Listen: Don Rittner, exploring both personal and local history

The Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider
Don Rittner, who teaches, has made a film, and written many books — including one underway about the Altamont Fair — says you can't understand where you are if you don't know where you've been. He believes history is important and has helped build a replica of a 1600s Dutch ship, the Onrust; served as the city of Albany's archaeologist; and a half-century ago pushed for the preservation of the Pine Bush. 

 

 

Transcript:

00:00 Hello, this is Melissa, Hale-Spencer, the editor of The Altamont Enterprise here with Don Rittner. Usually I give a little recap of a person, but in this case is kind of impossible. Renaissance man. I met Don just a couple of weeks ago because he came in and our readers will already know this to talk about a book he's writing on the 125 year history of the Altamont Fair. But in talking to him I realized he had a whole lot more to tell us. So welcome Don. So I guess we'll start with the book itself. Just did anybody volunteer to be interviewed after our article? Came out for the article was great. In fact,

00:43 got some interviews to do this weekend. I'm going to go and see some memorabilia that somebody has up on the hill. We're in about a famous uh, uh, I guess it was a, he was famous for being a painter, but the family had taken some of the or maybe he took some of the earliest video of the fair and I'm trying to see you. I can get up and take a look at that. So yeah, it was a great article and I got some really good feedback from it.

01:09 Oh well good. But for those that are just listening and haven't read the paper, can you just kind of give us an idea of what the book is like? I understand it's pretty nearly finished. It's about, well you know,

01:24 county fairs have been around since the 19th century, since the early 19th century, although fairs generally been around since the renaissance but, and a North America. They actually began with a Dutch back in the 17th century. So there were kind of like cattle fairs in Albany and New York City, which that was called New Amsterdam. So, so this whole idea about, you know, bringing your agricultural or your cattle's together and Kinda show them off has been around for 400 years, but beginning of the 19th century in New York state anyways, it almost became a law for each county to have a county fair and else much pretty early. It actually started at Albany back in I think around 18. Oh nine. Which would like the first fair. And then eventually it worked its way up to ultimate 1993. So it's 125 years, didn't she or.

02:25 So the arc of most fairs, are they going strong as an ultima and, or are other ways of people entertaining themselves kind of taking over the idea of gathering to see the farm animals?

02:38 I think so. In fact, I talked to somebody at the Washington county fair yesterday. Yeah, affairs are obviously not doing as great as they have in the past. For example, in the 19th century, that was the only way you got to see your neighbor. Uh, it was sort of a annual get together. People will pack their lunch coming buggies, take the train. Um, and it was a time when farmers could see what was the, you know, the newest cloud, for example, the newer thresher, um, and, and get food and entertainment. So it was the place to go. There was no TV, there was no radio.

03:16 But do you think maybe we need that now because people don't seem to know their neighbors. They used to anymore. You know, now they all connect online and it's hard, you know, the person next door. So

03:29 another history either and you know, that's one of the problems with not knowing your history is your bad. Repeat the mistakes of the past. So I, I, I think there's been a resurgence in interest, especially with say the millennials and the generation z that's coming up because I teach college and every year I do a survey. The first day of Class I asked them, well two things. First I have to write me a bio so I can find out who they are.

03:56 The second one, that's your first assignment, no matter the class, write a biography of your central page biography.

04:02 That gives me a sort of a better handle on who I have in my class. And it helps me also decide how I'm going to teach it because I teach you how apology archeology,

04:11 and this is at Westchester Community College. Yeah, I went online and I see you are very popular teacher.

04:20 The thing is, um, you know, I, I spent a lot of time in college and I've had a lot of bad teachers and I had a few good teachers and a good teacher. We were able to relate to the students and take the subject matter and make it relatable. I mean, I remember my two worst subjects in high school was English and history.

