Personal posts by public historian, Rose O'Keefe



Mar 26, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

If you were to divide 8 billion people by 365 days of the year, you’d get millions of people having the same birthday. It blew my mind to think of so many people feeling special on the same day. Today is to be the birthday of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), a most remarkable man.

The Slow Lane

Mar 17, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

Friendship, soups and cards have kept my morale up since major surgery three weeks ago. Even so, being in the slow lane can be a humbling, upsetting experience.

Beyond Words

Mar 12, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

My head has been filled with thoughts and my heart with feelings, but putting pencil to paper and sitting at a computer have been beyond my grasp since double bypass surgery two weeks ago. How did that happen? No matter now. I brought several books with me to fill the hours at the hospital and was grateful beyond words for being able to read them.

The first one, a freebie from a neighborhood Little Free Library, even though it was so-so, filled in gaps while waiting. Squirrels in the School (1996) by Ben Baglio told of the dilemma of Mandy and James, two students whose props for the school play got chewed up by squirrels. The story had a good blend of conflict, pro-animal rights and small-town busy bodies. Mandy’s drive to relocate the squirrels was strong.

Required Reading

Feb 17, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

I brought home the prescription packet for two medications this week, and decided I might as well read the printouts that came with them. The list of side effects for the statin was enough to trigger a panic attack and the caution that it could have more side effects for those over 65 was depressing. The print out for nitroglycerin was just as cheerless and the caution about those over 65 made me cringe. Next I read the 40-page heart surgery information booklet I had received on Monday and by the time I finished it, wanted to crawl into a hole. How is one supposed to process this generic information and disclaimer? Fortunately, I have a very kind and caring doctor at Highland Family Medicine, who helped me out.

While Waiting

Feb 12, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

A friend who has stents dropped by this week to give me a copy of Time Health “The Latest Scoop on Statins.” The editorial on cholesterol was generally good.  I’m not sure why the first article was on gene editing solutions for recurring cancers, but maybe that option will become available for heart disease. The brief on deaths from alcohol was sobering. The brief on sleep was useful. The brief on fitness and exercise was good. Finally the centerfold on statins. While it had good explanations, what caught my attention was a “non-statin cholesterol option that may resolve muscle problems.” I like the sound of that.

Heavy Heart, Happy Heart

Feb 05, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

Word was this past week, that our part of western New York had 49 days without sun. Yikes. I don’t know if dealing with seasonal affective disorder ever gets easier, but January was a doozy. Well, it ends up I have more than. This week, I learned that I have a clogged left artery. It was with a heavy heart that I faced several medical appointments and dealt with the waiting by finishing All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ((1986) by Robert Fulghum.

Stardust and Stuff

Jan 28, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

I brought Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ((1986) with me to an appointment where I knew I would be waiting for a while. What a treat to reread his popular essay about sharing, not hitting others, playing fair, putting things back, cleaning up after yourself, not taking other’s things, saying sorry, washing your hands before eating, taking a nap every afternoon and more. Beyond that one are more, mostly short reads, perfect pick-me ups.


Jan 14, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

What a pleasure to read about “The art of "Louise's Daughter" by Rochester neighbors Cheryl and Don Olney, that is on display at the Central Library’s Arts & Literature Division (Rundel Building).Local artists Cheryl and Don Olney expertly craft colorful, upbeat, wooden figures of dancers and other joyful designs. They also make a variety of jewelry, note cards, and mechanical/kinetic pieces. Their business, named “Louise’s Daughter” in honor of Cheryl’s mother, was established in 1995.” I am so proud to know them!

My Happy Place

Jan 07, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

I am prone to intense bouts of cabin fever and one way I work them out is to go to my happy place piecing together PowerPoints.  I have several stored in my computer files along with dozens of images about neighborhood and local history. I remember years ago thinking there must be a way to use them and share some of what I’ve learned. Happily, the other day I got the idea to convert them to eBooks, and saw that it is supposedly not that hard to do.


Dec 31, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

In no order in particular, I would like to give thanks for:  
My decision on the first day of 2022, when I chose once again to study the workbook daily lessons in A Course in Miracles. The ending lesson of the year includes the following: “And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give.” As an eclectic type, this year I combined ACIM’s daily lesson, with online daily sacred cards from The Source Cards, and then added “The Inner Child Meditation” and Ho’oponopono Hawaiian forgiveness prayer from YouTube. What a wonderful blend.

