Dan Cragg is a former resident of the Highland Park Neighborhood and the author or co-author of over a dozen books. Recently he sent us a remembrance of his life, his family and his times spent in the area before he left in 1958. During his first of several careers, while with the United States Army, Dan travelled the world: including two tours of duty in Vietnam, and tours of duty in Germany, Italy, and South Korea. But even if he has never returned here to live, as the stories he shares reveals, the Neighborhood has always been with him. In the second of three parts of his wonderful contribution to our archives, Dan takes us back to the part of Mt Vernon Avenue with which he was most familiar as well as the family, neighbors and friends who shared that time and place with him
Mt. Vernon Avenue
One aspect of the neighborhood in my youth that may seem odd today is that it was all white. No black or Hispanic people lived in our part of the city back in the 1950s, there was no ethnic diversity in the neighborhood or our schools (I understand the student body at Monroe today is predominantly Hispanic). Black people were employed at the Highland Hospital and I suppose others seen passing by worked as domestics in some households, but our everyday life was one of de facto segregation. Read more…
Little Library Street is officially known as Caroline Street. When Caroline Street first appeared on City of Rochester maps around 1845, it ran from South Avenue to the city’s edge which was just beyond “Nelson” street, now known as Meigs St. By 1861 (see map at right) it reached all the way to the new extension of Goodman, by then also on the edge of Rochester proper. Today, this portion of the street between South and Goodman has accumulated more Little Free Library Stations than any other area in our city than we are aware of. And each of these three structures has an individual style all its own. But they are all still connected to the first Little Library which took residence in the Highland Park Neighborhood by way of the loves of reading and of real books. The Ellwanger & Barry company referred to our area as The Finest and Healthiest Part of the City. And what could be healthier for the mind and spirit than reading a fine old or new book or magazine? Read more…
Curator’s Note: Dan Cragg, a former resident sent us a remarkable remembrance earlier in 2014. While Dan’s package of photos and stories got delayed for a few months inside a local post office, fortunately, we eventually received it earlier this summer. Within the first few minutes of reading the first pages, I realized, as you will, that Dan’s detailed memories of the time he spent in this neighborhood are shared treasures. So it is my pleasure and honor to present the first of three parts of Dan Cragg’s Memories of The Highland Park Neighborhood. In part I, Dan writes about Highland Hospital, his childhood activities in Highland Park and the Pinnacle Range. The photos in this first entry are all supplied by Dan. The post cards images are from the archives of the Virtual Scrapbook. Enjoy!
I left the Highland Park neighborhood in 1958 and have returned there only for brief intervals since but often enough that I have retained a sense of belonging. Each visit renews that bond. Members of my family have lived and died in Rochester for well over a century and now, as I enter three-quarters of a century, reminiscences of my boyhood in the old neighborhood flood back in brilliant color and make me feel young again. The Irish poet, Thomas Moore, said it well: “Oft in the stilly night, ere slumber’s chain has bound me, fond memory brings the light of other days around me.” Submitted by Dan Cragg
The name “Highland” has been with me since I was born at Highland Hospital in 1939. Highland Park itself has been a source of recreation for my family for well over 90 years. One winter in the 1920s Grandma broke her back tobogganing down a slope along the ridge just to the south of the Lily Pond (not far from the Frederick Douglass monument). The cast they put on at Highland Hospital remained in grandmother’s attic until she died (at Highland) in 1965.
I was a patient at the Highland four times in my life. The first time was when I was born; then when I cut my leg in father’s vegetable garden (see the Smith Place); next to recover from strep throat, an infection I picked up playing with the stagnant water in the fish pond in grandmother’s back yard. The last time was when I was about 15. I was there for about a week with what was considered at first a kidney infection but turned out to be the passing of calcium from an old TB infection I got from my mother. They put me in a ward with grown men one of whom was dying from terminal cancer. He was kept sedated during the day but sometimes at night he’d wake up and begin screaming for someone to kill him until a nurse would come in and put him under again. He died alone, quietly, in a bed in a corner of our ward. I don’t think they even had hospices in those days where the terminally ill could pass out with dignity.
Submitted by Elaine Heveron
Good Morning! Perhaps we’ve met you on one of our morning walks—we’re the couple picking up trash with the long-handled grab-bar. We’ve met some wonderful people along the way these last several years.
Sometimes someone says, “Well, there’s not much trash around this neighborhood, right?” Well, right, but there would be about 300 shopping bags worth of trash per year more than what you see if we didn’t pick it up, and there are others who do this as well. The other day, we saw an elderly man using a walker and picking up trash along Elmwood Avenue; we were impressed!
Many people have taken a moment to say thank you or ask if we’ve ever found anything good (not yet.) And, comically, it’s usually person who is both walking a dog or two and pushing a stroller that says, “I should do that too!” We don’t have a dog and we’re walking anyway, so we’re happy to do it. Our feeling is, if people see trash everywhere, they might not think twice about throwing trash from a car to the street, roadside, or sidewalk. But if they don’t see any trash around, they might get the vibe that this is not the place to do such a thing.
