We who stayed on in Poughkeepsie will seek to alleviate culture shock for those of you who left, and who, on returning, will find that things have changed a lot -- mostly (but not entirely) for the better.
Remember Xmas shopping in the stores on Main Street? There were two department stores, Luckey-Platt and Wallaces. Up-To- Date was a very good women's clothing store. Schwartz for men's clothing. Danish Design Center for household goods (or was that later?). The buildings are there, but the businesses have fled. For a while Main Street was turned into a pedestrian mall; no cars were allowed. The goal was to stave off disaster for the downtown. It didn't. Recently the mall was bulldozed, and vehicular traffic has returned, but still not the people.
The Hungarian restaurant in a basement on Cannon Street is now a parking lot. Does anyone remember the name of that place? [The official Stretch/Harvest Reunion Sleuth, Chris Larson, identifies it as Morrison's.]
The Nelson House became a county office building, but is now abandoned.
Smith Brothers cough drops originated in Poughkeepsie. Then the company was bought out. How long since anyone has seen a box with pictures of the brothers Trade and Mark on it?
No trace of the DeLaval Company (DeLaval) remains locally.
The Gertrude Ford Tea Company (Gertrude Ford) has moved from Route 44. The business is now in Wappingers Falls, and there is only a tiny showroom in Rosemary's Flower Shop on East Main Street.
There was a plan for a while for Vassar College to merge with Yale and to move to New Haven. That fell through, but Vassar did become co-ed. Back then the College was rather standoff-ish. Now it is more open to the community. If you drive by the College, you will see that the huge old trees that lined Raymond Avenue were cut down in the process of widening the road. The replacements have far to go before they replace the old trees.
The old IBM Research building on Boardman Road was sold. It is now Our Lady of Lourdes High School.
The IBM Country Club was extensively remodelled in the 1980's(?) and then in the 1990's it was leased to another company to manage. You can see a virtual reality tour of the new lobby at www.casperkill.com.
The Juliet movie theater is now a billiard parlor.
The Morse Estate then was still occupied by a family member; now it is a museum.
The area occupied by the Western Printing plant, across from Marist, is now a standard-issue shopping center, with a Home Depot, Staples, Applebee, and Starbucks.
Resisting the tide of national conformity, Davies Hardware store in Arlington still has everything. I saw a program on PBS about Japanese carpentry. Their saws are distinctly different from ours. The next time I was in Davies, I happened to glance up and there was a wide selection of Japanese saws awaiting my purchase.
The first thing you will notice when driving around Poughkeepsie is that it is now possible to drive around Poughkeepsie. Back around 1966 the poor people of Poughkeepsie were uprooted so that the more affluent of us could drive through their former neighborhoods. The North-South Arterial lets you get through Poughkeepsie in about 2 minutes. That is the good news. The bad news is that the intersection of the N-S Arterial and Route 44-55 is surreal. There was (and is) lots of traffic, but the real estate was too valuable to put in a clover leaf, and so to make a left-hand turn, you must make a right-hand turn and then make a U-turn (or you must go past your turn, make a U-turn, and then make a right-hand turn). There are lots of accidents here, so be very careful. Also, if you are going either north or south on Route 9 and want to turn RIGHT onto Church Street, you have to exit LEFT from the Arterial. (Really zoom in on the Poughkeepsie bridge in the map at www.mapsonus.com to see how the intersection works.)
The East-West Arterial consists of two separate streets, roughly one block south and one block north, respectively, of Main Street. The speed limit is 30 MPH, and the local constabulary delights in reminding you of that fact.
When I moved from Highland to Wappingers Falls in 1965, Route 9 was two or three lanes and there was exactly one traffic light between home and work. Now there are 15 lights and the road is between four and six lanes wide.
Where once there were new businesses and old, abandoned businesses along Route 9, there are now new shopping malls and old, almost abandoned shopping malls. The current king of the malls is the Galleria, on the west side of Route 9, between Poughkeepsie and Wappingers Falls. There's no need to visit it; it has exactly the same stores as the mall close by where you live.
Montgomery Ward used to be near the Post Office in downtown Poughkeepsie. During our time it moved to the mall on Route 9 just north of the main plant. From there to the South Hills Mall, then to the Galleria Mall, and finally to oblivion.
Back during World War II the Poughkeepsie railroad bridge was, I have heard, the most heavily guarded bridge in the United States. Then, one night about 20 years ago, it burned enough that it could no longer carry trains. Approaches to the bridge have been destroyed, so it will never be put back in service. Every once in a while there is an article in the Poughkeepsie Journal that someone has bought the bridge for $1 plus back taxes and is planning to open a mall on top of it. I am not making this up. The latest news is that a contract has been let for the construction of elevators to carry people to the top and back. I would not plan to make such an adventure a centerpiece of your trip back for the reunion.
Finally, I know you've been holding your breath about this all these years, so it is a pleasure to be the one to tell you that the Taconic State Parkway now extends out of Dutchess County and goes all the way to the New York Thruway connection to the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The downtown movie theaters have all gone, except for one. Due to some heroic civic-mindedness, the Bardavon (www.bardavon.org/) was spared. It now supports the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Old movies are shown on Friday nights. I have seen The Flying Karamazov Brothers there twice and would happily go again. We saw Spalding Grey in an out-of-town tryout for a new monologue before it went to New York. And I took my daughter to see Mozart's "The Magic Flute".
Remember when you had to go to Red Hook to see a foreign film? Well, now you only have to go to Rhinebeck. The Upstate (www.upstatefilms.org) is one of only seven theaters playing primarily foreign films within about 100 miles of Manhattan.
