Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spring in Rivertown

When Gossips published the previous excerpt from the original Gossips of Rivertown, it was identified as the "penultimate episode," but it's hard to bid farewell to the 1850 novel from which Gossips took its title, so I've decided to publish the final chapter in two parts. As a consequence, THIS is the penultimate excerpt from the original Gossips

Once more, and for the last time, we chronicle a spring in Rivertown.

If you had not felt the balmy south wind, or looked up at the deep, deep blue sky, you could have told from the appearance of nearly every household that it was near the first of May. Among other uncomfortable fashions the Rivertonians had introduced from New York, that of a general moving on one day in the year, was widely patronized. Many seemed to have what the French call un grand talent for migration, and one lady was so noted for this, that her friends were accustomed to ask, where she was living now, whenever they spoke of visiting her; as we say of some young ladies not remarkable for constancy—"who are they engaged to at present!"

All who remained stationary, celebrated the commencement of May by a grand house-cleaning festival—the ladies looking like so many laundresses, the gentlemen being martyr-like in their endurance of an evil they could not avert, and the whole house remaining no unapt representation of "chaos," for the time being. Mrs. Harden was the chief priestess of the celebration of these household mysteries. She always commenced "cleaning," at least a week before any one else, and prided herself on paint that was as free from soil as her own good name; brasses that dazzled the eye with their brilliancy; and white-washing as "smooth and even" as if it had been done by a professor of the art.

So May had come, and Mrs. Harden was in her element. The morning set apart for the above-mentioned process of white-washing had arrived. Harriet, who hated anything like work, took an early departure, intending to make the tour of the shops, call at the dress-maker's, and finish the day sociably with her friend Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Harden's face brightened, as she watched the steaming of the lime-kettle before her. The parlour furniture was all carefully covered with quilts and counterpanes, and herself equally disguised in a faded calico loose-dress, (the uniform on such occasions,) her night-cap pressed into service, and tied closely by an equally faded ribbon; her dress sleeves were tucked up to the elbows, and about an hour after her daughter's departure, with a brush tempered by clean hot water, she was ready to commence. Other people might trust their parlour ceilings to a woman—she, Mrs. Harden, never would; she was not going to have the paper ruined, and the colour taken out of the paint with splashes! So, mounted upon the kitchen ironing-table, the first long dash was made, the operator dexterously closing both eyes, to avoid falling drops, and "ducking" her head for the same purpose.

Alas, that a scene of such calm and quiet domestic happiness should be rudely disturbed! There was a violent "slamming" of the front door, a hurried rush through the hall, and Harriet appeared before her mother in such a picture of angry despair, that Mrs. Harden, for once, lost presence of mind and dropped the handle of the brush into the lime-kettle, as she threw up both hands in astonishment.

"My goodness! child, what is the matter?"—and Mrs. Harden "abandoned her position" with a jump that made the whole room shake.

"I wish I was dead—I wish I never had seen—I wish you wouldn't stare at me so, ma!"

"Do you know what you 're talking about, Harriet! What has happened?"

"Adeline Mitchell—Mrs. Smith—Adeline's going to be married!" gasped the young lady, showing evident hysterical symptoms, such as flinging her arms about wildly, and panting, as her eyes rolled with a ghastly expression.

"Well, I am beat—oh, mercy! there goes your best bonnet right into the white-wash!"

"I don't care—I don't care," murmured the sufferer. "Let me alone—I don't care if I never wear it again—I'll never go out of the house"

"Don't act like an extravagant fool," was the maternal response. Mrs. Harden could not appreciate her daughter's present abandonment. To be sure, it was enough to provoke a saint, to have Adeline Mitchell married first. Two years younger at the least calculation—not a bit genteel!

"Who is it to?" she continued. "Some greenhorn or other, I'll be bound."

But the inquiry produced a fresh convulsion, and some time elapsed before Mrs. Harden gathered that—could she believe her senses?—that Adeline Mitchell would actually become Mrs. Gould!

Sketch the Sixth, and Last. Retaliation. Chapter IV. Part 1


Barbie, the little white Chihauhau who went missing a week ago, has been reunited with her human. As Gossips heard the story, Barbie was found on Columbia Street, not far from where she escaped from a fenced yard. The woman who found Barbie took her home to Stuyvesant Falls and spent the past week trying to locate Barbie's rightful human. She succeeded in doing that today--exactly how is not clear--and Barbie and her ecstatic human were reunited at about 5 p.m. today in front of the Hudson train station.    

Another Loss

Gossips learned yesterday that this garage on Robinson Street--an example of architecture as folk art--has been demolished. 

There is no way of knowing if this building would have been spared had the Robinson Street neighborhood become a historic district, but a certificate of appropriateness would have been required from the Historic Preservation Commission before the demolition could be carried out. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of Interest

A reader brought to Gossips' attention this article from today's New York Times about a historic district in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where residents are asking the question, "What does landmarking mean if it doesn't protect us?"