04:42 Oh, those are two things. You're a writer and you love history. So how were they your two worst subjects? Because I had, I had

04:49 no interest in that in high school because of the teachers were just not good. What, what makes a teacher not good? Stimulating you. Trying to take information and make it relative. Who cares what happened in 15, 99 if I can't sort of relate it to what's going on today. So what I do is I, especially in anthropology at Paulie's is a great class to teach because it's about people study of humans and so, you know, everything that's going on today, I can show you similar things that went on 100 years ago, 200 years ago. So you could teach history but make it relevant, make it relevant to what's going on today. And so, and I'm trying to keep up with what's, what kids are thinking about in college, you know, what's the latest social trends, what's the latest fashion, um, and then try to incorporate that into the teaching. And so you keep their interest. You know, I find it's for me anyway is I can't speak for everybody else, but for, for me, I just am, I can relate to the students and, and it rubs off. I didn't tell, you know, from, from the testing I, I'd make them do a lot of writing and regurgitating back in the class. So I get class discussions going, I just start something and then I sit back and watch.

06:08 Um, so about your own life. When I talked to you earlier, I got the sense that you were always a learner, but you didn't necessarily like school. The, you and a buddy of yours would skip classes to go to a museum. Just tell us a little about how you learned in and why.

06:28 Well, today they'd probably have me on drugs. You know, because I probably will they call that add deficit disorder. Yeah. I mean I couldn't sit still because I had a lot of questions and you know, now that I'm a teacher myself, I can sympathize with my teachers when I was young because, you know, you've got 20, 30 kids in a class and you're trying to teach them all at the same time and at the same level. And let's face it, not every kid learns at the same level, at the same speed. It has the same comprehension skills. Okay. So it's tough to be a teacher, but you know, when you're eight years old you don't know that. And I had lots of questions. I was very inquisitive kid and, and I wanted to know everything. I mean, my personal motto is I don't know everything, but I'm working on it.

07:15 Yeah, it's good for all of us. But you would have literally skip school and take a bus to Albany and go to the old state Ed Museum. Yeah.

07:24 My friend Paul Paul, my, my compatriot in crime, I suppose you could call them. Um, if, if we couldn't steal a dime for my mother or couldn't find a coke bottle, the return and get you know, money, we would go to the junior museum in troy, which was in the basement of the Rensselaer county historical society. It was a kid's museum and we would at school and we'd go down and go to the museum and they used to have this children's crusade. I'm sort of exhibit and I would put on the chain mail and I chased the girls around actual production chain mail. You get to reproduction. It was, it was a real. Yeah. I mean I didn't know it at the time. The director of the music, he would come and instead of throwing me out he would just put his arm around me and started explaining, you know, well, what do you think, you know, why is this made out of metal?

08:18 So he was, you know, poking my brain instead of being me and throwing me out. And uh, so you were a little kid. Wasn't that big and heavy? It was children's crusade though. Don't forget there was a children's. Because I know you mentioned that and it didn't register. Yeah. So, uh, and it fit perfectly, I must say, uh, so, so he would, you know, instead of being mean, he was trying to, you know, get us to talk and try to figure out why we're doing what we're doing. And of course we would always go back to that museum because we knew we were going to get thrown out. And just parenthetically, later on when I started college, that director was the head of the environmental studies program at Suny.

09:07 Great. It was really weird. Have Twenty seven years later, I starting

09:12 a college and I'm sitting in the rest gallery. I'm here. The girls talking about, oh, professor, professor Lou just saying all these great things. And the more they talked about him and I just said, it sounds like the guy I used to know when I was a kid. And so I asked one of the girls, I said, well, what's this guy's name? She says, Oh, no professor is made, do you know? And I have the guy, this might be the same person. So I was, I went to his office that day and I walked in the office, he looked at me and had Donnie Ritner. He remembered, he remembered me before. Well, how could, I don't think you could forget me in those days. I was, like I said, a little rambunctious and uh, he, you know, he, it was great. It was a local leader of the environmental movement and so he gave me half his office to save the Pine Bush when I decided that was what I was going to do for my career. And uh, and we've been, he'd been like a father to me really. So, you know, I've known him, I would say most of my life and been more of a father to me than my real father.

10:16 Well, so tell us a little about your real father and your family life because I think you said, um, that you ended up on the street in high school.

10:26 Really know that much about my parents because they split up when I was eight and they didn't really care where it was. So I lived, you know, bounced back and forth between them. And then eventually back in the early sixties when the Beatles came out, I decided I wanted to have long hair, but I didn't really have long hair. I had short hair. It just calm down. And even though I had a 93 average in high school, they kicked me out because I wouldn't call my hair up and I wouldn't Tuck my shirt in. You know, those are two major crimes.

