Stories of family and ancestors who lived and worked in Cohoes (textile and garment workers, butchers and barbers), Waterford (canalers), Whitehall (farmers and canalers), Port Henry (iron miners and Civil War soldiers), Champlain (canalers and farmers) and other towns along the Champlain Canal in New York State with some diversions to the places they emigrated from....Quebec (landless farmers, shoemakers, sailors, soldiers), Acadia (more farmers), and even Cornwall, England (tin miners).
Friday, February 4, 2011
The Murals in the Cohoes Savings Bank by David Lithgow
The Cohoes Savings Bank Murals
The murals were painted by David Lithgow, a native of Scotland, who lived on Hudson Avenue in Green Island in the 1950s. Lithgow was also known in the Capital District for the background paintings in the panoramas of native American life in the old State Education museum. He also painted murals in the Albany Saving Bank. He often painted stylized native Americans and supposedly lived, for a period, on an Iroquois reservation in New York State somewhere. While there he sketched real life native American for future models. Mr. Lithgow's housekeeper was a lady named Janet Gilmore and Janet got her hair styled at "Dottie Mae's". Janet was able to finagle a deal for Dottie Mae and soon there was a very stylized portrait of Dottie Mae's daughter over her mantle. It was no child of nature, no Indian maiden, just a little girl surrounded by flowers and fluff.
The historic murals capture a time in American thinking when native Americans were considerable noble and gone as in "we do not have to deal with them anymore". It is nice to know, sixty years after the murals were painted, native American are still around, still sharing the present, the past and the future.
A commemorative book was published in 1951, the year the murals were executed and presented to the Cohoes public. The pages include romanticized images and stories of natives before arrival of Europeans, Hiawatha on the Cohoes Falls and the Iroquois Confederacy, the Dutch merchants trading beaver skins, the "retreat" of the red man or primitive sons of the forest (moving over and out so the white man could take over), the discovery of the mastodon during construction of the Harmony Mill.
This brochure was copyrighted by the Cohoes Saving Bank in 1951. I do not want to infringe on the bank's property but just want to share this part of Cohoes history with family and readers. I am trying to get permission to share some pages of the brochure on this blog. If anyone reading this knows who to contact, please let me know....Thank you!