Robi is short for Roberta and is prounounced "Robbie."
(Please use the word "history" in the subject line.)
Back in late 1960s, a new college student found herself deep inside the Labyrinth, a steep rocky path leading through boulder rubble from Lake Mohonk up to Sky Top in the northern Shawangunk Mountains (a.k.a. The Gunks) of Ulster County, New York. The Labyrinth was then part of freshman orientation at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
That young woman was me, one of a long line of students helping one another face our fears and reach the summit, including 100 steps to the top of the Albert K. Smiley Memorial Tower on Sky Top. Our reward was a 360-degree view of six states and congrats from the fire observer, who gave each of us a card with our name and his signature. I lost my card long ago but know others who have kept theirs all these years.
We did it! It was a proud day for this Queens kid and many others who hailed from the greater New York City area. Graduation came years later, after my marriage to Ted Reiss and after a year in Scotland where Ted taught secondary school physics. My bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in Journalism, was quickly followed by a master’s degree in English.
I was on my way but still lost in the Labyrinth of life. Where to turn? What to do? I tried journalism and teaching, but neither field was for me. I then landed some terrific consulting jobs, first as a grant writer and exhibits assistant for the Hudson Highlands Museum, a nature museum in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, and then for the Mohonk Preserve as publications editor and a research cataloguer.
I was getting closer, though. While editor, I worked with the Preserve’s ranger and cultural historian, Bob Larsen, who had done ground-breaking research on the Trapps, a vanished Shawangunk mountain hamlet once located near Lake Mohonk. We realized there was a book to be written and teamed up to begin what is now, in 2013, a ten-year partnership.
A few years later, as the new millennium began, opportunity knocked and I opened the door. Click on Books to see the cover and description of my first book, a picture history about Mohonk Mountain House (home of Sky Top and the Labyrinth) and the Mohonk Preserve.
Soon after the Mohonk book came out, Bob and I signed a contract with Black Dome Press to publish our history of the Trapps. It’s been an honor and privilege to work with Bob and with our publisher, Steve Hoare. Best of all, though, are the friendships we’ve made with the last generation to grow up in the Trapps and with their descendants. I finally did it—found my way through the Labyrinth to the summit. There in the sunshine at the top of the mountain was the career for me, a career as a writer of local history. I hope you like my books!
|Site photography Ted Reiss
Background photography & web site design by G. Yeaple,
AdProse Web Design, www.adprose.org