Love Theatre - North Carolina 2009
RobertaM Roy, Author Publisher of Jolt: a rural noir

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lost Amusement Parks of the Hudson Valley
Today I chatted by phone with my cousin Betty Hampel. Her mom was the first of the seven daughters my grandmother Milan bore. My mom was the last. So Betty and I talked about the late 1920's and early 1930's while my mom was still a child.  And about how poor everyone was. My grandparents who had sold their home in Scarsdale and purchased a farm on Blueberry Hill in Poughquag, NY, had lost the farm in the Great Depression and my mom's dad had to hire out. So he became the head groundskeeper for Woodcliff Pleasure Park where they lived for some years even after it officially closed.

As for that whole turn, it had initiated when Johnny, my grandparents only son, died of Black Measles in 1899 and my grandmother decided she would birthe no more children in the disease infested confines of a city. So Mother--as grandad and all of her daughters referred to her--and Dad--has my aunts referred to him--took Marion and moved to the mountains of Dutchess County. There they raised to adolescence seven daughters, six of whom my grandmother both birthed and, for the most part, delivered there herself.

But getting back to Marion's daughter and my first cousin, Betty, after The Crash of the twenties, Marion also had to hire out as Rex Doolittle, Betty's dad, had gone to Elmira to work and Grandma took in Betty while Marion worked at the then Hudson River State Hospital situated, as it was, close by across the road from the park.

Betty reminisced about her life as a child at The Park, as we always refer to it, and how much fun it was riding the merry-go-round and in some kind of a bullet-shaped seat that zipped up and down and around on a ride that my uncle Charlie Benton ran. But fun aside, Betty missed her mom and many a day she wandered to the iron gate beside the road to gaze longingly through it and across the road at the walls on the hospital grounds that so passively hid her dear mother, holding her near prisoner most days and nights as employees were only granted one weekend off per month and the position was--if one can imagine--live in.

No wonder when the economy picked up and Rex came home Marion, Rex, Betty, and Elsa first chose to live in a large house on Mansion Square in Po-Town, but as soon as the situation permitted, took off for the country, eventually to live in the more open mountainous parts of Vermont. Only Betty gravitated to the cities, eventually settling in Middlebury, VT, where she and her husband became professional artists and portrait painters--and Betty wrote five or six books only two of which she finally got around to publishing in the last couple of years: Mirror Image and Gumshoe.

But back to The Park. My maternal grandad, Robert C. Milan (Moylan) was head groundskeeper for it and my mom--who was twelve when they moved there from Blueberry Hill and Poughquag Mountain--was already a sharpshooter with a 22 rifle. So while Betty road the Merry-Go-Round, my mom entertained herself driving my grandad crazy trying to figure out who was shooting out the lightbulbs that crowned its top.  

Which all brings me around to some exciting news! Just yesterday I received an announcement from Wes and Barbara Gottlock of the release of their new book Lost Amusement Parks of the Hudson Valley which features a part on Woodcliff Pleasure Park! As I can't wait to read it, I've already ordered a copy for myself from and I'm sure most of my sisters will do the same.

Not long ago, I talked to Wes about the possibility the Schenck brothers had been involved in Woodcliff in some way as my grandmother, whose maiden name was Marie Teresa Schieck said Joseph M Schenck of movie producer and amusement park supporter fame was her brother. But Wes and I agreed that while it had once been a light speculation on my part, that was all it was, and how my grandparents arrived at Woodcliff had nothing to do with her brother, Joseph M Schenck, from whom she had been separated as a child when they were orphaned in NYC.

Of her sisters Bessie, Ottelie, and Marga, we have almost no trace beyond the fact that with their mother, my grandmother, and Joseph, they immigrated together to NYC from Amsterdam in 1885.

Roberta in Po-Town, Waitin' for my book
10:13 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Twenty-First Century Communication
Despite the miles that have separated us, Joan Sheldon and I have kept in touch. But even when our lives involved similar choices they evolved in different directions as when in our younger years we left the United States' mainland--Joan for Hawaii--me?--for Europe. Our nurturing years raising children started earlier for Joan, but overlapped and now we both have grandchildren. 

