My Town Mon.– Jefferson Market Library

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The Jefferson Market Library, like a cat with nine lives, has been saved from the wrecking ball over and over. Built in 1877, it was originally the Jefferson Market Courthouse and was located next to a public market and a jail on 10th Street and Avenue of the Americas.

The Courthouse That Escaped The Gavel, an article in the Real Estate section of Sunday’s New York Times details its history and multiple close calls with demolition starting back in 1910 before there was a landmarks preservation law. It is basically through the efforts of the city’s Mayor Robert F. Wagner that the building remained standing and that the New York Public Library took it over in 1967. Later, in 1969 it was finally designated a part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and protected under the law.

I never knew about this magnificent building until the Sisters in Crime NY/Tri-State chapter started having its meetings there last year. It’s a fabulous building, a super high Victorian Gothic design with a rich history. Something I’m delighted has been preserved. So a big thank you to all those who fought to save it over the years, and to those who appreciate that the past should be remembered.

In addition to The Times article, you can find more photos and information about the Jefferson Market Library on the NYPL website225px-Jefferson_Market_Court_-_Berenice_Abbott_-_1935.

My Town Monday: Governors Island

IMG_0817On Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I visited Governors Island. This former Coast Guard base recently underwent a facelift and has been transformed into 33 acres of walking and biking paths, beautiful landscaping and spectacular water views. Several of the derelict buildings on the island were demolished to make room for the new additions. We had a great time exploring the island and looking out at the city.

Reached by ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn—$2 for a round trip ride—the island is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. You can rent a bike from Blazing Saddles, or bring your own, and wander along the newly constructed bike paths, catch some rays at Water Taxi Beach while munching a burger and beer, or picnic on the parade ground.IMG_0783

This National Historic Landmark also houses two forts from the early 19th century, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, open to visitors. Both were part of the inner harbor defense that was constructed to protect New York from attack by sea. Fort Jay, a star-shaped fort, has a rare dry moat and the open courtyard in the interior is ringed by former Army and Coast Guard barracks from the 1830s.

IMG_0777Castle Williams, a circular red sandstone fort, was built between 1807 and 1811 and was used to hold captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. It served as a low security military prison until 1965.

Various events are scheduled throughout the summer. So if you’re looking for a cool way to escape the city on the weekend, hop a ferry and go on over.

My Town Monday: The Macy’s Flower Show

Every spring, Macy’s Herald Square invites visitors and customers to their Annual Flower Show. An extravagant display of trees and blooms, it turns the store into a floral fantasy.

This year, the show, which has been staged in a tent outside in Herald Square for the last few years, returns to the main floor.  Entitled  “The Secret Garden” it tempts visitors to wander through beautiful winding paths filled with gorgeous floral displays including blankets of roses, pansies, lilies, orchids, irises and more.

Here are a few images of the mysterious “Secret Garden.” It’s a wonderful way for the store to entertain their customers and definitely attracts a lot of shoppers.

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Visit me at www.cathistoler.com. Look for excerpts of my new novels, KEEPING SECRETS and THE HARD WAY, my novella, NICK OF TIME, and my latest news and events.

MTM: The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium Fort Myers, Florida

calusanature2I really can’t think of anything that is more fun than accompanying a couple of grandkids on a class trip. This time I got to go to The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers, Florida. The nature center is filled with trails and assorted birds, butterflies and reptiles, not to mention an awesome planetarium which gave us two very cool looks at outer space. We also spent some time discussing the differences between refracting and reflecting telescopes. Who knew? Not me.

Here is a snippet from the website. The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a private, not for profit, environmental education organization located in Fort Myers, Florida.  Our 105 acre site has a museum, three nature trails, a Planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries, a gift shop and meeting and picnic areas. Strolling through our Museum, visitors can learn about Southwest Florida’s natural history.  Daily educational programs allow visitors an up close and personal view of some of our resident creatures, including a skunk, a raccoon, fox, Butterfly Aviary, and an Audubon Aviary which houses permanently injured birds of prey (hawks, vultures, bald eagles, owls and more!). Various reptiles, amphibians and arthropods are also waiting for you. The Museum’s interpretive displays address many issues affecting our area, from water resources to the plight of the endangered manatee. The stars are always out in our Planetarium, the only one south of Bradenton and west of the Miami! 

As usual, I am fascinated by how smart the children are. They pay attention to everything, and their questions are very sophisticated for a group of kids spanning from Second to Fifth Grades. But I had no idea how brave they, and their teacher, are. Here is a group(including one grandson) holding Ava the Albino Python, who is approximately twelve feet long.

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And in case you didn’t know, Albino Pythons can only survive in a zoo, refuge or other nature center. Why, you ask? Because, as apparently every eight year old knows, they do not have the capacity to camouflage when they are in the wild. So early in their lifespan they will be killed by a predator or rescued by humans. Every time I travel with kids, I get a little bit smarter.

