19 thoughts on “Haverstraw Civil War Poster – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Hi;
    My family history in Haverstraw goes back, on my grandfathers side (town building inspector and engineer of the police/firehouse in the downtown area) to the late 1800’s. My grandmother’s family goes back to before the landslide in 1906 (her family lived on Division street–right near the no longer existant Rockland street). I share a love for the little town and that includes embracing the less than idellic side of the place.

    In the 1880’s, a Doctor Green wrote a comprehensive history of Rockland County going back through the Dutch settl;ers and earl;y land grants of the 1600’s. It is masrvellous to read the Revolutionary War history told by residents whose fathers and maybe themselves took part in it–on the small, personal scale. Stories, with names and locations, where British forreging parties from nearby ships in the Hudson, came ashore to the homes of known Torries in order to get provisions and to be steered to Patriot homes to steal and butcher livestock and do worse. In it he writes of several accounts where minutemen comprised of people with last names still common in Haverstraw, routed or took revenge upon the Britiish forraging parties and the local traitors.

    My friend, here comes the ignoble part of the history. Dr. Green, by the time he reaches the mid 1800’s, is describing Haverstraw as being considered the ROUGH and WILD town in the county as well as one of the wealthiest and most corrupt. In a word “Bricks”. A method of improvimng the efficiency and quality of brick jmanufacture was discovered and implimented by a local businessman, and the rest is known.

    Dr Green describes the Haverstraw of Civil War tims as being regularly chastized by the State and other towns of the county for not meeting their quota for conscription. There was an option in those times that you could buy your way out of conscription for a large sum of money or pay someone to go in your place. The businessmen in Haverstraw consistently offered paultry sums of money for anyone who would enlist in the name of their sone–each time the town would receive a mandate to step up and pull their share of the weight in the war, trhere would be another town meeting–and a slight increase in the money offered for volunteers.

    In addition to this, on a plack outside of the county courthouse, there is a chronological list of all police officers killed in the line of duty in Rockland–the first was in the very early 1900’s–in Haverstraw.

    I am not one to romanticize anything in life–I love Haverstraw and it’s blemishes are part of what have made it.

    Maybe you can help me in a quest. I am looking for a book referenced by Dr. Green. He refers to it as an excellent history of Haverstraw written by a Reverand Freeman. There is a Reverend Freeman who was very popular and important in Haverstraw for about 40 years durinmg the latter half of the 1800’s–I assume that he is one and the same.

    Any help is appreciated;
    Ambrose Matelski

  2. My grandparents moved to Haverstraw in the mid-1920’s and my grandmother lived there until 1977. She owned a candy store on Broad St. Did you have family in Haverstraw during this time period?

      1. My grandfather didn’t own it then (he died in 1959). But I believe it was still a soda fountain/candy store. It had a counter on the right side as you walked in with diner type round stools. I remember them being red.

  3. Hi. My Grandparents lived on Broad street in haverstraw from 1917 until the early b1970’s when my grandmother died. Part way from BROADWAY going up BROAD STRET, as you would be walking towards the Hudson were some side streets–two of which actually crossed over Broad Street. The first of these had a candy store on the right corner of the intersection. sometime in the mid 1960’s it was taken over by one of the early Dominican Republicans to locate there. I am a POLISHPOLISHPOLISH(irish) AMERICAN and shocked my small minded (irish) family when I revealed that I had not only gone to this place which now specialized on the food for these foreigners–but I WAS NUTS ABOUT THE DRIED SM

    1. What are your grandparents’ names? My grandparents and their offspring lived on Broad St. from the mid 1920’s until 1965.

      1. Hi;

        First, I want to apologize for the mass of typo’s in my last post. Blame insomnia and caffeine. My Grandparents were the Buttlers and they lived in the house with the large brick stairway to a second floor main entrance. There were some geometric shapes built into the brick walls on either side of the stairway. I do not recall their street address. My grandfather, besides his other credentials, did excellent brick work. He built the stairs himself.

        The current owners have painted over the entire structure-white I believe.