Still there are more obvious contrasts: I thought I could ride a horse. Joan can. And the fact I could not came screeching home when a ride on horseback to the great pyramids of Egypt left me walking in pain for days. But Joan not only rides, she enjoys it. She even has her own horse--follows her own trails.

For more about Joan's life, pick up a copy of her memoirs, Someone to Remember available at 

But how is it that Joan and I have been able to communicate no matter what the distance? In answer, I offer a poem sent by Joan with the request I share it with you: 

               Twenty-First Century Communication

                                    by Joan Sheldon

                    Cards and letters ... no longer the way
                                 E-Mail is here to stay
                          Open Your mind; e-mail's best
                    Don't walk to the mailbox; take a rest
                      No trips to the store to buy a card
                    Let your fingers fly; it's not so hard
                     No stamps to lick or paper to buy
                  No mailing too late, giving reason to cry
               With computer reminders, you're never late
                   Graphics and music arrive on the date
                Send personal messages ... no canned trite
                           Send via e-mail: do it right
                Getting a hard card is old fashion thinking
              Send a download or video, keep them blinking
                  With E-mail you send a personal touch
                to be saved in a file and enjoyed so much
                  No trash cans to empty ... save a tree
              Let's be twenty-first Century - You and Me!

Hugs and thanks to you, Joan.

Roberta in Po-Town, Coastin'

3:18 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011
Mother's Day. I'm a mother. Yesterday I sent out some e-greetings wishing a Happy Mother's Day to some mothers with whom I email. It got me to thinking. Some mother's don't have access to email. Some women are not mothers. Some mothers's children no longer live at home. And then this morning I got an email from a father asking me to vote for him in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Blogs competition for single parents at So I clicked on the link. What happened was a hint to the way the internet can catch us.

As I began to click and read onThe Circle of Moms, I realized I had never before read blogs I had not written. And as I read, I was reminded that although I did not divorce before my son was eighteen years of age, I, too, am a single parent and like the majority of single parents on the blogsite, a single mom. One single mom I found particularly creative and fun was at

But there were also single dads on the site. One such that I just wanted to hug was at  He seemed so open and aware. I liked that.

But now, having read through a number of really great, generally 'short' blogs, I suppose I should rethink my blogging. I know I prefer 'longish' blogging, but should I be happy with the rather hum-drum format of my blogs? Do I need an index? Should I include more pictures? Should I invest more money and hire someone to add more zip and zing to them? Should it be more competitive? What's more competitive? Do I really want to compete? With what? Why?

Somehow I liked it better when I thought my blog was the only one on the net. But that's okay. I never did like to compete. And besides that, I'm my son's one and only mom and that's good enough.

Roberta in Po-Town, A Single Mother
10:50 am edt          Comments

Friday, May 6, 2011

Brain Drain
In responding to my non-blogging responsibilities, I have found the demands of publicizing Jolt: a rural noir and meeting my professional responsibilities as a speech language pathologist at a residential school for emotionally troubled children last month pre-empted any time for personal blogging. And although I was able to get in some fun family time, the last week of April I hit a weekend only to find myself stunned by Brain Drain. 

I suspect not everyone has experienced Brain Drain, but I have heard the word rather frequently from other writers. When it occurs, for me it seems my expressive skills suffer in conversation primarily due to difficulties with word finding. Thankfully it has been only a rare occurrence in my life as it is only rarely that the writing I am required to do results in such a depletion of energy in the areas of the brain associated with expression. For Brain Drain to occur for me requires a week of relentless writing. For instance, when I was working on Jolt: a rural noir, any time I wrote more than four five-hour days a week did it. Last week also did it.

To begin with it was the last week of the month--the week in which end of the month reports are required to be completed. Then there are the daily logs--that's six to eight of them per day. Also there was a request from the principal that I talk at the next faculty meeting about communication accommodations for deaf and hearing impaired students--including the subtleties of preferred seating and how to increase the child's likelihood of being able to speechread what is said. That was three typed pages in addition to the end of the month reports. The EOMs were written for some eighteen to twenty children. As such, the amount of writing that was associated with the 36 to 40 sessions of individual therapy I provided, zapped my expressive skills and brought about the proverbial Brain Drain.

