Cosmic Conversations

Cosmic Conversations with R.L. Thomas graduate and Asteroid Institute Executive Director Dr. Ed Lu with Ryan Wyatt, Senior Director of the Morrison Planetarium.

A Taste of History

Stay tuned! Chef Walter Staib and the crew of the PBS television program “A Taste of History” were recently filming at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The episode is expected to air in the spring of 2022 as part of the program’s 12th season.

Chef Staib demonstrates how food was prepared during the 18th century and has filmed episodes at a number of historical sites around the world.

Seasons 1-11 are available on the PBS website and are also available on Amazon Prime.

Alexander Courage

“Galaxymphony” performed by The Danish National Symphony Orchestra in June of 2017.

Composer Alexander (“Sandy”) Courage describes how he came to write the theme song for the TV series “Star Trek” and reveals how he created the “swoosh” sound effect for the Enterprise!

There are more than a few Rochester connections to the Star Trek television series, but the first can be traced to the television show’s original theme song. The composer and conductor of the music for the first season of the original Star Trek series was Alexander “Sandy” Courage, who was a 1941 graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

One might wonder if during his studies in Rochester, did he ever venture down to the shores of Lake Ontario and take in the view of the stars at night.

Over the years, Courage worked on many movie and television productions including Papillion, Superman, and Indiana Jones. He often worked with his good friends and fellow composers, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams.

Courage’s body of work is today part of the Eastman School of Music’s Sibley Music Library.

Today is Tomorrow’s Yesterday

If history helps connects us to the past, then in a way it also helps connect us to the future. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

Despite decades of research done by our museum volunteers, there are still countless stories to be unearthed and told about the people, places, and events that have helped make our little community what it is today.

We love sharing those stories with you through our exhibits, school visits and tours, speakers and presentations, our website, and even a few new-fangled ways of communicating.

No one here is working for peanuts. (Well, except Chip.)
We are volunteers and work for the love of history and the pleasure of sharing Webster’s story with you.

There is still no admission charge to visit the Webster Museum.

We rely on the kindness of our neighbors and friends to assist us in keeping the doors of the Webster Museum open.

Please join us in our efforts by becoming a member or by renewing your membership…today.

Recognize these buildings?

You may not be where you think you are.

One
Two
Three
Any Guesses? Show the Answers
Fulton New York

One – Fulton, New York Municipal Building, architect: Ronald Sattelberg


Two – Columbus, Indiana Post Office, architect: Kevin Roche


Three – Klem Road South Elementary, architect: Ronald Sattelberg

You never quite know where curiosity will lead you. Webster isn’t the only place you will find buildings finished out in Panelbriks. Panelbriks are structural clay tiles that were produced by the Glen-Gery brick company in the late 1960’s into the early 1970’s. A salt compound was applied to the clay before firing to produce the varied coloration.

Klem South opened in September of 1971. (Read more about its history.) The Fulton Municipal Building and the Columbus, Indiana Post Office were built around the same time.

Why Van Ingen Drive?

While out playing Pokemon Go, heading to Ridge Park or maybe the library, you may have noticed a small metallic green street sign along Hard Road directing drivers to “Van Ingen Drive”.

Those too young to remember, might ask “Who is this Van Ingen?”

The street is named for Judge Jack Van Ingen who was Webster’s Town Justice for many years. In fact, the court building the road leads to is also named in his honor. You could say the street name also honors Van Ingen’s wife Virginia, as she was at his side during the many weddings he officiated.


Below are two short Associated Press (AP) stories involving Judge Van Ingen that were published in numerous newspapers across the country. The first from 1959, the second from 1961.

No Room for Love on Rt. 104

ROCHESTER (AP) – “There’s no room for love on Route 104.”

That’s what Peace Justice Jack Van Ingen of suburban Webster told motorist John Francis Payment, 18 after Payment’s arrest for driving while his girl friend was sitting on his lap. State Trooper Ralph Wulff charged that Payment and the girl each had a hand on the wheel.

Payment was specifically charged with allowing a passenger to interfere with his control of the vehicle. He was fined $10.

