Saturday, December 25, 2010

Church gives Burmese Woman a HOME

Ma Yee received a terrific Christmas present this year and you can read all about it here. Church-gives-Burmese-woman-son-house-in-Utica
Ma Yee despite all she has endured is never without a smile when she comes into the clinic. In fact, I have to say that about most of our Southeast Asian refugees. You know how they say, a smile is contagious. Well it truly is.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Children....Adult Ones

Utica Remembers When - To see more around Utica check out Utica Remembers When. 

Christmas time brings out the best in my children. Joshua arrived via the train last Tuesday and will be visiting until next Tuesday. I almost forgot what conversations were like with him. John stops by often while Ivy is at work. James well, he's always here. Made three cheesecakes between yesterday and today. One just wasn't "right" and needed to be eaten right away. Made another one today that was just perfect and then one for me without sugar.

As usual when Joshua shows up convo turns to trivia. Today, being no exception, we were drilled on the theater district in Utica. Yes, Utica had a theater district. I remember some of those theaters in the 60's. But the 60's and into the 70's brought Urban Renewal to the city and those old theaters became parking lots or something else.
Of the 14 or so theaters that once entertained Utica citizens only two remain - the Stanley and the NEW Uptown. And of the newer theaters that sprang up at local malls only the Marquee is drawing any viewers.

COLONIAL THEATER –The Sam S. Shubert Theatre was built on the site of the 1862 Utica Arsenal, which was demolished to build the theatre at the corner of Bleecker Street and Charlotte Street. The Shubert Theatre opened on December 16, 1906. In 1908, the Sam S. Shubert Theatre was presenting Keith Vaudeville.
In 1917 it was converted into a movie theatre and renamed Colonial Theatre. It was operating until around 1943. The Colonial Theatre was demolished in 1945.

201-209 Bleecker Street

I found this postcard on East Utica's Facebook site. I am assuming that it is the
 north side of Bleecker Street where APAC is now. 
 The tall building in the background is Hotel Utica

If you look farther down you will see the Great Shubert Theater -- check out the windows and facade

AVON THEATER –Built 1928 and located on 212 Lafayette Street with 1562 seats, 
this theater was demolished around 1965.  

interior view of the Avon in 1916.

The Avon Theater dates back to 1915. It was remodeled in 1929 to the plans of architect Victor A. Rigaumont. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. 
 The theater was opened on 11/24/1915 with Ethel Barrymore in The Final Judgment. The first Vitaphone (talkie) film in Utica was shown there on 4/21/28. Gone With the Wind moved there from the Stanley on 2/16/40. Both the Stanley and Avon were part of the Warner chain at that time along with a third theater called the Utica which was actually larger than the Avon. The Avon closed on 12/7/65.
(found at

ALHAMBRA THEATER - most likely closed in the late 20’s. 
Built before 1914 at 108 Bleecker Street    

A 1911 newspaper report confirms that the Alhambra Theatre built in 1915 was either a replacement for or an enlargement of an existing theater. The 1911 item said that the Alhambra Theatre on the south side of Bleeker Street near Genesee Street was being enlarged to accommodate 900 patrons.
The Alhambra Theatre originally opened on December 21, 1907, according to that day’s issue of the Utica Herald Dispatch. The building, owned by the Lux Brothers, had previously been occupied by Lux & Sons Washington Market. I still haven’t been able to discover if whether the Alhambra Theatre of 1915 was entirely new construction or a rebuilding of this earlier structure.   
                                  (found at

The name Lux Building can still be seen on the building facade.                                                                                                            
FAMILY THEATER – most likely closed between 1951 and 1955  
Built before 1914-15 896 Bleecker Street      

JAMES THEATER most likely closed between 1951 and 1955.  This building still stands and was the home of Congregation Tifereth Zvi.

309 James St and opened on Christmas day in 1926

LINCOLN THEATER - most likely closed between 1951 and 1955 
 Built before 1929  at 617 Cottage Place

MAJESTIC THEATRE – most likely closed by 1941, was operating prior to 1907 at  274 Lafayette Street which meant it was right next door to Hotel Utica as can be seen in the photo below - playing "The Fortune Hunter"  (uploaded from East Utica's site)  Someone posted that it was at one time the Majestic Opera House, and thought is was demolished around 1915 and replaced by the Pershing Hotel which was itself demolished in 1965                          

Located next door to the Hotel Utica... Later the Majestic…
 Later Hotel Pershing .... taken from East Utica's Facebook entry. 

ORPHEUM THEATER (First) a silent era theater that most likely closed around 1917  

34 Lafayette Street

This postcard is titled Orpheum and Majestic Theaters, Utica NY.  

The Orpheum Theater on Lafayette Street was an earlier theater in Utica, New York and should not be confused with the later Orpheum Theater on South Street.The Orpheum Theater is listed in the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915 edition. The Orpheum Theater was a silent era theater that closed in March 1917 due to a fire. It never reopened.

can you see the similarities with these two photos? the tall building on the far right is Hotel Utica.
 It was a second-floor house converted from an assembly room that had been part of the 1900 project which rebuilt the 1871 Utica Opera House as the Majestic Theatre.
The Orpheum, opened on January 19, 1901, was leased to the Wilmer & Vincent vaudeville circuit for most of its history, and only became a movie theater on May 1, 1915. On March 20, 1917, the building was extensively damaged by an early morning fire, and the Orpheum was never reopened as a theater.
The architect for the rebuilding of the Utica Opera House as the Majestic and Orpheum Theatres was Fuller Claflin, at that time still an associate of the firm of J. B. McElfatrick & Son.
(found at
OLYMPIC THEATER – was demolished in the early 1970’s  
 It was built before 1926 because a  Marr and Colton organ 
was installed at its location at 127 Lafayette Street.