Terrie

MTM: Ireland! America! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

irelandA few days ago my eleven-year-old grandson asked me what I am besides Irish. I said, “I’m nothing besides Irish.” He said, “No. I mean what other countries did your family come from besides Ireland.” I said. “None.” Then he said, “But that means they would have had to marry other Irish people when they got here.” And I said, “That is what they did. For several generations.”

Well since all my grandkids have inherited ancestry from different places and some even worship the Lord in a religion different from my own, they were amazed at my lack of variety. Which got me thinking. With everyone being Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day and all, how many Americans are at least a wee bit Irish on the other 364 days a year? It seems that last year the big minds at the Washington Post stumbled across the exact same question. You can read the entire article here,  but I will share a few fun facts.

34.5 million Americans list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish.

Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.

Miami may be the least Irish city in the nation with an Irish population of approximately one percent.

Boston, on the other hand, has the most-concentrated Irish population for a city: 20.4 percent.

This great map shows us the Irish heritage of every zip code in the nation. It is easy to see that some places could use a little more “wearing of the green,” but in most parts of the country, the Irish are well represented.

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While many small geographies do claim an Irish population of higher than thirty percent, the award for the neighborhood with a population claiming the highest percent of Irish ancestry is Breezy Point in my home borough of Queens, which comes in at a whopping 54.3%.

So I say to all of you who are Irish for the day and to the thirty four million Americans of Irish descent, we’ve come a long way since the days of “No Irish Need Apply,” but we should never forget that is where we started.

I leave you with the “Always Remember” blessing.

Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad.

Have a joyous Saint Patrick’s Day, one and all.

Terrie

MTM: Family Vacation, Ormand Beach, Florida

I was fortunate enough to recently spend some time roaming around Florida with my kids and their families. Having all seven grandkids together guarantees I will have the best time—and so we did.

home_casements_exteriorOne day we visited The Casements, a lovely old home now redone as a Community Center in Ormand Beach, just north of Daytona, Florida.

Here is a description from the website:

The Casements, named for the large hand-cut casement windows that adorn the mansion, has been beautifully restored to function as the Cultural Center for the City of Ormond Beach, Florida. Set on the shore of the Halifax River, and just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, the late John D. Rockefeller’s winter home is known as “The Jewel of Ormond Beach.” John D. Rockefeller purchased it in 1918 and lived in the house during the winters until his death there at the age of ninety-seven.

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You can see from these pictures that the entire house has been preserved or restored to a fabulous setting for all kinds of community activities—yoga, cooking, pilates, children’s movies, gallery exhibits and, what I’m sure would be my personal favorite, a six week course entitled The First of Rock ‘n’ Roll from 1955 to 1963. And here is a look at the grounds.

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Here is my personal favorite, though illegal, picture.

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My son and my daughter’s son put on quite a show in the ‘dance” room. We didn’t see the “no pictures please” sign until after we took this and numerous other goofy pictures. Honestly, isn’t that what vacations are for? And, yes guilt is why we made the large donation.

Terrie

MTM: Crime in the City: NPR series

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Image via witf.org

I recently discovered a fascinating NPR special series called “Crime in the City” that ran last summer, one that would interest mystery, thriller, and crime fiction fans. The series featured interviews with crime novelists about their fictional detectives and the domestic or international  locales with which they are associated.

NPR web site visitors can listen to interviews, read transcripts, see location photos, and read excerpts of each author’s work.

“In ‘Alphabet’ Mysteries, ‘S’ is Really for Santa Barbara,” novelist Sue Grafton and NPR correspondent Mandalit del Barco visit Santa Barbara — the inspiration for Santa Teresa, the fictional stomping grounds of Kinsey Millhone, Grafton’s protagonist PI.

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NPR correspondent Neda Ulaby interviews Ben Winters about his New Hampshire mystery novels in “Awaiting the Apocalypse in the Quiet Town of Concord.”

NPR correspondent Robert Smith interviews author Chris Grabenstein, in “Bodies on the Boardwalk: Murder Stirs A Sleepy Jersey Shore.”  The protagonist of his dark humor mysteries is Detective John Ceepak, a former Army military police officer who takes a job as a beach cop to recover from serving in Iraq — although he doesn’t get much rest. (BTW, there’s a shop online dedicated to John Ceepak merchandise!).

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NPR correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates interviews Walter Mosley in “Ever-Changing L.A. Links Walter Mosley To His Mid-Century P.I.” Los Angeles is the setting for his iconic protagonist, Easy Rawlins, a man with a passion for social justice. His crime fiction novels take place in the late 1940s through 1967.

In Neville’s Thrillers, Belfast’s Violence Still Burns,” NPR correspondent Noah Adams talks with novelist Stuart Neville about his protagonist, Detective Jack Lennon, and the central role that Belfast plays in his thrillers.

