Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass

Last year, at the beginning of Black History Month, Donald Trump made this rather remarkable statement: "Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice." The comment caused many to wonder if Trump actually knew who Frederick Douglass was.

Vagueness about the identity of Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave sometime in 1818, learned to read when he was 12, and went on to become one of the most famous intellectuals of his time, may not be a problem here in Hudson. But to ensure the next generation also recognizes the achievement of this extraordinary man, the Hudson Area Library plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. The celebration will take the form of a cultural and literary presentation for children between the ages of 7 and 12 and their families on Wednesday, February 14, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. (Although the exact date of his birth is unknown, February 14 is the day Douglass chose to celebrate his birthday later in life.) 

The event, called Frederick Douglass Was Born!, features Elena Mosley, executive director of Operation Unite NY, who will present readings and fun activities relating to the life of Frederick Douglass. This familiar quote from Douglass serves as the underlying theme of the celebration: "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." There will be a specially decorated cake to honor Douglass on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The event is free and open to the public. The library is located at 51 North Fifth Street. For more information, visit   

The Great War: January 29, 1918

On November 16, 1917, Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation regarding "enemy aliens"--"all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized." The proclamation prohibited such enemy aliens--non-naturalized males of German origin--from coming within one hundred yards of any canal, wharf, pier, dock, or shoreline; from being within three mile of the shore line of the United States on any ocean, bay, river, or other waters, except on public ferries; to ascend into the air in any airplane, balloon, airship, or flying machine; and from entering the District of Columbia or the Panama Canal Zone.

The proclamation also required enemy aliens to register and to carry their registration cards with them at all times. A news item found in the Columbia Republican for January 29, 1918, provides information about how the registration was carried out in Hudson.


The article goes on to provide more specific details about the four photographs and further advice about filling out the forms and concludes: "The registrant is hereby informed that he must again present himself before the registration officer who took his oath after 10 days but before 15 days from the last day fixed for registration in his registration district to obtain a registration card, upon which he must sign his name, or make his mark, and place his left thumb print in the presence of the registration officer."

Regular readers of The Gossips of Rivertown may recall that Chief John Cruise, who, as head of the Hudson Police Department, oversaw the registration of enemy aliens in Hudson, was the center of a scandal in 1922, when he was accused, tried, and found guilty of dereliction of duty for not adequately enforcing prohibition in Hudson. In January 1918, when the registration of enemy aliens began, Cruise had been chief of police for only about a month, having been promoted from sergeant to chief in December 1917.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Escape the January Doldrums

Tonight, on the penultimate evening in January, WGXC's Diamond Street Radio Players present an appealing alternative to the State of the Union address: a winter rendition of Prison Alley Tales. Tonight's offering includes four one-act plays, three of them by local authors Richard Gotti and LoraLee Ecobelli, an old time radio mystery play, a reading of one of his works by local author John O'Grady, along with poetry and music.

The event takes place at the Red Dot Restaurant & Bar, 321 Warren Street. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the performance begins at 7 p.m. There will be a light repast and a cash bar. A $2o donation at the door benefits the community radio station WGXC.

News of the Hudson Housing Authority

In December, Gossips reported on the Hudson Housing Authority's plan to build forty units of senior housing across State Street from Bliss Towers. At that time, Timothy Mattice, executive director of HHA, said he expected the RFP (request for proposals) to be ready by the end of December and proposals would be in by the end of January.

Today, the Register-Star reports on the status of HHA's development plans: "Hudson Housing Authority seeks co-developer for Bliss Towers revitalization." HHA is pursuing two projects: the "rehabilitation of redevelopment" of Bliss Towers, and the construction of a 40 to 50 unit "low rise structure with units ranging from one to four bedrooms for mixed-income residents." The new structure, originally described as senior housing, is now expected to accommodate "seniors, families on fixed incomes, families working low-paying jobs or professionals in entry-level positions." Qualifications and proposals from developers are due by the end of March. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mark Your Calendars

Notice appeared last week in the Register-Star of a public hearing to discuss the closing of John L. Edwards Primary School. 

The hearing will take place on Monday, February 12, at 6:30 p.m., in the library at Hudson High School, 215 Harry Howard Avenue. As often happens with Hudson City School District meetings, the time of the meeting conflicts with the City of Hudson informal Common Council meeting, scheduled for that same evening at 7 p.m.

