The Stockade Spy Celebrates 60 years!
Sylvie Briber, Editor
It has been my great privilege to be editor of The Stockade Spy for 22 years, carrying the torch from the days when Jim Schmitt founded the paper in 1961 and Werner Feibes sketched the original Stockade Spy mast head, that we are still using today. I thank so many of our talented and generous neighbors who have contributed their writing, poetry, photos, drawings, financial, managerial and graphic skills over the years. And thank you’s go to all our many advertisers for their steadfast support.
Now at this sixty-year mark, I thought it might be fitting to reflect on the bygone years of the Stockade Spy.
The First Spy
The first Spy was printed in January, 1961, commemorating Schenectady’s Tri-Centennial, 1661-1961. The following is an excerpt from that issue written by Jim Schmitt, Stockade Association President at the time. First editor was Barrie C. Covert, Stockade neighbor at 33 Front Street.
“1661-1961 This is the year of the Tri-Centenary. Since Ar- ent Van Curler settled his band on the Right Bank of the Mohawk and established the Schenectady Stockade, three hundred years have passed. Today the Stockade Area is a small portion of the Schenectady Metropolis…and contains the original seventeenth century settlement laid out in the time of its founders and is one of the few communities in America…where architecture of every historic American period is still to be seen…Throughout America, historic architecture in the urban scene has been subjected to a continuous process of loss and deterioration. The art that is architecture cannot be collected in a gallery, but lives on in the museums of buildings, and the people are their curators.
The citizens of old areas are responsible for finding ways to safeguard, renew and bring historic architecture into liv- ing use in the contemporary world. If over a period of time, the best structures of the past can be saved and the poor ones replaced, the cities will become repositories of man’s outstanding architectural achievements. It is to this goal of preservation and progress that the Stockade Association and this publication, its official organ, is dedicated.”
Changes Through the Years
A special feature of early issues was there were no photo- graphs. All the ads were hand drawn and the many sketch- es gave the paper a special charm. From our neighbors, I heard that the previous Spy team had a wonderful time coming together each month for wine and cheese and would physically cut and paste each page!
When I became editor in 1996, we made some significant changes. We reduced the size from 11 X 141⁄2 to 81⁄2 x 11. (And in the early days, the paper had even been larger – 11 x 17!) The printing cost for those large sheets was expensive and by reducing the size to 81⁄2 x 11 we decreased the cost by two-thirds! Also, we increased the individual ad rates from $12 per issue, to $24. In those days, there was an ad per- son who went to businesses every month to get ads for that issue. Advertisers were not always prompt with their payment and so the ad person had to keep asking long after the ads appeared. With high printing costs and lacking sufficient funds from advertising, the Spy budget became depleted. One of our neighbors came up with a suggestion: that advertisers sign up for the whole 9 issues and write just one check even before the year started. In that way, we would have an idea of our budget. With these changes, the Spy was soon turning a profit, making a little extra for the Association! We were then able to afford issues that were 12, 14 and even 16 pages! We soon even started to have color covers! But then color printing costs became too high, and so now we have a color cover once a year and have dipped to 8 pages.
In 2011 the Stockade Spy celebrated its 50 years with a big birthday bash at the Stockade Inn, honoring Jim Schmitt and Werner Feibes with cake, candles and fun!
To celebrate our 60 years, past Stockade President, and longtime Spy staff member, Carol DeLaMarter, has given us all a great gift by scanning most of the Spys, back to 1961, so you can read Jim Schmitt’s first article in full and enjoy Werner’s wonderful sketches through the years. Just go to the Stockade Association website – historicstockade.org – and click on “The Stockade Spy Archives.” In the November 2021 issue on page 3, Carol has also written an article about the changes to the Spy over time.
May the Stockade Spy live on for another 60 years!