Who WAS Jon S. Gerling? I’ve found out more about him

3 Jul

Last August, I posted a blog about a small memorial located in Ridge Park, just steps from busy Ridge Rd., and next to Challenger Miracle Field. It was erected decades ago, but I had only just noticed it recently.

The memorial was created in honor of Jon S. Gerling. After discovering it, I tried to do a little research into Mr. Gerling, with limited success. So I tossed the blog out there reporting what I had discovered, and ended it by asking for anyone with more information to contact me.

It took several months, but earlier this year I heard from Rob Gerling, Jon’s son, who filled me in a little more about his father’s background and why the memorial was placed there.

He wrote,

You are correct my father is Jon S. Gerling, and you are correct he was very active in the Webster Athletic Association. Prior to his death my brother and I played baseball in WAA and my father was both a coach of teams and commissioner of the league. After his death the baseball field by the Town Hall was dedicated in my father’s name.  

Rob added that Jon was the son of Curt Gerling, who at the time owned Empire State Weeklies, which published many weekly newspapers in the area including the Webster Herald. Curt was also an author (having written three books on Rochester society and an autobiography), and an early WXXI-TV personality.

In a follow-up email, Rob provided even more background about his family and life in 1960s Webster, writing,

(My father) grew up in the Rochester area, went to Brighton High School, and graduated in 1959. He attended Furman University in Greenville, SC, although only went for a couple of years.  He married my mother, Sheila Siede, in December 1961. Myself and my brother Jim, followed in 1962 and 1965. 

My father and his brother Bill both worked for my grandfather at Empire State Weeklies in Webster (now owned by Dave Young). Dave was there when I worked a few afternoons when they printed the papers on Tuesday afternoons.

My father was active in local sports, the Webster Athletic Association, with my brother and myself, up until his passing. My father along with his father was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed duck and pheasant hunting and fishing on Sodus Bay, where Curt Gerling (his father) had a hunting cabin. The place on Sodus Bay has since been sold.  While at Empire State Weeklies, my father sold advertising space in the various papers to local businesses where the paper was distributed.

His Brother Bill passed away in the early 2000’s and he also worked at the paper. He, like Curt, was very active in local Rochester politics. My father, not so much. 

Webster was a different place in the 60s and 70s growing up. We would go to Wegmans, Al’s Pizza, Musclow’s, Charlie Riedel’s and GoldenWest for a big night out on the town. There was a drive-in and a bowling alley. The town has changed in the last 50 years. 

My father is buried at West Webster Cemetery … He is buried with my father’s family, while his father Curt, and brother Bill are buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.

Many thanks to Rob for helping us know more about Jon Gerling and how he — and his family — made their mark in our town.

Click here to read the original blog I posted about the memorial.

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(posted 7/3/2022)

Bygone blog — The psychology of dinner dishes

1 Jul

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I am re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last eight years. This one was originally published on December 18, 2011.

The psychology of dinner dishes

As we were clearing the table after dinner last night, my husband, son and I got into a discussion about loading the dishwasher. (All families talk about stuff like this, right?) It wasn’t one of our more in-depth discussions like we’ve had about things like the proper way to hang the toilet paper, or why there are grease spots on the kitchen ceiling. No, this was simply an exploratory discussion about why on earth my husband chooses to stack the glasses on the inside rows of the upper rack rather than filling the outside rows first. That’s just weird.

From that discussion, we came up with an interesting idea: how a person loads a dishwasher can tell you a lot about their personality.

Let’s say, for example, that you always insist on loading the dishwasher yourself, and when someone else does it, you go back to correct their work when no one’s looking. That means you have control issues.

Do you make sure all the knives, spoons and forks are separated into their own individual compartments? You’re OCD.

Do you put your knives in point-up? That’s sadistic.

Do you methodically fill every square inch of the top racks with cups, glasses and serving utensils; stack bowls, dinner plates and pots and pans two layers deep in the bottom rack; shoe-horn in six more cake plates, and THEN turn it on and expect the appliance to deal with it? Totally passive-aggressive.

Think about that when you’re hanging around in the kitchen with your extended family this holiday season. You never know what you might discover.

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(posted 7/1/2022)

Is your flag looking shabby? Dispose Old Glory properly, at Town Hall

29 Jun

Recently, when I was hanging out my American flag for Flag Day, I noticed that it wasn’t looking too great. It wasn’t tattered or torn, but it was stained and very faded, the result of years of use in bright sunshine. I knew it had to go.