Closing John L. Edwards is the final step in a plan to "right size" HCSD outlined two years ago. In the school year 2019-2020, PreK, Kindergarten, and Grade 1--the only grades that remain at JLE--will move to the new addition to Montgomery C. Smith now under construction.

There is talk of Columbia County buying the building. The County has a long history of acquiring abandoned school buildings, the most recent being Ockawamick School in Claverack. If the County buys the building, it's been suggested that the space might be shared with the City of Hudson, allowing the City to move its offices and the Council Chamber from 520 Warren Street to the school. There are some in Hudson who wish the City would acquire the entire building so that the Youth Department could move there, too. Time will tell what actually happens.

The Great War: January 29, 1918

On January 29, 1918, the Columbia Republican published a letter written by Lieutenant J. Hildreth Forshew to his mother. The newspaper identifies Forshew as the son of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Forshew, and the nephew of Commodore Robert P. Forshew. It doesn't mention that John H. and Robert P. Forshew were the sons of noted Hudson photographer Frank Forshew, and Hildreth was Frank Forshew's grandson, but it likely alludes to it: "Lieutenant Forshew. whose family history is a part of Hudson's history, graduated from the Naval Academy in March, 1917, before he was 21 and in June he sailed for 'Somewhere in France,' convoying the first United States troops that went across; since that he has crossed several times and is over there at present. His letter is a combination of sunshine and shadow, well written and touching on much that the average letter does not get to which makes it doubly readable." 

For the same reasons the Columbia Republican published the letter a hundred years ago, Gossips shares it today.

Dear Mother,
As mail leaves for the States to-morrow I thought I would get off a few lines to let you know that I am having a peach of a time over here. Everybody treats you fine. I spent four days leave in Paris. It is not so gay up there as it used to be, but even at that, New York is more at war than cette belle ville. While I was in Paris I was around with two English officers, who were on four days leave from the front. Both were artillery officers and have been in every big battle since the war started, both had come from the first line trenches and were to return there after the four days. They were two of the finest chaps I believe I have ever met. They were only about 24 or 25 years old, and one a major and the other a captain. Seeing as how they had both been it ever since the war started, I consequently got the straight dope on the whole situation. We talked for hours and hours and it was most interesting to say the least.
People make fun of the way they talk, but before I left I got to love it and I really think I that I would rather be able to talk that way than any other. My French is getting real decent and I can now carry on a fair conversation. We had a party on board ship to-day, a lot of French officers and their wives and a lot of girls. I drew a little queen. We parlied back and forth all afternoon. I am going ashore to play some tennis with her to-morrow afternoon. I went ashore to-night to take a peek at where she lived, and, believe me, it is a young palace. I ought to have a better time than ever now. I have seen no scarcity of food since I have been over here. Everybody seems to have plenty of every thing. You can get anything you want to eat every day except Monday and Tuesday which are "No meat days." White bread is as scarce as dust in the middle of the ocean. Nothing but war bread is used over here, aside from those two things you wouldn't know that there was a war, that is in regards to food. You see nobody but old men and children; all the young men are at the front. When you see the vast numbers of men home for seven days leave, you begin to wonder in amazement at the numbers which must be in the trenches. About every seven days a party leaves the trenches on leave and a party returns where they stay for five months and then get seven more days, etc.   
Figure it out for yourself. You see soldiers on leave every where you go and it looks to me that there are more on leave in Paris than we had in our whole standing army. Nearly everybody over here have already had somebody in their family killed in the war. It is very sad, but they bear up under it very well. I believe that if the people in the United States really knew the conditions they would have been at war long ago. The French are wonderful at the sacrifices that they make and the cheerful way they do it. Their love for their country comes before all, and they would sacrifice everything for it. It is so different from the United States that it almost makes me ashamed. They welcome the Americans over here as brothers; it is really pitiful. 
One old man was standing alongside of me on the dock watching one of the transports tie up and with tears rolling down his cheeks told me that he had wished for the United States to come over and help and that it was the happiest moment of his life to see his wish come true. Everybody over here admits that before we entered the war everyone in France was feeling pretty much down and out, but now their spirits are way above par and they are saying "Amerique et Victoire."
While in Paris I went out to the American Hospital at Neuilly. A man named Peck from Seattle, Wash., took us thru and introduced us to a lot of American girls who are nurses there. This hospital is where they make new faces for men, who have had parts and in some instances nearly all of the face shot away. It is wonderful what they can do. New noses, chins, mouths, anything and everything. They take plaster casts and a picture of each man when he comes to them, and when he leaves. They come there in horrible condition, and some of the men claim that they are better looking when they leave than before they had been shot. A girl named Nation from New York has charge of the face ward, which is only a small part of the hospital. She pretty nearly fell on our necks when she saw us. Nobody would have objected, as she is mighty nice. One of the boys took her out to dinner on the only day she could get away, while we were there.
We tried to go up to the trenches, but we couldn't get permission. The War Department could not spare the men to take us. The trip across the pond was very good, but rather strenuous, between drills and calls to battle station and regular watches, we got very little sleep. We played with nothing and were ready to give anything. We saw a little h——. We got very little excitement with the exception of one night when things were very interesting for several hours, but as you know already, everything came out all o. k. There is really no danger and nothing for you to get worried about. It doesn't bother me.
I have been trying to get transferred to one of the destroyers over here, but I haven't had any success as yet. Those are the boys that are on their toes and seeing lots of service; they are doing a lot of good, too. The subs are scared to death of them.
Tell Uncle Rob that I met some of his aviators in Paris; they are all at the aviation camp and are learning to fly.
Lots of love to everyone.
Your loving son,