And to add to Drain, in the evenings, when I wasn't cooking and doing essential household chores, I spent my time at the computer preparing for the presentation of Jolt: a rural noir at Book Expo of America (BEA), to be held May 23-27, 2011, at Javits Center in New York.

The initial impetus to become involved in BEA came when Jolt: a rural noir became a medalist for Inspirational Fiction in the Jenkins Living Now Awards and I was invited to the Awards Ceremony that will be held on Monday, May 23, 2011, in conjunction with the BEA.

The Inspirational Fiction Award gave me hope that people might like the book, and my tax refund came in so I ordered up the chance for Jolt: a rural noir to be displayed by both Jenkins and Bookmasters at the Javits Center. Sounds easy. Send a check and a copy of the book and it's done. Wrong.

One has to remember we are now in the e-age and there are these electronic forms which, incredibly, all worked as smoothly as silk, except to complete them required research--ISBN number, cover image, best distributor contact--the list goes on--and each item required a tiny personal search either of papers or in memory to complete. And then there were the emails and the trips to the post office and then someone asked for a copy of the book, and I decided I really needed to get Alva Press, Inc., its own charge card-more forms. And there were also the trips to the bank to shift money from my personal account to the Alva Press, Inc., account, and to deposit the proceeds from having sold a few more books along the way.

But, whoops, I forgot. There was FaceBook and LinkedIn and Twitter needed that also needed to be fed. Depending on my mood, I use them to comment personally, politically, and professionally and to keep touch with some friends and colleagues. But to use any of them, one must also write.

And then toward the end of the week I heard the sad news of the death of the husband of a very dear acquaintance and friend. He also had been a friend of mine and his death touches me deeply, for her as well as him.

So by Saturday I had had it.

Thank goodness for my sister W. She loves me no matter what shape I am in and on Sunday we took off for New Paltz to take in the sun and celebrate Earth Day with the New Paltzonians so by Monday I was once again good to go--still a bit zapped but at least my old verbal self.

Next time I will talk about the Blind Stares. They are the antithesis of Brain Drain and occur after endless reading, outlining, and preparation--such as is done before a semester begins in which one is to teach a new college level course. I and some other dedicated professors I have known have suffered that temporary state of mind at sometime. I haven't had the Blind Stares since I left college teaching back a number of years. Unlike Brain Drain, Blind Stares affects the receptive aspect of communication while expressive language and word recall remain in tact. I wonder if there is any research or discussion of these entities in the literature of psychology and neurology of behavior. If there is not, then I think there should be. Any psycholinguists out there with a comment on either Brain Drain or Blind Stares?

Roberta in Po-Town, Mumblin'
8:24 pm edt          Comments

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Here you're suppose to learn about my personal life, my love of learning, the dog I don't have, my house that sits empty on a hill in Port Henry 'cause on the one hand I don't want to sell it, 'cause I love it too much, but on the other hand, I never seem to find the time to get there anymore but I haven't found a buyer. Of course I haven't been looking either. Too busy with Jolt.  Also this site is still under construction so I probably won't get to selling it this month either.  Well, that means, at least I can run up there over Labor Day and party with all my friends and neighbors there which is enough to make me want to hurry up and finish this so I can get ready to leave.

Here I am supposed to write more about myself and think about putting a picture of myself someplace below, except I put the picture in before I did anything else because I thought I was suppose to get rid of the butterfly but it didn't, which is probably just as well because I like the butterfly better.  That's because it doesn't make me feel exposed like the black dress I'm wearing below does.  The reason I chose that picture is because my sister C. thinks it's about the best picture of me I ever had taken.  That's because I'm more mature now and most pictures look awful because they really look just like me.  Of course C. thinks the one below does and all the other ones don't. Which a bit of a trip in itself. But what is there to say? And I'm glad she took it.  R.

Almost to the Apex

8/28/09 - Very exciting. Dust jacket design forwarded for proofing.  Thank you so much Kristi for the image! And John and Nancy for the quotes! And Lorna for sending me Joan--and Joan for sending me Kathi--and Kathi for the design!
                                                                                                                                                     I love you all!
Hugs, hugs, and more hugs:)
R. in Po-Town
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