10:58 You went to a very strict school, you know,

11:02 two days, you know, uh, uh, girls couldn't wear black patent law. What was it? Black patent leather shoes at a skirt.

11:12 What I remember is we had to wear a skirt and he had to be a certain length, right. You'd have to kneel down on the floor to show usually a male administrator that your skirt touched the floor on your knees if you can believe that. Troy. Hi.

11:28 The other girls couldn't wear a black shiny shoes and address because the boys would apparently be able to look up.

11:35 That's correct. No, that's a new one. Yeah. So when you were, when you were kicked out of high school and then out of your house, how, how did you survive? How did you get along? Well,

11:46 well, in those days I must say we probably aren't safe for it to be on the streets and it is today, but I just, I had a lot of, you know, a lot of, lot of people, a lot of my teachers and troy, I wrote letters to the editor. I mean there was a big controversy about kicking me out because number one, I was a smart kid. I wasn't, you know, I wasn't stupid. I had a really good grade. And why were they kicking me out because my hair was combed down. I mean, it didn't make much sense really. And so there's a little bit of controversy and people wrote letters to the editor of night and uh, I guess I became a symbol, you know, whatever. And, and so, uh, my friend holly and I used to hang around a lot and basically the teenagers of choice supportive me.

12:33 They used to be a restaurant on river street called the mayflower. We call it the boat and uh, that's where all the kids would hang out after high school and uh, so we'd go there and are having a cherry coke and eat French fries and gravy. That's what everybody had in those days and the, and the teenager know we'd stand there and wait for the school buses to come out. And then how would we go out and say, you know, it's time for [inaudible] drum payment or whatever, because I was a drummer in a rock band in 65 and the kids troy actually paid for my drug, comes once a month we'd go around collecting money. Yeah. So the kids just Kinda, you know, taking care of by, by my colleagues. Yeah.

13:15 So you are using some of your sixties experiences and making a film. It's already out. I saw. Can you tell us a little about that, your during those days,

13:27 why lived up in Peru for five years on a dairy farm and I went to school up in Peru and there was a girl named Karen who when I was 15, she invited me to her birthday party. You know that in those days, I guess I thought she was my girlfriend. Anyways, she moved to Florida and I moved back to troy and and one summer day I was just bored and a friend of mine came over and said, well, we're going to do. And I said, well, I had a dream about Karen the night before and said, well, I'm going to go to Florida and go see Karen, which was kind of stupid because I had no idea where Florida was

14:02 and I had no worries. Did you have any idea where Karen was other than Florida? I just knew. I knew she was in a place

14:08 called Gould's, which was south of Miami and that's all I knew, but you know, when you're 16, you know, you're not quite thinking straight. Anyway. So we started hitchhiking and uh, we got as far as he told a beach, Florida, and we got, we got arrested for vagrancy and we almost got killed in North Carolina by rednecks. We, we saw discrimination, segregation. I mean it was just one disaster after another and we finally made it back. So,

14:35 so this is then becoming almost an autobiographical film. I hadn't understood that they may face on what does the word iconic journey in return a

14:53 coming of age. This was the beginning of the sixties. A lot of people, you know, there's been movies made about the sixties, you know, the woodstock era or stuff like that, but nobody really knows or note why should say like knows. But there hasn't been any movies about how it started. You know, remember the baby boomers, which I belong to, we kind of grew up in a bubble, you know, after World War II, the country with was doing great economically. Um, you know, everybody had a house in a white picket fence unless you were really poor. And, and, uh, we were kind of pretty secure. And then all of a sudden we got involved in Vietnam and uh, up until 1966, the country supported that war. When all the polls came out, you know, it, it was favorable. But 19, 66 people started to know. Everybody started to know somebody who got killed in Vietnam and the tide turn in 1966 was the first year that the country had turned against the war.

