Bristol’s Young and Young at Heart
by Cate Murway

Much of historic Bristol on the Delaware’s
charm rests in the retention of its small-town
character amid the innumerable decades
of surrounding growth and modernization.
The history of this town is perhaps best
embodied in the stories and memories
of the citizens that have witnessed
both change and continuity over the years.

“Touching History through the Bristol Borough Residents who lived through WWII” was recorded and captured and profoundly presented to the packed audience last Wednesday evening at The Bristol Riverside Theater.
Conversations with the seniors are mutual gifts, a wealth of wisdom that only the seasoned citizens can impart, allowing them an opportunity to share their greatest possessions -- their cherished memories.
This gives a glimpse of both the past and the future.
What a priceless gift to give one another and it doesn't cost a thing.

How many people do you know who can attest to seeing the Haley's comet twice?
A conversational film clip that afforded dignity and respect and recognition of their contributions and the historical richness, preceded the exposition of treasures in the foyer with the beautiful Delaware River in the background.
The archival and contemporary photographs depicted not only a link to the past, as yesterday has vanished, but also who we will be one day -- the link to our future.

The film clips were priceless.
World War II is taught in the history books and revisited in museums, but people often forget the stories of unsung heroes.
Life on the home front during World War II was a significant part of the war effort for all participants and had a major impact on the outcome of the war.
Women joined the workforce to replace men who had joined the forces.
Rose Sutor was a “Rosie the Riveter”, the ideal woman worker: loyal, efficient, patriotic, and pretty, who needed to learn her trade in three short days. She roller-skated to work.

Mary Lavenia “Venie” Sanes worked at General Motors, not with cars or trucks, but reading blueprints and working on planes.
“I made $49.00 a week at General Motors in Trenton making pieces for airplanes.”
She set aside $1.00 from each of her paychecks to purchase a “Frigidaire”.

Virginia DiMaggio wore a blue jumpsuit to work and the “guys were whistling”. She worked alongside a midget who did the riveting in small spaces.
“People danced in the street when that war was over.”

During World War II, citizens were encouraged to become "plane spotters" for reasons of public security.
Dom Oriolo’s teacher, Miss Kenny was an airplane spotter. “For awhile it worked”, he reminisced,   “we could get out of school work if we told her we heard a plane.”

Clarence King lived near Silver Lake in the times of no air conditioning. He recalls noise from the late night shift swimmers as they cooled off and the huge 3M helicopters being tested. “The war was ended before the helicopters ever worked.”

Corporal Charlotte Landreth-Melville, one of the “most senior” women Marines who served proudly with distinction and honor from 12/43 to 11/45, was stationed in Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, N.C working in the Engineer Quartermaster’s Office in the heavy equipment section.
By the way, she can still fit in her original uniform, and is a member of The WMA.

The still young at heart suffered shortages of all varieties of consumer goods and the absence of most of the men but their feelings of loyalty never disappeared.
And apparently, laughter wasn’t rationed.

Life in the Borough also includes projects for the young.
Research shows that exposure to the arts improves a child’s ability to think, express themselves and succeed academically, and a new creative venture is happening right now in Snyder-Girotti Elementary School.
Artists in Residence (AIR) and volunteer parents have communicated effectively and developed original exhibits of diverse dimensions, collaborating with the youngest of budding artists, engaging them to produce a model exhibit as well as a consummate work of art.
AIR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is dedicated to fulfilling its mission of exposing children to the arts by placing visual, performing and literary professional artists into regional schools.
AIR [Artists in Residence] Board president and artist, Mrs. Terri Herring spearheaded the project. She brings together professional artists and students to explore the world of creativity along with Mrs. Amy Winston, the community outreach director.

This project revolves around the most well known children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" by American writer and illustrator, Maurice Sendak.
The author leaves some of the pages wordless, setting the stage for imagination. 
"And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!"
The students made use of textures and the dissimilar looks of the different monsters and created their very own out of clay.

Last year’s masterpiece was based on Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, a beloved tale of science and gluttony that has been translated into 20 languages. The enticing gimmick is that the ravenous caterpillar becomes a very fat caterpillar, eating holes through all the food, holes that are actually punched into the pages of the book.  He then spins himself a cocoon and emerges into what the 2009-10 Kindergarten students made… a fluttery winged butterfly.
“Then he nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and he was a beautiful butterfly!"
Commercial tile was smashed and each chubby art piece was glazed in bright colors and fired in the AIR kiln and integrated into the eye-catching showpiece murals.

The children artists beautify the school and have the benefit of working with the clay. They will always remember the project.
Perhaps a future venture could be a pictorial map of the eclectic landmarks of the borough and the entire school would be able to participate.

According to the parent volunteers, “You don’t have to be involved in the arts to help.”
Faith Raccagno, mother of 5th grader, Nathan and 1st grader, Raeann is also the VP of the PTA and involved in the Parent Advisory Council (PAC).
Robert Caywood is the father of Katie in 5th grade and Nicholas in 6th grade. His wife, Jackie was the former PTA VP.
They obviously agree that everything the children see should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.
Altogether, they have created unique custom mosaic murals and all who participated at Snyder-Girotti Elementary will have a permanent part of themselves attached to the wall of this school.

Our communities of people of all ages are here by choice, not by chance, showing an appreciation for small town values that continue to instill a spirit of pride and ownership in the appearance, culture, and history of our community.
What is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if you do not share it?
Of having stories if you do not tell them to others?
It is in giving that we connect with others and with the world.

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