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Composer Commemorates North Salem in Song, Video

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Chris O’Shaunnessy thinks of North Salem as “My Hometown,” even though she has not lived in town for more than 35 years. 

“North Salem left a lasting, indelible impression on me,” she wrote Saturday from Atlanta, Ga., where she now lives.

In a moment of nostalgia, O’Shaunnessy, 48, gathered pictures from family albums, scanned the Internet for more, and ultimately commemorated the town by creating a video of photos and singing her own composition, “My Hometown,” in a voice-over.

“How picturesque it all seemed in my memory,” she wrote.

Her family lived on Titicus Road, near St. John’s Chapel, for six years while she was in elementary school.

“I remember fields of daffodils that my mother planted,” she said, “and how they swept from our yard, across the stream and up the side yard of St. John’s.”

O’Shaunnessy remembers today’s Union Hall as the Balanced Rock Antiques Store, where she and her father, Tom Manning, bought old-fashioned candies such as root beer barrels. She also recalls hayrides at the Outhouse Orchards, sitting “on the wide wooden floorboards upstairs in the old library, where I discovered ghost stories,” and the crashing sounds of the Goldens Bridge Hunt as they cantered through the nearby woods on weekend mornings.

Friends she remembers from her North Salem childhood include Susan McCarthy, Maria Rivalsi, Shannon Beers, John Pierce, Andy Glochan, Tommy Cole, Mary Birch, Hope Smith, Karen Spano and Ralph Mackin Jr. 

When she was in her early 20s, O’Shaunnessy hoped to make a career as an entertainer, singing with punk rock bands and later, vintage country. Eventually she married, studied art, took up writing, jewelry-making and other creative pursuits. She still continues with her music while holding a full-time job as an administrative assistant for a cultural arts center in Atlanta.

Along with familiar landmarks like the balanced rock in the video, she included a photograph of a North Salem High School musical production called “The Ballad of Braun Michael.” Her mother, Joan Manning, stands in the middle, holding a basket of flowers.

O’Shaunnessy has posted her video on YouTube.

“I hope my song and video make people who live there appreciate what they have,” she said. “It’s a wonderful community and worth preserving and maintaining. I was privileged to live there. It truly lives in my heart.”

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