Another Perspective

When this oval sticker, imitating European international abbreviation stickers, first appeared last month, some people had a problem with HUD as the abbreviation for Hudson. HUD is, after all, the acronym for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and some Hudsonians with longer memories of Hudson and greater historic perspective remember that HUD was the agency that provided the funding to demolish great parts of the city during Urban Renewal. The City's addiction to HUD money continued into the early years of the 21st century, inspiring Linda Mussmann to suggest the slogan, which she might deny today, "Let's get the HUD out of Hudson."

I have to confess that I am one of the people who have a problem with putting a HUD sticker on their car, although I readily admit that I think the concept is kind of cool. So I was amused this morning when I noticed the sticker displayed upside down on the bumper of a car parked in the 100 block of Warren Street. Upside down it looks like DUH written in Cyrillic.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc *

Residents of the First Ward recently received the quarterly newsletter sent out by Alderman Geeta Cheddie and Supervisor John Musall. In addition to a page from Cheddie and another one from Musall, there is usually also a page from Sarah Sterling, the other First Ward alderman, but Sterling's contribution was absent from the most recent mailing, probably because she's running against Musall for First Ward supervisor. 

Some of the statements in Cheddie's letter are worth sharing. Here's the one that inspired the post's Latin title: "Constituents' complaints about the lone house at Cherry Alley and First Streets [sic] have resulted in the Galvan Partners developing four new townhouses on that lot." Post hoc ergo propter hoc? It's impossible to divine how Eric Galloway decides which of his many projects will be pursued, but it seems unlikely that "constituents' complaints" had much to do with the decision to begin a project originally proposed four years ago, and the current progress on the project doesn't seem to support the idea either. The foundations for two of the new houses have been poured, and the "lone house at Cherry Alley and First Streets," of which Cheddie speaks, is still standing.

As evidence that she takes government seriously, Cheddie reports: "Although I am a member of 3 of the 11 committees created by the City Charter, I am the only alderman who attends all committee meetings each month; I also attend Planning, Zoning and Hudson Preservation Commission meetings." She does; Gossips can attest to it. But later in the newsletter, Cheddie makes a statement that raises doubts that she's paying close attention. Speaking of the "dangerously derelict properties" to be demolished at the corner of Front and Cross streets, Cheddie assures readers that "the Planning and Zoning Boards, as well as Hudson Preservation, are there to review any plans for replacement structures." The owner of the property has twice stated before the Historic Preservation Commission his intention to build nothing there but to restore the original expansive grounds of his house at the corner of Front and Allen streets.       

Cheddie's message to First Ward voters repeats an opinion, oft voiced by Linda Mussmann, that the citizens who are staying actively involved in the LWRP process, reviewing and making comments about the document through its various drafts and revisions, determined to make it a document that reflects, as it is intended to reflect, the vision of the community, are doing the community a disservice. In Cheddie's words: "The LWRP still has not appeared before the Aldermen for a vote. This is largely due to the public comments which have resulted in additional work by the Attorney and Planner at an additional cost of $20,000+--at the taxpayer's expense." Post hoc ergo propter hoc.   

* Post hoc ergo propter hoc--Latin for "after this, therefore because of this"--is a logical fallacy. (NOTE: I'm not showing off my high school Latin with this title so much as betraying my addiction to The West Wing.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Remembering Great Trees

"Under the spreading chestnut tree. . . ."

This pair of chestnut trees, which could have inspired Longfellow, flanked the entrance to 400 State Street for almost two centuries. This picture shows the trees as they appeared early in the period when the building was the Hudson Orphan Asylum--1881 to 1958. The trees survived until 1995, when Donald Carlisle, then the superintendent of schools for the Hudson City School District, had them cut down, without notifying Frank Rees, who was then the director of the Hudson Area Library, of his intention. 

Out with the Old

After abandoning this building--the original Pine Haven Home--decades ago and allowing it to deteriorate in proximity to the 1970s building currently being used, the county is now preparing to demolish it. W. T. Eckerd reports on the situation in today's Register-Star: "County moves to take down old Pine Haven home."    

You Can Get There from Here

The section of Mt. Merino Road that begins at Route 9G and circles the north side of the mountain is open again. Audra Jornov has the story in today's Register-Star: "Mt. Merino open again."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Renaming of Streets

Last week, Gossips contemplated why and for whom the main street of Hudson was renamed Warren Street in 1799. This week, there has been another instance of abrupt and, in this case, unofficial street renaming. A portion of Union Street, immediately east and west of First Street, has been unceremoniously renamed, but regular readers of Gossips will probably not have to spend much time wondering why or for whom.  

Not to Be Missed

Scott Baldinger surveys recent changes--some subtle, some dramatic--in the architecture of Hudson on his blog, Word on the Street: "One of the Better Shows on Earth."

