Romance, 14580

Passion and romance. Words you wouldn’t be surprised to see together in a sentence. The passion I speak of though is the passion to write!

Despite the naysayers, the rejection letters, and the slim compensation, there are some amongst us that simply can’t imagine their lives without the creative outlet of pen to paper, or fingertip to key.

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s a group of successfully published authors met regularly at the Greece Public Library for mutual support and to share their latest chapters. Two of the group’s authors, Audrey Pike Johnson and Virginia Kester Smiley, were both Webster residents. Virginia lived on Webster Road not far from Mill Creek Run. She was an avid collector with many hobbies, who had close to 30 of her works published. Audrey was a widow who lived on Fuller Avenue in the village and had at least 6 published books. Both were passionate writers most of their lives, but it was as grandmothers they found their greatest professional success.

While their passion for writing drove them, the subjects they wrote about were driven more by pragmatism. Authors may dream of writing the “Great American Novel”, but practicality often leads them to more accessible markets like “genre” romance novels. Gothic romance and nurse romance were both popular genres at the time.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we currently have a selection of books written by Webster women on display at the museum. When not on display, they can be found on the shelves of the museum library.

Virginia Kester Smiley: Good Reads
Audrey Pike Johnson: Good Reads


Just how did a 19th century French suitcase come to represent a unique category of words?

See our new page on portmanteaus!

The Other Webster

Noah Webster

Believe it or not, even within the borders of our fair town, there are those that associate the name “Webster” with the author of one of our country’s earliest dictionaries…Noah Webster.

182 years ago, when our town founders were carefully considering which name should appear on the side of future water towers, they likely had never heard of Noah Webster’s dictionary. After spending 26 years writing his tome, only 2,500 copies of the two volume book were printed in 1828 and at a cost of $20 for the pair (that’s more than $500 in today’s dollars). Mr. Webster still had copies available for purchase in 1836. (Volume I | Volume II)

On the off chance, Byron Woodhull and the other town fathers had procured a copy of Webster’s dictionary, as largely conservative “Whigs”, the book’s vast lexicon would have likely been considered too radical, if not vulgar.

Webster was a staunch nationalist. Believing the United States was superior to Europe because its values were superior. With that in mind, Webster felt the United States needed its own fresh interpretation of the English language. Using uncommon alternative spellings as a guide, Webster set about to change how numerous words were spelled.

The most striking and frequently cited example of Webster’s tweaking of our written word is the removal of the “u” from the word colour. Similarly, “flavour” became “flavor” and “harbour” became “harbor”. “Defence” became “defense”, “modernise” became “modernize, and “theatre” became “theater.

Most ironic of all alterations, “anglicise” became “anglicize”.

Despite these successes, many of Webster’s alterations were rejected by the general public. “Soup” did not become “Soop”, “believe” did not become “beleev”, and thankfully “daughter” did not become “dawter”.

A few of Webster’s less successful alternatives:

Ake -> Ache

Beleev -> Believe

Bilt -> Built

Cloke -> Cloak

Dawter -> Daughter

Determin -> Determine

Giv -> Give

Greef -> Grief

Gillotin -> Guillotine

Grotesk -> Grotesque

Hainous -> Heinous

Iland -> Island

Korus -> Chorus

Masheen -> Machine

Neer -> Near

Nightmar -> Nightmare

Porpess -> Porpoise

Sley -> Sleigh

Soop -> Soup

Spunge -> Sponge

Steddy -> Steady

Stile -> Style

Thum -> Thumb

Tung -> Tongue

Turnep -> Turnip

Wimmin -> Women

Wendell Castle

A wonderful interview with Wendell Castle. Hard to believe its been 4 years since he left us.


Surprisingly, Mary Jones doesn’t run the film’s narrator through the Ironrite.

Cosmic Conversations

Cosmic Conversations with R.L. Thomas graduate and Asteroid Institute Executive Director Dr. Ed Lu with Ryan Wyatt, Senior Director of the Morrison Planetarium.

A Taste of History

Stay tuned! Chef Walter Staib and the crew of the PBS television program “A Taste of History” were recently filming at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The episode is expected to air in the spring of 2022 as part of the program’s 12th season.

Chef Staib demonstrates how food was prepared during the 18th century and has filmed episodes at a number of historical sites around the world.

Seasons 1-11 are available on the PBS website and are also available on Amazon Prime.

Alexander Courage

“Galaxymphony” performed by The Danish National Symphony Orchestra in June of 2017.

Composer Alexander (“Sandy”) Courage describes how he came to write the theme song for the TV series “Star Trek” and reveals how he created the “swoosh” sound effect for the Enterprise!

There are more than a few Rochester connections to the Star Trek television series, but the first can be traced to the television show’s original theme song. The composer and conductor of the music for the first season of the original Star Trek series was Alexander “Sandy” Courage, who was a 1941 graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

One might wonder if during his studies in Rochester, did he ever venture down to the shores of Lake Ontario and take in the view of the stars at night.

Over the years, Courage worked on many movie and television productions including Papillion, Superman, and Indiana Jones. He often worked with his good friends and fellow composers, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams.

Courage’s body of work is today part of the Eastman School of Music’s Sibley Music Library.

Today is Tomorrow’s Yesterday

If history helps connects us to the past, then in a way it also helps connect us to the future. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

Despite decades of research done by our museum volunteers, there are still countless stories to be unearthed and told about the people, places, and events that have helped make our little community what it is today.

We love sharing those stories with you through our exhibits, school visits and tours, speakers and presentations, our website, and even a few new-fangled ways of communicating.

No one here is working for peanuts. (Well, except Chip.)
We are volunteers and work for the love of history and the pleasure of sharing Webster’s story with you.

There is still no admission charge to visit the Webster Museum.

We rely on the kindness of our neighbors and friends to assist us in keeping the doors of the Webster Museum open.

Please join us in our efforts by becoming a member or by renewing your membership…today.

Recognize these buildings?

You may not be where you think you are.

Any Guesses? Show the Answers
Fulton New York

One – Fulton, New York Municipal Building, architect: Ronald Sattelberg

Two – Columbus, Indiana Post Office, architect: Kevin Roche

Three – Klem Road South Elementary, architect: Ronald Sattelberg

You never quite know where curiosity will lead you. Webster isn’t the only place you will find buildings finished out in Panelbriks. Panelbriks are structural clay tiles that were produced by the Glen-Gery brick company in the late 1960’s into the early 1970’s. A salt compound was applied to the clay before firing to produce the varied coloration.

Klem South opened in September of 1971. (Read more about its history.) The Fulton Municipal Building and the Columbus, Indiana Post Office were built around the same time.