are two to four works in residence, belonging to clients who will receive them back in a few months’ time. “I absolutely enjoy that happiness of a client whose painting can go up on the wall again,” Klara says. You can find Zold Art Conservation at zoldconservation.com or contact Klara at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 654-7997. Karey Solomon is a freelance writer and admirer of waterfalls and the natural scenery of the Finger Lakes.
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(2) Courtesy Steven Shaw, Jr.
The good, the bad, and the ugly: Briggs Brewery was a successful Elmira business from the mid 1800s until the effects of Prohibition, bootleggers, and mobsters led to its demise in the early 1900s. Steve Shaw, Jr. (right) is bringing Briggs back to Elmira, small-town America.
Briggs Beer’s Back!
Steve Shaw Revives a Local Brand in Elmira, the Town He Calls Home By Ann E. Duckett
t began with a draft beer and a casual conversation with the bartender in a tavern in Elmira, the town where Steve Shaw, Jr., grew up. Inquiring about a faded brewery sign on the wall—T. Briggs & Co.— he learned it was one of several beer brands locally produced, and that, like so many others, had faded into obscurity over the decades. A self-proclaimed history buff, big into facts and timelines, Steve’s thirst for knowledge (and beer) led him to research the business. He discovered intriguing tales of Prohibition, how companies in the wine, spirits, and beer industries responded to the “dry period,” and the financial impact on Elmira and other communities. “The long and short of it is that Prohibition killed Briggs Brewery. Imagine these beer companies in small towns all across the country having gone out of business because of it,” says Steve. As the story unfolds, he shares how “gangsters, guns, and bootleggers” became part of the backdrop of an unassuming brand of beer
first brewed in 1866, and how, more than fifty years later during Prohibition, Elmira would experience corruption around black market booze. “This all happened in Elmira, not a large city like Chicago or Philadelphia,” he says. A century ago, Elmira was a bustling city, and, due to its location (central to the story), was a major transportation hub for New York’s Southern Tier, connecting the dots via road, water, and rail between Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City. With six breweries, it was “an active brewing city.” Briggs Brewery was best known for its cream ale, a unique style of light-bodied beer originally produced in America, first introduced in the mid 1800s, and extremely popular in the northeast. The bright and refreshing brew is straw to pale gold in color, with minimal fruit, hops, or malt notes, resulting in a crisp, clean flavor. Despite its name, you typically won’t find any dairy ingredients. This cold fermented ale, with
regional preferences prevailing, was a local beer embraced by Elmirans. Thomas Briggs ran a successful business until his death in 1883. Then, financial backer and partner John Arnot, Jr., and family took over the business. Local Prohibition took hold in 1918, two years before the law went into effect nationally. The brewery worked through the dry period producing permitted “near beer” (a malt brew containing less than .5 percent alcohol, also known as cereal beverage), but Prohibition was serious and costly business, and, despite best efforts, the brewery closed. Shortly after, a beverage company moved into Briggs Brewery to make cereal beverage. Within months the Feds conducted a raid, arrested employees and two Prohibition agents, revoked the permit, doled out fines, and padlocked the doors after removing nearly 62,000 gallons of high-alcohol beer. That simply paved the way for notorious gangsters from New Jersey to move in—Waxey Gordon,
a big-time mobster who knew the ins and outs of bootlegging, along with his minions, replete with Tommy guns, soon arrived. After Briggs Brewery was purchased in 1932, operations got under way again, but were short-lived. New Jersey police investigating a double murder found full details in a safe about Gordon’s operation in Elmira, eventually conducting the biggest Prohibition bust in New York state history. A handful of Elmira residents, some wellknown businessmen, were involved in graft and cover-up. So, why revive a brand that’s been buried for 100 years, despite its colorful past? For Steve, it goes beyond what he’s putting in the can. It’s about community. “First, there’s a strong interest today in throwback brands— they’re coming back, reintroduced because people long for that small-town Americana feel. In addition to Briggs, you’ve got Congress Ale in Syracuse, as well as Utica Club. These types of things are the building blocks of returning the small towns to what they used to be,” affirms Steve. “Growing up in Elmira and on Keuka Lake in the summer were amazing places to be raised. Upstate New York has had a number of rough years—once-thriving downtowns with family-run businesses disappeared, replaced by malls, replaced by online shopping [Amazon]. Artisanal shops, Mom and Pop businesses—this is the fabric of communities. Elmira is successfully reinvesting in its urban areas. One piece of the puzzle, re-establishing the brewery, will be part of the renaissance,” he continues. Steve owes this sense of place and his strong work ethic to his parents, who continue to lead by example. Together with his dad, Steve Shaw, Sr., he owns and operates Shaw Vineyard, located on Seneca Lake’s picturesque western shore. Pam Yunis, Steve’s mom, runs GCP Discount Liquors & Wines in Horseheads, the wine and spirits store her father, Nick Yunis, started in 1968. Not surprising, Steve’s successful sixteen-year career in the wine and spirits industry includes launching his own spirits marketing and brokerage firm. Briggs Beer is Steve’s first beer brand relaunch. Last December Steve founded Old Time Beer Brands, LLC, the parent company of T. Briggs & Co. and two other forgotten Elmira beer brands. Production began in July of this year at Northway Brewing, which brews and cans the traditional Briggs Cream Ale recipe. Others will soon follow. You can find Briggs in several independent beer retailers, and in grocers in Elmira, the Finger Lakes, and Syracuse areas. “The ultimate goal is to reestablish T. Briggs & Co. Brewery in Elmira within five years,” says Steve. “Revitalizing an abandoned brand, seeing it coming back and available today for enjoyment is extremely gratifying. The brand has come full circle. This piece of Elmira’s liquid history that was taken by Prohibition is now being given back. “It’s interesting to think,” the history buff continues, “that Mark Twain was quite possibly sitting in a tavern sipping bourbon and drinking Briggs Beer.” After all, Mark Twain spent twenty summers relaxing and writing in Elmira at Quarry Farm, his summer home during the 1870s and 1880s. Now that’s something worth raising a glass to.
