While there were several speakers who have published books and conducted extensive research, the star of the show was fourth grader Dava Kielb.
After taking a trip to the Grist Mill Museum with her second grade Rhame Avenue Elementary School class, her teacher, Lorraine Liberti, asked the class to write a story about their experiences. Kielb, now 10, took a different route than other students in her class and wrote “A Night at the Old Grist Mill Museum,” a story about her and a friend getting trapped in museum and encountering spirits of people who once lived in East Rockaway.
After reading the story, Liberti encouraged Kielb to continue to work on it because she thought it was well written and interesting. Kielb, with the help of her mother, Kim, and grandmother, finished writing and illustrating her story. She read “A Night at the Old Grist Mill Museum” on June 21 for people of all ages to hear, including some of her classmates.
“I’ve got to be honest,” Dava told the crowd before she started reading, “I’m not a big fan of writing, but this one was fun because it didn’t matter, you could let your imagination run wild.”
Kielb said she was nervous at first but quickly relaxed once she began reading and felt at ease having her friends sitting in the front row. “I knew that they were my true friends,” she said. “One day if they have a special thing I’m definitely going to come for them.”
Her former teacher, Liberti, was in the audience and said Kielb did a fantastic job. “It was thrilling,” Liberti said. “When you have all of that mind-numbing paperwork, this makes it all worthwhile.”
Madeline Pearson, president of the historical society, was impressed by Kielb. “Hopefully she’s an inspiration to other young kids to write as well,” Pearson said.
Coincidentally, Kielb currently lives in the home that was formerly occupied by Mildred Roemer, author of “East Rockaway: It Happened Here.” John Bishop illustrated the book and knew Roemer well while growing up. “He is lucky to know Mildred Roemer because I’ve heard she’s a great person,” Kielb said.