Repaving the Way

At Wednesday night's Public Works Committee meeting, Rob Perry, DPW superintendent, shared the list of streets scheduled for repaving this fall--not any too soon for some of the streets on the list, like this stretch of Allen Street where a crew recently filled in the potholes. Perry says it's possible that some of the streets now on the list may be removed if they run out of money. 
  • Graham Avenue from Route 66 to Fairview Avenue
  • Fairview Avenue from Graham Avenue to Green Street
  • Green Street from Fairview Avenue to McKinstry Place
  • Storm Avenue from Route 66 to Aitken Avenue
  • Warren Street from Worth Avenue to Seventh Street
  • Allen Street from Front Street to Third Street
  • Cross Street from Front Street to Tanners Lane
  • Harry Howard Avenue from Washington Street to the north entrance to Crosswinds
  • Power Avenue from East Court Street to just west of HAVE, Inc.
  • Michael Court from Harry Howard to the end

Much Ado About NADA

The NADA Art Fair happening this weekend at Basilica Hudson is getting lots of attention in the media. A Gossips reader who is in New York City today reports that there are pieces about NADA Hudson in both New York Magazine and The L Magazine.  

Highlights from the Legal Committee Meeting

After lengthy discussions about changes to the code having to do with private trash haulers and the regulation of taxicabs, the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday night got around to considering the resolution, proposed for a second time by First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling, authorizing Mayor Richard Scalera to negotiate with Holcim US to purchase the property the corporation owns in Hudson--the dock and South Bay. In a lawsuit over property taxes, Holicm is claiming that the property is worth only $1.5 million, and Sterling's resolution suggests that if this is the value Holcim puts the property, the City should take it off their hands for that amount.

The moment Legal Committe chair Ellen Thurston introduced the topic, Fifth Ward Alderman Dick Goetz moved to table the resolution until some undetermined later date, and First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie seconded it. Common Council President Don Moore said he would not support a motion to table the resolution because of the degree to which Holcim and O&G have thumbed their nose (Gossips' words not Moore's) at the City, citing as an example how they are now using the "road" through South Bay to haul gravel while continuing to use city streets. 

Moore's statement seemed to be a cue for City Attorney Jack Connor to point out that, since the path through South Bay is now being used, the City could pass a law requiring O&G to use that route exclusively--for trucks loaded with gravel going to the dock and for empty trucks leaving the dock--thus eliminating gravel trucks on Columbia Street below Third and on Front Street. The problem is, of course, that the path through South Bay is only wide enough for one truck. O&G's original plan, explained at the Greenport Planning Board, called for two turnouts that would allow trucks going in opposite directions to pass, but creating those turnouts would involve review and permitting, since widening the path at two points would involve further encroachment into a sensitive wetland. Nevertheless, it seems that Connor will be writing legislation for the Common Council's consideration to force O&G to use the path through South Bay for trucks going in both directions.

Voting on Goetz's motion to table the resolution to buy the dock, Goetz, Cheddie, and Second Ward Alderman Wanda Pertilla supported the motion; Thurston and Moore were opposed.

Before the committee went into executive session to discuss ongoing litigation, David Marston, Democratic candidate for alderman in the First Ward, asked that the City, in the wake of the Hudson Chainsaw Massacre that took place recently on lower Union Street, consider enacting a tree ordinance to manage the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees and to preserve trees designated as "heritage trees" throughout the City. Marston presented for the committee's consideration DEC guidelines for tree ordinances and sample ordinances from other municipalities. Marston's proposal met with differing degrees of indifference and derision from Goetz and Cheddie, but Moore accepted the documents Marston provided, saying, "Let's look into this."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Word from Norrie Point

Tonight, at the Norrie Point Environmental Center in Staatsburg, the Department of State and the Department of Environmental Conservation held a joint public hearing about the proposed Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats designations, among them our own South Bay. Gossips has received word that O&G sent an attorney from a law firm in Syracuse to the hearing to argue against the designation, claiming that there wasn't enough data to support the designation and that water transportation was such a high priority it should take precedence over the designation.  

Photo courtesy the South Bay Task Force.

Not to Be Missed

There's an article in today's Times Union about Basilica Hudson and NADA Hudson, the exhibition coming up this weekend of contemporary art presented by members and affiliates of New Art Dealers Alliance: "Basilica Hudson a new temple of contemporary art."  

Thanks to Columbia County News for bringing this to our attention.

If You Build It . . .

The USDA has declared Hudson a "food desert," which it defines as "a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store." The assumption of the USDA study that identified food deserts throughout the United States was that people in low-income communities don't have healthy diets because they don't have ready access to healthy and affordable food, and the objective was to make healthy and affordable available to everyone. 

A recent study, however, suggests that just having healthy food available and affordable to people in low-income neighborhoods is not enough to improve their diets. Conducted by the Nutrition Transition Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the study tracked thousands of people in several large cities for fifteen years and discovered that people who had supermarkets available in their neighborhoods didn't eat more fruits and vegetables. Read more about the study in this article from the Los Angeles Times"Access to grocers doesn't improve diets, study finds."   