Although his family history was part of Hudson's history, John Hildreth Forshew, Jr., and his parents lived in Brooklyn. The U.S. Naval Academy yearbook for 1917, found at, paints a fascinating picture of the young Forshew, who it seems had the nickname "Connie." Click on the image to enlarge it and read the text about "the handsome youth from Flatbush," who during his years at the Naval Academy "has done battle with the Academic Department with great bravery."


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Piecing Together a Building's History

In December, Gossips shared a letter to the editor that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for December 11, 1917, lamenting the fact that Central House, located on the southeast corner of Warren and Fifth streets was about to close its doors as a hotel.

Today, I discovered this little news item in the Columbia Republican for January 29, 1918, which reveals the next step for Central House.

Curious to know what Central House looked like after its conversion to stores and flats, I went looking for photographs that might show the building after 1918. I found this picture of Central House, dated 1868, which indicates the building had gotten a pretty significant facade change, probably around the turn of the century.

I also found this post card image, which shows Central House, at the far left, much as it appears in the photograph at the beginning of the post.

The building's central tower is  reminiscent of similar features in building attributed to Michael O'Connor--the original Firemen's Home (1892), Sixth Street School (1887), and 39 West Court Street (1894).

Is such a tower merely reflective of the architectural style of the period, or is it evidence O'Connor may have had a hand in redesigning the facade of Central House at some point before 1918, when he undertook to introduce storefronts into the building? 

In the collection of photographs by Howard "Howie" Gibson, made available online by Bruce Bohnsack, I discovered a picture taken in 1953 that shows the building that had been Central House with a storefront, no doubt one of the two storefronts designed by Michael O'Connor that were added to the building in 1918.


Meetings Coming Up This Week

There are two meetings of interest happening this week. On Monday, Mayor Rick Rector holds a public hearing on the two local laws passed by the Common Council on January 16:  Local Law No. 5 of 2017, which has to do with how the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are reimbursed for costs incurred in reviewing applications and appeals; and Local Law No. 6 of 2017, which seeks to "preserve community character, local business ownership, and local wealth" by banning formula businesses in Hudson. The hearing takes place at 4 p.m. on Monday in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

On Friday, February 2--Groundhog Day--the Hudson Parks Conservancy holds its first meeting for 2018. The formation team has been working on filing for 501(c)3 status and drafting bylaws for the organization and will be reporting to the full group on its progress. The meeting takes places at 6 p.m. in the conference room at 1 North Front Street.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Pace Judith Viorst for plagiarizing her title. Gossips apologizes for the blog silence today. The Gossips computer conked out this morning and was rushed to Jonathan's Computers for emergency care. The diagnosis: a new hard drive was needed. This afternoon, the new hard drive was installed, all the data transferred from the old to the new, and Gossips is back in business. Thank you, Jonathan, for your invaluable support!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Poetic Tribute to a Local Hero

Gossips has been fascinated by Malcolm Gifford, Jr., ever since stumbling upon his story in July 2011. Accused, while still in prep school, of robbing and murdering a chauffeur and tried twice for the crime, both trials ending with a hung jury, Gifford went on to Williams College. Early in 1917, he and some fellow students at Williams enlisted in the Canadian Field Artillery. He was killed in action on November 8, 1917--the first Hudsonian, the first soldier from Columbia County to die in World War I. Today, I discovered that Gifford was also the first Williams student to be killed in the war.

