"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

06 July 2016

2016 Book Review #46: Lost Mohawk Valley

This was an interesting non-fiction book.

I spied it on the town library shelf and the author's last name is what really got my attention...that and the fact that the title is the area of NYS where I grew up/lived the first 18 years of my life and for a couple of years after my undergraduate college days in Western NY.

The last name of the author is the same one as my very first music teacher in elementary school (grades 2-6). I wondered if they were related!


This is a book about the carpet industry from many years ago (for the most part) of the city of Amsterdam, which is just outside the Capital Region of NY.   Amsterdam is only about 35 minutes west of me here in the Albany area but for some reason, the author links the small city to the Mohawk Valley/Central NY. Most people around my suburban area think of Amsterdam as still being a part of the greater Capital Region.

No matter.  The history in the book was extremely interesting.

After the first couple of chapters I decided to email the author to inquire whether he was related to my music teacher.  He got right back to me and yes, my childhood music teacher, the one who first influenced me to become a teacher, was his older sister. They were 10 years apart.  Sadly, she died in the late 1990's.

The book talks about the carpet industry, the way of life before the 21st century, going back many generations.

Much of that area of NY is economically deprived now with very little industry.  Yes, some farms are still up and running.  But those old mill towns no longer have those kinds of factories...the ones that made gloves, carpets, clothing, shoes.

The book is in 5 sections: A Lost Way of Life; Lost Links to Famous People (the most interesting for me); Lost Places (another fave part); Forgotten History Makers; Remembering the Past.  Each section has several chapters.

The book contains all kinds of anecdotes about famous people who either were born in that area, grew up there, or came to visit.  Names like Kirk Douglas, Teddy Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, among others.

I very much enjoyed looking at the old black and white photographs the author included in the book.

The book is probably most appealing to people who either lived in that area or are residents there currently or just love reading about some of the industrial history of Central New York State.

Overall, this was an interesting piece of history to read about although after the first 5 chapters, I began to just skim through the book.  I was getting a little bored.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 12 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 8.

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