Jun 12, 2014 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Next month — God-willing — Ken Hurst will turn 95.
But before he does, he’ll sit down to reminisce about livin’ in Liverpool in the 1920s at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St. 457-0310; lpl.org. Admission is free and open to the public.
I first got to know Ken when he ran the S&K, a quintessential mom-and-pop grocery store on Second Street where I would buy bottles of White Rock soda pop, comic books, bubble gum, Pez and plenty of penny candy.
Little did I know that Ken, the kindly proprietor wearing a white apron, embodied the last vestiges of Liverpool’s glorious willow-weaving industry that thrived here from the mid-19th century until about 1929. That cottage industry sustained hundreds of families in Liverpool during that time, and as a child Ken worked with his parents and siblings as they wove laundry baskets, hand baskets and willow furniture.
While Liverpool’s willow products became nationally known between 1892 and 1920, baskets were still being made here up until 1971, notably by John Hetnar on Oswego Street.
The willow industry began here in 1852 when John Fischer, a German-born salt boiler, noticed willow bushes growing profusely in nearby swamps. That willow closely resembled the German domestic willow that was used for basketry. The wood of willow branches is flexible enough to be bent and shaped once it has been soaked in water.
Soaking branches and stripping the bark were likely among young Ken’s earliest assignments.
On June 19, he’ll talk about that hard work and how, in 1992, he donated his family’s willow shop to the village. The shop, now known as The Willow Museum, sits on the grounds of the Gleason Mansion at 314 Second St.
By the way, Ken’s birthday is July 5.
The library program, called “Willow Willpower,” is sponsored by the Historical Association of Greater Liverpool, which also runs the museum.
Museum open weekends
The Liverpool Willow Museum is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. This little white building comes complete with the tools used to make baskets as well as examples of work-in-progress and finished products. This shop belonged to the Hurst family and was originally located behind their home on Oswego Street. The Historical Association provides funds and volunteer workers to staff and maintain the museum. Many village residents have donated Liverpool willow baskets and related artifacts to what has become a unique collection now displayed in the steamer building adjacent to the museum.
The Historical Association is always looking for volunteers at the museum. For more info, contact Village Historian Dorianne Elitharp Gutierrez at 451-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basin block rockin’
Drive down South Willow Street toward the Salt Museum any night of the week and you’ll see crowds bellying up to the bars at the White Water Pub and the recently opened Barking Gull.
Both lakeside bistros boast pleasant open-air patios, the Pub’s out back and the Gull’s upstairs on its second floor.
While the Gull’s outdoor bar offers a cool view of the water, the Pub’s patio offers live music most nights of the week. Guitarist Mick Fury gets furious there at 10 p.m. Thursday, June 12, and the original rock band called I Am Fool will entertain at 9 p.m. Friday, June 13. Fronted by songwriter J. Brazill and also featuring Liverpool’s own TamaraLee Shutt on trumpet, I Am Fool returns to the White Water Pub patio on July 25.
Blueswoman Miss E and her band Off the Cuff hold forth there on Thursday, June 19.
They’ll be doing the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” on Saturday, June 21, when the Hootin’ Anges take the White Water stage, and Syracuse songwriter Jamie Notarthomas returns June 28 and July 10. For Pub info, dial 314-7398. The live music continues there through early-September, and admission is always free.
Dancin’ on the patio
Meanwhile, up at The Retreat, they’re dancin’ on the patio again this summer.
The popular restaurant on the corner of Vine and First streets, hosts singer Ben Fiore from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, June 12; the Noisy Boys Saturday, June 14; songwriter Tim Herron at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 15; jam-master Jamie Notarthomas at 7 p.m. Monday, June 16; the versatile Michael Crissan on Tuesday, June 17; and veteran vocalist Dave Hawthorne on Wednesday, June 18.
Admission is always free at The Retreat, where live music continues through Sept. 11; 457-6358.
The British Retreat
By the way, did you know that there’s a place called The Retreat in Liverpool, England? Yeah, but it’s not a bar…it’s a Ladies Only spa located in Merseyside. Who woulda thunk it?