I also knew that, once I had replaced it, the old Old Glory needed to be disposed of properly, and certainly NOT thrown in the garbage. I knew of one flag collection box in Irondequoit, but was very pleased to find out recently that Webster has one as well.

It’s located in the main reception area of Town Hall on Ridge Rd., and is accessible during normal office hours. It’s basically a recycled mailbox where community members can deposit their old, worn-out flags.

The box was placed at Town Hall in the summer of 2019, thanks to the efforts of former supervisor Ron Nesbitt and his staff. It was donated by the Webster Post Office and painted by Vital Signs, who transformed it from what was an average blue mailbox to the bright, patriotic box it is now.

Whenever the bin is full, a Town Hall staff member empties it and takes all of the flags to Webster American Legion Cottreall-Warner Post 942, where they are properly disposed of.

This is a great resource to know about, especially at this time of year when we tend to fly our flags more often. It’s such an easy way to make sure our old American flags are shown the respect and dignity they deserve.

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(posted 6/29/2022)

 

Serenity Life celebrates first anniversary, expands its North Ave. offices

27 Jun

In this day and age when we too often hear about businesses having to close up shop, it’s nice to hear about one which is actually expanding.

Serenity Life Creative Arts Therapy, located at 98 North Ave. in the Village of Webster, has recently added two new counseling rooms/offices, doubling the practice’s original space, just as the business celebrates its first anniversary.

Serenity Life specializes in counseling services and creative arts therapy for anxiety, life stressors, addiction, healing trauma and more. The office’s 13 service providers are trained in traditional talk therapy AND art therapy. What that means is you don’t have to be artistic to seek out their help, but art, music and even dance can be incorporated into sessions when appropriate.

Serenity Life is directed by Webster Schroeder graduate Mattye McKibben, herself an experienced art therapy clinician. Mattye first learned about the discipline in her Advanced Placement art class, and after graduation pursued degrees in art therapy and creative arts therapy. She worked in the local hospital system for 11 years before opening her own counseling office — Serenity Life — last July.

“We take a person-centered, solution-focused approach to counseling where clients feel partnered with, heard, like they have choices in the services they receive,” Mattye said. “Our goal is for folks to feel they are making progress right away. We pride ourselves on finding a great therapeutic match with the counselor because this is one of the biggest indicators that therapy will be successful.”

Mattye says she’s still working on decorating the new offices, striving to furnish them “in a fun way,” with a “mid-century vibe,” using lots of vintage furniture. The walls are filled with artwork painted by Mattye herself, or one of her very talented family members.

The results are immediately obvious when you step through the door. The rooms are bright, welcoming, calming and comforting … just as they should be in a counseling office.

Even though Serenity Life only joined the Village of Webster business scene a short time ago, it’s already become a strong community supporter. During the Fall in Love With Webster event last February, for example, they hosted a free “Love Yourself” virtual group therapy class. In April they stuffed 100 plastic eggs for the Village of Webster’s Easter Egg Hunt, and coming up next month, keep an eye out for them in the Firemen’s Parade.

Community involvement is an important part of their mission, Mattye said.

“We’re part of the community. We want to be your friendly neighborhood counselor that’s trustworthy, relatable and inclusive, creating a safe environment for everyone.”

Click here to find out more about Serenity Life Creative Arts Therapy. Here’s a peek at the offices:

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(posted 6/27/2022)

A sad farewell to a village business

25 Jun

One of East Main Street’s most charming shops will soon be closing its doors.

Village HandWorks opened last September at 19 E. Main, right next door to the Village Quilt Shoppe. Owner Jenn Ratcliffe, an avid spinner, weaver and knitter herself, was hoping it would become a favorite stop for anyone interested in practicing and learning more about those and other handicrafts. She began by offering classes and in-store demonstrations, but before long branched out into retail, selling yarns and other locally-produced handcrafted items.

But interest and sales never quite got very robust.

“I saved money for a long time to be able to pay rent in a shop for a year,” Jenn said. “Hopefully in that year I’d be able to get the sales to where they needed to be to at least make a decent dent in the rent and utilities. But it’s just not doing it.”

As a result of the slow sales and other rental property issues, Jenn has given up on her dream … but don’t count her out completely just yet.