The Empire Strikes Back

In today's Register-Star, Jamie Larson reports that Phil Gellert has evicted the tenant at 718-720 Union Street who criticized him in the newspaper: "Landlord evicts outspoken tenant." Gellert claims that the reason for the eviction is that the tenant owes him $152 (it seems that Section 8 pays about 80 percent of the $750 rent, and the tenant must pay the balance), but the tenant says that when she asked Gellert if she could pay the $152 and stay he told her, "We don't need people like you." 

The article recounts this incident that occurred when Larson was interviewing the tenant in question outside the entrance to the building. Gellert drove up "in a gold Jaguar" and told Larson to "leave private property." He also instructed a work crew on the site not to talk with the press.      

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preserve Hudson's Trees

The clear cutting of a yard on lower Union Street--dubbed the Hudson Chainsaw Massacre--has inspired neighbors to initiate a petition, addressed to the Common Council, asking the City of Hudson "to recognize the need to protect Heritage Trees from further destruction, and move with timeliness and prudence towards this end." The petition is online and can be accessed by clicking here.   

Have You Seen This Dog?

This sweet little white Chihuahua named Barbie escaped from a fenced yard in the 500 block of Columbia Street. She has been missing for two days, and her human is beside himself with anxiety. If you see her, email Gossips and we'll get the word to Barbie's human.      

Another Spruce Tree Coming Down

This morning at 10 a.m., Gossips witnessed a worker from Meyers Contracting feeding boughs removed from the spruce tree beside 123 Union Street into a giant chipper.

Remember Mr. T?

Mr. T played the part of B. A. Baracus in the 1980s TV series The A-Team. He was called to mind by a Gossips reader with Chicago roots last Friday, when the side yard at 25 Union Street, owned by T. Eric Galloway, was clear-cut and some of Hudson's most venerable trees were destroyed.  

In 1986, Mr. T bought a turn-of-the-century Tudor estate once owned by meatpacking baron Laurance Armour, in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. The grounds of the estate had been designed by landscape architect Jen Jensen, who seems to have been the Frederick Law Olmsted of the Midwest. Mr. T wanted to put his personal touch on the property, and toward that end, presumably, he clear-cut the seven-acre estate in 1987, destroying more than a hundred trees. You can read about the Lake Forest Chainsaw Massacre in this recent retrospective and this New York Times article from 1987. 

The next year, prompted, it is believed, by Mr. T's flagrant action, Lake Forest enacted a tree preservation ordinance to prevent developers and homeowners from chopping down trees.   

Monday, July 25, 2011

Another Victim?

Gossips received word this morning that the tree crew had started work on this tree next to 123 Union Street. The rain seems to have stayed the execution, because when Gossips arrived on the scene, the traffic cones set out in the street were the only evidence of activity. It is believed that this is a Norway Spruce, like the two that were felled on Friday in the yard at 25 Union Street.

Another Gossips Milestone

This is Gossips' one-thousandth post--one thousand posts since The Gossips of Rivertown began eighteen months ago.

Fittingly, the one-thousandth post is the penultimate excerpt from the original Gossips of Rivertown, in which Harriet Harden, one of the most indefatigable of the Rivertown gossips, gets a taste of her own medicine. The rich and handsome widower from Berkshire County, for whom Harriet has "set her cap," overhears some of the victims of Harriet's gossip talking about Harriet and the imperious Mrs. Harden and has second thoughts.  

Now the truth of the matter was this: Harrison Gould, Esq.—so his letters were addressed—was a widower of some years' standing, and in comfortable circumstances. He had been a lawyer in the county town where he resided, but being naturally inclined to ease, had given up his practice and turned his attention to amateur farming. That is, he read scientific and agricultural books, and puzzled his head man—Roberts—with disquisitions on "soils and gases;" and was sure, at the end of the year, that it was owing to his researches and improved farming utensils, that the crops turned out so well, while the neighbours attributed it to the experience and active supervision of Roberts. However, to let this pass—for it was an amiable weakness of a very good-natured man—Mr. Gould had at length grown tired of his solitary mansion. He thought Mrs. Roberts, though a very good housekeeper, was uot exactly suited to direct the education of his two motherless daughters, who were approaching a hoydenish age, and "needed looking after." In fine, one bright December morning, he came to the desperate resolution of marrying again. As he passed in review the various young ladies of his acquaintance—he could not think of a widow, not he!—there came a recollection of having been somewhat struck by a dashing woman he had passed a day or two with, at the house of a friend. She was no school-girl, it is true, but he hated your chits—he wanted a companion for himself, a mother for his children. So he further resolved, as he himself termed it, "to look her up"—and confer upon her the distinguished honour of his name, should she please him, upon more intimate acquaintance.

