Sunday, October 24, 2010

Memories of the Day Liners

The picture of the Alexander Hamilton published yesterday inspired some readers to share their memories of the steamboat and of the day liners that carried passengers up and down the Hudson River. A couple people identified the location of the dock. The steamboats of the Hudson River Day Line docked where the Hudson Power Boat Association is now located. The building that the HPBA uses as its clubhouse housed the ticket office and waiting room for the day line as well as for the Hudson-Athens ferry, which used the adjacent slip.

Joan Davidson remembered being on the penultimate voyage of the Alexander Hamilton with Robert Kennedy during his campaign to become U.S. Senator from New York in 1964. On that occasion, the Alexander Hamilton made a round trip from New York City to Bear Mountain. Davidson recalls that Pete Seeger may also have been along on that excursion and sang.

Charles Hallenbeck, who grew up in Hudson and returned here after retiring from an academic career, offered these two stories, which I share, with his permission, just he told them to me:
In 1940 or 1941, when I was 10 or 11, I had a cousin close to my age named Edward Charles H. (I was Charles Edward H.) whose family lived on Allen Street not far from your residence. Although we were cousins, we played in different cohorts, based on neighborhoods rather than kinship. Eddie was among a group of kids who swam in the river, and were rewarded for doing so by Day Boat passengers, who tossed coins to the kids in the water. They dove to retrieve the coins, emerging victoriously, showing the coins to everyone's delight. Except Eddie did not come up on one occasion. He was caught in a strong undertow, and his body was discovered several days later and several miles downriver. It was a curious sport, and in that instance, a deadly one.

A couple of years later, it was a sign of early teen independence to take a Day Boat south from Hudson, debarking at Kingston Point, where a very attractive park and picnic facility was a popular place to enjoy a lunch, usually brought from home. The boat we took originated in Albany, and terminated at the end of the day in New York. It made the Hudson stop about 10:00, and arrived at Kingston between 11:00 and 12:00, as I recall. Meanwhile, a second boat originated in New York, arriving at Kingston in mid-afternoon, and brought us back to Hudson soon after, thence terminating in Albany. It was "junior high" years for us, and being somewhat retarded by today's standards, we were just beginning to notice each other, the boys and the girls. Of course that added to the potential of those unsupervised independent outings. But imagine our distress to find that upon arriving at Kingston Point, where who knew what adventures awaited us, what we saw were numerous huge trash containers scattered here and there around the area, carrying huge bold lettering, which said: REFUSE. That hardly seemed fair, since we only knew that word to be pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, not the first. So many things were filled with special meaning in those days, or at that age, usually keeping us all in tight reins. Well, there would always be high school.


  1. This gives a good picture of what could exist here now, with a little work. Other communities less deserving of attention than Hudson have developed their waterfronts. We are really missing the boat here, in more ways than one.


  2. This really should be a "no brainer."
    Why do we have to fight for something so obvious?!