Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Immigrant Experience a Century Ago

On Sunday, May 27, Hudson Hall presents A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward, a staged reading directed by Carol Rusoff. 

Photo: New York Public Library Digital Collections
"A Bintel Brief," which is Yiddish for "a bundle of letters," was the name of an advice column that appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward for the greater part of the 20th century. The column was created in 1906 by Abraham Cahan, the editor of the Daily Forward, to help bewildered Eastern European Jewish immigrants learn about their new country. The column provided a forum for seeking advice and support in the face of problems and challenges ranging from wrenching spiritual dilemmas to family squabbles--predicaments that arise when old world meets new. Sunday's staged reading will feature live musical accompaniment and a diverse cast of actors who will bring to life the history, humor, and struggle of the Jewish immigrant experience.

Carol Rusoff is known to many Gossips readers as the director of the Hudson Teen Theatre Project and Sarah Schaeffer's haunting solo performance, My Anne, adapted from The Diary of Anne Frank. Rusoff talked about A Bintel Brief with Ellen Thurston on WGXC a week or so ago. That conversation can be heard here.

The staged reading of A Bintel Brief takes place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, in the West Room of the Hudson Opera House. Refreshments will be served following the reading. Admission is free, but reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve your place, visit www.hudsonhall.org or call 518 822-1438.

The Great War: May 19, 2017

It appears that either the passage of the Selective Service Act the day before or the article in the Hudson Evening Register calling on young men to do their patriotic duty and enlist had an effect. On the front page of the Evening Register for May 19, beside a headline that spanned two columns and announced all men between 21 and 31 were to enroll for the draft on June 5, the following article appeared.

Recruiting for Company F is apparently picking up. Lester Brothers, a well known young man living at Greenport, has passed and is now a full fledged member of the local unit of the Tenth regiment. Mr. Brothers is a highly esteemed young man, and that he is very patriotic can be seen from the fact that he enlisted when the call for volunteers was made.
Other young men have signified their fealty to the flag by enrolling with Co. "F". They are:
Andrew T. Richardell, Robert MacDowell and Vernon E. Potts, all of Hudson.
They have not as yet undergone their physical examination.
Harold Ham, George Pratkowsky and James Alpino, all of Hudson, to-day enrolled with Co. F.

Monday, May 22, 2017

One of the Joys of Summer in Hudson

Police commissioner Martha Harvey announced this afternoon that, as in the past, alternate side of the street parking will be suspended on weekends for the summer. Starting this coming weekend, cars can be legally parked overnight on either side of the street, from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday. Of course, this weekend, because next Monday is Memorial Day, cars can also be parked on either side of the street from Sunday to Monday.

The weekend suspension of alternate side of the street parking continues until October 1.

The Great War: May 18, 1917

On May 18, 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, giving the president the power to draft soldiers. On that very day, the following article appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register, bemoaning the fact that more young men in Hudson were not volunteering for military service and encouraging them to volunteer before they were drafted.

