Inside the Warren Chapel at the Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Troy NY

Friday, May 20, 2022
 Today it is an honor to share with you the Warren Chapel at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, NY.  Reopened for the first time in many years, and after a million dollars worth of restorations, the Warren Chapel is a sight to behold.

Friends of Oakwood volunteer, Christy Fronhofer, hosted a lucky group of visitors last weekend when the chapel was opened to the public.  We were among those visitors and today, I'm happy to be able to share this family chapel with you too!

Built in 1860, designed by Henry Dudley of New York, the chapel was built to provide a permanent resting place for members of the Warren family.  Taken and quoted directly from the site linked here (which also contains Warren family history):

"At the time when the Oakwood Cemetery was planned this half-forgotten anecdote was brought to mind, suggesting to his descendants the idea of a mortuary chapel, Indeed, public opinion then required that the family should erect some suitable memorial, which at the same time should be an ornament to the cemetery. A chapel was therefore decided upon, and is that which now occupies a conspicuous position near the centre of the cemetery. It is a cruciform building, early English in character, of stone from quarries at the aqueduct, combined with granite. The more highly-wrought portions of the building are of Aubigny and Caen stone, imported from Normandy. The graves of the senior members of the family are covered with plain slabs of marble, containing appropriate inscriptions; upon these rests an alter-tomb of Caen stone, supporting a sculptured representation of the Last Supper, over which is a triple window of painted glass, the subject being the Ascension of our Lord. In a word, this picturesque building, in the language of architecture, might be considered a hymn of praise, as well as a confession of that faith in which those who rest beneath have lived and died."

The deceased members of the Warren family are buried beneath the floor of the chapel. one or two deep. The chapel can accommodate about 150, though only 95 are currently laid to rest there.  Some time ago, the family turned the chapel over to the cemetery who now maintains it and raised the funding for its very necessary restoration. 

By the glorious Resurrection and Ascension - Good Lord deliver us!

Notice the inscribed slabs on the floor 

Tower stairs

Tower Stained Glass

This is my third blog post about Oakwood Cemetery (links to earlier posts will be included at the end of this post).  I've also penned stories about Albany Rural Cemetery and St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.  I used to consider myself to be rather blasé when it came to cemeteries, but having spent considerable time in all of these local historic landmarks in the past few years, I have to admit I have become a tad obsessed.  All I could think of listening to the Warren family history, as impressive as their story and accomplishments might be, was how incredibly beautiful it was of the early members to erect such a magnificent resting place for their loved ones. resting places vastly vary, even today, from stately mausoleums to simple scattering of ashes.  On one special visit to Oakwood, we were taken by this sight...

Oakwood Cemetery is a sight to behold in any season, but I'm especially fond of spring and fall.  It was in the depths of autumn that we first visited Oakwood, that visit being the subject of my first Oakwood blog. The colorful backdrop of vivid color is only slightly challenged by the magnolia and daffodils of spring.

Oakwood Cemetery is hosting a variety of activities this summer including Full Moon Twilight tours, a Memorial Day Ceremony, The Gilded Age Rises Again in Oakwood, Oakwood's Revolutionary War Veterans, Stories From the Stones, and many more.  You can find out more by contacting Oakwood Cemetery at:  The cemetery is located at 186 Oakwood Avenue, Troy NY.
To see more of this beautiful cemetery, check out my earlier blog posts including a tour of the Earl Crematorium Chapel: 
For tours of Albany Rural and St. Agnes Cemeteries....
And the Gerald B. Solomon National Cemetery in Schuylerville....
If you enjoyed this posts and want to see more but don't want to depend on social media to bring them to you, consider subscribing to receive each new blog directly to your email.  Just enter your email address here: Subscribe and receive one or two blogs a month!  To see previous posts, check out my blog directory:

Thanks for stopping by Life As I See It!  See you soon!

Rodgers Book Barn - A Mesmerizing Rabbit Hole in Wonderland for Book Lovers to Discover

Monday, May 2, 2022

 "One does not stop buying books just because there is no shelf space."

Anyone who loves books knows that statement to be true, including the proprietors of the very best bookshops, including our latest discovery, Rodgers Book Barn, in Hillsdale NY.

I recently happened upon a post on Facebook picturing the inside of this wonderland of literary treasures and immediately added it to our spring itinerary.  A couple weekends ago, the weather was perfect for a road trip and my chauffeur was happy to oblige.  Hillsdale is a new place for us, just 70 minutes from Clifton Park down the Taconic Parkway, in Columbia County near Hudson and Great Barrington MA.  Typically I don't chase destinations, as it's the journey that I enjoy, but in this case both the journey and the destination were well worth the time and the gas.

