Saturday, September 2, 2023

Introducing a New History of Hudson

Maybe every city has a history as rich and fascinating as Hudson’s, if you just take the time to investigate, but I doubt it. From its beginnings in 1783 to the present day, Hudson has many more tales of intrigue and brushes with greatness than one might expect of a city so small in size. One such story is that surrounding the creation of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Educational Center, the school building and grounds we now know as Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School.

Inspired by his personal and family connections with the place, Ken Sheffer has, over the past four years, done exhaustive research into how, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, the showplace that was the Livingston Educational Center came to be, and the story is riveting. Sheffer tells it in his book, Hudson's Heart: The Story of Hudson, New York's "Greatest Deal from the New Deal."

Over the next few months,
Gossips will have the privilege of introducing Sheffer's work to readers in installments, much as works by such authors as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were presented to readers in the 19th century—the difference being those works were fiction; this one is fact. Today, motivated by the imminent visit to Hudson and the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR of the Descendants of Whaling Masters, Sheffer and Gossips present a sample of what's to come: the chapter from the book that connects Hudson in the 1930s with its whaling roots and New England founders. The chapter tells the true story of how Paddock Place, a street that didn't exist before the Livingston Educational Center came to be, got its name.

What follows is Sheffer's own introduction to FreshHistory, the book Hudson's Heart, and the chapter about Paddock Place.

HUDSON'S HEART by FreshHistory—A Little Sneak Peak

The Gossips of Rivertown makes us fresh every day, so we at FreshHistory are honored to have this chance to collaborate on this local history book, which we hope will help us all understand how our pasts can improve our futures and make them fresh, too. We at FreshHistory are amateur writers and small in numbers. This "short story made long" has stretched us to our limits (but we've had fun), and we beg your total forgiveness on the errors we make. FreshHistory has never done this before, and we are feeling the stress. Later chapters will improve, we promise. But, please, give us this chance to give it a go.
This “long, short story” is based on our passion for the Chancellor Livingston Educational Center (now referred to as the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School). That passion, as Gossips mentions, comes from our love for that Olympic-like facility and the opportunities that those tennis courts (oh, and the classrooms) gave me, and the smiles it gave my mother as she sat in those stands watching me play tennis, knowing I had found a home. 

This book-writing business is for horses, but we’ll get to that later. It is a draining business, and we were warned. 

The book will be offered at no charge for e-reading to all. Hard copies can be purchased later for a small fee based on a donation to a group of our choosing (we haven’t figured that out yet). No funds will come to FreshHistory.

So, now let me say thank you to Carole Osterink. She is not just Hudson’s best journalist but perhaps America’s most, well, most everything. Carole, you have given Hudson your heart. We give it back and say thank you, thank you. We all love life more because of you. Forgive us for our comma sins.

Secondly, I just want to give a shout-out to the Hudson Area Library, the best local library in the world, and to Brenda Shufelt, especially.

And for my friend from the comments section of Gossips, Charlie Millar—thank you for your frequent high fives. You have saved me from several doctor appointments

I have always lived my life believing I could accomplish whatever I set out to do. But one thing I was certain I could NEVER do is properly thank my town, my city, my love—the city of Hudson for all that it did for me and my parents. This book is for you, Hudson, and you guys, Mom and Dad. 

For the rest of you, please look at the passion and words that have gone into this effort and let it rest on your minds and shelves and collect the dust that all things do. But always remember the color we tried to bring you.

When my mother wrapped our Christmas tree in a blanket, and we moved from Union Street to Joslen Place, little did I know I would fall in love with a Chancellor. Mr. Livingston would give me and my family a country club we could not otherwise afford. I often wonder what would have happened to me without those tennis courts and all that came with it. 

This book will be lengthy, will come out over the next few months, and will cover a period from about 1922 to 1940, with a focus on the Great Depression. It is the story about whether Hudson was to build or not build that historic academic and recreational facility. You have all heard me talk about it before. Now, ready or not, here it comes.

Back to horses. We are releasing today one chapter of the story that is related to the street that wraps around the northern side of the Livingston Center. The chapter is officially called “The Paddocks Finally Find Their 'Place.'” It is based on the story that Paddock Place was named after the horse barns that adjoined the fairgrounds property. Let’s see if that’s a true story. For branding purposes, and for first impressions, we’ve added some color from other chapters, too.

Now let’s switch from horses to whales. When we learned that the Descendants of Whaling Masters were coming to Hudson, a lightbulb went off.  We thought perhaps we could begin our collaboration with Gossips early and throw the Paddock chapter into the mixnow. It’s a little story about the secret of that street. Gossips agreed, and here we are. This keyhole opportunity is perfect. It has made us work harder to finish the entire book. 
Because there were few photographs in the papers during the Depression, we decided to hire an incredible artist from Poland to read our stories and bring them to life. This brief introduction is not the time to introduce Marta as it would not be kind enough or generous enough to her. You’ll see, she is a genius and will be coming to Hudson soon to meet you all.
But keep your eye on Gossips as we release more and more chapters in the days ahead.

Your user manual is as follows for this one chapter: click on the link Gossips gives you, and it will bring you to our landing page. From there click on the “Paddock” chapter where you might find a horse or a whale or a Paddock! 
You can reach me at with any issues.

Finally, it would burst my life bubble if I did not thank my co-pilot, co-author, and love of my life, Jeff Tsui, for all that he is and for all that he does for me. A kinder soul has never existed. Thank you, Mr. Co-Author!

FreshHistory remains fresh and committed to this book and its improvement.  We’ll keep you posted, through Gossips, as the entire project freshens up.

Thank you, Carole, and thank you, Hudson!

FreshHistory’s Ken and Jeff

To read the chapter "The Paddocks Finally Find Their 'Place,'" click HERE.

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