Betty and Arthur Salz vacationed in the Berkshires every summer until 1969. That year, they learned the house they were staying in wouldn’t be ready when they wanted it, so they decided to try Chautauqua.
“We fell in love with the place and said, ‘We must spend part of every summer for the rest of our lives here,’ ” Arthur Salz said.
Two years later, the couple bought a house on Ames, where they’ve indeed spent at least part of every summer since. The Salzes found themselves wondering about who their street was named after and started researching at the Chautauqua Institution Archives in old issues of The Chautauquan Daily.
After learning about Ames, the Salzes were curious about the origins of other streets’ names and the stories behind them. This turned into their book, Chautauqua: The Streets Where You Live, which was first published in 2012.
The third edition of their book will arrive at the Chautauqua Bookstore next week. To mark the occasion, the Salzes will host a one-hour walking tour starting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, in front of the bookstore. The couple will lead participants around the edge of the grounds, using a map from 1879 (copies of which participants will receive) for reference.
Both Arthur and Betty Salz worked as teachers before retiring in 2018 and 2002, respectively. He taught math and science elementary education at Queens College, and for 35 years she taught middle school students who were blind. During the summer, Betty Salz transcribed programs for Chautauqua’s former Braille Club (she’s since stopped, she said, because “now everything is digital”).
To put together their book, Betty Salz handled the research, and Arthur Salz wrote. The couple continues to publish new editions as they discover additional information about Chautauqua.
“It’s a combination of what we both love to do,” Betty Salz said.
Many Chautauqua streets were named for 18th- and 19th-century Methodist bishops. Betty Salz combed through records at Drew University, which is associated with the United Methodist Church, in New Jersey in addition to the Archives, for more information on the namesakes.
What surprised the Salzes most, they said, was learning about the nature of the bishops’ lives. They were “rough and tumble guys,” Arthur Salz said, who would ride their horses hundreds of miles every year to reach villages and deliver sermons.
The Salzes are also intrigued by the bishops’ personal lives. According to Betty Salz, several were advocates for Native Americans and “friendly with presidents.”
Arthur Salz is most interested in the story of Jesse Truesdell Peck, a Methodist bishop who went on to run Dickinson College. Peck, as Arthur Salz put it, “did not have a good way with the students.” Once, they found someone to impersonate Peck and had him locked up in a sanitarium.
Another time, the students trapped him in a freight train car and pushed him down a hill.
Betty Salz, on the other hand, cites Hiram A. Pratt as her favorite former Chautauquan whom a street is named after. She admires his work ethic and how thoroughly he ingrained himself in the Chautauqua community.
“He was a working person,” Betty Salz said. “He did everything on the grounds.”
For the Salzes, the magic of Chautauqua hasn’t faded since they first arrived in 1969.
“You can walk out and do almost anything you feel like doing at the moment, without transportation,” Betty Salz said. “There’s activities, there’s stimulation, there’s community, there’s nature. You just walk out of your house and go to it. … Everybody has this friendly, open- door policy.”
Arthur Salz agreed.
“The lectures are fascinating, there’s music wherever you turn … you can’t beat this place,” he said.