Safety Lesson

WEBSTER, NY (AP) – After Webster Peace Justice Jack Van Ingen sentenced 21 speeders he invited them to watch a demonstration of the distances needed to stop while traveling at various speeds. Oscar, a sawdust-filled dummy was thrown onto a road in front of a car driven by an officer. At 60 mph, it took 253 feet to stop the car.


Patty Orsini’s 1982 article from the Webster Herald tells the Van Ingen story well.

A 1936 Webster High School Yearbook photo of Jack Van Ingen

Webster’s marryin’ judge”

By Patty Orsini
Webster Herald, Wednesday April 7, 1982

Perhaps best known for his prolific work in performing civil marriage ceremonies, Webster Town Justice Jack Van Ingen has done more in his 25 years of service to Webster than uniting thousands of couples.

The ceremonies, however, are just as important as the court aspects I of his elected position. His civil ceremonies are a great source of pride to the 63 year-old judge; and the subject of his best stories.

“Grooms faint more than brides,” says Van Ingen, who, as town justice, performs the majority of the ceremonies in his own home, although He has been known to go from boats to vans to make the weddings the most remembered day of the couples’ lives.

“I had one groom faint three times. I keep smelling salts right here,” he says, pointing to his breast pocket, I finally had to take him out to the porch for air and married him there.”

Van Ingen is being honored this week by his fellow Websterites as the longest serving Democratic official in the county.

He is not a lawyer, but he has had an interest in the law since his work with black ministers for ‘the improvement of conditions of the migrant camps around Rochester in the 1950’s.

Success in his work with the camps led to work with the motor vehicle traffic and safety laws. He was one of the first town justices to speak out for uniform traffic laws between the states.

“It was very different in the early 60’s,” he recalls. “The laws were completely different from state to state, and very confusing for drivers.” His campaign was highlighted by an invitation by then President Dwight Eisenhower to speak at a convention in Florida concerning traffic laws.

He began town service in 1955 as a member of the Planning Board, then in 1957 was elected to the town board and, as it was called then, Justice of the Peace (the title was changed in 1967 to Town Justice).

Throughout his years as town‘ justice he was employed at Kodak, as a development scientist. His work there included developing products for which he holds numerous patents, most recently in the
field of ultrasonic energy. In fact, his 25 years as town justice coincides with his retirement after 45 years with Kodak.

I left February 12 to take six weeks of vacation time, and decided not to go back,” he says, laughing: “It’s the best decision I could have made, both mentally and physically.

“I think I was suffering from burnout,” he admits. “Now, I’m as busy as I ever was, but l’m doing things I want to” do.”

One thing he will be doing is performing more weddings. “It’s never the same thing twice, “that’s Why I enjoy it so much,” he says. He credits his wife, Virginia, for handling the creative aspects of the ceremonies.

She is never far behind when be performs a ceremony — taping the service, greeting the guests, making sure everything is the way the couple wants it.

She is also the reference he refers to most often when he needs to know a name, date, or place. “Ginny wasn’t that…” or Ginny, how many…” is a common response when talking to Van Ingen.

Van Ingen also has some ideas about how he wants to run his court, because, although he has retired from work, he does not plan to retire from public service.

He has received one of the highest ratings from the Justice Court Committee of the Monroe County Bar Association for the efficient way he runs his court.

Van Ingen has witnessed the growth of Webster through the growth in the number of court cases he has handled. In 1957, he says he had about 30 criminal cases and 300 traffic violations. In 1981, he had 2,909 traffic violations and more than 500 criminal cases.

“Things have changed a lot in this town,” he says. “The manner in which criminal acts occur are much more violent than they were 25. years ago. They are more vicious than a straightforward punch in front of a bar.”

The nature of the job has also changed—- from a hands-on, counseling profession to strictly interpreting the law.

“We used to deal a lot with families in the criminal cases,” he says. “Now judges stay strictly in the courtroom. I think it’s the right change. Now there are more agencies that have experience in dealing with problems.”