Why aren't the young men of Hudson, who have no one depending upon them for a living, responding in greater numbers to the call for recruits being made by Company F?
That question is on the lips of many residents of this grand old city. The indifference being shown by the young men apparently puzzles those of an older generation, as well as the officers and members of Hudson's crack unit of the Tenth regiment.
"It wasn't that way in our time," a Civil war veteran remarked yesterday. Another aged man said a glorious privilege is now being offered our young men to show their patriotism.
"Two weeks ago I stood on a street corner and heard a number of young men talking. One was going to do this, another contemplated doing something else, and another intended to enroll here and another there. All were bragging about their patriotism, their fealty, their courage, and their good intentions, but every one of them was throwing a lot of hot air, for not one of them, as far as I can learn, has made an attempt to join the colors, either here or elsewhere. Of course, probably most of them would accept a lieutenancy or some job with a lot of authority that pays well." This was the declaration of another man yesterday. . . . 
But why don't the young men respond? That terrible question again presents itself. We don't believe it is a lack of patriotism. Probably the young men are not really conversant with the situation, probably they don't thoroughly realize its seriousness. There is no use endeavoring to hide the truth from one's self. The situation is exceedingly serious. Uncle Sam needs soldiers! Uncle Sam needs Company F, and Company F needs men! Germany isn't beaten yet! Germany is still a powerful nation. It will take men with stamina, men of the patriotic type, men like the minute men to overpower that nation. There are many young men in this city who would make ideal soldiers. Join Company F and Hudson will be proud of you. . . .
Some young men are not enlisting, perhaps, because they have good jobs and fear they would lose them. Don't worry. Uncle Sam always looks after his soldier boys! Others, perhaps, are laboring under the impression that they will be fortunate and escape conscription. If they're feeling that way about it, they are very patriotic, aren't they?
Of course, there are young men who are doing more at home, perhaps, than they could in the trenches. A young man who goes out and works on the farm is serving his country, for without farm products our people would starve. Men working in munitions plants or in connection with any factory where things for the army or navy are made, are also working in a department essential to the welfare of the country. It is not of them that we refer. But is is of the slacker--the fellow whose services at home would not be greatly missed, but whose services in the army would be very valuable--that we refer to. . . .
It will be no disgrace to be drafted; to the contrary. It will be only evidence of our obligation to serve. . . . But it will be better to say "I volunteered" than to say "I was compelled." One the other hand, opportunities are many just now. . . . Who knows but that you, young man, if you enlist to-morrow may rise, for remember "the early bird gets the worm."
Company F is considered one of the best units in the Tenth regiment. It is well officered and its roster made up of good fellows. Its equipment is excellent and association with the unit will be beneficial.

It's Time to Register

If you are the proprietor of a hotel, a B&B, or a guest house, or rent a room or two in your house to visiting guests, it's time to register and start collecting the City of Hudson lodging tax.

The registration application and all the information you need is on the City of Hudson website: www.cityofhudson.org.

The Great War: May 17, 1917

Two events distinguish 1917: the United States entered World War I, and the women of New York got the vote. In the news, the two events often intertwine, with stories of the suffragist activity on behalf of the war effort. Such is the case with this story, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for May 17, 1917.  

Miss Catherine Dodd, publicity agent for the Home Defense committee of Columbia county, and who is furthering suffrage work in this vicinity, has received the following telegram from Mrs. Gordon Norrie, of Staatsburg:
Please announce that in response to the request of the Liberty Loan committee of the Second Federal Reserve bank, the New York State Woman's Suffrage party at a meeting of the State Board held at 303 Fifth avenue, New York city, yesterday afternoon, voted to offer the help of the State suffrage organization in advertising and placing the Liberty loan for this district.
It will be remembered that it was Catherine Dodd, of Boston, who addressed a gathering of the members of the local Suffrage Party on May 7, at the home of Mrs. William I. Gray, 95 Green Street, declaring that the suffrage campaign was neither at a standstill nor abandoned. 


Looks Like We Made It

On Friday, Thrillist published "The Best Small Town to Visit in All 50 States." For New York, it was Hudson. (The picture below, however, which accompanied that list, shows Telluride, Colorado.)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Great War: May 16, 1917

The following item, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for May 16, is certainly not news unique to Hudson, but it gives a compelling sense of the challenge, a century ago, of entering a war being waged on another continent. 