And all this while we have left him sauntering about the fair! No — he had grown weary of that, and ensconced himself in a convenient niche near the "post-office," where he could watch the carnival before him, at the same time sheltered in a measure from observation by one of the "banners" we have before alluded to.

He was quite comfortable here, and soon grew to distinguish individuals among the crowd that now thronged the room.

He saw little children pause wistfully before the cake-table, and compare the three pennies left of their small store, with the nice tart marked sixpence. How the longing look passed away, and returned again as the young spendthrift came in view of the gaily-dressed dolls, and the fancy pin-cushions. He heard the young ladies pressing their beaux to purchase things that could be of no manner of use, and were besides exorbitantly dear, with an irresistible look, and "please do, for I made it." Ah, there was no denying then, and the young gentleman emptied his purse, and went without a new pair of boots in consequence. He noticed Mrs. McCloud floating around the room, overseeing, planning, and admiring, with her most consequentially patronizing air. His eyes rested for a long time on the calm, peaceful face of Mrs. Jackson, its pensive beauty heightened by the plain mourning dress she had not yet laid aside.

And then he could not help overhearing a conversation that was going on in the little tent near which he leaned, of course unobserved by its inmates.

"Oh, it's better than any farce," said the merry voice of Mrs. Jorden, "to watch the Hardens this evening. Mamma's so delighted at the prospect of Miss Harriet's having an offer at last, and so anxious any one should see the gentleman she intends for the honour of her son-in-law, and should understand that he 'lives on the interest of his money!'"

"So he has really been caught!" said Miss Barnard, in return. "Poor fellow! he's rather good-looking."

The listener could have boxed her ears for this patronizing remark.

"Yes, and seems sensible in all other points. I wonder he allowed himself to be 'hooked.' If Harriet was an angel in herself, I should think the prospect of having such a mother-in-law to manage one's family affairs, would frighten any man."

"My dear Marie," interposed another voice, evidently her husband's, "you are too severe. I do not believe you have yet forgiven that little curiosity of theirs."

"Why not so much that, Hal, but it displayed them all so perfectly. First, their watching you, and listening to a gossiping seamstress; then that visit of inspection to Mary. No lady would ever read another person's letters."

"Are you sure that Miss Harden did?"

"Why of course. She told Adeline Mitchell so. Didn't you know they have never spoken since the morning of Mary's wedding? I have thought better of Adeline ever since. I looked over at her to-night on Miss Harden's entrance, and was delighted to find that, though it was evidently expected she would be withered, confounded, not a glance or a movement betrayed the least curiosity or chagrin. I'm inclined to think she's a good creature, after all. At any rate, she has never tried to force herself into any set of acquaintances, and it has been perfectly annoying to see how Harriet Harden has toadied to Mrs. McCloud from the moment this affair commenced. Such an opportunity was not to be lost; I have been positively angry that any woman should stoop so low."

"Pshaw, Marie, one sees that in any society. Never more fully displayed than at Washington. I should have thought you had become accustomed to it there."

Mr. Gould had heard quite enough of his intended relatives. He had never liked Mrs. Harden particularly, and he could not help noticing her fussy officiousness in pointing him out to any one near her, when he emerged from his concealment. No man likes to feel himself baited for; though perhaps willing enough to be caught where he does not see the hook. Mr. Gould began to grow nervous, and meditated returning to Berkshire the next morning. While absorbed in these delightful reflections, he found himself standing near a very sensible, quiet-looking person, apparently about Miss Harden's age, who was in attendance at the much undervalued "kitchen table." It might have been suggested by her surroundings, but somehow, as he watched her dispose of towels and holders, give "change" to purchasers from the pocket of her pretty silk apron, (Mr. Gould had a particular penchant for a little black silk apron, it always seemed so homelike,) he began to wonder if she was engaged, or if she were a wife already.

Contrary to his first intention, he turned once more to Miss Harden, who welcomed the truant with a "smile of sweet chiding," which was quickly changed to a contemptuous curl of the lip, as he asked the name of the lady he had just been observing.

"I haven't the honour of her acquaintance," was her somewhat ungentle reply—and Mr. Gould began to wonder how he had ever thought Miss Harden agreeable. "I'm not the first man of my years that's gone on a fool's errand," was his consolatory reflection; but he twirled his watch-chain uneasily, for all that.

Later in the evening he found himself once more by the plain young lady, and, by way of introduction, began asking the price of her wares. She smiled; he found she had good teeth;—if there was any thing he noticed first, it was good teeth—his own were remarkable for regularity and brilliancy. She had a pleasant voice—Mr. Gould agreed with Shakspeare, that it was "an excellent thing in woman." She conversed sensibly, and was witty without being sarcastic, and as he was regretting politeness would not allow a longer chit-chat, Mrs. McCloud happened to come up, and said, "Mr. Gould, Miss Mitchell," in her most gracious and affable manner.

It was not accident that brought Mrs. McCloud up there just at that moment. She had wondered what they were talking about, and besides, the good-natured lady knew that she could not more effectually annoy Miss Harden than by the said introduction. Some people take such pains to be of service to their friends!

