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Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I received the following comment from Mr. Bob Chianese regarding the posts on this website:

I comment occasionally on your fine document- and photo-posts, but can I say they are not "history" until some one contextualizes them, places them in a narrative with a thesis to propound? Your posts are the raw materials out of which any history could be crafted--more like retrieved artifacts from a rich storehouse or vault that are fascinating in themselves but which need an overarching "story," ie. history, to tell us the meaning of it all.

I sense that there is an underlying thesis to many of the posted artifacts and comments -- the decline of Trenton from former community, social and economic glory. This is pretty general and any historian would want to sharpen it. For example, can we explain the decline of Trenton as a shift in global economic reality--away from industry to something that has yet to replace it in Trenton as an economic engine? (My dad worked at GM all his life and that topic is a big one for me.) Is the state government there no longer a source of employment for high school grads that enables them to join the middle class? Has immigrant life become a source of friction rather than ethnic pride and diversity? As an Italian-American this topic interests me, with a cousin still living in the much transformed "Burg."

Many of your posts speak to a revived though changed Trenton area, and that may reflect your own underlying historical thesis, which I would like to hear more about from you in explicit comments.

Final point-- many of your readers are probably like me, retired and 65+ and love to reflect on our childhoods in the Trenton area. That means materials from the 40's and 50's are the most relevant to our experience and then from the 10's and 20's and 30's to our parents' era. There are fine histories of those eras in our American experience that can be glosses on your posts. However, I mainly access your posts as valued reminiscences and leave the more heady and contentious issues of history for a different time and place.

An active and appreciative reader of your blog,
Bob Chianese

My reply:

I vehemently disagree with Bob is in his first paragraph wherein he opines that the posts herein are not history until the subject is expanded upon, or as Bob says, "contextualized." Personally, I would love to take the time to research and add context to each and every one of the 7,000+ pages in this site which contains HISTORIC photos and articles, but alas, at age 80, time does not permit. However, I have found  that many visitors have indeed added context on certain subjects for their genealogical projects, or for use in a community presentation, or other endeavor. As a personal example, my recent on screen presentations on "White City," "The Interstate Fair," along with at least 10 other presentations which I will be doing for the Historical Society of Hamilton Township in 2014,; all use material gleaned from this site. When I started this site back in 2005, it was my goal to bring history as chronicled by the local press and bring it into the light of the 21st century. Any historian will tell you that one of the best sources of local history is to be found in the daily newspaper. I agree. I have a 100 year collection of Trenton newspapers dating from the late 1860's through the early 1940's and believe me, history abounds in almost every one of the millions of pages. Granted, a few articles on a given subject does not a complete history make, but it certainly does give the person researching a specific subject a golden opportunity to "contextualize" or expand on the raw material which is indeed "history." As to the more recent "history," I provide for that with the slogan of this website, "Local History With A Personal Touch." Bottom line: is a history site.



Sally Logan Gilman said...

Hi Tom: I agree with you. Your site is fun and it's far better to let your visitors add their personal touches to your postings. I was a reporter for more than 32 years and I no longer want to do any literary heavy lifting. You're website is fun and perfect for me because I can visit Trenton each and every day, thanks to you. P.S.: What does "thesis to propound'' mean? Regards



rayfromvillapark said...

Hi Tom, Please, those of you who disagree with this post, let me know, because this is what I think this site is about, and in answer to Mr. Chianese. I think what he is saying, is that the newspaper articles are for research, in a greater endeavor to tell a bigger story. They are useful for that purpose, but are not the whole story. I think they can stand on their own for our purpose. We are not here for a serious look at the decline of Trenton, or the problems relating to the new immigrants to Chambersburg, or the lack of manufacturing jobs in the area. I believe most of us are here to have a nostalgic experience, perhaps, sometimes through rose colored glasses, at a Trenton we remember. This site is an endearing look back at Trenton in it's greater glory. We can't bring it back, so we try to immortalize it, as only our more senior readers can, because they experienced it first hand. This isn't the classroom, but more, the playroom and that's why we enjoy it so much. rayfromvillapark

Omad said...

Good for you, Tom. You, Ralph, Ray and Sally voiced my response exactly. For me, what you provide each and every day is photos, information and, most of all memories. I read constantly: frequently "heavy duty" books. That is not what I look for when I tap into your site. The notes you add to each posting are excellent. Sounds like the writer is reading too much into what you write. I found it difficult to imderstand much of his note and I am considered an intelligent, well spoken woman. Reminds of the kid in grammar school who learned a few big words and used them out of context.

Omad said...

Oops, meant to say "understand". In a hurry to get my thoughts out. LOL

Anonymous said...

Dear Tommy,

You're great.......just as you are. I, like so many of us seniors, look forward each morning to seeing what pearls you have laid before us.

Thank you so very much,

Bob Chianese said...


