Friday, December 16, 2016

Fort Massachusetts

In April of 2016, I began research on a local historical site -- Fort Massachusetts. And coincidently, around that same time, a local teacher had just released a book about the exact location of the fort, and of the house she grew up in nearby. The idea that I had was for a website to educate the visitor about this historic site while stressing its importance to its surrounding communities. This was the catalyst for the formation of the Friends of Fort Massachusetts, an all-volunteer organization. It was founded in 2016 by me, Wendy Champney, and Susan Watson; seeking to preserve, improve and help maintain the historic Fort Massachusetts site. However, I had severed ties with the other founding members because of fundamental differences. It is my belief that the community at large should be informed of the options offered by the current owners of this site and involved in the decisions; not a select few. And although we did not lack in our vision and mission statements, there was still a discrepancy between us. I also felt that we were lacking a qualified president (a position I held until my resignation) to move us forward to help reach our goal.

It's a shame that we could not work this through. However, the website will remain a testament to this historic site ~ the origin of our community.

The fort was built during King George's War (1744–1748), in 1745, against the French and their Indian allies. It was also built to prevent Dutch settlers in New York from encroaching upon Massachusetts territory from the west. Fort Massachusetts was the westernmost in a northern line of colonial forts extending from the Connecticut River, over the Hoosac Mountain, to this western frontier. And it remained active throughout much of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), until 1759, when it was decommissioned following the Battle of Quebec.

The outcome of the French and Indian War established British control of North America, and gave birth to the British Empire. And it also triggered the movement towards independence for the British colonists in America.

Every historical site has an important story to tell. The story of Fort Massachusetts is a compelling, suspenseful, and inspiring story. It speaks of hope and courage and maintaining one's integrity in the face of adversity. It's a story of life and death and the human spirit. It is a story worth hearing.

Below is a link to the website. In it, you will find two articles that I put together.

A Brief History of Fort Massachusetts with an Emphasis on the Siege of 1746 -- Compiled, edited, and with an introduction by C.A. Chicoine

Fort Massachusetts Memorialized -- Compiled and edited by C.A. Chicoine



After I just finished delivering a speech at the Commemoration of the 270th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Massachusetts, on August 20, 2016— at Indian Ledge, North Adams, Massachusetts.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Where Has the Time Gone? Compiling and Editing.

Where HAS the time gone!

The past two years have been full of emotion, and many new projects developing.

Besides either coming up with a new idea or being inspired, part of the fun in writing for me is researching. I become very passionate about a subject that I just can't seem to learn enough about it! But I do what I can with what I have. Compiling and editing research material for a project is like creating a collage. You piece together bits and pieces of the resource material to form a new creature.

In this case, I researched the Chipmunk Phenomenon via the Grasshoppers. In this article, I explore the influence pitch shifting had on commercial music for children. Pitch shifting is a sound recording technique in which the original pitch of a sound is raised or lowered to produce, in this case, distinctive animal voices. Vocal tracks were recorded at slow speeds, then played back at normal speeds, giving us the voice of, say, a chipmunk. The Grasshoppers were basically a Chipmunks knockoff. However, their debut album was a good contender for the Chipmunks.

Growing up with the Grasshoppers

I was introduced to the Grasshoppers by my older brother and sister. Although the first album was released eight years before I was born, it was still in pretty good condition. And this was one of those albums I'd listen to over and over again. Its sound didn't conflict with what I heard in the house either. My father would play Big Band and Swing, so this fit right in! (And he'd also have some of those tribute albums by Eddie Maynard and his Orchestra.)

I remember sitting in the parlor -- at my spot at the end of the couch -- sitting on the armrest and playing the Grasshoppers album on my Arvin phonograph. And I remember when the album cover split into two. I still kept it, with the record album safely in between them. But then, one day, my mother threw it out. Boy, was I upset!

My sister also had some 45's of David Seville and the Chipmunks; "Alvin's Harmonica"/"Mediocre", "The Chipmunk Song"/"Almost Good", and "Witch Doctor"/"Don't Whistle at Me Baby".

Looking back now to when I was a child listening to these records, it didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary having two separate groups -- that had similar voices -- perform some of the same songs, namely "Alvin's Harmonica" and "The Chipmunk Song". After all, many groups do cover songs.

Then I got to thinking, which came first, the Grasshoppers or the Chipmunks? Or had they come at the same time? I got that answer in 1997 when I met Dr. Demento. It was the Chipmunks, of course. the Chipmunks first officially appeared on the scene in a novelty record released in late fall 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., (as David Seville). The song, originally listed on the record label (Liberty F-55168) as "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", featured the singing skills of the chipmunk trio. The Grasshoppers released their album in 1959, clearly inspired by this novelty.

I'd also look around in used record stores, and later on eBay, for the Grasshoppers. But, for the life of me, I could not remember which album cover we had growing up. Looking at the different cover versions I saw on the internet did not stir my memory either. What I did remember was the grasshoppers' Dixieland straw hats, vests, and bow ties. So I asked my sister. And she said it was the one with the bunnies.

I'd like to point out that I do believe that Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. came up with a very clever idea creating the Chipmunks. And those early songs he wrote were ingenious. I don't like the direction they went after his death. But, that's neither here nor there. If it wasn't for that spark of creativity in 1958, there would have been no Grasshoppers.

Growing up with the Grasshoppers is indeed one of those memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

~ C.A. Chicoine

 A link to the article and website is below.

Compiled and Edited by C.A. Chicoine