If you are not familiar with the tremendous problems involved in getting the army to France here are a few facts and figures that help just a trifle:
An American infantry division consists of 22,000 men, 7,500 horses and 900 vehicles. To make up our suggested first army for foreign service would include probably five divisions, or 110,000 men, 37,500 horses and 4,500 vehicles, plus mechanical transportation and reserve food and ammunition.
In sending troops from Canada such a boat as the steamship Olympia carried six English battalions, artillery, etc., so that we can safely assume in one trip she could carry 8,000 men. Of this class of boat there are, we believe, four. The capacity of the smaller boats in the transport service ran from 1,500 to 3,000 men, so that 2,500 as an average is more hopeful than conservative.
An army of 110,000 in one trip would require the four large boats at 8,000 men, 32,000; thirty-one smaller boats at 2,500 men, 77,500; total, 109,500.
These men would require, at four pounds of food a man per day for sixty days (until normal freight conditions could be resumed), 13,200 tons of food.
In cartridges (assuming 40,000 effective rifles at thirty rounds a day per man for sixty days) 72,000,000 would be required, leaving all artillery ammunition out of the question.
First U.S. troops land at St. Nazaire in June 1917|Associated Press


The Great War: May 15, 1917

The following news item, which appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for Tuesday, May 15, 1917, reports something that happened not in Hudson but in Philmont. We share it because the attitudes and sentiment revealed were likely shared by people in Hudson at the time.

PHILMONT, May 15.  Officer Louis Schrader took into custody a man who is claimed to have made derogatory remarks last night about the United States. The man who is a Norwegian, it is asserted made statement, "That his heart was with Germany, and he would fight for that country if he could get to Germany." Those who heard his assertions were incensed at the disloyal sentiments expressed, and the constable was notified, and the arrest followed.
This morning the man whose name is Lawrence Benizen, was compelled to march the length of Main street, carrying an American flag. He raised objection to this, but finally consented to do so. Then he was taken before Justice Lindsey's court, and the case was put over until Saturday afternoon, and in the meantime Federal authorities will be notified. Benizen is of middle age, and has been in this country for a dozen or more years, but had never been naturalized. He lived at Hillsdale for some time, and more recently has been at the Empire House, in this village. It is said that he was somewhat under the influence of liquor last night.
Main Street, Philmont|Old Pictures of Columbia County

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Great War: May 14, 1917

Although we are days behind in our day-by-day account of life in Hudson during World War I, we are going to stay with May 14 a little longer. Sharing the accounts of a fire at a brickyard, an arrest for arson, and a near escape from being hit by a train proved irresistible, but equally compelling is this item, which gives much better insight into life in Hudson during that period. Because the type is a little hard to read, a transcription follows. 

The New York and New England Cement company has received from Congressman Ward two sacks of garden seeds sent out by the government for distribution among its employees.
The company has set aside tracts of ground for all its employees who may want to start gardening, each man getting a plot 25x100 feet. The land has been ploughed by the company and it also supplies the water which may be required during the summer. Over a hundred plots will be worked.
The New York and New England Cement Company became Universal Atlas Cement Company, then St. Lawrence Cement, and finally Holcim.


Highlights from the FASNY Parade

The prelude to this morning's parade honoring the 125th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the original FASNY Firemen's Home was a parade of vintage fire engines from many villages and towns in New York as well as a couple from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Here's a sampling.

There were dogs riding in a few of the firetrucks--some real, some not.

And then there was this guy on the sidewalk, with a goat on a leash.

Another Saturday morning in Hudson.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Great War: May 14, 1917

The purpose of this series is to create a sense of what life was like in Hudson during World War I by sharing each day an item that appeared in the local newspaper a hundred years ago. With today's offering, not only are we five days behind in what was meant to be a day-by-day series, but we're departing from the original premise. These items, which appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for May 14, 1917, have nothing to do with the war, but given various events that happened recently in and around Hudson, it was impossible to resist sharing them.