Mr. Gould started. He understood Miss Harden's negative now—at least, he thought he did—and Adeline, though she had altered very much for the better since her intimacy with Harriet had ceased, and was now really what she seemed to be, a sensible, good-natured girl, could not but feel a little pleasure in the turn affairs had taken. Don't blame her, ladies—you would have felt just the same, only, ten to one, you would have shown it more plainly.

Mr. Gould walked home with Harriet Harden that evening, of course; it was his duty to do so; he had escorted her there; and he was very civil, very polite; in fact, so much so, that Harriet answered her mother's anxious inquiries, with the information that she thought he'd propose before the week was out, and then retired to dream of a delightful residence in Berkshire. The dream was, however, preluded by a speculation as to the material of her wedding-dress, and the number of pounds of fruit-cake that would be requisite. "There's one thing"—was her last sleepy reflection—"Adeline Mitchell shall die with envy. The creature! to flirt with him as she did to-night. However, he saw through it all"—and her maiden meditations ended. But strange to relate, Mr. Gould did not call the next day. Stranger still, he walked home with Adeline Mitchell in the evening; they went down before the Hardens, on the other side of Main Street. Several remarked it. But the ensuing morning he called very early, and proposed a walk before the hour she should be on duty, and then he was particularly attentive to her all the evening.

The fair lasted four days, evenings inclusive. It was wonderfully successful, every one said. But we must follow other fortunes, and cannot pause to tell of the silver that was missing—the table-linen ruined—the disputes that arose—the innumerable cold dinners that were eaten in Rivertown during the whole of that eventful week; or how a general amnesty ensued, and the Orphan Asylum nourished, and flourishes still, to the great credit of the energetic ladies who planned and supported it; and the kind matron whose heart is bound up in her little charges, and who spends health and strength for their comfort and well-being, without a murmur. God reward-her, say we!

We can only mention, as we close this chapter, that Mr. Gould left Rivertown after a fortnight's visit, leaving Miss Harden in a delightful state of uncertainty with regard to his intentions. Though "she was sure, from what he said—he would write directly. There was one consolation; he seemed to have found out that artful Adeline Mitchell, long before he left."

Sketch the Sixth, and Last. Retaliation. Chapter III. Part 2

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's Official . . . or Is It?

The Huffington Post reports that Claudia Bruce and Linda Mussmann were the first same-sex couple to be married in New York, but Reuters and other sources give the distinction to Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd, two grandmothers from Buffalo, who were married in Niagara Falls, with the falls in rainbow colors as a backdrop.

The Case for Trees

After a week that saw the destruction of several mature trees in Hudson, I went looking for a document that outlined cogently and compellingly the importance of trees in the built environment. The search discovered a brochure entitled The Case for Trees, published by the Forestry Commission England. This image is from that brochure:

The Case for Trees explains the contributions of trees in combating climate change and to the environment, as well as the economic and social benefits of trees. Some of the information is specific to England, but the first eleven pages, which make the case for trees, are universal. Here are two memorable quotes: 
  • "Trees create and sustain community wealth."
  • "Trees strengthen and improve people's lives." 

At the Stroke of Midnight

I was reminded this morning of the episode from Friends in which one of Phoebe's customers, Mrs. Adelman, dies on Phoebe's massage table, and her spirit enters Phoebe. Apparently, Mrs. Adelman wanted to see everything before she died, and she had unfinished business. 

While inhabited by Mrs. Adelman's spirit, Phoebe, along with the other friends, goes to the wedding of Ross's ex-wife, Carol, and her partner, Susan. When the minister begins, "We're gathered here today to join Carol and Susan in holy matrimony," the spirit of Mrs. Adelman, through Phoebe, declares "Now I've seen everything!" and departs. 

Had Mrs. Adelman been a Hudsonian and somehow present at the stroke-of-midnight nuptials at TSL, she might have had the same reaction--not because Linda and Claudia were getting married, but because Rick Scalera was performing the ceremony.

Jamie Larson has the story of the event in today's Register-Star: "BREAKING NEWS: Hudson in running for first gay marriage."     

Of Interest

Today's New York Times has a feature article called "The Van Dusens of New Amsterdam," complete with an interactive family tree. The article tells about a Dutch settler named Abraham, a miller who came to the New World in the 1620s from Duersen in northern Brabant and, fifteen generations later, has more than 200,000 descendants. Of interest to the Van Deusens of Hudson and everyone else curious about genealogy and our Dutch heritage.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Alien Species Invades Riverfront Park

The European water chestnut (Trapa natans) was introduced to North America in the 1870s, when it was cultivated as an ornamental in the botanical garden of Harvard botanist Asa Gray. Within a few years' time, the plant was growing wild in the Charles River, and it has since gained a reputation for being an aquatic nuisance plant with particularly aggressive growth habits. According to one source, water chestnut spreads by seed or by any fragment of the plant that floats or is carried to a new location. 

