Monday, November 30, 2009

"Father Knickerbocker", Washington Irving, New York and Quite The Stir Bungalow?

It is a special and sacred privilege,... my fellow Bungalow enthusiasts, lovers of history, all things Gettysburg being both great and small, intermingled with a few New York attitudes or so... to recount the following history, myth or legend! Hubba, Hubba!

As you grow more curious by the moment...allow what follows not to be a digression or an irreverence of the truth. Rather let us venture to remind you that the history and lore we will share, in picturesque methods and written word, are derived from bits and pieces gleaned by bits and pieces with a (quite frankly) incurable romantic at the helm of this unraveling, unwinding, revealing, revelling and de-fragging a bit of history!

Our research began, in earnest, by attempts to discover the first resident of Quite The Stir Bungalow. It was in research that we understood the following story’s true scale of irony, which made it even more amazing touching and whimsical!

Shall we begin to connect New York, Washington Irving, only one of the legends of American literature ("The Legend of Sleepy Hollow""A History of New York" and "Rip Van Winkle")"Father Knickerbocker" and Gettysburgs' Quite The Stir Bungalow? Well, I'll venture, by the gleam in your eyes...yes!

Father Knickerbocker, The Legend and the Myth

Actually, the first Knickerbocker was a real person, as far as scant account reveals to us. Harmen Jansen Knikkerbakker (later Knickerbocker) migrated to the newly renamed English colony of New York some time in 1674.

Knickerbocker is a Dutch surname and references the oldest of New Yorker families, for the most part of Dutch origins, and very likely among the first socially prominent families of New York. Many are the generations of New Yorkers, in particular, and Knickerbocker kin who proudly claimed to be descendants of Father Knickerbocker, despite his beginning and no doubt to the contrary, fictional roots. Yes, Father Knickerbocker was once a revered and rivaled "symbol" of old NY, and sometimes known as the equivalent of Uncle Sam, claimed as forefather of many a Knickerbocker!

However, in all actuality (as best we can surmise)again for the history and anals of New York, Father Knickerbocker was the fictional character of Washington Irving, who wrote under the nom de plume of Dietrich Knickerbocker the book, History of New-York .

Through Washington Irvings' writings (1809, and other succesive stories), the image of a benign father figure captured the cities imagination! The city's most popular symbol of the late 19th and early 20th centuries "Father Knickerbocker", was characterized with cotton wig, three-cornered hat, buckled shoes, and, knickered pants.

A part of creating lore and mystique arose in NY.

In summarization, indeed there seems to be abundant proof, that there existed a beautiful bit of nonsense, surrounding "Father Knickerbocker" all rooted into a captive and disconcerting compromise of truth!

Searching through scattered accounts, disturbing historical/comedic mention and great gaps of actual accounts of reference to Father Knickerbocker, some untenable chronicals, fiction (or not!), illustrations, imagination flights of fantasy and daydreamers... history re-affirmed and further cemented that "Father Knickerbocker" is a mythical NY Legend based in real life. Shock value and applause here.

Eventually as time and historys' unique way would have it, the legend of Father Knickerbocker promulgated the useage of “Knickerbocker” and the name became unforgettably linked to anything and everything New York to include edgey Attitude and Style, oh mama! The Knickerbocker name is synonymous and always to remain a fine bit and folklore of New York.

And there you have it! The beginnings of folklore arose from the members of a an erudite family, through a writer of immense genius, to the spawning of such noteables as The Knickerbocker Theatre in New York, The Knickerbocker Knicks, The Knickerbocker Press, Music, brews, great storms,city streets, cartoons, celebrations,predictor of and all things possible!

Alright now, you say? Where does Quite The Stir Bungalow, (a very serious retro arts and crafts bungalow, probable kit home of "as near original integrity and history allows" we might add) fit into this web of folklore?

Here we proudly display history as the fact and by Recorded Deed...John Howard Knickerbocker 1896-1964 was the first resident to take posession of Quite The Stir Bungalow, which may have been very likely built to his ascription.

The following is quoted from a Biographical of John Howard Knickerbocker (1895- 1964)- content supplied from estimable sources:

"He served the Gettysburg College for a period of thirty-five years, as the first formally educated and full time Librarian, and then as Director of the Civil War Institute from 1960 until his death. John Knickerbocker was a native of New York City in a most complete sense. He was a direct descendant of the early settler, Harmon Jansen Knickerbocker, who came to be known as "Father Knickerbocker."...

In his first year at Gettysburg, he initiated a citizens committee for the purpose of establishing a public library for Adams County, PA. He devoted himself to this work with equal dedication, giving freely of himself, his money, and his time to educate the citizens of the (Adams) county to the need for such a library. This effort brought him into contact with library work on all levels, and he extended his interest much further, supporting various library bills on the state and the national levels. The inception of the Adams County Public Library (Gettysburg), which became a reality seventeen years later, is therefore in large measure the result of his work and his hope......

John Knickerbocker was also very much a citizen of the twentieth century world. a citizen he took his responsibilities seriously; he was completely dedicated to the cause of peace, and to the support of the United Nations as the best means of attaining that peace. He gathered together materials, such as a collection of all of the flags of the United Nations, ...

...the community ha(s)ve lost a librarian of outstanding integrity and devotion. He was a unique individual, believing strongly in certain causes, and often exercising the privilege of the person with strongly held principles to be unflinchingly positive in his opinions. Both the College and the County stand in his debt...

This year, December 27th will mark the 45th year of the passing of Mr. Knickerbocker, proud descendent of the Knickerbocker family and, perhaps, Father Knickerbocker, still.

Your Bungalow, John Knickerbocker, now Quite The Stir, says "Thank you John Howard Knickerbocker". We're setting a place at the table for you and "yes" all those unforgettable, memorable past and present owners right on through to our guests and dear friends...while surely keeping the night light of your hopes, dreams and homefires yet burning.

God's Speed.

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