A Hudson River Valley Childhood
The Goldsands and Silversteins came to Peekskill, NY, one of Westchester’s many river towns, in the first two decades of the 20th century. As a teenager (and before the era of driver’s licenses), my grandmother, Cele, drove her father around the county delivering liquor to speakeasies during Prohibition. He needed her to drive because he wrecked every car he ever owned. My grandmother and grandfather moved to Haverstraw, NY in the early 1920s. She married Marcy Silverstein around 1920 and they moved across the River to Haverstraw.
View from the tunnel:
Haverstraw, NY (historic postcard)
My father was born in their home there at 103 Hudson Avenue in 1925. One of my nephews is named Dylan Hudson in honor of my dad’s birthplace.
I was born in Washington Heights, NY overlooking the Hudson River in 1952 and grew up in the Hudson River Valley about 30 miles north of New York City in Rockland County . My dad, who died in 1995, imparted to me a great respect and veneration for the Hudson River Valley, especially the Hudson Highlands. My love for the river and its landscape has informed my entire life in the outdoors.
My grandfather ran a Haverstraw soda fountain/candy store. The store is now a Dominican diner. The town, which was once Irish and Italian is now thoroughly Dominican. Things change.
My father was a high school social studies teacher, who taught at the old Haverstraw High School and later at North Rockland High School from the early 1950s until 1989.
former Haverstraw High School
He taught us great respect for the history and natural beauty of the river and its surrounding communities. My first hike was with him up High Tor and it became the first of many on trails up and down the river and on both its shores.
Haverstraw, High Tor & the Hudson
Many of these outings were in the Palisades State Park. At age 18, I was one of the first volunteer crew members of the Hudson River sloop Clearwater (the brainchild of Pete Seeger). I’ll never forget the feeling of the rush of the cool night river air as we slept out on deck and the feeling of camaraderie as we sang songs and played music together.
Growing up, Rockland County was on the cusp of changing from a bucolic rural setting filled with stands of untouched forests, orchards and dairy farms into a suburban bedroom community for New York City commuters. Now most of the farms and a great deal of the forests are gone and malls and tract homes have taken their place. But the Hudson River itself and the gorgeous terrain surrounding it remains.
For extraordinary Hudson Valley images, visit Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photo website which features his book of Hudson River Valley photographs, The Hudson River and the Highlands. According to his site, the book is out of print and only available if you join Scenic Hudson, a Hudson Valley preservation organization. Their site does not mention Ketchum’s offer, but I’m assuming it’s still valid. I found my copy of the book in a New York City bookstore devoted to photography. Ketchum is one of the major outdoor/environmental photographers in this country and he has produced a gorgeous ode to the Hudson in this work.