Friday, May 29, 2009

Foggy Catskills

View of Central Valley area from Route 6. On my way to Parksville from Bear Mountain.

Houses in the fog. The day wore on but the fog didn't lift. There was a lot of rain overnight.

The next morning there was less fog. I drove to the lost hamlet of Egypt on the old Egypt Road, an abandoned logging road that is a bit rough. After about a half mile you have to switch to an ATV or walk to where the settlement was, but it's less than a mile.

A pleasant walk.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Piermont NY ~

A day trip to Piermont is worthwhile if you scenic walks, dining out, browsing in art galleries, and shopping at a variety of boutiques.

Some of the buildings in Bogertown date from the 1700s.

The Piermont pier was a major embarkation point for World War II troops traveling from nearby Camp Shanks to war torn Europe. My Uncle John traveled this route.

Always fun to look at details on houses.

Two turtles, a truck, and some pants.

Piermont's Community Garden is right on the Hudson River.

Piermont is a popular stop for bicyclists on a route that goes from NYC to Hook Mountain.

The Main drag (Piermont Avenue) is loaded with restaurants and shops ~ including a huge kitchenware boutique.

Lots of bowers and boats.

The Sneden House (pronounced Sneed-en)

Nearby Sneden's Landing was once home to celebrities like Bill Murray and Al Pacino. New Yorker writer Maeve Brennan lived in the private community of Sneden's Landing and wrote a series of short stories about it, (Calling it Herbert's Retreat to disguise the place somewhat.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Up The River ~ Ossining Part Two

The exhibit was interesting.

Handcrafted by prisoners --stabbing weapons.

Sing Sing prisoner Harry Smiler was the first to be fried in the chair (this is just a model of the original.) On a summer day in 1891, Harry was the first of four condemned criminals to be executed. By 1907 all executions for NYC area prisoners were assigned to Sing Sing, which had expanded for the purpose, becoming The Big House. Former popular execution sites included the island that the Statue of Liberty now stands on. If you were doomed, you were sent Up The River, your final journey or Last Mile.

Depressing cells.

Really depressing cell from the 1820's. This was a dark dank 7 foot by maybe 3 or 4 foot space. I peered inside and saw, crumpled in one corner, a Cheetos bag. Who knew they had Cheetos back then? Actually the prisoners were given coffee and mush and other things. But no snack foods.

There were a lot of bad punishments and this one wasn't the worst one by any stretch of the imagination -- in fact it was probably the nicest punishment back in the old days when Sing Sing was called The House of Fear. Back then the philosophy was, the worst prison is the best prison.

John Cheever made Ossining his hometown in the 1950's and taught there. He wrote Falconer a story of a college professor who ends up in a prison (based on Sing Sing) for killing his bad brother. Falconer is the only Cheever novel I've read --it was very good.

There's a certain amount of negative energy when you have a huge prison near your home. There's no getting around this, and it's probably healthy to indulge in a little denial when you live in a prison town. I find that prison towns all over NY State have this same feeling in the air. You have a large building in town that houses a large overcrowded population of generally unhappy humans --how could this not effect the town in some way? One local told me you have to put it out of your mind when you can, and try to be more upbeat in little ways. He works in a deli and sees women and children coming through on visits. He tries to be extra nice to these customers. While I was there, one little girl leaving the prison grounds with her mother told me she had been to see her Papa. She was just happily announcing it to everyone. She'd seen her papa.

A small house just steps away from the prison.

Millions of American children have an incarcerated parent. At Sing Sing there is a state of the art Family Work's children's visiting center that also provides parenting classes for fathers. Sing Sing also has a privately funded college education program and every year has a graduation ceremony for inmates who get their bachelor degrees. The inmates with degrees who are not paroled become teachers on the inside.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ossining, NY

Revitalization of the river front means more parks. What a spectacular view. I love the Hudson River.

Returning to Ossining, this was the most recognizable part of town for me. (I hadn't been up here in ten years.)