The Columbia Republican on January 22, 1918, published two sonnets which had been written in tribute to Malcolm Gifford, Jr., by the dean of Williams College. The sonnets and text that introduced them are reproduced below.


The photograph below, showing Malcolm Gifford, Jr., in the uniform of the Canadian Field Artillery, appeared in a commemorative book from the Welcome Home Celebration that took place in Hudson on September 8 and 9, 1919, almost a year after the war ended. Gifford's picture is among the pictures of the twenty-four men from Hudson who died in World War I.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Ramp and the Bridge

To date, $200,000 has been allocated in the city budget for a ramp to provide universal access to Promenade Hill, but the only money that has actually been spent on the ramp was the $6,500 or so from the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund, which went to pay the landscape architect for the design of the ramp. Now, it seems that money was invested in vain.

It was September when Gossips last reported on the ramp. At that time, the Common Council had just passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a contract with Tighe & Bond to create the engineering drawings for the ramp. Those drawings in hand, the construction of the ramp could begin in the spring. But alas, somewhere in the preliminary work of Tighe & Bond, or perhaps even before they got started, it was discovered that 500,000 volts of electricity ran from this transformer, tucked away in the corner of the parking lot for 1 North Front Street, underground into the park, following the very path of the proposed ramp.

Trying to move the utility to allow for the construction of the ramp as it was designed, it seems, would add another $1 million to the cost. As a consequence, a ramp of some sort is part of the "Promenade Hill Park Gate & Plaza Renovation" being proposed for DRI funding.

Meanwhile, plans for replacing the Ferry Street Bridge move ahead.

Rob Perry revealed last night at the Public Works & Parks Committee meeting that the State Historic Preservation Office will be involved in the process. The following is quoted from his report:
We have since received Historical Sanborn Map Reports and NYSDOT initiated a consultation with SHPO with respect to the existing bridge. The bridge was not included in the 2002 Historic Eligibility Survey conducted by the NYSDOT, and as a result, SHPO is now requiring that the bridge must be evaluated for historical eligibility before they can make an impact determination.
Perry's report also indicates that Hartgen Archeological Associates will be undertaking the eligibility evaluation and the Phase 1A archaeological survey. The Ferry Street Bridge was built in 1905 and is called "an extremely unusual and historic structure" on the website

The engineering of the bridge--what exists beneath the roadway--is now being designed. Asked when the visible part of the bridge would be designed, Perry indicated that would probably begin in about six months and suggested that SHPO would be involved in approving the design. Because of federal requirements for higher clearance over railroad tracks, Perry said the new bridge "will have an arc to it." That requirement suggests that the new bridge cannot replicate the historic bridge.

Practice Makes Perfect

After the snowstorm in early January, Gossips and others commented on how prompt and aggressive the Department of Public Works was in removing snow from the sides of streets after the storm. The activity suggested a change in policy. In the past, removing the snowbanks, rather than waiting for them to melt or evaporate away, seemed to be reserved for snowstorms that resulted in much greater accumulation than the 4 inches that fell on Hudson on January 3 and 4.

Last night, at the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, DPW superintendent Rob Perry revealed that the department had viewed the snowstorm as a training opportunity. He explained that there had been many retirements recently in the Department of Public Works, and, as a consequence, there were new workers who had little or no experience operating the giant equipment used to remove snow. The 4 inches of snow that fell in early January gave them a chance to practice with the equipment, in preparation for more significant storms to come.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Reminder About Commenting

I posted this last week but find it necessary to post it again. If you select "OpenID" as your profile when making a comment on Gossips, you must identify yourself in some way in the comment, using your name, initials, or a pseudonym to distinguish yourself from other commenters opting for "OpenID." Comments that are completely anonymous will not be published.

More About Those 33 Projects

The PowerPoint from last night's DRI Local Planning Committee meeting, which contains the project profiles for all thirty-three projects submitted for consideration, can now be viewed online by clicking here.


Intel from Yesterday's HDC Meeting

Earlier in the day yesterday, before the DRI Local Planning Committee met at 6 p.m., the board of the Hudson Development Corporation had its first meeting of 2018. A few things happened that merit reporting.

