I found my heart in Nyack; its homes and history, its houses of worship and businesses, its open spaces and crowded street fairs, and its people and pets. The second volume of Nyack Sketch Log is a tour of that organ that pumps life though this community, the place where we all live. Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 is a map of our heart.
On November 27, I’m having a book party and signing for Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 at the Hudson House at 134 Main Street. This new volume is a compilation of 55 more essays and illustrations from my weekly column. Pre-orders are discounted at $20 in advance. On November 27th, the price is $25. If you would like to reserve a copy at the advance sale rate, send me an email at email@example.com or you can catch me on Thursdays at the Nyack Farmer’s Market, which just happens to be where the journey of volume 2 begins.
James F. Hershberger, Jr.
My second volume is dedicated to the late James F. Hershberger, Jr. Without Jim, there would be no Nyack Sketch Log books. Jim mentored, cajoled, and when necessary field marshaled me through self-publishing my first book. He brought all the skills of his extensive career in business to bear on helping individuals and organizations preserve local history. The benefits of his efforts impacted many during his life and will be of value to countless others for many generations to come.
I also dedicate this book to his widow and my friend, Mary Hershberger. Blessings to her and the entire Hershberger family and thank you all for sharing Jim with us.
Special thanks to the Nyack Sketch Log book production team:
Loraine Machlin, Designer
Patricia Jarden, Copy Editor
Judy Martin, Proofreader, Content Consultant
Bonnie Timm, Production Assistant, Social Media Coordinator and Researcher
Nancy Sailor Philips, Troubleshooting, Marketing
Ray Wright, Photographer
For their kind words that appear on the back cover and pages of my second book, I am eternally grateful to: Ross Benjamin, Dr. Don Hammond, Dr. Lori Martin, Dr. Jennifer Patton, Dr. Frances Pratt, Dr. Craig Stutman, and Win Perry.
And for their support, I thank my sponsors Lisa Hayes of Creative Financial Planning and Sabrina Weld of Weld Realty.
When I selected the essays for my second book, my challenge to find the best 55 essays and sketches that I had not yet published. When I stepped back and looked at what I had assembled, I was startled. More than half of the essays are about small businesses. The biggest category of entries is about vendors (and a musician) at the Nyack Farmers’ Market.
It is true that for the last six years I have worked closely with the Nyack Chamber of Commerce, as a marketing manager and artist-in residence at the Nyack Farmers’ Market that the Chamber sponsors, but my personal concerns are usually governed more by social justice than commercial imperatives and concerns. What then am I to make of this mental map having so many merchants on it?
Maybe it’s not so odd. We spend most of our lives hunting or gathering the stuff of life; our food, clothing, furnishings and diversions. These businesses that we frequent, what they sell, why they sell it, who owns them, who works there, how long they endure, if they’re “local” or “corporate” have a powerful influence over the character and quality of a community’s life.
The first section of this book can almost serve as a self-guided walking tour of downtown Nyack. I am proud to know and introduce you to each person whom you will meet on these pages; the knife sharpener and the musician, the pastry chef and the antique dealer, the barber, the builder and the beeswax candle maker. These brick and mortar and farmers’ market merchants are defying the trend that has relocated shopping and office work inside the home. Their survival is a testament to their creativity and perseverance and a deep well of community support that keeps their doors and tent flaps open.
Some of the businesses that I chronicle are an expression of advocacy, like the natural burial boutique (Dying to Bloom). There’s a salon that heals, as well as dresses your hair by advocating the internal and external introduction of organic foods (Candice Robins). As anywhere, the landscape is completed by houses of worship and charities, clubs and a YMCA. But what I hope you find here is what Google can’t expose; the soul of the Nyackers that animates each enterprise.
The second section of the book consists of essays that map my heart. These are the concerns that reveal what matters most to me and keeps me moving forward. Foremost is the need to commemorate and build monuments for hard-won civil rights and public policy achievements, because these can be easily reversed if not consistently advanced (see Black Parents v. Hillburn). And there are essays that record my encounters with social service programs that feed the hungry and ease the anguish of those final moments of living (see Soup Angels and United Hospice.)
The last section includes essays that connect this local map to the globe. The essay on John Perry is the story of one of the special people, a dear friend, who was lost on 9/11 in New York City, but it resonates throughout Nyack, which lost so many family members and friends. And from one the last of these essays, The World Needs More Mandelas. Sam Harps, founder and director of the Shades Repertory Theater in Garnerville, discovered, that one of his heroes, Nelson Mandela, was a member of the fraternity of the stage. I am honored to be producing his play, Antigone on Robben Island, Mandela takes the stage inspired by my essay, will be staged at the Nyack Center in February of 2019.
From Bluefield Farm in Blauvelt to Robben Island in South Africa, these essays honor the efforts of individuals who work not only for themselves, but for the betterment of others. I hope that you will find them edifying. But perhaps more important would be for YOU to keep a diary and make mental maps of your community, because there are too many stories, and not enough storytellers!
Please join me on Tuesday, November 27, at 6:00p at the Hudson House at 134 Main Street. Get the discount the price of $2o by pre-ordering today. If you would like to reserve a copy at the advance sale rate email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can catch me at the Nyack Farmers’ Market every Thursday.