 The original Olympic was opened in 1925 and burned to the ground only 12 days later. The second Olympic was built on the same location and opened about one year later. In November of 1953, the Olympic boasted as being the first and only complete CinemaScope installation in the Mohawk Valley.
The second (and last) Olympic Theater opened on May 18, 1926 and closed on February 23, 1971 as part of the Kallet theater chain. (found at

ORPHEUM THEATER (Second) most likely closed between 1951 and 1955 
 Built around / before 1930 at 264 South Street

STANLEY THEATEROpened in 1928 and closed around 1970 but reopened 
to become the active theater it is today at 259 Genesee Street  

The beginning of a great and beautiful theater.


The Stanley today after years of dedicated remodeling. 

STATE THEATER (originally the Bender Theater) Silent Era Theater Closed about 1925 Bleecker Street

UPTOWN THEATER now called the NEW Uptown Theater Built 1927 2014 Genesee Street

HIGHLAND THEATERfound no information about, located on Whitesboro Street, Still standing but closed decades ago.  (thinking 1710-1712 Whitesboro Street.)

So that brings to a close the trivia time on Christmas Eve at the Benson's.
Aren't you glad you stopped in. 
Now you too can know all about the Theater District of Utica, NY  

BUT there was always - 2014 and that brought more updates and photos. 

1.Here is the great Shubert Theater 

201-209 Bleecker Street

Many of these images were taken from a Facebook page - East Utica.

Gene Autry on stage at the Stanley - 1953. 
My father was a lover of horses.  I think he probably would have liked 
to have been there and who knows perhaps he was.  

I thought I had found all the theaters that made Utica their home, but tonight I found someone had posted the following list.  You know what that means.  More researching. 

Alhambra Theatre 108-110 Bleecker Street 
Majestic Theatre (no address given) listed in 1914/1915.

Other early theatres listed are:
Bender Theatre - became State Theater
Empire Theatre, Bleecker Street
Family Theatre, 82 Bleecker Street
Idle Hour Theatre, 629 Bleecker Street
Lumberg Theatre, Washington near Lafayette Street
Mirth Theatre
Orpheum Theatre, 34 Lafayette Street
Savoy Theatre, 634 Bleecker Street
Star Theatre, 644 Bleecker Street
Theatorium, 206 Genesee Street

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tired Arrivals

This week we had several newly arrived families at the clinic. The one that stole my heart was this one. Mom, Dad and 6 young children. So tired from the long journey to America these kiddos zonked out on one of the benches in the hallway. They are so precious and I can't tell you how much I instantly love them. It truly makes me so grateful for all that God has blessed me with. I am proud to live not only in a country but a city that opens up their arms to people seeking a better life.

This photo was taken on Tuesday.
New arrivals come on Tuesday and then again on Thursday to the clinic.

Here we are sacked out once more amidst all the noise in the hallway -
Burmese, Karen, Arabic, Bosnian Nepali - not to mention English - all speaking at once in their small groups. This is what I love about working where I do.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Thrill of HOPE

The visit of Elizabeth and Mary is one of the Bible's most beautiful expressions of what it means to form community, to be together, gathered around a promise, affirming that something is really happening. The whole meaning of the Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for what we have already seen. Christian community is the place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. Henri Nouwen, 1932-1996
I love this painting of Mary and Elizabeth - the shear joy and laughter upon their faces.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is this winter???

I thought when it first started snowing that we would have a covering of snow all season. So far, that has not happened, at least for our house. Seems Syracuse has more than they can handle, same for south of us and north but not at our abode. In fact, I think Louisville KY has more snow than we do. Add ImageAdd Image
Isn't it beautiful? and doesn't it bring back wonderful memories of bundling up in winter attire (remembering those plastic Wonder Bread bags placed over my shoes before slipping into those horrid zip up the front boots) so I could shovel the driveway. Thank goodness it was short one.
Growing up we had some memorable snow storms. Particularly was the Blizzard of 66. Came out of nowhere as far as I remembered. It just kept coming and my single parent MOM drove home after work with snow so heavy she was afraid she wouldn't make it and worried about my sis and me at home. Of course, we could handle it - we had plenty of hot chocolate and toast.

Seems that all my children who moved away from this yucky Mohawk Valley weather have found themselves in some pretty snowy spots. Josh got buried in Buffalo this year and got to experience "real" snow.

Monday, December 6, 2010


From the time Tyler was a little baby he has always had a problem with his skin. In fact his cradle cap was so bad (seborrhea the doctor called it) that when he was a few months old, it finally fell off - and all his hair with it. He reminded everyone of Grampa Benson. Anyway, I came across this remedy in a magazine and thought maybe it would be of help to others with these problems.

Quote from magazine
Two weeks after giving birth to my third child, I developed eczema all over my body. Because I was breastfeeding, my dr. couldn't prescribe anything for me. My friend recommended that I open capsules of evening primrose oil (EPO) and spread the oil over the affected area up to three times a day (Apparently EPO has anti-inflamatory properties.) Unlike the stinging steroid creams I've used the in the past EPO was instantly soothing and eventually cured the rash. My friend had used it on her toddler with excellent results.

Now if I can just get my daughter to try it on Tyler. He still has Yukky skin.

OH, and my disclaimer - consult a doctor before trying this.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Persimmons yum

My son's girlfriend Ivy introduced me to Persimmons this fall. OOOHHHH MY GOSH. I have never tasted anything so delicious that was also good for me. Ivy buys them at the Vietnamese Store on Bleecker and was so kind to share some with me and now I am hooked.
If you would also like to try this scrumptious fruit DO NOT settle for the heart shaped ones in the grocery store. I hear they are not as good. They also have a very short season so don't delay.
And not only do they taste wonderful but they are beautiful too. Oh, peel first before enjoying.