“The people are fantastic here in the village,” she said. “I love them. I’m considering keeping the shop in the village, but right now there’s no place available with decent rent.”

So for now, Jenn said, she’s going to “bring her business home.” Much of her inventory will go into a storage unit, and her 15 local artisans will retrieve their products. Then, she says, she’ll take her yarns and her looms and teach weaving and knitting out of her house for now.

“And then kind of figure out where I want to be. Where I need to be.”

Village HandWorks is located at 19 E. Main Street in the Village of Webster. The shop will be open through Thursday June 30.

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(posted 6/25/2022)

Webster community mailbag

23 Jun

I’m going to lead today’s mailbag with a fun event especially for baseball fans, but also anyone else who would like to support a great local organization.

The Rochester Ridgemen will be playing one of this season’s games at Frontier Field in just a few weeks.

On Tuesday July 5, beginning at 6 p.m., the Ridgemen will take the field against the Cortland Crush. Best news of all is that admission is free, parking is free, and you can just walk into the stadium without a ticket. There will even be some concessions open so you can get dinner and a snack. What a great way to spend the night at the ballpark!

The Rochester Ridgemen are part of Athletes in Action Baseball and compete in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. The NYCBL, founded in 1978, is a summer wood bat league sanctioned by the NCAA and partially funded by Major League Baseball.

Five Webster players are part of this year’s team: James Bolton, Daniel McAliney, Braden Pumputis, Matthew Sanfilippo, and Ian McNabb. They play at Webster’s Basket Road field. (Their full schedule is below.)

The Ridgemen is a great local organization whose members are not only skilled, but committed to their community. Recently they helped out at Miracle Field of Greater Rochester’s Disability Dream & Do Clinic, sharing their love of baseball with children and young adults with disabilities.


The Village of Webster’s first Tuesday Night Movie at the Gazebo will take place next week, Tues. June 28, beginning at dusk, probably around 9:30.

The first movie this summer will be Trolls, brought to you by the Webster BID and sponsored by the Webster Health and Education Network (WHEN). They’ll be handing out free snacks, so stop by early to get yours, and remember to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on.

This is WHEN’s first village-sponsored event, and the organization is looking forward to playing a regular part in this summer’s activities. Registration is not required for the movie, but if you let WHEN know you’re coming, they’ll send you a reminder the day before. Click here to sign up!


If you ask me, I think the folks at the Webster Recreation Center are a little excited about the second annual Mud Run coming up in September.

Last year’s first-ever Mud Run was so well received, they started making plans almost immediately for this year’s event. They promise it’s going to be even bigger and better (that might mean messier) than the first. It’s scheduled for Saturday Sept. 17, with the first wave going off at 10 a.m.

It’s only $5 per person and you can register for it here.

Here’s a little teaser they put together:

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(posted 6/23/2022)

Historic Preservation Committee recognizes Lapham Park home

22 Jun

The Village of Webster’s Historic Preservation Committee has begun a new initiative, recognizing “Sites of the Month” throughout the village.

This month’s site is the home of Al and Michelle Abraham at 57 Lapham Park.

Known as the Knight House, it’s a three-story Victorian built in 1900 and purchased by the Knight siblings. According to the Abrahams,

In 2000, we had the great luck of moving in right next door to then Webster Town Historian Richard Batzing, who gave us a very different picture of what the house looked like before going through its many updates.

Slowly and deliberately, we have rehabilitated every room and added a 600-square-foot addition to the back of the house to include a new kitchen, entryway, and a four season room within the Victorian style. Plaster and lathe has been replaced and new windows put in with the exception of one in the front hall which still has the original glass. The trim throughout the downstairs, which had been removed and/or changed when remodeled previously, was replaced with the help of a craftsman from Newark who milled all new trim to match the original. In 2003, a red brick patio was done and a pergola built to support an existing Wisteria which has been growing there for over 50 years.

The house was sided with Hardie Board, again in keeping with the original style of the house. The original front porch was removed in the 1960s due to structural issues. In 2020 a new one was added and finished this past January.

There is still some work to be done here and there but it has been our greatest pleasure to bring this beautiful old home back to its original glory. 

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(posted 6/22/2022)

Radio Club Field Day will broadcast again from Kent Park

21 Jun

If you’re interested in amateur radio even a little bit, you’ll want to head out to Kent Park this weekend to check out the annual XRX Amateur Radio Club Field Day. It’s a day when radio operators from all over the area come together to practice their skills totally “off the grid.”