This summer, water chestnut plants clogged the water around the new floating docks in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. On Thursday morning, a Gossips reader witnessed a crew from the Department of Public Works clearing out the water chestnut, but their technique may not have been one that the Department of Environmental Conservation would encourage. The eyewitness reported that the crew, working from a boat, were raking the leafy mats of the plant that float on the surface and dragging them out into the river, just short of the navigation channel, where the current would carry them downstream.

The Hudson Chainsaw Massacre

This was the scene this morning after the tree crew had done its work in the side yard of 25 Union Street.

The larger of the two spruce trees that were cut had been visible from the river--a part of the Hudson skyline. This montage, provided by a Gossips reader, juxtaposes the view from the train station before (left) and after (right).

There have been reports that the tree next to 123 Union Street is scheduled to be the next victim. 

Phil Gellert Back in the News

Jamie Larson has a story about Phil Gellert in today's Register-Star, specifically about Gellert's claim that he is the victim of selective enforcement by Assistant Code Enforcement Officer Kenneth Ellsworth: "Gellert citations coming fast and furious." Larson gets one thing wrong: the name of Gellert's company is Northern Empire Realty (how's that for delusions of grandeur?) not Northern Hudson Real Estate. According to the article, the Gellert building that has been cited most often for violations over the years is this converted barn at 718-720 Union Street. The first picture shows the entrance to the building, off Cherry Alley. The second shows the view of the building from the street. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

More About Warren Street

Yesterday's post "What's Behind a Name?" raised the question of why and for whom Hudson's main street had been renamed Warren Street in 1799. Two readers suggested that Warren Street may have been named for Revolutionary War hero Joseph Warren. One reader speculated that Joseph Warren was best known in Massachusetts and had no obvious connection with Hudson, but the founders of Hudson came from Massachusetts soon after the Revolutionary War, so that may be all the connection necessary. The other pointed out that Warren County, in the Adirondacks, which was established in 1813, was named for General Joseph Warren and suggested that this eponym may have been part of a trend in New York that originated here in Hudson. 

Since Joseph Warren may well have been the person for whom Warren Street was named, a little biographical information about him is in order. He was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1741, and graduated from Harvard College in 1759. After teaching for a year at the Latin School, he studied medicine and opened a practice in Boston in 1764. 

Warren got involved with the revolutionary cause in 1767, when he wrote a series of articles for the Boston Gazette, under the pseudonym "A True Patriot," reacting to the passage of the Townshend Acts. After the Boston Massacre in 1770, he became the chairman of the Committee of Safety and delivered famous orations on the first and second anniversaries of that event.

In 1774, when Samuel Adams was in Philadelphia at the first Continental Congress, Warren took over for him in Boston, raising militias and procuring arms and powder. On April 18, 1775, it was Warren who directed Paul Revere and William Dawes to raise the alarm about British troop movement. After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Warren worked to ready the militia for future battles, and on June 14, 1775, he was elected second general in command of the Massachusetts forces.

Three days after Warren was made a general, British forces landed at Charlestown, and Warren rode to Breed's Hill, where patriot troops were encamped to defend Boston. Warren refused to take command but instead volunteered to go into the line. In the final assault by the British, Warren was struck in the head by a musket ball while trying to rally the militia and died instantly--just six days after his thirty-fourth birthday.

The Boston National Historical Park website calls Joseph Warren "the hero of Bunker Hill" and goes on to say that "by dying on that hill that June day in 1775, he became the embodiment of the young nation's sacrifice." His death was immortalized in this painting by John Trumbull.  

Every New England state has a town named Warren, but curiously they are not all named in honor of Joseph Warren. Warren, New Hampshire, and Warren, Rhode Island, were named for Sir Peter Warren, a British naval officer who commanded the attack on the French fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia in 1745. Still, it is not out of the question that a city in New York, with strong ties to New England, might name its main street after an early hero of the Revolutionary War, but so far that's only conjecture.

Once More with Feeling--Timber!

Neighborhood protest may have stayed the ax on Monday, but it seems to have had no effect on Eric Galloway's determination to clear-cut the side yard of 25 Union Street. The professionals arrived today, with the heavy equipment.

These pictures, taken by a Gossips reader, capture the "topping" of the smaller of the two giant spruce trees. The larger spruce, visible from the river, is also coming down, as are, according to the tree crew, all the rest of the trees in the yard--including a perfectly healthy American elm.   

Chocolate Factory Update

On Wednesday night, the owners of Christopher Norman Chocolates, appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals. They want to establish a factory to create their signature chocolates in the former Sacred Heart Church on North Second Street. The ZBA determined that their application for a use variance was complete and directed the city attorney to schedule a public hearing on the project for 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 11. Immediately after the public hearing, at 6:30 p.m., the ZBA will hold its regular meeting and will presumably make a decision on the application.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Update on the Democrats

Hudson Democratic Committee chair Victor Mendolia told Gossips this afternoon that the opportunity to ballot petitions have been filed with the Board of Elections. Ninety-two signatures were required on the petitions; 150 signatures were secured.

