Since 2002 The Pine Hill Community Center has been running an Oral History Project nearly every year. The first was done with Phoenicia Elementary School fourth graders. James Krueger and Laurie McIntosh worked with the students during four after-school sessions, teaching them the value of collecting oral histories, interviewing and audio archiving techniques, and helping them be more comfortable interacting with elders. The students and a group of local elders then spent a day at the Center working in groups and individually. The students asked them questions specific to growing up in the Catskills during another time. We wrote a poem together (see below), where we all reminisced about the various things our hands have done during our lifetimes. We did a price comparison chart; for instance, one elder remembered a doctor coming to her house to deliver a baby. He was paid two dozen eggs and a goose. Now a birth can cost around $20,000.00. The students, elders and volunteers then shared a family style meal together. A CD archive of this first project, entitled I Remember When…, is available through the Community Center. Individual tracks are also available at the bottom of this page.
In subsequent years the Pine Hill Community Center has worked with students from Onteora High School, Margaretville Central School and Andes Central School. Each project followed a similar format with the same heart-warming results; to see the youth bond with the elders is always a great joy. These projects have been funded, in part, though grants from the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) and the O’Connor Foundation.
In 2010 The Pine Hill Community Center will work with Phoenicia Elementary School students on another Oral History Project. This project will be funded, in part, through a grant from the CWC. To find out more about this and other projects, or to volunteer with this years’ Oral History Project, please contact the Community Center.
These hands work
I’ve done a lot of work with my hands
Scrub floors, welding, builder, milk cows
I sorted mail, played a coronet
Yes, I was thinking of that
These hands have
Mixed tons of dairy feed
Time to get up
Water the cows, dig weeds, play baseball
These hands drive horses
Pointed my finger
Play basketball, writing, fall . . .
How do you fall with your hands?
These hands pick flowers
She said weeds, how about flowers?
Start a fire, drive a school bus, beat up your brother
Ha, now we’re getting to it
Tie shoes, knead bread, wash dishes – agh!
These hands, these hands.