The Daily Gazette is reprinting excerpts of the late Larry Hart’s long-running column, “Tales of Old Dorp.” Today, Hart’s guest star is Virginia Keeler Eckerson, born in Schenectady’s Ellis Hospital in 1918, who shares some childhood memories. Mrs. Eckerson died in 1998; this column excerpt originally was published Feb. 14, 1984.
“It was always a treat when my mother used to take my brother and me to see a movie at the Colony Theater. It was there we first saw the first picture made of “The Ten Commandments,” a silent movie but a great one.
“I attended Brandywine Elementary School and eventually Central Park Junior High where, in my ninth year, I had the lead singing role in the operetta put on by the music department under the direction of a teacher named Miss Wilder, whom I have never forgotten. I guess you could call this the first big thrill of my life.
“Then, of course, there is the never-to-be-forgotten Nott Terrace High School, where I was graduated a week after my Dad’s death, The years of study, the bang-up fights with Mont Pleasant High, the games, triumphs and losses are all a mellow memory.”
‘Everything speeded up’
“After graduation, I got a job as a mail girl in the great General Electric Co., and from there I was married and settled down to be a housewife. Then the war came along and everything speeded up — back to work again, and in the evenings as a nurse’s aide at Ellis Hospital. The rationing of foodstuffs, gasoline, etc., and the long time of waiting for loved ones to come home.
“I can remember I was living on McClellan Street at that time where my husband and I had moved shortly after our marriage. Across the street were thick, dense woods, eerie late at night when coming home from hospital work, but today all of that is gone and in its stead stands St. Clare’s Hospital — totally undreamed of in those days, and where years later a baby girl was born to us at that hospital and one at Ellis Hospital.
“How strange it all seems as we look back and reminisce at all that has transpired, never knowing back then all that was to happen. How our imaginations would run riot were it so.
“There are so many more memories and stories connected with Schenectady, and regardless of all the changes through the years, I still feel wherever I go that it is and always will be home to me. Our horizons have broadened, but our memories stay the same and live on.”