Presentation on history of Proctors will kick off library’s speaker series

The interior of Proctors is seen in a photo taken earlier this year.

The interior of Proctors is seen in a photo taken earlier this year.

Things have started happening again at Proctors, with a screening of the 1978 horror classic “Halloween” on Oct. 30 and “Whispering Bones: An Evening of Ghost Stories” on Halloween night.

But if you want to take a look back at the near century-old theater and learn more about all its wonderful history, you might want to visit the McChesney Room of the Karen B. Johnson Library Monday at noon.

The Schenectady County Public Library’s Local History Series, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, begins Monday at noon, and kicking off five consecutive Monday programs will be a presentation on Proctors by local historian Marilyn Sassi.

Chair of the Proctors History Committee, Sassi is a long-time Stockade resident and authority on folk art and antiques. She has taught at Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY-Schenectady, and has also curated numerous exhibits at the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Sassi has extensive knowledge on the history of Proctors, including its creation as one of the top vaudeville houses in the country, and its more recent past when a group of concerned citizens saved the 1927 theater from demolition.

Second in the series of programs on Nov. 8 will be Amsterdam author Dave Pietrusza, a nationally-known author with numerous book titles to his credit, including his most recent work, “Too Long Ago: A Childhood Memory. A Vanished World,” a memoir about growing up in the Mohawk Valley.

Pietrusza has made several appearances on C-SPAN talking about his work and his area of expertise, which includes the history of baseball and presidential lore, particularly those chief executives who spent time in the Oval Office in the first half of the 20th Century.

On Nov. 15, retired Schenectady High history teacher Neil Yetwin will talk about Mordecai Myers, a former Jewish mayor of Schenectady and the subject of Yetwin’s 2013 book, “To My Son: The Life and War Rememberances of Captain Mordecai Myers.”

Along with his Myers book, Yetwin has produced numerous articles on other aspects of Schenectady County history, including freed slave Moses Viney. In 1989, Yetwin was also awarded the Louis B. Yavner Award for teaching his students about The Holocaust and Civil Rights.

On Nov. 22, former WRGB newsman Jack Aernecki will sit down for a conversation with Schenectady County historian Bill Buell. A native of Central Bridge in Schoharie County, Aernecke graduated from Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady and attended Siena College before beginning his 42-year career in the broadcast business.

Along with being a familiar news anchor and reporter on what is now CBS-6, Aernecke was a long time co-host of the annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and the Melodies of Christmas.

The final program in the local history series will be Nov. 29 and feature former teacher and county legislator Don Ackerman, talking about his new book, “The History of Schenectady Politics.”

A Syracuse native, Ackerman was a leader of the county’s Democratic Party throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and also taught history in the Niskayuna School District.

On Dec. 6, the regular Books Sandwiched In program resumes with a presentation by Linda Wisniewski about her recent book, “Where the Stork Flies,” a novel about time travel that takes readers back to a small Polish village in 1825.

Former Times Union and Daily Gazette reporter James M. Odato will round out the 2021 series on Dec. 13 with a talk on his book, “The Brain Had a Mouth: Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation.”

Odato’s book tells the story of Gwin, an author, journalist, disability rights activist and feminist who survived an automobile accident that left her with a severe brain injury.

All of the programs will be available via Zoom through the library.

Geri Mulligan is the Noon Programs Chair. For more information visit

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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