Occasionally we get requests to publish a commentary that welcomed then-President Bill Clinton to the Chautauqua Region when he spent a few days at Chautauqua Institution one October. He came in the off-season looking for a quiet spot to prepare for his presidential campaign debates with Sen. Robert Dole.
The essay sought to define for the president the essence of this region and its
This community directory, with its definitions of who does what and how to
contact them, seems an appropriate time to reaffirm the essence we described
then. Perhaps it will help give flesh and warmth to the wealth of resource
information in this directory about our communities and the people who live
here. We hope you find both efforts useful.
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We're a mixed bunch here - white, black, brown. We're Christians and Jews and
Muslims and Hindus. We live in a far corner of New York state - we are closer to
the Great Plains than the Atlantic seaboard - but we're not so far out of the
way that no one visits. In fact, we're used to seeing a lot of foreigners -
Canadians mostly and even, sometimes, the Washington press corps.
We come from a lot of backgrounds. We are the Swedes of Jamestown, the Dutch of
Clymer, the Poles of Dunkirk and we are Italian, English, German and Albanian.
When King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden came for a visit, he looked us over, saw
what sort of community we have created and, with a royal pronouncement, said
that here, 'good Swedes have become good Americans.'
So have we all.
We gave our state a governor and lieutenant governor, our nation a Supreme Court
justice and to the world we gave the woman who tickled the funny bones of more
people than anyone ever. Roger Tory Peterson opened the natural world to
millions of people. Our Charles Goodell helped heal the wounds of Vietnam.
Oh, yes, and Marmaduke was conceived here.
We are proud of our history. We are the birthplace of the Women's Christian
Temperance Union, the Grange and Welch's. George Pullman was born in Brocton,
B.F. Goodrich in Ripley. Twain, Greeley, Edison, Susan B. Anthony - they all
spent time here. Our Grace Bedell told Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard and he
To the north, we grow grapes, Concords mostly and fine grapes for wine, and we
have vast fruit orchards on the Lake Erie Plains. In the uplands, we have dairy
farms and we grow grain and vegetable crops. In our factories we make some of
the finest furniture in the world, ball and roller bearings for the aerospace
industry and mighty diesel engines.
As does everyone else, we have our problems. We have a large population of
elderly struggling on fixed incomes. We have lost too many good manufacturing
jobs. We have members of minority populations who don't feel welcome even in
their own home towns. Some of us are pretty negative about absolutely
On the other hand, it seems as if we have more churches per capita than anywhere
else and we've been known to cause traffic jams driving to Chautauqua
Institution on a Sunday morning to hear Robert Schuller preach. The 4-H, Boy
Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA and YWCA are strong organizations. So are the Rotary,
Kiwanis, Zonta, United Way, volunteer fire departments and our libraries.
Perhaps our strongest attribute is our resiliency. You are in Buffalo Bills
country, so you have probably already guessed that.
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