In December, HDC was all set to submit, on behalf of the City of Hudson, an application in Round 5 of the Restore NY grant program. Funding in Round 5 was specifically available for "projects involving the demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation and/or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties." HDC was applying for $1 million to complete the demolition of the Kaz warehouses, rehabilitate the site, and get it ready for redevelopment. The application was due on December 15, but it couldn't be considered for funding. One of the requirements for eligibility was to hold a public hearing. The public hearing was to take place on December 11, but the Register-Star failed to publish the required notifications of the meeting, so the application was out of compliance and could not be considered.

The proposals for redeveloping the Kaz site were also discussed at yesterday's meeting. Gossips reported in November that four proposals had been submitted. Yesterday, it was revealed that one of the proposals--the one from Sustainable Community Associates--has been withdrawn. That leaves for consideration the proposals from Redburn Development, the group that created The Wick Hotel as well as adapting historic industrial buildings into apartment buildings; Kearney Realty & Development, which has built a lot of subsidized housing, mostly in Poughkeepsie; and Bonacio Construction, which has created luxury apartment buildings, condos, and mixed use projects in Saratoga, Glens Falls, and Troy. The subcommittee of the HDC board tasked with assessing the proposals will be "looking at what they've done and where they've done it" and is expected to make a preliminary report to the full board in early February. The three developers will also be called in to address the board at a special meeting. It is anticipated that by March a "preferred development partner" will have been chosen.

Related to the redevelopment of the Kaz site is the acquisition of land belonging to CSX between the site and South Front Street. After more than a year, a deal has been worked out for HDC to buy the land from CSX. Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC, indicated that HDC will purchase the property with a loan of $95,000 from CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation). There is, however, some issue over the language of the purchase agreement, which the board went into executive session to discuss.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Projects Seeking DRI Funding

Tonight, at the fourth meeting of the DRI Local Planning Committee, all the projects seeking a piece of the $10 million pie--which is actually $9.7 million--were presented publicly to the committee. There were thirty-three all together, representing a total cost of $80 million but $16.5 million in DRI funding. The projects fell into two categories: Public Improvement and Public/Private Investment. Very soon, you will be able to view the entire PowerPoint presentation online at the Hudson DRI website.  In the meantime, Gossips will provide a preview.

In the category of Public Improvement, there are the following projects:
  • Multimodal Circulation and Connectivity--This involves streetscape improvement, includes some plan for the Broad Street railroad crossing, and is estimated to cost $5 million, $2.8 million to come from DRI funds.
  • Railroad Point Pier--Gossips featured the plans for this a while back: "A Preview of the Public Pier." The project is seeking $1.2 million in DRI funding.
  • Skatepark--It seems that the skatepark created at Oakdale ten or so years ago is unsatisfactory because the surface on which it was created is asphalt instead of concrete, so a new skatepark is sought, at a cost of $525,000, $500,000 would come from DRI funding.
  • Electric Bus--The total cost is $400,000, $394,000 is to come from DRI funding.
  • Promenade Hill--What is proposed are improvements to the entrance to Hudson's most historic park, totaling $1,815,000--$1.1 million are to come from DRI funding.
  • Cross Street Streetscape & Second Street Stairs--In the original DRI application, this was presented as a Wick Hotel proposal.
  • Citywide WiFi--Asking $175,000 from DRI funding.
  • Fishing Village--The preservation of selected shacks and the conversion of the Furgary Boat Club into a public park--seeking $98,290 in DRI funding.
  • North Bay Connector--$86,800 in streetscape improvement seeking to be totally funded by the DRI.
In the category of Public Improvements, there weren't too many surprises, but in the category of Public/Private investment, there were quite few. The majority, though, we've heard about before:
  • Redeveloping the Dunn warehouse
  • Site preparation for mixed-income housing on State Street
  • Creating a food hub
  • Redevelopment of the Kaz site
  • Creating a bioenergy park--that is, composting
  • North Bay ReGeneration
  • Community maker space
  • Basilica Phase II
  • Facade improvements to the Warehouse and the expansion of Digifab
  • River House
  • Commercial kitchen at 16 South Front Street
  • Site preparation for lots on State Street and Columbia Street
  • Tool library--lending library, that is
  • Wayfinding and signage
  • Homeowner grant program
  • Minority- and woman-owned business support program
Here are the new proposals. Hudson Cruises, which operates the Spirit of Hudson, the Marika, and water taxi to Athens, submitted a project that seeks to "upgrade and expand tourism" dependent on the river. There were five projects involving properties owned by the Galvan Foundation: converting the Robert Taylor House into a restaurant, converting 59 Allen Street--the (painted yellow) brick Gothic Revival house that was the home of Charles C. Alger--into a B&B, rehabbing 22-24 Warren Street for affordable housing, rehabbing 260 Warren Street--not even in the BRIDGE District--for affordable housing (on the upper floors), and readying part of the old COARC building for the Salvation Army. Among the new proposals, the biggest surprise of all had to be the "Tannery High Rise," proposed for 221-227 Tanners Lane by the owner of that property, Heinrich von Ritter. 