15:54 So that was the beginning. I mean, the Beatles came out in 63 and you know, that their music was kind of counterculture, but it really was the US thinking, why are we being drafted to go kill somebody we don't know and for no really good reason. And that was the beginning of the 60. That was sort of where you could see this a great society starting to fracture and you know, 64 is when the civil rights, um, uh, began Martin Luther King. So, so all of this stuff is kind of bubbling up to the surface and in 66, 67, 68, it's kind of when it hit the fan and that, that was the beginning of the real, uh, you know, 60, they say 68 was really the year where really we can really call it the, the tumultuous sixties, but it had a star movie. And your journey, your actual real life journey within the preludes.

16:49 Yes, it was 66 when it was just starting and so we were, so we were exposed to segregation. I mean we were in South Carolina, we used to get a lot of ride from black truck drivers who would feed it. So there was one in particular that we call Sammy because he looked like Sammy Davis junior and every like half hour eat stop and feed us and we go, you know, we don't have to eat every half hour. He said, well don't worry about it, you know, I've got an expense account so I'd only spend it on beer. So he was like, great. And he's very much feeder featured my movie. Uh, but I remember we were sleeping and he pulled into this a diner in South Carolina and he said, you know, your employees go in first and I'll follow you. I go, no, no, no, no, we're going to go together.

17:34 We all go in together. And he said, you know, look, look up boy. And I looked out the window and the, and the giant sign on the, on the entrance it said white entrance one. And then on the other side of the building was colored entrance and there was a bathroom to the right, you said light. And then there was another one and I won't repeat what the other one said for, for, for um, so this was a new experience for you. Grew up in troy, you know, like I said in a bubble, you know, my biggest fear was not getting caught by the truant officer. So. So, so what is it that it was getting busted for vagrancy. I remember saying to the judge, it's against the law to be broke in America and this was in Daytona beach and that's how they got their money.

18:20 In fact it was illegal and later on, as I did research for the movie, I found out that what they were doing is illegal anyways. But that's how they get the money because every, all the kids went to Daytona beach in the summertime and that was how they got a lot of money. Which is arrested for vagrancy when you don't have any money though. Well yeah. Well, we got 30 days in jail for one are the one of the police officer of the former New York City cop and he liked us and they broke, basically broke us out of jail. How long were you in? Just a couple of days. So what was that like? I wouldn't want to do it again. Uh, you know, for somebody who likes to freedom, not having had this. Yeah, I don't understand how anybody could, could, could stand being in there for any length of time.

19:07 So, uh, but we, I mean, we weren't criminals, you know, we didn't do anything wrong. We were hitchhiking, was trying to go see girlfriend. So, so we got out of that and um, and we almost got killed by rednecks in South Carolina. They took all the money we had, which was only $7. And how did you run across them? What was that? What were trying to get? So they took us into these pineywoods, told us get out of the car and uh, we get out and I knew we were in trouble and you know, they asked us where we're from and we said New York, which we probably shouldn't have done it. Here it is. Yeah. And so they said, give us your money. And we got, like I said, we only had $7 and then it looked like they were, they were looking at each other and figuring out how they're gonna dispose of us.

19:57 And, and I always tell people at brucely saved my life, what do you remember? The Green Hornet TV show certainly heard of Bruce Lee. And he was a true expert and I used to watch that show every Saturday. It was religiously and I, which would mimic, I didn't know Kung Fu, I didn't know martial arts, but I would mimic watching him on the show. And so when these four guys decided they were gonna, they started approaching us. I wouldn't as Bruce Lee routine scared the hell out of them. They didn't know what was screaming, yelling, jumping up and down, doing all kinds of moves and they jumped back in the car and took off. So, so that's, that's how we got out of that. And then on the way back, you know, the only reason why we got out of jail and Daytona beach at the, the cop said, violet, you know where you're going.

20:48 And you know, initially I said, well we're, we're trying to go to Miami, you know, see a girlfriend? He says, no, no, no, no. If I let you out where you're going to go. And it was obvious we had to go back home. So we did. So we started with Jack ignored and then the rest of it is about our stay in Baltimore and we finally made it to Baltimore and by then we were just exhausted. And I remember my father was telling me about travelers aid, which is agency that helps, you know, stranded motorist now, they, I think they take care of homeless people now, but in those days if you get stranded, they would give you a bus ticket home, you know, or, or get a plate for you to stay overnight. And so we, and that was at the train station, so we went there and we just begged you for taking the home.