Happy All of It!

Dec 24, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

As the year draws to a close, I have to look back on the gifts that I have received from many books, magazines and newspaper articles. Thank you to all the writers who connect us to each other. Happy All of It to Everyone!

On a bright note, I was thrilled to receive a reply from noted scholar, Celeste-Marie Bernier. Among other kind words, she shared this about my 2nd edition of Special Delivery: From One Stop to Another on the Underground Railroad: “My heartfelt congratulations to you on your breathtakingly beautiful book!!!!!!!!!! Thank you ever so ever so ever so ever so much for wonderfully giving me a copy ! I read it the first minute I got on the train from Rochester to Boston and absolutely loved loved loved loved it - absolutely magnificent!!!!! A tour de force of sparkly brilliance!! Wow wow wow!!”

So Many Books

Dec 08, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Two weeks ago, I woke up feeling so young, without understand how young. I had finished reading Carolyn Sherwin Bailey’s Miss Hickory, the 1946 Newbery Award winner, and must have absorbed a youthful mindset from it. The story is about the upsets of a twig doll whose barely mentioned owner has outgrown her. The relationships that this feisty doll has with Crow, Squirrel, Fawn, Cow and others were imaginative and fanciful.

Heart Warming

Nov 21, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

It felt good to read Robert Lawson’s 1945 Newbery Award winner, Rabbit Hill, because it was such a heart-warming and clever story. The characters were animals in the countryside who were all atwitter about new people moving into a rundown house. The critters were anxious about whether the newcomers would have a mean dog or cat, use poison, traps and baits, and most of all, what kind of garden they would grow. Each animal had its favorite foods that it longed for.

My Humble Career

Nov 14, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Recently, when I re-read the words of the Desiderata, a poem written in 1972 by Max Ehrmann, a line jumped out at me: “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” How true. I keep plugging away at projects that keep me happy. Speaking of happiness, it’s a pleasure to share the link to a short video on Spectrum Local News about a recent school visit:

The Learning Curve

Nov 08, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

I have had my share of successes and failures with the learning curve on book projects. The creative burst-and-bust cycle has thrashed and bashed me more than once and my latest round with editing a non-fiction history project was like wrestling with an alligator. So what, right? Having to take breaks only meant that it took longer to complete than expected. It also meant that I didn’t keep up with my regular reading.

Upcoming Events

Nov 03, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

I  have the pleasure of being one of 49 authors and illustrators who will be at the 25th Rochester Children's Book Festival, Saturday Nov. 5. This year’s event is at RIT, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  in the Student Alumni Union. My presentation on Frederick and Anna Douglass will be at 11 :30 a.m. in the Bamboo Room. If you plan to attend, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to walk from Parking Lot D. I am selling my history books from 1 to 4 p.m. in the main room.

Down a Rabbit Hole

Oct 27, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
It feels like I've slipped down a rabbit hole lately while doing a large editing project and I'm not reading much. Pearl Buck's essays in My Several Worlds are too intense to keep up with.

On Being a Wannabe

Oct 10, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

The October issue of Rochester’s City magazine hit the spot. The page-two Welcome was about the return of a bigger and better Best-of-Rochester readers’ poll. The enthusiasm was catchy! Every time I read City, I wish I were working at a newspaper again (but only while I’m reading it.)

The feature, “Family Business, A century of being there,” about Millard E. Latimer and Sons funeral business, was well done. This hundred-year-old business has been an anchor in the black community through countless ups and downs. David Andreatta’s article was informative, respectful and thorough.


Oct 03, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Like the cold front that moved across WNY with low gray clouds and high crystal-blue clouds, downpours and brisk winds, my reading habits have been unsettled. Each week, I plan to finish one book and start another, but that didn’t work with Pearl S. Buck’s memoir, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (1954). My heart ached at the poignancy of her longing for the early, innocent years of her childhood in China before 1900. She was eight during the anti-colonial Boxer Rebellion that forced her missionary parents to return to the United States around 1901.

If Only

Sep 26, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

If only I had bionic eyes that could read without straining and could complete all my chores and errands without getting discombobulated, then I would definitely add more books to my reading list. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly of Sept. 12 & 19, Books for Global Readers, was so enticing, starting with How to Speak Whale by Tom Mustill. I remember buying the record mentioned, Songs of the Humpback Whale in the Seventies and playing it for my baby. Such fond memories.