Maureen Rodgers opened the Book Barn in 1972 and is in her 50th year of business.  She was a 29 year old bookseller when she came to Hillsdale from NYC, having started her book career selling books to colleges.  Maureen figured out that colleges don't buy books in the summer so to make ends meet year 'round, she apprenticed in the antiquarian department of Barnes and Noble on 17th Street.  After vacationing in Hillsdale she and her husband decided they wanted to move there permanently and purchased the five acre-parcel, a barn and a house for $8,000.  There's so much more to this part of the story and I encourage you to use this link to read Chris Atkins and Laura Lettelier's story about Maureen and the Book Barn on the blog, Historians of Hillsdale, NY A Visit with Maureen Rodgers.   It's a fabulous read!

Like the Owl Pen Books in Greenwich that I blogged about last year, Rodgers Book Barn is a little like Alice's rabbit hole in wonderland, filled to the brim (on two floors) with neatly shelved and organized books of every genre imaginable.....used books and cd's.  From the outside, no one could guess that behind the modest exterior awaits over 50,000 old and unusual books, most for just a few bucks.  We left with 3 for the bargain price of $9.00.  

As you're driving to Rodgers Book Barn, once you've left the highway portion of the trip, a series of back roads through gorgeous horse and farm country, leaves you wondering how (and why) anyone would choose to open a book store in the middle of nowhere.  Yet, just like Owl Pen, when we finally reached our GPS destination, we found we were not the only book enthusiasts to have made the trip that day.  Several other shoppers were deep in exploration of all the titles available.  For some, it may be a little overwhelming, but not to worry, Maureen has a large number of chairs of all styles and sizes tucked in every nook and cranny just begging for shoppers to sit, relax and flip some pages.

In case you prefer enjoying your book in the fresh air, some tables and chairs are scattered throughout the country property, that day among the hundreds of daffodils in full bloom.

Not surprisingly, a bookstore of this sort would have to be run by someone who is a)passionate about books, b) knowledgeable and c) loves helping people.  When I was boasting about the magnificent barns and landscapes we enjoyed on our drive, she took out a brochure of the Hudson Valley Book Trail and spent several minutes directing us to another bookstore on the trail, one that she thought we'd like that also would take us through some beautiful countryside with great barns.  Talk about hospitality!

Rodgers Book Barn is open year round, weekends and by appointment.  Check the website for particulars.  If you love books, I highly recommend a trip to Hillsdale NY to this half century old treasure!

For more information, check out their website:
and on Instagram at @rodgersbookbarn
Be sure to also check out the Owl Pen Bookstore under new ownership, celebrating their opening weekend this past weekend.  To read my blogpost:
Thanks for stopping by Life As I See It.  I hope you'll check out these great businesses and take in the beautiful sights of our rural landscape in NYS.  For more posts like this one, check out my blog  Directory

Did Anyone In Your Family Play a Part in History?

Saturday, April 23, 2022

 Not everyone has a claim to fame but lucky for me - I do. I’m able to say, “Leo Durocher is my third cousin.” Depending on who I say it to affects the reaction I get. People over 40 are typically impressed. Younger folks who don’t know Leo Durocher aren't all that impressed.  Although growing up I knew enough to carry this claim to fame with pride, I had no real sense of what a big deal Leo Durocher was, and honestly I wasn’t all that interested. I knew the basics - that he was a some sort of baseball legend. Not being much of a sports enthusiast, I will admit I didn’t take much interest in knowing more. Like most of my family history, Leo’s fame and accomplishments wouldn’t achieve their proper significance or impress me much until I was much older, specifically until I researched him for this question in a memoir prompt. What that translates to is the fact that it isn’t until now, in my 60's, that I realize how the “Durocher Gene” has endured and been passed down through the generations. I’m not talking about baseball.

Leo Ernest Durocher was born on July 27, 1905 to George and Clarenda (Provost) Durocher in West Springfield MA. He was the youngest of 4 sons. George, Leo’s father, was the son of Leon and Rosalie (Poutre) Durocher - parents of my great grandfather, Henry Durocher, of Cohoes, NY.  To help illustrate....that makes Leo my grandfather’s first cousin; my dad’s second cousin, and my third cousin. Here's my grandfather's brothers, George and Harry, in Florida with Leo in 1973.   