21:36 But the bus had already left so the woman gave us a voucher to stay at the y that night and another voucher to get something to eat because we hadn't eaten and probably a day and a half. And so we got a room with the why and you know, at 3:00 in the afternoons. So we said, well let's go see Baltimore. And we walked out and of course there's this beautiful brunette standing in the corner, kind of a hippie long hair and know barefoot. And I thought I'd get lucky. So we went up and started talking to her. We ended up staying with her for two weeks. Her name was Jan. And um, uh, she was from finance of all places, which is ironic and, but, uh, but she was a lesbian and I had no idea what would gay was and uh, and at that time, you know, if you were gay and you, you'd get killed or beaten up if he viewed even spoke about it.

22:33 And there was this park in baltimore where k's around the country, it was kind of like a sanctuary, you know, in those days. And there was a cop down there that used to kind of protect them. And so, and that's where John Waters, the famous film maker used to hang out there. Um, um, candy darling. It was andy warhols, um, he was an actress, a transvestite transgender. Uh, so it was just a park where all my, a lot of gates from around the country migrate it to because there was like a, like I said, a sanctuary. And so I found out that she was a lesbian and she was in. The four guys that was living with her were gay. And so we were introduced to the gay community back then. And I mean, olivia and I work a but uh, but again, I had this really interested in jan and we can't be, we became very close, um, and I ended up saving the life of one of the kids because when the, when the police officer wasn't there on his day off the streets would come and try to beat them up.

23:35 And one day they were trying to drown one of the kids in the, in the fountain there. So we went down and kind of saved them. And uh, so about a week or so after that, I decided, well, we got to get back home because school starts in september. And so we left. And so that's kinda where the movie ends is, you know, let's get on the bus to come back home. But that, that was about a month we were gone. That really shaped who I was going to become really because I saw so much injustice and in, and a little more than a month. And while I'm experiencing that. So it was a country, you know, Vietnam was heating up, starting, getting race riots. I mean, it was all kinds of stuff going on and that's when the sixties really, really started. So, so my movie's about the beginning of that so you can start seeing all the see fractures in society. It's just kind of starting. And our generation was the first started asking questions, you know, up until that point of the teacher said something, you did it. If your mother or father said do it, you did it, you know, if anybody told you what to do, you did it. But nobody questioned authority. But we, we did. The 60 generation was the generation that started really saying, I don't think that's true, you know, and we're going to change it.

24:56 so what do you hope the movie who, who, who should see it? What do you hope?

25:01 Well, baby boomers, there's a lot of easter eggs in the movie and I mean if you grew up in the sixties, there's lots of little easter eggs in there that you're a week week. Uh, but I, I'd lIke to see what the, you know, I showed it to my class, my cultural anthropology class, and they loved it because, you know, there is a fascination about the sixties, um, especially with the older kids. So, you know, the millennials, generation z, the ad, that's who I'm interested in seeing how they react to it, the baby boomers. I made it really for the baby boomers, you know, for my generation because they're related to it. I don't know of anybody else relate to know. I mean, the only time will tell.

25:41 Well, one of the things you just mentioned in passing that I would like to go back to when you were talking about lou is me and how you hadn't free run with half of his office because of your commitment to the pine bush. Just tell us a little because that too is kind of out of the sixties. I would think. This was the beginning of the.

25:58 Yeah. The environmental movement started in the late 50, [inaudible] Rachel Carson and silent silent spring and a, and the san call me on sand county almanac was silas, like, oh, what was his name? Oh god, I forgot his name now. Anyway, so there were two major books in the late fifties, uh, that kind of called attention to it. Silent spring was really, really good. What about pesticides? But 1969, a fellow named John Mcconnell, who is the son of a baptist minister, started the first earth day. This was in san francisco and he made a sign and he had a proclamation that was signed by a lot of world leaders and uh, and then in 1972 kind of follow up on that. Gaylord nelson who was a saturday or a creative, what was called the environmental teach in 1970. And all the colleges had this teach it, but the press called earth day, it wasn't earth mcconnell started earth day, but you know, media got a little screwed up.