Gossips will let you know as soon as the PowerPoint from tonight's meeting is available online.

Suffrage, Temperance, and the Great War

A hundred years ago, the United States was fighting a war in Europe, and the country was moving--slowly but inexorably--toward granting women the right to vote. In November 1917, New York had joined eleven other states that already permitted women to vote in state and local elections. The increased role of women during the war in matters outside the home gave new impetus to the suffrage movement. On October 1, 1918, a month before the war ended, President Woodrow Wilson declared his support for suffrage, telling the Senate, "I regard the extension of suffrage to women as vitally essential to the successful prosecution of the great war of humanity in which we are engaged." 

Another issue of public concern a hundred years ago was temperance. Many of the great suffragists were also active in the temperance movement. In 1852, four years after the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the New York State Women's Temperance Society. Anthony, who visited Hudson three times during in life to speak on the topic of woman suffrage at the Hudson Opera House, also spoke in various places around the county on the subject of temperance.

An item discovered in the Columbia Republican for January 15, 1918, suggests how the temperance movement insinuated itself into the war effort.

The Methodist Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church were especially zealous about temperance. In 1917, the latter's Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals published The Cyclopedia of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals. It was the third such book produced by the board. Complimentary copies of the previous editions had been sent to every Methodist preacher in the world and to the editor of every daily newspaper in the United States. The following is quoted from the cyclopedia's entry for "Army":
Since the abolition of the canteen in the army by act of Congress approved February 2, 1901, the morals and health of the soldiers have shown a distinct advance, and at the present time it is probable that the sobriety of army men is considerably above the average of civilians. During the Spanish War the canteen was in full blast, soldiers were detailed, willingly or unwillingly, to act as bartenders, and disease ran riot. Conditions were so scandalous that various temperance organizations conducted a notable congressional fight, resulting in the abolition of the army bar. Annual appropriations aggregating more than $4,000,000 have been made since the canteen was abolished for the establishment of permanent recreation halls which have schools, libraries, lunch, amusement rooms, and gymnasiums. Before that time no appropriations for this purpose had been made. . . .
The mobilization of the national guard in 1916 showed the excellent results of a no-drink policy. Every effort was made to keep drink away from the soldiers, and splendid success was achieved. A typical order is that of the New York division, who were instructed as follows:
"Officers and enlisted men of this division are directed not to use or have in their possession alcoholic drinks in any form during their service on the border except on prescription of a medical officer in the line of duty. Soldiers are prohibited entering houses of prostitution and saloons where liquors is sold except under orders for the performance of duty."
An excerpt from a chapter called "Fighting Boredom: Life at Camp Wadsworth," in a history of the camp discovered while preparing Sunday's update on the fortunes of Hudson's Company F, describes how temperance was encouraged in training camps during World War I.  
The United States government considered boredom to be one of the foremost enemies of soldiers in the training camps. It was feared that a soldier who was not properly entertained and morally educated would succumb to temptations of drink and debauchery. In order to prevent this, civilian and military officials sought to create a wholesome environment within each training camp that would keep the soldiers both mentally and physically healthy. The YMCA, YWCA, Knights of Columbus, Jewish Welfare Board, and the Red Cross were the key agencies in this crusade for morality. All of these organizations opened up facilities in the training camps, with the YMCA being by far the most important participant. Government officials hoped that the soldiers would patronize these organizations within the camp instead of visiting the town saloon or brothel. Alcohol was completely banned within a five-mile radius of all training camps.
Soon after the end of World War I, both the temperance and suffrage movements achieved their sought-after goals. Interestingly, temperance was first. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and distribution of alcoholic beverages, passed the House and the Senate, and was ratified in January 1919, just two months after the armistice that ended the war. The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was passed in the House of Representatives on May 21, 1919, was passed by the Senate on June 4, 1919, and was ratified in August 1920. Of course, the 18th Amendment was the only amendment to the Constitution ever to be repealed.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Astrology and The Gossips of Rivertown

Last night, A. T. (Tad) Mann, astrologer, author, and neighbor, dropped by the Gossips anniversary celebration at the Red Dot. In the course of conversation, he shared the observation that January 20 was good day for an enterprise like Gossips to have begun, because it was the first day of Aquarius. He offered to do a chart for The Gossips of Rivertown if I would tell him the exact time of day when the first post was published. I gave him the time this morning10:06 a.m. This afternoon, he presented me with the Gossips chart and an interpretation.