We could use some help along Clinton and South Avenues, (ideally from those who own and operate the businesses there, mainly.) Also, some of the side streets need more picking up. If anyone wants to help increase and extend the pristine look of this neighborhood, not just by having a Clean-Up Day once a year, but as a regular thing at your own convenience, please consider the ease of this contribution. It’s easier with two people, one to hold the bag and one to pick up and deposit trash, but it can be done alone too. People always ask where we bought our grab-bar. The grab bars are easy to find online. My favorite is the Ettore 49036 Grip ‘n Grab (Amazon $17.98). because it can pick up the tiniest thing, even a cigarette butt or a dime. Other models can be found at places like Southside Apothecary, Home Depot-types stores, Pharmacies, or even the public market. So, get yourself a grab-bar and help reinforce the notion that this area is a very special neighborhood and we’ve all got our eyes on the scene.
And while we’re talking trash, I’d like to mention that if you have items in your basement, garage or attic that you’ve been meaning to get rid of appropriately, there is a great place to dispose of these items:
Eco Park, 10 Avion Drive, Rochester, New York (near the airport)
Check out their web site:
Here are the hours and items you can leave for free at the Regular Collections. (Check website for special collections of more items)
Wed.-Sat., 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed on Monroe County government-observed holidays) – Monroe County households only (no businesses, not-for-profits, home offices, etc.)
- Electronic Waste
- Batteries (household alkaline batteries are NOT accepted)
- Appliances (without CFC/Freon)
- Scrap Metal
- Aluminum Can Pop-Tops (to benefit Ronald McDonald House)
- Paper & Flattened Cardboard
- Document Destruction
- Recyclable Glass/Metal/Plastic Containers
- Printer Cartridges
- Propane Tanks – 1# & 20#
- Bulky Plastic Items (should be clean and rigid)
- Plastic Bags and Product Wrap (must be clean and dry — no mulch/soil bags)
- Clean Styrofoam Packing (no takeout clamshells, cups, meat trays, egg cartons, etc.)
- Empty Prescription Bottles (labels OK)
- Cooking Oil/Grease
- Fluorescent Lights
- Sharps & Syringes
- Sneakers (no shoes, boots, cleats, ‘light-up’ or metal-containing sneakers)
- Clothing (Goodwill Donation)
- Cell Phones (to benefit Cell Phones for Soldiers)
- Flags (U.S.)
- Compost Give-Back (Seasonal – not for use in vegetable/herb gardens)
If you love parades, you may already have been present for one of the best, local and annual traditions. And it is an event that you can walk to it if you live in any of the neighborhoods bordering on Highland Botanical Park. That annual tradition is, of course, the Rochester Lilac Festival’s Parade.
To the right is a post card memento from nearly eighty years ago. It is a fun and antique reminder that thousands of people have been gathering in Highland Park every spring to see a parade for generations.
However, I am not writing this entry to relate a definitive history of either the festival or the parade. (Although I may get to that over time.)
I am actually writing just to celebrate by way of a record of my visit to this year’s parade. Like so many times before, the 2014 Lilac festival and the Lilac parade were welcomed in my neighborhood as heralds of spring and summer. And I have confirmed by an informal poll of my fellow residents, that they look forward to the Lilac Festival and all its events as much as I do. This year, because of the severity of the winter that ended mere weeks before the lilacs began to bloom, there may even have been extra cheering.
First up in the celebration is a video. The movie is actually just a few minutes of music from several of the many bands that participated in the 2014 parade. (Plus some special guests in special rather small vehicles.)
Next is my photo essay on the parade. But this is just a selection of a much bigger set of floats, participants and music. By that I mean, the movie and the photo collection could each be two or three times this size and woud still quite interesting.
See for yourself next year!
On November 10, 2013, HPNA Horticulturist and Forestry Expert Amy Priestley led another one of her guided walks through Highland Park. This one was different. This was truly poignant. We visited the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial. When Amy started reading from the dedication monument, I turned on the video. This movie was, eventually, the result:
In you are able to select the highest definition version of this film on youtube, I think it will enhance the experience. The emotions, the weather and the occasion combined into one of the lingering moments where pictures can say things even better than words….
Carol Heveron is a neighborhood artist, musician and gardener. All those things combine to give just a glimpse into the warmth of this woman whose has made many contributions to the work of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association. One of the results of our frequent contacts, has been that my wife and I became friends with Carol. But perhaps the greatest understanding of Carol within the broader local community is within her music. Yet, many of her music fans might not even know that Carol’s collage art was incorporated into a poster for an exhibit in 2013 that included more of her beautifully expressive collage art. Recently Carol has been visited by health problems, something from which she is determined to recover but her struggle as a person who cannot afford health insurance is making that difficult:
“The day after Carol Heveron’s temporary job ended — she was filling in for a woman on maternity leave — she looked in the bathroom mirror. I hadn’t been feeling good for weeks, I can tell by things I was writing my journal,” she says. “I looked in the mirror and saw my eyes were yellow. I knew something was wrong, but I was afraid to go to the doctor because of the bills.” A couple of weeks later, Heveron did go. A tumor was blocking her bile ducts. The yellow eyes were jaundice. The diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.
“It was like someone pulled the rug out from under me,” she says.
Heveron is a familiar voice in the local music community, not only for her own bands, such as Carol Heveron & the Impalas and The Carol Heveron Band, but as kind of a go-to vocalist for many musicians in the city. “Country, rock and roll, blues people,” she says. “’I’ve just played with so any people, it’s hard to count.”
In honor of Carol, on this day which will feature a benefit concert on her behalf with many fellow musicians, we present this album of photos and posters taken and created during many of Carol’s activities on behalf of her neighborhood. All of us join in thanks that she lives among us as, perhaps, “The Coolest Woman in The Hood”.