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Who are some of your favorite detectives/sleuths/private eyes — and from what towns or cities — fictional or real — do they call home?

For even more author goodness on NPR, check out their archive of author interviews.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

MTM: Kennedy Space Center

Okay, so first let me tell you that the Fifth Grade Gifted Program of Diplomat Elementary School brought home the Second Prize in the Celebrate Literacy, Florida competition. The prize is $500 to spend on literacy material for the school. So that is pretty cool, right?

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Cooler still, is the location picked for the ceremony—The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

Here is a picture of two of my grandkids with Astronaut Marcos Cesar Pontes who holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Brazilian Air Force. He is an experienced jet pilot and studied Aeronautical Engineering in the Instituto Technologico de Aeronautica. He fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut and spent a week on the International Space Station in 2006.

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He spoke to the nearly two hundred children present and inspired them with his personal story. When he was a child he wanted to go into space. He did not allow the fact that he was poor and lived in Brazil, a country that did not have a space program,  stop him from aspiring to his goal. He studied hard, grew up, joined the Brazilian Air Force, became a pilot and continued to work hard and learn about space travel and technology.

Fortunately the literacy ceremony started early and was short and sweet, so we got to spend time exploring the Visitor’s Center

Barely an hour southeast of Disney World, the Space Center is an absolutely not to be missed stop when you take your next “let’s get a little sunshine” vacation. You will feel an enormous amount of pride in what the human race has accomplished in space exploration, and it doesn’t take long to realize what insignificant specs we humans are in the grand scheme of the Universe.

Terrie

MyTown Monday: Baltimore’s Fells Point

Fells-Point-PlaqueAbout a month ago, I was in Baltimore. And since my extremely knowledgeable tour guide was a long-time resident and history buff, who’s even served as spokesperson for city and state agencies and administrations from various times until now, I am giving my uncle-in-law the honorary title of Mr. Baltimore. If he doesn’t qualify, I can’t imagine who could. He mourns that many people’s impressions of the city are unbalanced by coming primarily from crime shows focused on its most negative aspects, so he wanted to make sure we saw why Charm City is more than an ironic label. One day we took a water taxi from Canton, another historic waterfront Baltimore neighborhood, to Fells Point. Here’s the text of the plaque, since the sea air does a number on everything:

FELLS POINT: A Colonial maritime community established 1726 by Willam Fell, shipbuilder of Lancashire, England. In this area were built more than six hundred ships from the Colonial era through the Civil War. Birthplace of the U.S. frigate “Constellation” and home port of the famous Baltimore Clippers.

Most of the traditional rowhouses bordering this area have been restored, and you can see how this neighborhood square fronts right on the water. There are now a lot of restaurants, bars, and retail to serve one’s desires for strolling and lingering both. Fells-Point-Square

There’s as much tourist traffic here as shipping these days. You can see how business meets pleasure in the shot of the pier below. The water taxi on the left is like the one we took, and multiple routes regularly service the inner harbor neighborhoods and historic sites. Our crew even dumped a dummy into the water as part of a drill on our return ride, so the next water taxi coming by could practice scooping a “drowning passenger” from the drink. Freddy the Floater was retrieved successfully-whew.Fells-Point-Sugar-Ship

Baltimore’s still a very busy port and naval site. The gray-hulled ship in the front on the right side of the picture above is packed to the brim with raw sugar being brought north for processing to the nearby Domino’s plant.Fells-Point-Port

Above is another nice view of the Fells Point pier and promenade. That building in the background (if you enlarge, it’s labeled City Pier Broadway), do you recognize it? Maybe a close-up would help.Homicide-Bldg

Still not sure? Yes, we learned how interesting and lovely Fells Point is–as well as other places in the city–and we could’ve explored much longer, but nonetheless, I still squee’d a little to see this evidence of the city’s seamier side. Here’s the plaque next to the door.

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My Town Monday: Turks Take Over Grand Central

I don’t go through Grand Central as much as I used to, and I know things change. But nevertheless, last week, I was surprised to encounter these fellows.

Turk-Corps-GCT Turk-Band-GCTFortunately, they weren’t there to halt me and ask “Who goes there?” They were part of a Turkish Grand Bazaar cultural festival, perhaps to coincide with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the U.S.

Turk-Program-GCTThere were food stands and art stalls and live entertainment. Please pardon the terrible blur of my hasty cellphone photos–I really was on my way somewhere!

Turk-Stall-GCTBelow is a short, shaky snippet from the 11:30am performance. I also know that my video doesn’t gives the full impact of the singers and horns and percussion echoing in the tall marble vaults of GCT, but it was really something different and commanding to hear. And the guy with the floor drums? I want his job!

My Town Monday–I guess you had to be there, but it just shows the exotic possibilities that abound, even during a hum-drum commute.