Butterfield Library sponsors essay and poetry contest

As part of a series of programs honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Julia Butterfield, whose bequest funded the Cold Spring library built in 1925 that bears her name, the staff decided to hold a poetry and essay contest for students.

Rena Corey, an author and historian who is on the bicentennial planning committee, came up with the idea of a writing contest. Katherine Latella, the head of children’s services, and Director Johanna Reinhardt decided on an essay contest for older students and a poetry contest for younger ones.

Julia Butterfield
Julia Butterfield

Latella, a former middle school English teacher, suggested using a painting as a prompt for the poem: specifically, an 1863 Thomas Rossiter canvas, “A Pic-Nic on the Hudson,” that hangs in the library and shows prominent citizens of the time posing on Constitution Island.

The younger students were asked to imagine they had attended and what they would have talked about, seen and eaten. Older students were asked: “Imagine you were Julia and you were presented with a world problem today. How do you think she would handle it? Consider her character, values and accomplishments.”

The judges were Corey; Latella; Reinhardt; Kimberly Sabatini, a writer who lives in Garrison; Cassie Ward, director of the Putnam History Museum; and me.

The middle/high school winner was sixth grader Ysabella Jung (Haldane) and the elementary winner was fifth grader Jesse Pirraglia of the Garrison School. Each received $100. Second place among the elementary students went to Pippa Daisley and third place to Zephyr Wayland, both fifth graders at Haldane; each received a library swag bag.

All of the writers were honored at a reception at the library on Dec. 8 in which the winners read their work, without coaxing. Maybe it was the lure of hot cocoa and treats served afterward.

The proceedings concluded with historic songs sung by young carolers who then made their way down Main Street to perform at Cold Spring Aglow.

A Future Changed
By Ysabella Jung

Although the world is big and bright, poverty is always there. It plagues people, making them not even have the necessities needed to help them, causing them to fall into despair. Children can’t even experience the childhood they deserve and have to work as hard as their parents do. Many are unable to receive a proper education.

This shows that even though just waking up in the morning and going to school seems normal enough, it is a privilege that some people do not have. Though you might be tired of your parents saying it, it is a sad truth. We need to help the people who are affected by poverty and there are so many people that could help with this situation. However, one stands out from them all: Julia Butterfield.

Julia Butterfield was a dedicated, faithful and highly influential woman who contributed to building the Butterfield Library. What she would do to fight poverty is to gather all the neighborhood together to her house. It is said that she loved to host parties and once invited the Duke of Russia and the Count of Paris to her gorgeous house. She would also tell about the situation to the Putnam Historical Society. Even though her neighbors and people might shrug it off, at least some people would know and would be willing to stand up for this cause.

It is also said that Julia contributed tons of money to her community, and once, she built a hospital, when there were so few in the rural areas. She would donate and have different charities that would support and help the people. She would probably try and make as many shelters as she could, giving the poor a space where they can actually live. Additionally, she would give the children a school so that they could receive an education. At last, their futures would be changed for the better.

In conclusion, Julia would use her high status to her advantage. She would bring attention to the issue, donate to charities, make shelters and provide education to the children. This shows that she cares about the people and her community. Even if this only helps at least a few people, to them, it’s like a miracle.

My Race to My Special Place
By Zephyr Wayland

I hear the laugh of the mayor’s daughter
As I rush ever closer to the water,
I feel the wind against my face,
But I will continue to race,
I can smell the fresh bread in the clearing,
I am nearing, nearing, nearing
I can almost taste the tea,
Then finally
I can see
The water grounds
Filled with mounds and mounds
Of food—all free.
And I can see
The mayor’s daughter
Sitting next to the water.
The Hudson River’s rush
Fills my ear,
Everything else a hush,
Because I am here
I have completed my race
To the picnic place.

Gathering on the Hudson
By Pippa Daisley

The sun peeking through the trees as I reach for another strawberry
my horses for my carriage neigh and whinny as they impatiently wait for food.

I run over and gift them a sugar cube that was meant for tea.

I am sweating in all these layers of my dress.
It takes an effortful amount of time just to get dressed in the morning.

Meanwhile all the men laugh and clank beer glasses together.
The other ladies gossip and fan themselves but I just sit with my friend and read my book
It’s about a girl who can fly.

I don’t usually like fantasy but I’ll make some exceptions once in a while.

Georgiana’s Lament: or, Why I’m Preoccupied
By Jesse Pirraglia

I hate my cat, I hate my dog, I hate my dress, I want a frog!
Julia is well-to-do, my father wishes I was too.
I want to go out and play, at this picnic I’d rather not stay.
The marsh, it calls me, with insect trills, much finer than these fancy frills.
The river, it calls me, with a burbling spring. I shall never hear a sweeter thing.
I hoist up my dress, I start to run. My shadow grows long under the sun.
The water flows around me as I play. For another day like this, I will pray.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Rooney was the arts editor for The Current since its founding in 2010 through April 2024. A playwright, she has lived in Cold Spring since 1999. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in history. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: Arts

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Hearty congratulations to the Butterfield library staff, board and volunteers in Cold Spring who have worked so hard to celebrate the bicentennial of Julia L. Butterfield’s birth. Creative and collaborative programming — from a cemetery stroll and trivia contest to a live reading of Victorian poetry and an award ceremony for student writers — has entertained and engaged residents of all ages. The recent array of events has not only brought to life a particular time and place in history but has honored our local benefactor in grand style.

Leave a comment

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. All online comments are moderated, must include your full name and may appear in print. See our guidelines here.