ALBANY -- If Elfrieda
Textores were to walk through her neighborhood today, she would
not be happy.
Plywood hangs halfheartedly across jagged windows. For-sale
signs flourish on lower Second Avenue. The disarray has worsened
since her unexpected death in 2004. And if the tireless activist
saw Mayor Jerry Jennings, she'd likely give him an earful.
Instead, Jennings will give remarks at the release of a small
biography entitled "Elfrieda -- A South End Legend,"
during a memorial reception Saturday at the John A. Howe
The tribute to Textores, who was born and who died at her
house at Elizabeth Street and Third Avenue, will raise cash for
the library and for Two Together, Inc., an after-school and
summer enrichment program based in the South End.
Albany residents helped write the biography, including
Elfrieda's husband Bill Textores, librarian Linda Mallory
Mitchell, Alderwoman Carolyn McLaughlin and county Legislator
Lucille McKnight. It will be used in Albany's elementary schools
as part of the social studies "Local Biographies"
The tribute is among several on tap for Textores, a social
studies teacher who grew up working in her parents' bakery and
ran a grass-roots 2002 campaign to save Lincoln Park pool.
"Elfrieda was an inspiration for all of us," said
Laura Chodos, president of Two Together. "She cared about
her community, and especially for the children. Every community
needs an Elfrieda to energize its people to care about and watch
out for each other."
As president of South End Concerned Citizens, Textores spent
years cataloging the blocks of boarded-up properties in a
blighted area routinely ignored by City Hall.
She was an outspoken critic of absentee landlords, real
estate speculators and politicians. The pamphlet-style book
describes Elfrieda's life during the Great Depression with its
trolley rides, penny candy and pickle barrels. Her father,
German immigrant Otto Thiebe, made hot apple kuchen for local
churches. Elfrieda was later known for her anise cookies.
After she retired, Textores began a neighborhood garden,
hosted block parties and saw more than 300 performances at the
"She was an icon," said Jennings.
Textores died in her kitchen in 2004 at age 73.
On April 29, some fifth- and sixth-graders at Giffen
Elementary will receive the First Annual Elfrieda Textores Essay
Awards. This year's theme is "My Own Neighborhood
Dixie cups of seedlings will be given to each child who
attends the memorial reception in keeping with Elfrieda's
tradition of giving plants to children for Mother's Day gifts to
parents, Chodos said.
The library is creating an Elfrieda Collection of books.
Meanwhile, Bill Textores is funding a scholarship in his
wife's name for students involved in community service at the
University at Albany's School of Social Welfare. His former
employer, General Electric, is matching his donation.
"She was involved with so many different things, people
didn't know," Bill Textores said. "And she didn't want
them to know. She never wanted to be noted for anything."
On Easter, she cooked and colored 26 dozen eggs to hide in a
South End field for a hunt. In May, the Textores would arrive on
State Street at 5 a.m. to plant petunias in the city flower
"That was her life, that was just the way she was,"
Textores said. "It's just too bad she couldn't stay a