February 19, 2016

Talk puts spotlight on Tully Valley

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
David Franke, who teaches creative, technical and nonfiction writing for the Professional Writing Program in SUNY Cortland’s English program reads his paper, “Place As Voice,” while he was in front of a map of the Tully Valley. Franke noted that the Solvay Process Company, a national salt business, was the major industry in the valley from the 1800s to 1986.

Staff Reporter

Reading through five passages on his writing project, SUNY Cortland professor David Franke used imagery of Tully Valley to point out to the audience what the phrase, “Where we are,” means to him.
SUNY Cortland is hosting the series, “Where Are We,” throughout the months of February and March, with Franke kicking off the series with his hour-long reading of life in the Tully Valley.
Instead of a point on a map or a landscape, Frank argues that to dwell in an area is to become a part of its culture. Franke first moved to Tully in 2009 after being appointed to the SUNY Cortland faculty as an English professor.
Franke teaches creative, fiction and nonfiction writing and he serves on the faculty writing group at the college.
While he admits in the passage he is, “an outsider,” he still considers himself a part of the life and culture of the small town of Tully.
He made reference to the one stop light in town, and said in reality there are two stop lights, the other, he said, residents disregard because it is on the outskirts near Interstate 81.
Franke discussed how Tully Valley was the home of a national salt company, The Solvay Process Co. in the 1800s. By conversations with his next door neighbor, a character in the writing project, Mr. Williams, a salt miner from the company that closed in 1986, Franke was able to capture the lifestyle of the town he now calls home.
He also discussed the aftereffects of living in a town where salt was the biggest industry. He spoke about mudboils, which occur on or after a rainy day, where the rain seeps into the soil and pushes up the salt, making a small bubble.
Jim and Pat Clark, residents of Cortlandville, attended the lecture to learn more about the area.
“I was so entranced into what Franke was saying as he was speaking, he gives beautiful imagery and it was a pleasure to sit and listen to him speak,” Jim Clark said.
He added that he and his wife, Pat, had lived in the area since 1969. He said they wanted to attend the lecture to learn more about the Cortland area that they love.
Jim Clark was SUNY Cortland president from 1979 to 1995.

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