The power house, blacksmith shop and a dwelling at the Atlas Building Material company's plant in Greenport, just north of Hudson, burned Sunday evening, incurring a loss of a least $10,000. Operations at the plant will be suspended about a week as the result.
There are several theories as to the cause of the fire. One of the plausible ones is that an employee left the door on one of the ovens open, and the heat from it caused oil to ignite. There is also some talk of the fire being of incendiary origin.
It was shortly before 8 o'clock when flames were discovered shooting from the power house. They spread to the transforming station and thence to the blacksmith shop. The tongues of fire shot high in the air, and illuminated the skies for miles around. Scores of Hudsonians went to the scene.
While the power house and blacksmith shop were blazing, a two-story building, located a quarter of a mile away, was discovered on fire. A foreigner was seen to jump from a window at the time. He was accosted, and men saw that he was suffering from an injury to his arm.
This man works at the brickyards, but had no business in the building. He could give no valid reason for his being there, and was arrested.
Alderman Luther Van Etten, superintendent of the plant at once telegraphed to ex-Senator John B. Rose, near Newburgh, who is the principal owner of the company, and every effort will be made to get underway as quickly as possible.
A few columns over on the front page of the Evening Register for the same day, this item appeared:


Many Rooms with a View

Gossips has been following the progress of The Wick Hotel ever since December 2015, when Tom Rossi and John Blackburn first appeared before the Planning Board to discuss their plans for transforming 41 Cross Street into a 55-room boutique hotel. This morning, eighteen months later, the Redburn Development executive team invited state and local officials and the media to what they called a "groundbreaking" for the hotel which is expected to open in the fall.

Guests assembled in what was once the lobby and gallery of Stageworks, where renderings of what would be the hotel's common areas--the lobby and the glass enclosed rooftop deck--were on display.

Remarks were made by several of the officials at the gathering, congratulating the project, celebrating its progress, and calling it an exciting moment for Hudson. A representative of Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced that The Wick was to be part of its Tribute Portfolio, which now includes nineteen independent hotels, described as "incredible hotels in exciting locations." The most comprehensive comments were made by Mike Tucker, president and CEO of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), who called the $8.5 million project "the first significant investment in the redevelopment of the Hudson waterfront." He also noted that the project had received the largest award--a $1.5 million Empire State Development grant--from the Regional Council, was the first time the city and county IDAs had collaborated on a project, and would be the first "flag hotel" in Columbia County.

Speeches over, it was time for the groundbreaking, which turned out not to be a groundbreaking at all but a ceremonial "wall raising."

After the wall raisers posed for a photo op, folks donned hard hats and toured the framed out interior spaces of the rest of the building.


How High Will It Rise?

State boat launch after Hurricane Irene
Photo: Sarah Sterling
On its Facebook page, the Conservation Advisory Council announced recently: "A recommendation by the Conservation Advisory Council's consultants regarding what model of sea-level rise projection should inform the Open Space and Natural Resources Inventory will be discussed at the CAC's monthly meeting on June 6." At its last meeting, the Common Council received as a communication a petition with fourteen signatures, submitted by Timothy O'Connor to the CAC. The petition reads in part:
We the undersigned residents of Mill Street, Cross Street, and Tanners Lane ask the City of Hudson Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) to exercise prudence by not drawing undo attention to the City's only residential neighborhoods potentially impacted by climate-induced sea-level rise.
The two, of course, are related.

In June 2016, a climate survey for Hudson prepared by the Hudson River Estuary Program reported that, by 2100, 120 households in Hudson might be impacted by sea-level rise: 38 with flooding; 82 with inundation.  

The prediction is based on Scenic Hudson's sea-level rise projections, whose worst case scenario estimates sea-level rise to be 72 inches by 2100. There are other models that predict a future that is not quite so dire, and some believe that one of the more conservative models, one that does not predict flooding and inundation for 120 Hudson households in 2100, should be the one that informs the CAC's Open Space and Natural Resources Inventory. 

It is feared by some that accepting the worse-case scenario that the sea levels will rise six feet in the next 83 years would have the immediate effect of new city government regulations and requirements, having to do with building materials and methods and flood insurance, being imposed on the residential properties most at risk of being impacted by sea-level rise. 

For more information about the issue before the Conservation Advisory Council, visit the CAC website, Conservation Matters.