Sat 20 Aug 2022 09:00 am
Story and photos by Alice Gerard
After retiring from a finance career, David Gregory found his passion in books.
At Gram’s Garage Sale at the Golden Age Center in the Nike Base on August 13, Gregory, who had turned a table in the cafeteria into a bookstore, talked about how he found his hobby.
“I saw too many books being left on the curb and being advertised that they would be thrown away unless someone picked them up,” says Gregory, a 1967 graduate of Grand Island High School. “I originally started out as a book rescuer. . I went to collect books from people who had to get rid of them because of life-changing experiences, such as the death of a family member or a relative who is going to a nursing home or because people are moving. I didn’t like books being thrown or thrown away like that, so I started picking up books. I donate a lot of it to libraries or to social organizations, such as the shelters. I find many books in the Grand Island Memorial Library. That’s one of my favorite libraries. I really like the staff they have there, the director and the books they have to offer.”
The experience he gained during his financial career helped him transition into his work as a bookseller after his retirement, Gregory said: “I worked as a credit and collection manager for companies. I had a rather responsible white-collar job, doing a lot of research and analysis, and using my wits and numbers. This really fits. It has been a wonderful part of my retirement: collecting books, selling books. At the moment, due to my physical limitations, I no longer do cleanings. I used to buy large quantities of books. But now I don’t. I’m cutting my stock.”
Gregory now sells books online like HappyBooks at Alibris and Etsy, as well as at events such as Gram’s Garage Sale.
“I’m not out to make a lot of money,” he said. “My big thing, from then on, has always been to keep books in circulation, to make sure they are read and used. I also like to donate a lot of books. When I lived in Idaho, there were several homeless rescue missions, and I donated a lot to the women’s rescue mission and the men’s rescue mission. I also buy used Bibles from the Grand Island Memorial Library, many of which I donate to the Niagara Falls rescue mission.”
Photographer Mary Stewart has spent a lifetime behind the camera, capturing the images of everyday life and special events. Among the various things she sold at the garage sale were several framed photos. She said she got her start in the world of photography when she was in high school.
“My dad (Theodore Klingel) built a darkroom in the basement when he saw I was serious,” Stewart said. “I developed and printed the photos I took after learning how to do the printing process. I used to take photos at Riverside High School in the morning when we first got there in the cafeteria, and no one knew I was it did. I went home and developed the photos, printed them and returned them two days later.”
After graduating from Riverside High School in 1959, Stewart began shooting for the Island Dispatch.
“That was the first job I had, taking pictures for anybody. It was probably around 1960,” she said.
Stewart, who said cats are her favorite thing to photograph, went on to shoot for Isle DeGrande, an online resource for the Grand Island community, which was previously edited by her late sister, Teddy Linenfelser, and is now edited by Jodi Robinson, who also serves as a city historian. She said she has also photographed weddings for family and friends. She takes photos of special events at the church she attends, the Bible Fellowship Center. She is also a photographer for the Golden Age Center and likes to participate in online competitions.
“I also submitted several photos to the Pixoto photo contest and posted a few,” Stewart said. “Last year a flower photo I took became the best of the year in the flower category.”
The thing she likes most about photography is “meeting people,” Stewart said. “Taking a picture. You see it through the camera and the result when it’s printed, something to look forward to.”
She said she would tell someone new to photography, “Keep it up. When you take a picture, look at the picture and say, ‘Okay, what could I have done better?’ And that’s how you get better, photo by photo.
“I still look at my pictures and say I could have had a different angle. I don’t take them apart, but I try to look at them and say, ‘What could I have done better?’ ”
“I don’t advertise it, but if something comes up, I do it,” Stewart said, adding: “I’m just grateful to my dad for helping me get into photography. He was my mentor and he was the one I looked up to. He took pictures when Teddy and I were growing up. He always took pictures and I followed his lead.”
Joe Mesmer of Mesmer’s Bees discovered his passion for beekeeping by spending time with his brother, David.
“He’s a beekeeper in Pittsford, near Rochester,” Mesmer said. “I’ve always been a little interested in it. I was thinking about it, and he did it. I went there and he did an inspection of the bees. It fascinated me. I said, ‘You know what? I want to get into this.’ He helped me on my way. He is kind of my mentor with bees.”
Mesmer, who has been a beekeeper for three years and currently has three hives on his property, said he enjoys watching the bees. Sometimes I go out and have a cup of coffee. First, for breakfast. It’s fascinating to watch them go in and out of the closets. It’s very relaxing.”
Mesmer, who also sells honey at Tom Thompson’s Long Road farm, said he enjoys “meeting different people and talking to people. It’s a lot of fun.”
Ari Sobel, who co-owns Herb ‘N Garden Farms with his wife Christina Drum and Liz and Kevin Colosimo, sat at a table outside the Golden Age Center. In front of him were plates of different varieties of tomatoes, ready to be taste tested.
“Everyone who tries our samples today loves them. It’s been great to see people’s reactions to them, with that uptick in sales,” Sobel said.
He explains, “Herb ‘N Garden Farms is a 9,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse that we just opened on Lang Boulevard. Two-thirds of that are leafy greens, lettuce, microgreens, and herbs. One-third of that is tomatoes and hot peppers. It’s 100 percent. % hydroponics, non-GMO, no herbicides. We provide the optimal nutrients for the plants and we’re climate controlled, so we’re heated, cooled and stuff. We can grow all year round.”
The new company also sells products at Tom Thompson’s Long Road farm, as well as local restaurants, such as Dick & Jenny’s.
“We put a lot of time and energy into it,” says Sobel. “My partner Kevin and I built the greenhouse with our own hands. It’s a labor of love. I think in cold weather like this I can provide the ability to grow year round, use 90% less water than conventional farming, and all the benefits that comes with that. It is also very sensible. We want to grow and expand.”
When asked how people can follow the new business, Sobel said: “Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Herb garden farms. We put pop-ups and customer sites there.”
Wendy Thompson of Thompson and Son Farms, who also sat outside at the table during the event, said: “We love coming here to see new faces and talk to different people who don’t know anything about the farm. People are always looking for fresh, local fruits and vegetables and homemade jams and jellies. This reminds them to go to the farm.”
Denise Ricotta, who sold homemade granola as well as soaps, rollerball blends of essential oil, barbecue rubs and seasoning salts, all made by her, said sales were good: “I came to this event last year, as well as the one in October. (“Holiday Happenings”).”
Jenny Gula, who works at the Golden Age Center, said the event had special meaning for her. She bought porcelain egg cookies decorated with images of black raspberry plants.
“My father planted black raspberries at home and in my garden,” Gula said, explaining that her father had passed away a year and a half ago. The egg hunters “remind me of him,” she said, noting that there were six children in her family. She said she had fond memories of gardening with her father and her five siblings growing up.
Jen Menter, recreation supervisor for the Golden Age Center, described Gram’s Yard Sale as a “huge success. We had a great sense of community. We had so many members coming to this sale and being a part of this sale, which really warmed my heart. I appreciate all the volunteers who helped make it the success it was.”
Gula added, “I loved seeing and meeting new friends, as well as the sense of community.”