I'm sorry you "vehemently disagree" with my comments. You asked the question of your readers--why aren't people making comments about your posts. I offered an answer--that your posts by themselves do not a history make, so that there's not much to comment on or debate about if you have no personal connection to items in the posts. However, being the public internet archivist of the indispensible raw materials of history is no mean feat, and I and many others admire you for it, particularly your carefully defined categories.

Your recent post about GM of course interests me, since I explained my personal connection to the topic. My father began working there before the war, became a first flight mechanic on the Avengers, with my uncle a first flight pilot, and stayed with Fisher body after the war ( as you say you did ) until he retired in the 1970's. That whole span of time is significant for the history of Trenton's rise and fall as an industrial center. You do comment on that topic in your post. A friend sent me a book about this topic some years ago: John T. Clumber, Social History of Economic Decline: Business, Politics, and Work in Trenton, Rutgers U. Press, 1989. Without that historical overview I would not really understand his--and your-- complaints about what happened to Trenton as a manufacturing center. (By the way, I worked two summers while in college at Columbia Carbon Company on Cass Street-- a factory that need to go by the wayside at any date!)

I for one would not want you to concentrate only on examples of that economic story, but a history of the Trenton area surely has to do that, no matter if there were personal connections with each item. If I can make the point again, your posts present valuable historical items from our community's past, from which many thesis-driven histories of it can be written.

Respectfully, Bob Chianese

Tom Glover said...

Hi Bob:
You probably misunderstand the purpose of this website. It is to do just what it is and will continue to do: Bring 17th 18th, 19th and 20th century newsworthy and long forgotten news clipping and photos to the many visitors who visit this site. In no way can I engage in "contextual" detailed, what I call "hard core" history. Number one, I lack the expertise, and more importantly, the huge amount of time and space which it would require would be overwhelming and impractical. My Hamilton Library Local History digital database includes folders that would be nearly impossible to include in legible form on this site. The many columns of Harry Podmore, John Cleary, John West, and countless other historic writers over the past centuries are being digitized in the Local History Collection. This includes many of my contextual columns from "The Way We Were," "A Look Back," and "Sentimental Journey" that I have written over the past 32 years. These are already included and more will be included in this Hamilton history project as time goes by. You will find an example of contextualized history project at the Trenton Historical Society's website, the meantime, I stand by the purpose and slogan of this website, "Local History With A Personal Touch." Hamilton Township has been seriously derelict in preserving local history documents and photos. Indeed, I look to Wendy Nardi's "Trentoniana"
collection as an example of how our historic heritage should have been recorded over the years. As an aside, one of the visitors to this site used many of the articles and photos I have posted relating to Lakeside Park. She has written a book on the subject. I'm sure there are others who have benefited and will benefit in the futre, by utilizing the historic articles and photos on other subjects within the 7500 plus pages on this site.

You have been a valued and informed visitor to this austere attempt to bring local history to young and old, and I really appreciate your comments on my humble efforts. No hard feelings, my friend; I just hope I have given you a more focused look at the huge project in which I am involved.
Tom Glover

Sally Logan Gilman said...

Hey, guys: no one rags on our Tom.

Tom Glover said...

Sorry to say I neglected to address the lack of comments. Statistics show that there are basically two groups of visitors to this site. Those who are only interested in nostalgic posts with which they can relate on a personal experience basis. Unfortunately, the number of "hard core" history visitors are in the minority. However, I foresee an upward trend in this category as time goes on and a renewed interest as younger visitors age and become more interested in their heritage. At age 80, I find that there are relatively few senior citizens who are computer users. This non technical segment of the population would be avid visitors. That is probably one of the reasons that my "The Computer and Local History" along with many on screen presentations are so popular with that generation. At my "CHAMBERSBURG" on screen presentation dedicated to my dear friend, Maury Perilli, there was stading room only in the assembly room. Additionally, there are MANY genealogically motivated visitors here also. With the incredible heat wave we have been experiencing here along the Atlantic coast, there has been a very significant drop off in hits going from a daily high of 350 to 400 to around 250. Upon seeing the historic posts on this site, Dr. Jim Federici, former curriculum director at the Hamilton Board of Education wondered why the Hamilton schools are not utilizing the countless article and photos relating to our local school system. He happened to choose a subject on which I have placed special emphasis due to my gratitude for the complete education I received at Kuser grammar school and my favorite high school, Hamilton High before it became "West-Watson."

stcygrl said...

I personally disagree with Bob. First off - Tom don't change. I am only in my 50's and love love love the photos from 1910, 20,
30's, etc. Did anyone ever hear: A picture is worth a thousand words? Sometimes, I like to look at the picture posted and reminisce on what life was like back then in Trenton. Many cities have changed in social and ecomomic ways but that still doesn't stop people from looking at photos of how it "used to be". You are a one man operation and you bring so much joy to everyone who reads and sees your blog. It doesn't have to get so complicated. When time permits, you always give a few lines which is more than enough, and you leave the rest up to the reader. These are views that many of us have never seen before. While I respect Bob's opinion, I beg to differ. And hope that, Tom- you don't change a thing. Stacey Lytle