There is plenty of simple housing here, but these homes have river views.

The train station was crowded with workers restoring, renovating, & repairing. This gentleman was installing a bird deterrent. Any spot where birds like to roost becomes a problem area.

Park and playground on the waterfront. At first glance it looks like a little lighthouse is behind that playground boat...

but walk further along (and pass a proud parent with little ones) and guess what?

It wasn't a little lighthouse, but a prison observation tower like these. I visited the grounds and an interesting historical exhibit. ( More about the prison and the prison exhibit in the next post. )

There were a lot of large well kept homes. This one had a full river view, with a view of the train station and a birdseye view of the prison as well.

Ossining is a busy town, but it could use more small businesses.

The facade of the huge hardware store on Main Street caught my eye.

This house was directly across from one of the entrances to the prison.

Ossining was originally an Indian village settled by the Sint Sinck Indians. The Sint Sincks (the name roughly meant The People of the Stone Pile or "Stone upon Stone") were part of the Mohegan - Pequot tribe of Connecticut. In 1685 the Sint Sincks sold their land to Frederick Philipse, a wealthy landowner that already had miles and miles of land which was referred to as his manor.

After the revolution all of the manor, from Ossining to Spuyten Duyvil in The Bronx, was confiscated since Philipse was a loyalist. Parcels of land were auctioned to hard working simple folk like the Dutch tenant farmers.

The Village was called Sing Sing, which was an altered form of Sint Sinck. Later, after Sing Sing prison became well known, the village wanted to psychologically distance itself from the prison, and wanted to change its name to Ossinsing (Os-sin-sing = O Sint Sinck) ) they dropped one letter, decided on the name Ossining. (Os- sin -ing.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Town of Highlands, NY

A Highlands view. The Town of Highlands includes Fort Montgomery, part of Bear Mountain, The Village of Highland Falls, and part of West Point. It sits on the left bank of the Hudson River across from Garrison, New York.

Great hikes! The Fort Montgomery Museum is just steps away. There are trails over and under bridges with magnificent views. These stone steps were handmade by Eddie Walsh of The NYNJ Trail Conference

The area is filled with historic markers.

I should take a guided tour of West Point someday.

A barber and a cadet explain the types of haircuts a cadet is allowed to have. As long as it's well-clipped around the ears, the hair can be as long as three inches. Cadets who have springy hair and or cowlicks prefer longer hair so it looks neat. Most get the shortest cut possible for summer.

Haircuts were not mandatory during the revolution. Why are these guys so upset? Those pesky British have arrived. The Fort Montgomery Museum is great, and the admission is free. There are also films, lots of guns and swords.

The True Value Hardware on main street got a lot of phone orders while I was there.

This Hardware store once housed an old theatre on the upper floor and an apothecary on the main floor. It's been a hardware store for many decades.

Although they're just across the street from one another, the two store owners get along very well and share customers.

The Rose hardware Store has been on Main Street since 1906.

A little hardware close up for you know who. Oooh! nails!

The Rose Hardware store once had toy department that included little pedal cars and bicycles back in the old days when such things were ordered especially for a child's birthday

Hannibal The Mule is West Point's beloved mascot. He's often decorated with laurel leaves.

Ice Cream on Main Street.

Many small motels in the area, stopping here for more than a day is a good idea since there are so many sites to see and gorgeous hiking opportunities.
The Half Moon is a very significant symbol in the area. It was the name of Henry Hudson's ship.

John Burroughs taught and wrote here in Highlands. Not surprising that he found the area incredibly beautiful. It is still amazing today.

Yesterday was hot and sunny, so I was glad for the shady spots and many blossoms.

Town Hall is across the street from the Post Office.

Highland Falls is easy to walk around and you can get free tour maps at The Village Hall.

This was the first person I ran into when I got into town. He was very nice.

A house on Parry Street

The Museum at West Point is really amazing. They have one of the largest collections of military arms, uniforms, & badges in the world.