One of the only things that hasn’t changed about he job is the hours. He still gets calls late at night from the police department requesting immediate arraignments. “I used to sleep well before I took this job,” he says

“But,he’s never grouchy,” adds Virginia, who has been sitting at his side while he speaks. “He may be tired, but I’ve never seen him angry about ‘being woken up,”

“Actually, once I’m up it’s not bad,” he says.

“I just take my time and enjoy the ride to the courtroom. They play the best music at night on the radio anyway.”

The “marryin’ judge” has been at his job for 25 years, longer than any other judge in the county, but that does not mean he has become set in his way of doing‘ things.

“Part of me is always thinking about development. That was my job at Kodak-— trying to find ways to do things better in everything I do, whether it’s weddings or law, I try to find ways to do it
better.”


Jack Van Ingen continued as Webster Town Justice until 1987. He and wife Virginia eventually retired to the town of Greece. Jack died in 2002 at the age of 84. Virginia was with us until 2019 and the age of 100.

Wendy Mills visits the museum

Curious

One of those peculiar tools from long ago whose purpose is long forgotten.

The Silver Swan

While we do have swans in the Irondequoit Bay, it would be a dramatic stretch to connect an 18th century automatonic swan to Webster in any way….but as its really cool, so we thought we’d share it here.

Created in 1773 by John Joseph Merlin (1735–1803) and James Cox (1723–1800), the silver swan has been located at the Bowes Museum in Teesdale, England since 1892. When an internal clockwork mechanism is wound, a music box plays, glass rods rotate giving the illusion of flowing water, and the silver swan turns its head from side to side.

The Silver Swan | John Merlin

More: The Hermitage Peacock

Lu Ann Simms

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On a warm Sunday afternoon in October of 1961, a bridal shower was held at the Stage Coach Inn in Webster, NY. Likely not the first or last such event held at the inn, but this one was special. This was a bridal shower for the future wife of Casper Stolt, whose older brother Tony owned the Stage Coach Inn. And as it happens, the bride to be, Lu Ann Simms was a popular singer and household name through her many appearances on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television programs.

Though Casper and Lu Ann had known each other since childhood, their path to marriage was a long and bittersweet one.

Both were from families who immigrated from Italy. Lu Ann’s birth name was Lucille Ann Ciminelli but she changed it for “stage and screen”. Casper’s entire family changed their last name from Di Giamberardino to Stolt.

Lu Ann grew up in the city of Rochester, went to Our Lady of Mercy High School and worked at Morrie Silver’s record shop before landing a spot on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Godfrey was at the height of his success in the early 1950’s, and produced multiple radio and television programs. Lu Ann was hired to appear regularly on all of them. From 1952 to 1955, she appeared on 8 separate radio and television broadcasts a week.

Casper grew up in Fairport, played sports in high school, served in the military, and worked in the beverage industry. If Casper had had any dreams of marrying Lu Ann, they likely were forgotten when she married a record executive named Loring Buzzell in 1954.

Unfortunately after the birth of her first child in 1955, Simms was fired by Godfrey. She was one of many fired by Godfrey for no explainable reason. His pension for dismissing popular stars soon led to a huge decline in viewership and the end of many of his programs.

Simm’s career problems soon seemed trivial when her 32 year old husband Loring died of a heart attack in 1959.

With the help of family and friends Lu Ann regrouped and on October 15, 1961 became Mrs. Lu Ann Stolt. The couple and Lu Ann’s two children with Loring, soon moved to Los Angeles but things never really went as planned. Casper and Lu Ann divorced in 1968.

Both remained in California and largely out of the public eye. Lu Ann died in 2003 at the age of 71. Her grave marker reads “Loved Ice Cream & Dodgers”. Casper married Gloria Mescia, a fellow New Yorker of Italian descent in 1973. He died in 1998 at the age of 68.

PUPPY LOVE – LU ANN SIMMS; PERCY FAITH and his ORCHESTRA – 1952

Puppy Love 1952

LA LA LU – LU ANN SIMMS; Mitch Miller and his Orchestra – 1955

La La Lu 1955

More of Lu Ann’s Recordings