An opportunity to ballot petition forces a citywide open primary for the mayoral slot on the Democratic line in November. Had an open primary not been necessary, there would only have been a Democratic primary in two wards: the First Ward and the Third Ward. In the First Ward, incumbent alderman Geeta Cheddie has filed petitions to primary the Democrat-endorsed candidates for alderman, David Marston and Larissa Thomas, and incumbent supervisor John Musall has filed petitions to primary the Democrat-endorsed candidate for supervisor, Sarah Sterling. Mendolia indicated his intention to challenge Cheddie's and Musall's petitions, which he described as "sloppy." Cheddie and Musall have the endorsment of the Republican Party. In the Third Ward, former Hudson police chief Glenn Martin is challenging three-term alderman Ellen Thurston, now running for Third Ward supervisor, for the Democratic line. Martin, too, has been endorsed by the Republicans.

Cheddie, Musall, and Martin seem to be following in the grand old Hudson tradition of trying to commandeer as many ballot lines as possible. Some may recall that, back in 2003, Cappy Pierro, Rick Scalera's longtime political ally, snagged Linda Mussmann's own party line, the Bottom Line Party, for Scalera, forcing Mussmann to create a new party, the Fair Deal Party, for her run for mayor that year. The scramble by these three Republican-endorsed candidates to try to seize ballot lines and knock out the competition seems to run counter to the thinking of the chair of the Republican Committee, George Dejesus, who was quoted in today's Register-Star as saying that residents deserve a choice.  

What's in a Name?

July is National Ice Cream Month, and that's been my excuse for visiting LICK three times in the past two days. The first visit, on Tuesday afternoon, was to reward William with Bow Wow ice cream for being a very good dog while getting a bath at Pampered Pooch. (William gives the new grooming parlor at 226 Warren Street his pawprint of approval.) The other two visits were after-dinner indulgences for me.

LICK has a dazzling variety of new flavors. Sassafras is a particular favorite, evoking gustatory memories of the rootbeer floats of my Midwestern childhood. A favorite but short-lived flavor from last year has reappeared. The combination of sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds in creamy ice cream, which last year was called simply 3 Seed, is back--this time with a sexy new name: Seeduction.   

What's Behind a Name?

Hudsonians continue to wonder why and for whom the main street of our city was renamed Warren Street in 1799. As Byrne Fone told the story in Historic Hudson: An Architectural History, the change was sudden and unexplained: "One day, Hudsonians saw messages in red and yellow chalked on fences along the street summarily informing them that 'this street is no longer Main Street but called Warren Street by order of the Common Council.'" 

The naming of the pocket park in the 200 block of Warren Street was never so legislated. Instead, the nomenclature was more of a grassroots thing. Back in 1997, Historic Hudson and the Hudson Opera House collaborated to stage a garden tour called "The Secret Gardens of Hudson." The newly created park, on a vacant lot that had been used as a bocce court, was one of the stops of the tour. There, under the sparse shade of then very young Bradford pears, a stalwart volunteer read excerpts from Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden.  

For the purpose of the printed tour itinerary, the park needed a name, and tour organizers decided it would be appropriate to name the park for the Proprietor who had originally owned that piece of land. Some research revealed that the Proprietor was John W. Thurston. Hence the little park was dubbed John W. Thurston Park, or simply Thurston Park.

For fourteen years, people have been calling it that, and now it seems the name is catching on. In today's Register-Star there's a picture (strangely absent from the online version) with a caption (not absent) explaining that the picture shows Lisa Heintz "in front of a newly installed sign at the Thurston Pocket Park on Warren Street." The name Thurston Park has made it into the official vernacular. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Democrats Learn the Devil Is in the Details

Gossips has learned that an oversight is putting Nick Haddad's run for mayor in jeopardy. Haddad is a registered Republican, and for him to run as a Democrat, two documents had be filed: a Wilson Pakula authorization and an acceptance of the line. The former was filed in a timely manner; the latter was not. 

To correct the situation, the Democrats are collecting signatures on an "opportunity to ballot" petition. When signed by at least 92 Democrats registered in the City of Hudson, the petition will enable an open Democratic primary for mayor in September. In an open primary, Democrats can write in a candidate for mayor, and the candidate receiving the most votes will be on the Democratic line in the general election. 

Although Haddad's place on the Democratic line is not assured at this point, his name will still appear on the ballot in November. Haddad has been endorsed by the Working Families Party, and he will be the mayoral candidate on that line. 

Hudson Democratic Committee chair Victor Mendolia has advised Gossips that Democrats registered in the City of Hudson who wish to sign the opportunity to ballot petition can do so tonight between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. at the home of Nick and Carrie Haddad, 29 South Second Street.