        The reason that the main entrance was on the second floor is because a Doctor Davis originally owned the house. You would walk down a few steps and enter what my grandparents used as a basement. My grandfather told me, once as I was building a go cart down there (I raced William Wasmer-father owned the Camera Mart)) that the front room which had a large window was the waiting room and two back rooms were for an ofice and patients. My grandfather, in the mid 1960’s, added more space to that level.

        I recall using that front basement room as a hobby space for model trains. Eventually cold winters and cool grandparents rendered my using a large front bedroom on the upper floor for a train table, 1/32 scale slot car layout and a smaller Aurora HO scale slot layout for my brother.

        I recall spending every friday night during my later years at St. Peters Elementary school and my entire 4 years at North Rockland High School (2nd graduating class) having those wierd spaghetti dinners with them and listening to ghost stories of the house they moved to in West Haverstraw (near the old penny bridge) after they left Haverstraw due to the landslide. Then I’d go upstairs to work on model structures or whatever. At about 8:00pm I’d head down to Simpkins to check out anything I needed or wanted. What a great place that was. They had a model train dept, a slot car dept, a musical instrument dept (classic Fender twin Reverbs up out of reach), a plastic model building section with planes, boats, cars and monster figures. I had the entire Aurora monster collection. For some reason, I specifically remember heading down there in the deep winter. Along with the smoked fish which I mentioned earlier, I still like walking in the cold winter. I still collect model trains and to a lesser extent slot cars. In fact I still have restored original equipment which was used there from as long ago as 1957 (original Lionel NYC Hudson).

        What was the name of your grandparents? I’ll bet I will recall the name. Back then, you could walk down the street and everybody seemed to know everyone else.

        By the way–I have MSG classic fighting on TV as I type–every Monday and Wednesday the old men used to congregate at Addlers bar to watch the fights. Everyone walked. During Summer days old men used to congregate on benches provided by the competing banks at the bank corner.

        I have no insomnia or caffeine mania tonight; but memory lane is a long walk when you’re over 50.

        Be well and hope I am not boriing anyone.

        AM

      1. Hi;
        Tonight I received your response with the names of your grandparents. My grandmother knew a Mrs. Wolf. The more I think about it, it SEEMS my grandmother could have referred to that store I went to as Mrs. Wolfs’.
        More importantly, there was only one candy store on Broad Street so that must be the one.

        All this time on memory lane has given me the yen to go to Christmass Eve mass at St. Peters. I went there alone last year (wife and kids too tired to go) for my first mass there in maybe 25 or 30 years. Sat in the balcony–much more beautifull than a modern type of church. I hope they NEVER decide to rebuild it. Last yer and for a while before, the massive pipe organ was undergoing major repairs. Hope it’s working by now.

        Happy Christmas-or Chanucah or whatever your named holiday is. This is better than giving an androgenous “Seasons Greetings”.

        AM

  4. I am having problems this site–I’ll continue
    DRIED SMOKED FISH. I recall that there were always men hanging around in there who were very friendly. I think that it was important that I was an outsider who was giving the store a try. I still love smoked whitefish with Belgian beer and a cigar. My Grandmother and mother got onmy cast that the strange fvoreign food would kill me. Typical Irish attitude–tis from a grandmother who used to serve me her Irish spaghetti–Franco-American with Heinz catsup–and a side of Hormel canned corned beef hash.

    Still love her though–my brother and I still laugh about her cooking over Chopin martinni’s, around Christmas time.

    There were also 2 diners on Main Street
    . The Greeks was a typical soda fountain but they made their own chocolates–still in business today–and there was–not sure of the name–NANCY’S–may be it. There is a write up about that in Zimmermans histoory of Rockland 1900-2000. During a snow emergency, this diner stayed open as a shelter and to serve food to stranded out of towners.

    Sorry for the long talk. Blame 2 Kenyan AA coffee’s.

    Ambrose Matelski

  5. Addendum–I’m on a roll.
    In the rear bedroom, upstairs in the house on Broad Street, my Grandmother took a heart attack. She passed away just inside the main entrasnce door as paramedics serviced her in 1971. She was in her 80’s. She was a wonderfull and incredably dominant Irish woman–yet she was always respectfull to my easy going Grandfather. I remember that My Grandmother was just about the only one in her family who accepted the alternative lifestyle of her brother Vincent.

