Today is the birthday of James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851). A famous American author. Penned Leatherstocking Tales. His most well known work, The Last of the Mohicans.
Cooper spent most of his life in Cooperstown. The same community in upstate New York that today is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His father founded Cooperstown. A community which sits on beautiful Otsego Lake.
Cooperstown is a 45 minute drive from my hometown of Utica.
Father and son Cooper were men of wealth. The elder having come by it the old fashioned way. He worked for it. His son inherited substantial monies at age 21. Nevertheless, the younger Cooper worked hard. First as a seaman and then as an author.
Father Cooper built the family home on Otsego Lake. He called it Otsego Hall. His son James lived there after his father’s death. The home at some point burned down.
It was replaced in later years with what today is known as The Fenimore Art Museum. I have visited the building many times. As an attendee at cocktail parties and as a tourist. The home sits on a small hill overlooking the lake.
A rural village and farm were constructed nearby. It is called Farmers’ Museum. America, 1845. A whole village. Small buildings for a doctor’s office, a lawyer’s office, a grocery store, a blacksmith shop, a home, a farm, farm animals and more. Very real.
The buildings and furnishings are the same as they were in 1845. People back then were smaller than today. The beds and furniture reflect the difference in size from today. Even the smallest of us would be too big for the beds.
The Farmers’ Museum is the home of the Cardiff giant. All 10.45 feet of him. The Cardiff giant was a hoax. Someone had this giant constructed from wood and other materials. The body was planted on a farm. “Accidentally” dug up a few years later. Touted as the discovery of a prehistoric man. It was several years before the statue was deemed not for real. It has no place at the Farmers’ Museum, but there it lies. I found the Cardiff giant interesting.
My father took me to visit the Farmers’ Museum. I took my children and most of my grandchildren.
On one of the visits, it was me and twin grandsons Mathew and Michael. They were 4. We passed a horse who at the moment had an 18 foot erection. Their eyes bulged. I said nothing. Just hurried them along.
A little later, we were in the Museum’s drug store. This was the time of the Clinton/Lewinsky matter. A radio news show was discussing the matter. Matthew looked up at me and said…..Poppa, he did something wrong. Didn’t he? I responded…..Yes, he did.
An observation. Cooperstown is small town America. Yesterday preserved. The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Fenimore sites have made the community neither touristy nor tarnished. Much of its condition is due to the care and attention provided by the Singer Sewing Machine family. They have resided in Cooperstown for years. It is their community. They are proud of it. They have controlled building on the lake, kept the area pristine clean and sparkling. Nothing happens with out their blessing. They are to be complimented for what they have preserved and achieved.
Yesterday was a normal Key West sunday. A visit to Walgreens and Office Max. Lunch outside at Salute’s. A mahi mahi sandwich and the sunday papers. A couple of hours at Don’s Place watching professional football. Don was in all his glory as Buffalo won. Spent a bit of time working on tuesday’s blog talk radio show. Dinner in the evening with Lisa and the family.
Enjoy your day!