FEBRURARY 29 |
Ann Duckett is a certified cheesemaker and former cheesemonger, who now devotes her time to educating and helping others find their cheese bliss through classes, presentations, special events, and cheese catering. 31
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Vietnam continued from page 12
should have released both officers. But there was a malfunction. Only his RO ejected. John, with a broken arm and a hole in his leg, had to manually release himself from the plane. Falling between an estimated three-eighths of a mile to a mile away from where his RO landed, John soon realized that the North Vietnamese had taken his co-pilot. He wouldn’t see him again for four and a half years. He canvassed the area, which he recalls as “a mix of light forestation with remotely scattered agricultural land.” Moving as quickly as he could, with terrible wounds and nearly fifty pounds of equipment that included a survival vest, two handguns, water, two candy bars, some dry rations, a lifeboat, a blanket, and two vials of morphine, he found a hiding spot in dense bush. It was the start of the winter season. During the day, as temperatures settled in the mid-seventies, John hid in a trench along a creek bank. He spent hours scanning the sky, a survival school skill. After recognizing two planes as United States combat aircraft on his first day of hiding, he spent the next nine signaling to them. At night, with temperatures in the low to mid-fifties, he used a compass to estimate which way to move, and where the military might be planning to pick him up. He saw members of the North Vietnamese Army twice but nobody else. John supplemented his rations with bugs. Finding even small items to eat, he says, was “good for the mind.” His biggest desire was for water. He found a stream, and drank in small quantities. • “There’s a danger of being dazzled by your circumstances in survival situations,” explains the naval officer regarding the psychological preparation offered in survival coursework. “It takes a special personality to be consistently faced with your limitations without getting locked in on the worst possibility.” This “special personality,” the officer continues, learns to seek self-knowledge in the circumstance, no matter how difficult it may be. “You can’t lose sight of potential. Learn tendencies of yourself. Keep your wits about you. Notice your natural response. Your instincts will say, ‘You’re going to know a lot about yourself here.’” • While he waited for a sign from the combat aircrafts that communicated his rescue time, John thought about the Thanksgiving turkey he was missing back on the carrier. He talked to God. He said to himself, “I’m a mean son of a bitch. I can do this.” He realized how well survival school had prepared him. At 7:30 a.m. on December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day), three helicopters landed and rescued Lieutenant Hummel. Within thirty-six hours, he was in San Diego for medical treatment. One year later, the military began an advanced training school for fighter pilots. John was in the second class of the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (the inspiration for the movie Top Gun). John says the program instantly elevated the abilities of fighter pilots in Vietnam, noting that “training taught the student aviator to fly the plane as close to the extreme as possible, and to see how many G-forces it could handle.” Within two years of finishing the program, John earned the role of Aircraft Handling Officer on the prime evacuation carrier
should Saigon fall.
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• After retirement from the Navy, John didn’t want to pursue a career in commercial aviation. Steve Jaso once asked his father-in-law why he didn’t fly again. “Once you fly those airplanes and see the things you can do,” John told him, “I just couldn’t do it again with anything else.” Instead, John took a job as a maintenance foreman at a plant south of Detroit. He met Jean Dewitz, his second wife, at his apartment complex. The two moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before settling in Covington. Jean worked as the director of the Gmeimer Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, and John as a facility and plant engineer with the Waupaca Foundry. Before he retired in 2008, he designed a pollution reduction heat-exchange system that attracted the interest of scientists around the world. His daughter, Michelle Jaso, a nurse in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, says her father never brags of his successes. “My dad’s just the nicest guy,” she says. “He’d do anything for you.” John has spent much of his retirement serving with Jean at various First Presbyterian Church functions in Wellsboro, and he is dedicated to the Wellsboro Area Food Pantry, and to the help it provides to area families. Every day, he is reminded of his service in Vietnam, not least because of health complications resulting from Agent Orange exposure, yet he shies away from divulging all of his accomplishments, or from dwelling too long on the details of his remarkable military career. “I’m an ordinary human being and I had the opportunity to work in a selective profession,” he says with finality. He chooses to live life the way he helped direct it on the USS Midway. “You are on a team. If you don’t understand you are on the same team, you’re endangering people. Nobody is better than anybody else. Every person is a team member. ”
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Inspired and haunted by true stories, IRMA and Keystone Award-winning writer Carrie Hagen is the author of We Is Got Him: The Kidnapping that Changed America. She lives in Philadelphia. 33
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