27:01 And, and since then it's all been called earth day. John mcconnell with a friend of mine. So, uh, in his later years we became very good friends, uh, so earth day began and so yeah, you know, everybody was starting looking around, looking around the neighborhood and going, well, you know, what can I do, you know, how's my environment affected the pine. Bush is a very unique piece of land. There's only, it's, it's known as the pine barrens. It's a very unique ecosystem. You told me about seven in the world and, uh, albany maybe, well used to be the third largest. It's, it's, it's been dwindled down a bit, but people have been trying to save the pine bush. They've been interested in writing about the pine bush for 400 years since europeans had been here. But in the 1930, [inaudible] 1940 is a fellow named bill [inaudible], who was a schenectady city historian, began doing a lot of research out there with the old colonial roads, a tavern sites.

27:55 And then in 1969, 1970, I met a fellow named joe walcott who was a historian and albany. And uh, I was getting, you know, I was only a few years, a couple of years away from graduating and I thought I was going to be a biochemist, but then when the, when the war started, I didn't, you know, chemists at the time were making napalm. And so I said, well, I'm not going to do that. And then I got interested in people because of what was going on socially around the country. And I became an app. Yeah, I majored in anthropology, archeology. So this fellow, I'm in 1970, we had this tour to go clean up the pine painkillers because it was being used as a dump. And uh, so we all get together and get some [inaudible] buses. Had about 20 kids went out, started cleaning it, and I was talking to john and we got talking and he found out I had an interested in history and archeology.

28:46 And he said, well, I know where there's some great archeological sites that the language. And so he took me to the king's highway, to the two x tavern sites that I said, that's what I'm going to do. So in 1973 I wrote to the mayor at the time, mayor corning and I said, look, you know, the bicentennial was coming up in 1976, uh, this would be a great project to excavate these tavern sites, call attention to the, to our local history. And I, you know, if, you know, I think about the cording error, you know, it was, you know, the o'connell according machine and everybody was afraid of, of recording. But I was a kid from troy. I wAs afraid of anybody. People said, well, you can't go see a corning, you know, you got long hair and blah blah blah. Could we wear chain mail?

29:34 So you were protecting me, right? Yeah. I mean I didn't know what all the. And of course I knew nothing about machine politics so it didn't scare me. So let's just call them up thinking, you know, get the secretary and I am. And I did this fellow answered and I said who I was, they should have a whole lot for a minute and a minute later this morning on the phone. And I started explaining to him what I wanted to do and he said, well, come on down. I said, well, when I'm thinking, yeah, I'll get an appointment in a week or two. And he says, well, come down tomorrow. I said, well, tomorrow's saturday faBi there. I said, okay. So I went down and you know, here's a stately mayor had been married for 41 years, the longest term mayor in the country. And I explained what I wanted to do.

30:18 And he says, just like a good idea. And he had this metal desk from 1941 and pulled open the drawer and he took out a big checkbook. It's just, how do you spell your name? Spelled my name, it, brought it down here, handed me a check for 500 bucks. He says, is this enough to start? I said, uh, yeah, I mean $500 was a lot of money in 1973. And that's how I started by working in the language. He wrote me a personal check. Then you eventually wrote a book about it. Yeah. And, and, um, once I started doing research and about the history and then the natural history and talked to some other scientists that I've been working with, I realized this area is really special and people had been trying to save it, like I said, for years and take it lewis base class was called environmental forum and it was a, it was a project oriented class.

31:13 yeah. I mean, you didn't take tests, you had to do a project. And so I remember we're all sitting around and everybody has, one student says, well, I heard a tobin meatpacking, nobody uploading patroon creek, that'd be my project. And the other one said, well, you know, blah, blah blah. And so everybody had these projects and then went to being and I, and I said, well, I need nine credits to graduate. I'll go save the pine bush. And of course they all laughed and laughed. I had no idea what I was getting into. Uh, and uh, and that's what I did.

31:45 And you later became the albany city archaeologists.

31:48 Yeah, after and after I was graduating and I said we did the excavation of the tavern site in that summer. I said corning ever report like a 200 page report, and I said, look, you know, the bicentennial was coming up, there's more to average out here, you know, this could be a really good a good job. I'm graduating in december, is there any way I could, you know, work for the city? And he said, well, write up a description. So I became the first city archeologist in the country. I brought up my own job

32:17 and I know you were quite passionate last time we talked about how you feel albany ignores a lot of its history, so can you just kind of tell us what's there and why we should care about it?