Leo’s father worked for the Boston & Albany railroad. His parents were both French Canadian and French was often spoken at home. Leo attended Springfield Technical High School but in 9th grade after a scuffle with a teacher, he got suspended. He quit school and never returned. He went to work for an electric company and played baseball for their company team. Unlike many of the shorter Durocher clan, Leo grew to be the tallest of his brothers reaching the grand height of 5‘10”. David Redd, a black man, encouraged Leo to try out for the Hartford ball team, a Yankee farm club.  Leo tried out but failed. In 1925, again encouraged by Redd, Leo tried again and this time Leo was successful. He made the team as an infielder. He showed so much promise, he was sold to the NY Yankees for $5000. After two seasons with the farm system, he got a permanent call to the big leagues in 1928. He won his first World Series that same year as a teammate of Babe Ruth, and another Hartford Senators alumnus, Lou Gehrig. He would become known as one of baseball’s fiercest and most successful players. 

As a captain of the St. Louis Cardinals, “Gashouse Gang” (named after Leo's fiery personality), in 1934, Durocher started shortstop and won another world series. After the 1938 season with the Cardinals, Durocher became the Dodgers player-manager and became known for his dirt-kicking tirades against umpires. He claims he was fired and rehired by the general manager dozens of times.

Leo's went on to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers (1939-1946), (1948), the NY Giants from 1948-1955, Chicago Cubs from 1966-1972 and Houston Astros from 1972-1973. 

Despite his antics, there was no doubt about his record. In 1941 Durocher led the Dodgers to the franchise’s first pennant in 21 yrs. Leo is quoted as saying, “as long as I’ve got a chance to beat you, I’m going to take it”. During the seasons of 1939 to 1941, 1943 and 1945, he served as a player-manager with the Dodgers and guided Brooklyn to two consecutive 100 win years (100 in 1941 and 104 in 1942), including the National League Pennant in 1941. Prior to the 1947 season, Jackie Robinson was placed on the Dodgers’ big league roster shattering the baseball racial barrier. Durocher made the point of telling his team that they accept Robinson as a teammate or else they would be traded. His message transcended baseball and in a way helped ease the entry of African-Americans into professional sports. Durocher himself would not manage the Dodgers during the 1947 season, due to a suspension imposed by commissioner Happy Chandler for allegedly associating with gamblers and allowing gambling in the clubhouse.

He left NY after the 1955 season to become a commentator for NBC baseball broadcasts. He returned to manage the Cubs in 1966 and served his final 9 seasons in Chicago and Houston. He retired in 1973 as the fifth winningest manager in history, second only to John McGraw in the National League, with 2008 career victories. He was named Manager of the year three-times (1939, 1951 and 1954).

Leo, known as Lippy and Leo the Lip, was known as a ‘win at all cost manager’. He coined the phrase, ‘Nice guys finish last’ and in one article I read he was described as ‘as brassy as the trombone section in a swing era band’. He was also called loud, profane, and charming when he wanted to be. Hmmm, that description might also describe some other Durochers I know. Edwin Pope who wrote Baseball’s Greatest Managers wrote about Leo with this quote, “Benefactor or blackguard, genius or jerk, paragon or prodigal, Leo Durocher was the most beguiling figure to walk through baseball.” Tommy Lasorda said, “I took his #2 because of love, admiration and respect. We lost a wonderful man.”

In 1965 he co-authored his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last. He spent his retirement years in Palm Springs, CA playing golf. He was married to Larraine Day, actress, and did a couple acting projects himself appearing in the Munsters, Mr. Ed and the Beverly Hillbillies. He appeared on What's My Line twice.  Leo passed away on October 7th, 1991 at 86 years of age. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY in 1994. John took my mom to the ceremony because my dad was laid up with heel spurs.  Some years later, John took me to visit Cooperstown to see Leo's plaque in person.

 Like some other Durochers I’m familiar with, Leo once said, “I’m a guy who has to do it my way, whether you like it or not.” Hmmm….the gene pool is pretty strong in this family.  Now I know where I get the 'attitude' from! 

Leo was not the best athlete to play baseball and some might not necessarily sing his praises but I'm particularly proud of Leo's contribution to paving the way to end segregation in sports. We recently watched the movie '42' about Jackie Robinson and seeing Leo (who was portrayed by Christopher Meloni of Law and Order fame) play such an instrumental role in Jackie's involvement with the Dodgers was a really neat thing to watch.  I’m no cooler by association when it comes to having someone famous in our family lineage, but I realized in researching Leo that despite my ignorance, he was a pretty accomplished and famous athlete as evidenced by the plethora of information that was generated in my Google search. It also makes me proud knowing that someone in my family was strong enough to stand up against segregation when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. It makes me wish I’d mustered up some interest years ago when my dad and great uncles who knew Leo could have told me more about him. At least now his history will live in my recorded history and hopefully my offspring will be proud to be related to such a legend.

Here's my grandfather with Harry & George....I think you can see the family resemblence....

Here is my Uncle George, playing ball for the Cohoes Orange Crush team in the late1920's...He didn't go on to play with the big leagues but he was a great man in many other ways.  

A story about Uncle George:

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