Held on the fourth weekend in June every year, Field Day is an nationwide event, held simultaneously with 1000 similar stations across the US and Canada over a 24-hour period and involving more than 30,000 radio amateurs. Operators communicate via voice, Morse code and computers connected to transmitters.

On Field Day, operators are challenged to transport their equipment away from their homes, set up in a park or remote area, rebuild their stations, put up antennaes and broadcast in quasi-emergency conditions, without drawing electricity from RG&E, or using the internet or cell phones.

ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio, describes Field Day as the “single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada.”

Field Day is a picnic, a campout, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN! It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities.

The contest part of the weekend is simply to contact as many other stations as possible during the 24-hour window, which begins Saturday and continues overnight through Sunday, overcoming any challenges thrown by weather or technical problems along the way.

The XRX Radio Club will set up again this year in the parking lot past the playing fields at the very north end of Kent Park on Schlegel Rd. Last year the club had five separate broadcast stations, complete with generators, computers, transmitters, and all manner of antennas. (Click here to check out the blog I wrote about last year’s Field Day.)

Visitors are more than welcome to stop by. These guys are always happy to share their passion with interested onlookers.

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(posted 6/21/2022)

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Annual Webster High School Alumni Dinner hosted 52 graduates

19 Jun

If you were a student of Latin at the old Webster High School (now Spry Middle School) back in the mid-1940s, you might remember the day that Miss Marie Stone wore a set of wax teeth to teach her Latin III class. It was her response to some good-natured shenanigans perpetrated by her students the previous day.

Unfortunately, that happened to be the same day the superintendent decided to visit the class for a surprise observation.

That was just one of many memories shared on Sunday June 12 at the Webster High School Annual Alumni Dinner. The dinner has been held every (non-COVID) year for more than 20 years, and this year was attended by more 52 graduates (and their guests) representing 12 classes from 1948 through 1962, the school’s last graduating year.

The event has been held at several different locations, including Casey Park, Webster Park and the Knights of Columbus Hall. This year’s dinner was graciously hosted by the Webster Golf Club.

The program began with greetings from Alumni Committee Vice President Jude Beh Lancy (class of 1959) and President Linda Briggs Auer (class of 1959), followed by dinner, a short business meeting and a centerpiece raffle. Recitation of the school’s Alma Mater concluded the official event, but there was plenty of socializing before everyone left for the evening.

After the dinner concluded, Lancy also acknowledged the many people and businesses who helped make it a success, including Dave Tiberio at Webster Golf, who carved out some Sunday afternoon hours for the dinner to be held; Kittelberger Florist for donating the centerpieces; Hegedorns and Lala of Webster for donating raffle prizes; and Dave Eckler at the Weekend Printer for printing the invitations and program.

It sounds like it was a great evening, and I’m sure everyone is already looking forward to next year.

Here are a few photos, courtesy Linda Auer:


I thought you might be interested in reading the entire story about Miss Stone and her wax teeth. It came from a scrapbook which Mary “Pappy” Pantas (class of 1946) put together about her years at Webster High, and donated to the Webster Museum.

She wrote,

Anyone who has taught school knows the last period of the day is the hardest to deal with. Such was the case of Miss Stone’s Latin III class. The subject is dull, the students are restless, etc. Those of us (who haven’t always done our assigned translations) loved getting Miss Stone off the subject and often got the class laughing by cutting up.

One day Miss Stone had had enough and she said to our little circle of class clowns, “Tomorrow if you kids say anything to get the class laughing and off the subject you will suffer the consequences.” This was seen by all of us as a challenge.

Putting our impish heads together, we thought about it. “She said if we SAY anything. What if we DO SOMETHING and SAY NOTHING?” A trip to Bowman’s the next day during our lunch hour and a purchase of several sets of wax false teeth was all that was needed for our perfect prank. Eighth period came and at a pre-designed time, those of us perpetrators turned around to look at the clock and inserted our wax “CHOPPERS.” LAUGHTER ERUPTED! Miss Stone could not follow through with her threat because we did not SAY anything!

The following day we filed through the glass window-paned door. Miss Stone was seated at her desk with a hanky covering her nose and mouth. After taking our seats, she arose and, lo and behold, she had a set of wax teeth in her mouth. She proceeded to teach the class!

