You may remember our Summer Road Trip series with author and radio personality Chuck D’Imperio. Over the course of the summer Chuck took our readers on a tour of the most fascinating monuments, statues, and memorials in Upstate New York, all found in his book Monumental New York! He shared stories about the famous and infamous personalities to ever tread the forests, fields, and city streets of the Empire State.
Fortunately, Chuck is back with a new book and whole new set of summer travel ideas. Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures will be out later this summer but you will get a sneak-peek every few weeks when Chuck drops in on the blog to highlight a museum in this year’s Summer Road Trip series….starting today!
One of my favorite stops along the “museum trail” is the Gomez Mill House in Marlboro (www.gomez.org). The community lies on the border of Ulster and Orange County on the west bank of the Hudson River. The Gomez Mill House is steeped in history. It is the oldest surviving Jewish home in the United States.
Its graceful stonewalls, lush gardens, and old wooden water wheel give it a peaceful and nostalgic air. Inside the walls you will find the stories of five different prominent New York families (and others) who have resided there. It is totally fascinating and clearly one of the best kept secrets in the Hudson Valley. 2014 marks the 300th anniversary of the home and events and celebrations are planned.
Why not mark it down on your “trip catalog” for this summer and get a first look at this incredible landmark? The docents are well versed and the stories they tell are really the stuff that legends are made of.
Original builder Luis Moses Gomez was a Sephardic Jewish merchant and trader who established the first synagogue of Sherarith Israel and in 1728 served as its first president. The congregation, still in existence in New York City, is the oldest one in the United States. The families who followed the Gomez family as residents (Acker, Armstrong, Hunter and Gruening) are equally important and touched every aspect of American culture over the centuries from politics to literature to craftsmanship to military.
I spent an entire afternoon here recently and can’t wait to go back. As you quietly walk from room to room to room you can actually sense the heft of history found in this home. You will love the Gomez Mill House….an unknown museum of upstate New York that I write about in my new book.
Jadaliyya, an independent ezine produced by the Arab Studies Institute recently talked with Sally Gallagher about her recent book Making Do in Damascus: Navigating a Generation of Change in Family and Work
Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Sally Gallagher (SG): I have had a long interest in gender and economic development, and had the opportunity to begin a study of the effects of participating in an income-generating project for women in Damascus just as it was getting started. This was a really great opportunity to watch change in the making, rather than go in after the fact and ask people: how is your life different? Slowly I was able to begin building contacts among networks of women across social classes, and was able to then address broader questions about how religion, gender, and social class work together.
J: What particular topics, issues, and literatures does it address?
SG: The main question the book addresses is how women draw on, and in some cases are able to reshape, gender ideals to make a life for themselves over a generation of economic and technological change. There has always been interest within sociology in how people’s individuality and free choice is both constrained by their society and how people also use their values, resources, and personal connections to change society. That question is at the heart of this book—how do women’s material and social resources shape the ways they are limited by, but also draw on, recast, and creatively use ideals around gender (for example, what it means to be a good daughter, wife, and mother) to make a space for their lives?
Between 1992 and 2011 I traveled to Damascus ten times, typically staying from one to four months, spending innumerable hours talking, shopping, drinking tea, preparing meals, and visiting women and their families across the city. This style of research allowed me to address questions of personal experience, identity, and meaning in a much more fine-tuned way than would have been possible with a larger social survey even if it had been possible at the time to obtain the required permissions or obtained an adequate response rate in communities unaccustomed to survey research.
Since I started visiting in Syria in 1992, a lot has changed; talking with women as these changes were happening—as many of them graduated from high school and went on to university, to work part time, to marry and have children—the book is able to explore the ways in which women are limited, but also able to turn those limitations to their advantage.
Read the full interview here:
New Texts Out Now: Sally Gallagher, Making Do in Damascus