32:27 Well, albany is the oldest continually saddled city in America, the capital district. If you tAlk about american history, this is where it began. It began when the dutch, you what? Henry basically came up the hudson and you're starting to trade english finally dominated that. we tend to in school, learn about the british rather than to the victor go the spoils. So the dutch started this all and they were here for 60 years until the english took it over and then they had confiscated all the colonial documents and hit him in the tower of london. So yeah, you know, when, when you were being taught american history began with the pilgrims and with english they never mentioned the dutch thing I learned about the dutch in high school was a peter stuyvesant had a wooden leg minuet bought manhattan for 25 bucks worth of beads and that's the thing you taught.

33:21 So, uh, but no, this is where it all began, you know. And in 16, 14, a little dutch ship that they built at the tip of manhattan and came up and found it for nassau. Tell us a little about that. That project was huge. Well, and I'm in night in 2000. They had discovered the only 17, I think it's the only 18 cedric rum distillery in north America, downtown albany, new quackenbush square. And rather than save it, they hired. our kids are going to put some kind of a parking garage on top of it. And so they hired archeologists and they excavated the whole thing and uh, and it was a lot of controversy about it because it was the only, I mean, this would have been a tourist attraction for years, but they were going to build this parking lot no matter what the parking garage.

34:08 So a, for a weekend they opened it up, the public combined out and see it. And my friend john walcott, I went down and, and uh, while we're looking, there was another, a couple of families next to us. So we got talking and one had an accent, a dutch accent. And I started talking to, her name was gretta. And actually with Belgium, so you can't say dutch, that's an insult to the belgians. And uh, we got. So we got talking about, you know, how bad, you know, this is terrible. And she said, well, I want to do this exhibit on dutch history. That's, well, I'll be glad to help you. So we got together and we started working on this. Uh, what was going to be a large exhibit on a new netherland, which is, you know, the early dutch, a name for this area and unfortunately, um, the money didn't come through to finish it.

35:03 So we got talking and part of this was we, there was a fellow named gerald to where it was a ship archaeologists in, uh, in the Netherlands and he had over he and his team over the last 15 years. It pulled up at 150 ship wrecks from the reclaims, either z, which is inland sea. And he was able to use reverse engineering and figuring out how the dutch build ships in 17th century because they were, you know, they, they built ships quicker and cheaper than any european nation during the 17th century. And that's why they ruled the world over those years. But know once that the golden age left and the knowledge of ship building. Um, no, that was it. And so he, by pulling these ships figured out how they did it. And he gave a presentation at a seminar in albany in 2001, I think it was.

35:53 And he was talking about the unrest and so we thought, well while we're doing this exhibit, why don't we Just like build a little piece of it and you know, we'll put it in the exhibit talking about the early ship building techniques. So What's the exhibit? Looks like it looked like it wasn't gonna happen. We said, well why don't we just build the ship? We'll make that the museum. Yeah. And everybody said we couldn't do it. And they said you shouldn't do it and you know, who are you to be trying to do this? There was a lot of opposition to it among, you know, a similar minded people. But we did it anyway. So we ended up with 350 volunteers. many of them retired, ge engineers and scientists and we built that ship in six years. And in 2009 during the celebration of the quadricentennial, we floated that chip down in New York. And then we, we in the half moon brought 300 other ships back up at a big parade. So it was quite the, it was quite the project and gretta still runs it and go in the summertime, it's up in hartford, which actually adrian blocking the ship discovery, you know, settled, not settled, but found it, uh, and uh, it's a floating museum in classroom. So it's a great project.

37:10 Well, Unfortunately our half an hour has sped by. Do you have any closing thoughts or anything you want to share deep inside? He closes out?

37:22 Well, just ignore history. Don't ignore your history. And like the old saying is, you know, those who don't understand the history or, or the problems of history or are bound to repeat them. So there's a, there's a, there's an effort to get rid of history and humanities in schools and stuff and we need to make sure that doesn't happen. History's important. Very good. Thank you. You're welcome.

 

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