Valerie Skelly, 74, and Dennis Hoffman, 75, both said one person stood out as their favorite teacher when they were growing up in Bellmore –– Adeline Cook.
Cook, 87, began teaching seventh grade at the Newbridge Road School in the early 1950s before moving to Martin Avenue, where she met Skelly and Hoffman. The trio shared memories of school, from the size of their classes to classroom decorations in a November interview at the Bellmore Memorial Library that was made possible by a national pilot program that Cook said the community should be proud to participate in –– StoryCorps.
“It makes you recall all of these things that are sometimes in the recesses of the mind,” she said. “But when you start talking, they all come back. It is a good thing that the library was chosen for something like this.”
The Bellmore Memorial Library was selected by the American Library Association and StoryCorps to take part in a national pilot program called “StoryCorps @ your library” last March. Officials said now that the project is in full swing, they have begun building a local history collection that they hope will be cherished for years to come.
Martha DiVittorio, a reference librarian and the StoryCorps coordinator, said she heard about the project through an American Library Association press release. She described the moment as kismet, as she had been thinking of ways to preserve Bellmore’s past at the library for some time.
“What we had was three really basically organized binders of basically paper clippings –– it wasn’t cataloged in any way,” she said. “It was not accessible. So I really wanted to get a grant that would help us organize and start a local history collection.”