    Someone might want to tell the owners of the house that ol’ Granny had a genuine in-home irish funeral. Her casket was displayed in the bay window of the main level living room. It was August and there was no AC–by the third day, with the constant mass of family and sweaty drunks, not to mention Grandma, it was funky.

    My brother, I and our parents slept in the upstairs bedrooms during the wake–and there was only ONE bathroom. When my brother or I had to go during the night, we woke the other up and we RAN past the living room to get to the bathroom.

    The entire family banned uncle Vincent from grandma’s wake–I argued that she accepted him and had him stay at their house anytime he visited from Grenwich Village (yep).

    He was allowed in the house on the day of the funeral but no one talked to him–except me–and I was called into the kitchen and read the riot act by my red faced angry dad–as well as by other family members for doing so.

    I drove there once or twice when going to Bricktown Brewery with my brother years ago and it occured to me that the people living there today have their own history with the place, but there were strong occurances, tragedies, festive parties, Christmasses, arguments, passions and intense experiences in the house which even I-even my Grandparents could not know of. Their house was supposedly built by Dr. Davis in the 1880’s, when Broad Street was the wealthy street in town–before Hudson avenue claimed that title–that’s over 30 years of history before my Grandparents bought it in 1917.

    Old houses are interesting.

    I also used to pass there when driving my kids to Haverstraw Elem years ago.

    Thanks patient reader;

    AM

  6. Hi; My parents names were Anastasia amd Ambrose Matelski. Everyone knew my father as “Matt” because he hated the name Ambrose. He only allowed me to be named the “A” word at my mothers strong insistance. He wanted me named George, after his father-I wish he had won.

    I was born at Nyack Hospital and lived my entire life in Haverstraw until I got married in 1989. I would still live there today but my wife refused. When my father died in 1995 and the family busines (Matt’s Tires and Sporting Goods) went to my brother, the old house on Westside avenue went to me. I truly wanted to sell our townhouse and renovate the old place. I spent many weekends there over the course of a year fixing the place and unloading 3 weekends of garage sales worth of stuff. He had some real money after 50 years in business and I had a major job sorting the cut glass, Audimar Piguet watches from the clutter and less expensive carnival glass. I got to know the neighbors and discovered a town which was on the rise again. The ethnically diverse area outside the business district was rebuilt by hard working and decent people. My kids made friends up the block and it reminded me of my own childhood. The business district almost made it out of depression.

    There was a sense of belonging there which I do not get living in a sidewalkless neighborhood of pristene lawns where there are never kids playing on swings and you cannot just walk to a localle where everything and everyone is available. To sum it up (which is something I find difficult); I miss those old cldgers who used to pass Summer afternoons on the benches at the Bank corners.
    There’d always be some old guy yell out “Hey! There’s Dick Buttler’s grandson. Hows the old man?”

    Hope my longwindedness is not a bother.

    AM

  7. Hi. My Father (Ambrose George Matelski)Took a heart attack while gardening in the spring of 1973. He not only recovered but through working out with me. I went from being a chubby nurd at NRHS to a jogger, hiker/camper, weight lifter and nutrition-facist vegan. That last part bought me down to 215 pounds and chronic weakness.
    When my friends were discovering drink and drugs, I remained focused on working out with my dad. WE spent many nights running the track in the field near St. Peters school and Haverstraw Elementary. We ended up spending 5 days packing in the high peaks region of the Adirondaks Northville Placid Trail and once a major canoe trip along the Saco river in New Hampshire and Maine. He surprised us all when he passed away in the mid 1990’s from a brain tumor.

    He was definitely old-world Polish. When after his first operation predictably failed, we sat in the doctors office in Sloan Kettering and heard the news. The doctor said that there would be one more round of chemo and that we should expect it will not be successfull. I asked what options we will have after that. Dad just looked at me, no fear, no anger,just patience. “Then, Ambrowse, I’m going to die.” He then said that if he had to go this was a pretty easy way. He would feel no pain. He still had a good year with us. It gave me time to take care of outstanding issues between us–and to leave some anger in tact–I’m human.
    I will always remember that strength. My brother Richard seems to have a heavy dose of it as well.

