Saturday, May 11, 2013

Another Brush with Greatness

Since Presidents' Day 2013, Gossips has been writing about the visits of Presidents to Hudson--before, after, and during their terms in office: Martin Van Buren, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. But nothing has been said about First Ladies . . . until today.

Earlier this week, Billy Shannon--one of the Register-Star "Gang of Four," who is now reporting for the Poughkeepsie Journal--shared with Gossips something he discovered in his own research: a visit to Hudson by Eleanor Roosevelt.

From 1936 until only a few weeks before her death in 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a regular newspaper column called "My Day." Sixty years ago today, on May 11, 1953, she wrote about a visit to the Rip Van Winkle Clinic here in Hudson. The clinic, which had been founded by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, who served as its medical director, was six and a half years old when the former First Lady visited it in 1953, and it was located at 454 Warren Street. 

Roosevelt described the clinic's location and operation:
It is an old house taken over and rearranged to meet the needs of a medical building. An addition is now going up. . . . 
The staff at the clinic consists of two surgeons, an obstetrician, medical men, dentists, a psychiatrist and various other specialists. Each has an office, from which they go out on stated days to the two branches already established in Hillsdale and Philmont. A new branch in Germantown will be established in July.
Eleanor Roosevelt declared the clinic "one of the most exciting achievements in medical care for this type of community, and it seems to be very satisfying to the medical men themselves."

As reported in the Knickerbocker News on July 22, 1964, the Rip Van Winkle Clinic "was set up to provide residents of the rural county with a wide variety of medical experts at a price all could pay. If they couldn't pay, they were treated free." In the summer of 1964, "doomed by a $2 million deficit," the Rip Van Winkle Clinic closed its doors.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, mentioned in this article, is the father of Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. whose "family traces its ancestry to Marten Cornelise Ysselsteyn, from the province of that name in Holland, who emigrated in 1659. He settled in and was one of the fourteen original proprietors of Schenectady, but in 1668 sold his farm for 330 beaver skins and removed first to Ulster County and then to Claverack, where he leased a large tract of land from the Van Rensselaer patent, the same which remains in possession of his descendants..." ["Claverack Old and New," F. H. Webb, 1892]. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., who retired from the Cleavland Clinic in 2000, now lives on his ancestral property in Claverack. He is the author of the influential book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," and the star of the documentary "Forks Over Knives," which advocates a plant-based low-oil diet. After cardiac surgery in 2010, Bill Clinton adopted this diet [along with the author of this comment].