But that wasn’t the end of it. A figure of a rotund, bald-headed man appeared at the glass door and entered our classroom. It was none other than Mr. Rayfield, the Superintendent of Monroe County Schools who had come unannounced to observe Miss Stone and her class!

Miss Stone was flabbergasted and frantically worked at removing her teeth. We learned later that she had spent much of her free period before our class working hard to mold her “teeth” so she could speak without losing them. What an ending to our “perfect prank.”

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(posted 6/19/2022)

Webster community mailbag

17 Jun

Are you headed to the Jazz Fest this weekend?

Schroeder Jazz Ensemble is playing Saturday June 18 at 5 p.m. on the Gibbs Street Stage. Make sure to stop by if you’re nearby and cheer these young people on (and their music teachers, Mrs. Cole and Mr. Lindblom!)

A food truck rodeo and vendor fair being held on Tuesday, June 21 will benefit our Webster Girl Scouts and the great programs they offer.

The rodeo will be held at Willink Middle School, 900 Publishers Parkway, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on June 21, and feature:

  • Bay Vista Taqueria
  • Mrs. D’s Empanadas
  • Pub 235
  • Rob’s Sweet Tooth
  • Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza

Tons of vendors will also be there (check out the poster for that list), community agencies will have information booths, and live entertainment will be provided by Brian Roode. Make sure to bring some lawn chairs.

Sounds like good food, good music, and a fabulous way to help the Girl Scouts (they do so much more than sell cookies)!


This happy news, from the Webster School District, is another great illustration of all of the good things our young people are doing for our community.

The students of Spry Middle School recently presented a check for $2,107.76 to officials from Challenger Miracle Field, representing donations received through several Spirit Week events.

The Spry Student Council chooses a charity every year to benefit from various Spirit Week competitions. This year they hosted jar wars (a competition to collect loose change), restaurant nights at Panera and Bill Gray’s, and as a culminating activity, a kickball game.

The kickball game was played several weeks ago at Miracle Field itself. The game blended Spry students with Challenger players on each of Spry’s house teams. Following the game, the coveted Spirit Stick was presented to the White House team, which earned the most points from all of the week’s events.

Admission to the kickball game and concessions, added to the week’s earlier fundraising efforts, drove the final Challenger Miracle Field donation total to more than than $2,100.

And that was in just one week. Pretty cool. Nice job, Spry!


The Village of Webster’s Family Game Nights are Back!

The first Family Games & Beer Garden Night of the summer is scheduled for Friday June 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. on West Main St. There’s going to be tons for the kids (and game-loving adults) to do, including sidewalk chalk, Giant Jenga, Giant Connect Four and cornhole. Chad the DJ will provide music, and Kaitlyn from TozziYoga will be there to get everyone moving.

Plus, there’s beer. Did I mention that?

For more information about this and other upcoming village events, like the Movie Nights at the Gazebo, the next Village Wine Walk, Friday Night Concerts and more, visit the Webster BID website.


Don’t forget about this Sunday’s West Webster Cemetery Tour, your chance to learn more about West Webster history, and some of the people who lived there … and are buried there.

On Sunday June 19, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Webster Museum will host an historical tour of the West Webster Cemetery, featuring a dozen reenactors portraying many of the former residents who now rest there. The characters will be hanging out by their gravestones, awaiting visitors to wander by and hear their stories.

I’ll be there, portraying Martha Cottreall, who died in 1934 at the age of 72. I’ll talk about my life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and especially about the accomplishments of my husband — who participated in a famous Arctic rescue operation — and son, who fought in WWI.

Tour visitors will also hear from Angelina Aldridge (wife of John O. Aldridge), Ebenezer Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Drake, and Sylvester Brewer (who will talk about the Civil War and the Army of the Grand Republic), and many others.

It should be a fascinating way to learn more about our town’s oldest cemetery, and to hear some of the memories of West Webster’s past, spoken by voices of the present.

There’s no charge to attend the event, but donations are always gratefully accepted. Attendees are being asked to park at St. Rita’s Church, across Maple Dr. from the cemetery. NO PARKING signs will be posted along Old Ridge Rd. and Maple Dr.

If you’d like to learn more about the cemetery before Sunday’s tour, you’re invited to attend a presentation at the museum on Saturday, June 18 at 2 p.m. when Peter Elder will talk about the cemetery’s history.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. It’s open 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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(posted 6/17/2022)