    By the way, another Polish trait is respect for unembellished facts. My father appreciated the honest and candid way the doctor told him the news. In that way I resemble dad. When we were called to the hospital for his passing, we were all there as his breaths became more rare and shallow. When the nurse came in and told us he had passed she asked if one of us would like to put the sheet over his head. No one else could. I volunteered and what I said was appropriate to him. “It’s the end of an era.”

    He was a man of very well defined values, unsentimental (he would help you but not tolerate self-pity), encouraged us to be involved in as many activities/hobbies as we could possibly stuff into our lives and we were told to STUDYSTUDYSTUDY!!. He also was an avid reader (as are my brother and I) and by the time he died, this high school graduate was wealthy, knew doctors and lawyers from his various interests ($$$$watch collection and rugs, jewelry etc) and I doubt any one of them suspected his humble beginings.

    Gotta go–will finish later—tell me about the Wolfs–I’m nuts about Haverstraw history. It’s all composed of profound little lives.

  8. Much Kenyan AA coffee. Peets. If you want great coffee try them, or Barnie’s. I am considering a switch to Kona. I bought estate once. I specified medium dark roast and I freeze ground the beans to a turkish powder. Perfect strong roast flavor. The purist I ever had. Because I have heard of repression and worse of the farmers by a local syndicate, each cup of my beloved Kenyan is accompanied by a tinge of guilt.

    I started out with a digression. Back to my parents.

    While we were cleaning out my parents house and sorting the garage sale items from the true collectables, my mother went to live in Piermont with my brothers family.

    A piece of wisdom: My parents will was a bit on the vague side. Never count upon the agreeable relationship between your children to settle inheritance amicably. Their spouses and their children will also be in the mix. The stress I encountered with my wife concerning allotment of assets caused unbearable stress and residual resentment for years after. I told my wife on numerous occasions that I want everything specified in detail. If the kids and their spouses are angry over who got what–let them be mad at their parents–we’ll be dead anyway. Let the living have peace.

    An old aquaintance of my mothers came to the yard sale and started crying hysterically. I was called from the other side of the house and the woman could hardly speak. When she finally asked when my mother died–and I told her my mom was living at my brothers house in her own appartment with a large TV, goutmet cooking by my sister-in-law and everything she could want, the old lady was relieved and everyone around her laughed compassionately.

    At my sons 1st communion I would not speak to her and even though my wife, who had a bad history with my family of origin and with my mother specifically, insisted that my mother had a place at the party afterword, in front of my mom I insisted NO. I said this to MJ, not even addressing my mom who was right there. This was due to family fighting and the extreme feelings of betrayal which can be involved. All due to allotment of assets. You see, the issue is not merely the money, the art or the house. It is the feeling of loyalty.

    I was cold to the hurt in her eyes as she was driven away by my sister-in-law. My mother asked if she could at least give Michael the present she had for him. I walked away but said yes. My in-laws were ok at the party.

    My mother and I talked a few times over the phone during the next year about the house. We argued much and each call was from her to me. At one point MJ (my wife) took the children to visit my mother after she had not seen them for over 6 months, though they lived 15 minutes away and formerly she had been their favorite and they regularly spent a few days per week together. I knew MJ’s anger towards the Matelwki’s and, predictably, scooped the kids up and walked away from my mother in my brothers driveway. My mother stood there baffled as my sister-in-law came to comfort her. I told MJ that it was better to keep distance than to rish another blow-up.

    In August, 1999, after I arived home to start a 2 week vacation, I received a call that Ma died of a heart attack in Nyack hospital. The last time I was in her presence was when I refused to let her attend Michaels first communion party.

    In retrospect, we capped off 45 years of closeness and love, with anger and betrayal of everything which should be present between mother and child.

    A large part of my anger was due to spousal pressure. Mj was only interested in what would be there for OUR kids.

    The more there is to divide in inheritance, the greater the need to specify everything. Not only your children will be involved.

    Also..there is a danger that everything your children THINK is true and good about their relationship with their parents, could end up seeming to be a lie. At least doubt could be placed.

    I think I will wait a while before any more messages.

    Be well;
    A

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