Oct 8, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
If you hear about the couple found dead in our apartment complex, I want to assure you it wasn't us (one local friend was worried when I didn't answer my phone yesterday). On our way home from our daughter's Tuesday night, we thought police cars were chasing us for some unknown traffic violation, so we pulled over. They blew past us and pulled into our apartment complex. Yesterday morning, our apartment management emailed us: "At approximately 7:40pm, suspicious activity was reported. Management and the Baldwinsville Police Department immediately reported to the scene and determined that a shooting occurred resulting in the death of two residents...Anyone with information that could assist should call the Baldwinsville Police Department...You might notice an increased police presence on the property as the authorities continue their investigation." A blanket was covering the patio doors to their apartment yesterday. The dead man looks familiar to me, probably seen on my walks. For the news story, click here. If you are aware of anyone who could be in a domestic violence crisis, we recommend Vera House, a non-profit we help support.
Given today's emotionally painful climate, I think it's more important than ever that family and friends stay connected and help each other find joy and fight against hopelessness. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). I find joy in staying in touch with you, watching rescued baby elephants on Youtube, taking drives/walks with family, and working to prevent the transmission of CMV, the virus that injured our daughter Elizabeth’s brain.
My friend Jules is a therapist in charge of the Air Force's psychological health program. She likes the Air Force's suicide prevention motto: "Connect to Protect". She says that fundamentally, people just want one thing--to belong. She suggests that if you notice someone has lost their smile, ask them, "You don't seem yourself, are you OK? Is there something I can do for you?" If the person says no, she suggests stating, "OK., just let me know if that changes." She believes "it's better to give someone the gift of connection than the gift of silence--it's OK to be intrusive to make sure someone is OK."
For those of you who may remember Jules's name, she is the sailor who talked Jim and me into helping her and her husband Neil sail her boat from Maryland to Mystic in the winter. You can read excerpts of my book, "Mystic Seafarer's Trail,"at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A3RX85E . One excerpt Chapter 1: Shortly after stepping out of my new home with my hound for our first stroll through the historic seacoast village of Mystic, a woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me." Assuming she was a tourist wanting directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know. "Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"...If you want to watch me on a boat interviewing a shipwreck explorer who finds true sailing disasters, see: https://youtu.be/-MWJBfIxIBE
Attached are pictures of rainbows we saw the other day on our way home from Seneca Falls, the village considered the inspiration for the set of Frank Capra's movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". The movie is set in the fictional village of Bedford Falls in upstate NY. It has a bridge similar to the one over the canal in Seneca Falls. In real life, a woman threw herself off that Seneca Falls bridge into the canal, but a man jumped in and saved her. The woman was pulled out, but the man drowned. Perhaps the Seneca Falls bridge story inspired some of the story line in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (Sadly, my great-aunt Rebecca Chamberlain Whyland did successfully drown herself in the Erie Canal in 1941 by driving her car into it--or was it murder? See below my signature for clues). The best thing about Seneca Falls is its simple, free It's A Wonderful Life museum. Filled with memorabilia and images donated by Karolyn Grimes, who played “Zuzu” in the film, what especially touched me was that they distributed pamphlets on suicide prevention, how to handle the loss of someone and how to support suicide prevention legislation, because the theme of "It's a Wonderful Life" is to give people pause before doing something at the height of emotional distress. That movie helped me when I was in despair after my daughter Elizabeth was born with a severely damaged brain in 1989. The Museum’s Exhibit includes quotes from Frank Capra that focus on his philosophy of the value of each individual, together with images from the film. I particularly like his quote: "People are seeking spiritual and moral reassurance, and if the movies can't supply this, they will be serving no worthwhile purpose."
I have been asked by my local TV access station to find guests who can present hopeful or happy information to cheer up the public. One of my upcoming interviews will be with Michael Whitehouse, a business consultant, who will be talking about "How to Make a Living Remotely". You may also get inspired by this interview: “Ask the Expert: "The Power of YES: Learning After Age 50 withElizabeth Saede".
I will try to update my public Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/
AuthorLisaSaunders, with more photos of upstate NY villages near the old and new Erie Canal along with my local access TV interviews once they get uploaded to Youtube.
P.S. HELP ME SOLVE AUNT REBECCA'S DEATH MYSTERIES
A week later, on November 20, the newspaper reported the following: Coroner Issues Suicide Verdict Funeral Held Saturday Coroner Davide H. Atwater, after a thorough investigation, listed Friday, the death of Mrs. Rebecca Whyland of Chase road, Hamlin, who was found Nov. 12 in her car at the bottom of the Barge canal, as "by suicide while temporarily insane." Besides her husband, Lester, Mrs. Whyland is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Chamberlain; two sisters, Mrs. Wilbur VanDorn and Mrs Harold Brown; two brothers, Arthur of Rochester and Irving of Hilton; and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services were conducted from her late home, Saturday, afternoon at 2 o'clock. Internment took place in Parma Union cemetery.
My local librarian is helping me investigate Rebecca's death and the find the stretch of road she was reported to have driven in from: “Lake Road is called Main Street in Brockport and Sweden-Walker Road runs parallel to Main (Lake) Street. The road that follows the canal is called East Canal Road. I've driven it and it's very picturesque with no guardrails or anything to stop a car from running off the road. That stretch is about four miles,” said Jacquie Owens, Adult Services Librarian, Baldwinsville Public Library. Owens questions Rebecca's suicide verdict along with me and hopes that as a family member, I may be able to get a copy of the coroner's report (see note below). She says, "In the back of my mind, I did a double take when I saw the suicide by reason of temporary insanity. What was the reason for the insanity? Was there any evidence that she was acting strangely or did the coroner just assume she was because it looked like a suicide? I hate when scientists make assumptions. Also, they said that the car was crushed as if a barge passed over it. Didn't the barge, if there was one, think to report the scraping, especially since it damaged the boat? And did a barge even pass by between the time she went in and the time she was pulled out?"
I uploaded the above articles and the photograph I keep of her beside my computer on Find a Grave at: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/153574329/rebecca-c.-whyland
I'm also looking into the 1826 case of the missing, probably murdered Freemason William Morgan who was trying to publish a book exposing Freemasonry's secrets. The "Morgan Murder" caused division in my 19th century family who lived along the Canal per a letter I recently read from my 4th great-grandfather, banker William Sisson of Lyons (a Freemason), to his brother-in-law, my distant uncle, Justus Gale, of Rochester, who supported the Anti-Mason movement.