Here is the chart of Gossips of Rivertown for January 20, 2010. It is a perfect chart for you and what you do.
It has Sun at 0˚Aquarius conjunct Venus, showing an idealistic venture founded by a woman, and the qualities described by Aquarius are: Good powers of observation, adaptability, wealth of plans, sudden action at the right moment, sociability, a readiness to help others, networking.
At the Midheaven it has Mercury (communication, self-expression, intelligence) conjunct Pluto (public affairs, government, politicians) and together they indicate gossip, suggestion and persuasion, attaining public recognition.
The Moon (feelings, emotion, nurturing) is conjunct Uranus (sudden change, technology, change) in Pisces (water, towns, flow, rivers) and the combination shows good powers of observation, monitoring movements, speaking for the public.
The Aries Ascendant is spontaneous, outspoken, first to the story, and opposite Saturn in Libra is sober, thoughtful, historical, and the attempt to be objective.
You chose a terrific chart for Gossips of Rivertown.
Thank you, Tad Mann, for this astrological validation of The Gossips of Rivertown!

DRI Watch: Happening Tomorrow

Tomorrow, January 23, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Local Planning Committee (LPC) meets again at John L. Edwards Primary School. This is the penultimate meeting of the LPC. One more--on February 20--and the planning process will be all over. It is expected that tomorrow the LPC will be reviewing all the projects that have been proposed for DRI funding and making decisions about which projects will be presented for consideration at the final public meeting, which takes place on February 8.

New proposals for DRI funding were due on January 3, and in the time since, those proposals were presumably evaluated for their potential to attract additional funding. It is hoped that on Tuesday night those who show up to observe the committee at work will learn more about the new projects proposed and their likelihood for success. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Celebration Continues

As we announced on Friday, yesterday, January 20, marked the eighth anniversary of The Gossips of Rivertown. Today, the celebration continues. Starting at 7 p.m. tonight, Gossips readers who dine at the Red Dot Restaurant & Bar, 321 Warren Street, will get a piece of anniversary cake for dessert, compliments of The Gossips of Rivertown.

This amazing cake, featuring the iconic Gossips ear trumpet crafted from marzipan, was created by the very talented Michele Delage of Winkle's Bakery in Catskill. (Yes, I crossed the river to get it!) So come out tonight, dine at the Red Dot, enjoy some cake, and celebrate eight years of sharing news, history, and gossip about the troubles and triumphs of our little city.

Gossips also invites you, if you haven't already done so, to celebrate eight years, 7,337 posts, and more than 5 million pageviews and help ensure that Gossips continues, by adding your name to the list of 2018 Supporters. Just click on the "Donate" button at the right. Your support--in any amount--is deeply appreciated.

The Great War: January 15, 1918

It's been a while since we reported on Company F, Hudson's National Guard unit which was federalized in the summer of 1917. On July 29, 1917, the "F boys" left for training at Fort Niagara, where they were expected to stay throughout the summer. After Fort Niagara, Company F was transferred to Camp Wadsworth, outside Spartanburg, South Carolina. On January 15, 1918, the Columbia Republican reported that Company F was expected to "go across" within a few months.    

Camp Wadsworth was established in July 1917, three months after the United States entered the war, and existed until it was inactivated in March 1919, four months after the war ended. It was considered to be "one of America's premier army mobilization centers." A hundred thousand soldiers trained at Camp Wadsworth for the war in Europe.


Census records indicate that Sergeant Edward Best, who was "in town for a few days' visit" in January 1918, was the younger brother of Archland Best, the captain of Company F when it left Hudson at the end of July 1917. Archland and Edward were the only children of Frank and Etta Best. They both survived the war, and the 1920 census--the first census after the war--shows them back home with their parents at 511 Union Street. Archibald, then 32, worked as a draftsman at a machine shop, and Edward, then 30, was an armorer with the New York Guard.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Trump Tweets