Other local theaters occasionally show non-Hollywood films. The Roosevelt is still there, but has undergone cinematic mitosis to the extent of now having six screens.
The Cecilwood Theater, and the playhouse (what was its name?) in Hyde Park are no more.
The Poughkeepsie Journal is still going. Still in that almost Escher-esque building across from the post office in downtown Poughkeepsie. See their web site (www.pojonews.com/) for information on local events.
Another information source is from the internet service provider, Hudson Valley Network. See their site at www.hvnet.com/.
A friend told us she arrived in Poughkeepsie in February of 1960 and sat in a hotel room and cried for three months while her husband was at work. (They eventually got a house and she acclimated. Then they got a divorce and she returned to that exquisite stratum of civilization known as Boston.) My first reaction to the area was not that strong, but I was horrified by the lack of bookstores. Yes, there was The Three Arts, but that was about it. The Three Arts is still there, but it moved around the corner after a fire and shrank in the process.
Today we have Barnes and Noble. Remember where Bradlee's and the post office was, across from work? That is now B&N. OK, it is a large impersonal chain, but at least you can go in and browse for hours and no one complains. OK, OK, given the riches available via Amazon from my desktop, I don't do it that often, but it is still wonderful knowing that I can.
For an example of how good a bookstore can be in a small space, visit Ariel's in New Paltz. Alas, Manny's, the legendary used book store across the street from Ariel's, has closed.
In the late 1980's the St. Andrews Seminary north of Poughkeepsie closed. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) purchased the property and moved there from New Haven. Magic followed. A lot of the students, who came from all over the country, liked the Mid-Hudson Valley and so stayed around after graduation. The result is that there are now a lot of very good restaurants in the area. Here are some that I like a lot and a couple that I like less.
The CIA (Tel: 845.471.6608, 433 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, www.ciachef.edu/rest/rindex.html) has four restaurants:
American Bounty Room
St. Andrews Cafe
The Escoffier Room is the French restaurant. Very good. Maybe $100 for two.
The American Bounty room features American cooking. The floor is brick, and I found the noise level very uncomfortable, and this was back in the days when my hearing was reasonably good. It may be a bit cheaper than the Escoffier Room.
St. Andrews Cafe. Haven't been there, but have heard it is good. Supposed to be cheaper than the others.
The Medici Room is the best bargain. Italian cooking. Limited menu. Small dining room. Have been there several times. Problem: it is so popular that you have to call to find out when to make reservations and then call repeatedly via speed-dial until you get through; all the reservations for the next month are taken literally in a matter of minutes.
The CIA reservation office is now closed for summer break. It will reopen at 8 am, Monday, July 22. You can call then to find out what day and time to call for reservations in September.
After your meal you can visit the grave of the French philosopher, Teilhard du Chardin, who remains buried in the cemetery on the grounds.
The Treasure Chest is now the decidedly more downscale Cappucino's (review: www. pojone ws.com/enjoy/reviews/copp_cappuccino).
Most lamented: The site of Farishes is now occupied by an office building.
My wife's favorite restaurant is the Aroma Osteria. Expensive, but very, very good. The last time there I thought I could not consume one of the big, rich desserts, so I ordered the mango ice cream. I received a huge bowl of ice cream, with the flavor of real mango fruit, and on top, chunks of real mango. Usually, real fruit reveals the fraud in ice cream flavors, but this ice cream fully stood up to the real fruit. I was in ecstasy. I ate every bit. At home I would have licked the bowl. See a review at www.pojone ws.com/enjoy/reviews/aroma.htm. (Tel: 845.298.6790, 114 Old Post Road)
There is a sister restaurant in Fishkill, named Il Barilotto. I ate there with five friends one night. The food was terrific, but pricey. The walls and floor are brick. I spent the evening smiling when others smiled, and frowning when others frowned. When we emerged after three hours, I had not understood one word spoken during the entire evening. Stay away unless you have very good hearing or a very good hearing aid. (Tel: 845.897.4300, 1113 Main Street, Fishkill; review: www.pojonews.com/enjoy/reviews/il_barilotto.htm.
The Union House in Fishkill is a steak house which many admire. I thought that for the price of a dinner I could have flown to Chicago and bought my own steer. The shrimp had a faint taste of iodine which indicated that they were not fresh. (Tel: 896.6129, 1108 Main Street, Fishkill)
When I want to make my Japanese born wife very, very happy, I take her to the Cherry Blossom in Fishkill and stuff her full of raw fish. If you go, have the sushi (raw fish on a rice roll) or the sashimi (raw fish period). They have entrees for the pescatorially inhibited, but I have not yet had one that I wanted to have a second time. (See reviews at www.pojonews.com/enjoy/reviews/cherry_blossom.htm and Zagat Review) (Tel: 845.897.9691, 1004 Main Street, Fishkill)
If you want to be reminded of how dreadfully drab food was in the 1960's in Poughkeepsie, then go to Andy's, just a few miles south of the CIA. Inexplicably, nothing of the enveloping culinary revolution has penetrated. Even more inexplicably, the Poughkeepsie Journal gives the place four stars. (Tel: 845.452.2525, 45 Dutchess Avenue, Poughkeepsie)
My personal favorite is the Saigon Cafe. The Vietnamese flavors are intense, and it would be a challenge to spend more than $20 per person. Portions are ample, but not huge. One night while waiting outside for friends I saw someone who looked naggingly familiar. I finally said, "Excuse me, but you look so familiar. Where do I know you from?" He looked at me and said, "My friends tell me I look a lot like the actor Paul Sorvino." [From Goodfellas]. I said, "Oh, of course. Thanks." Indeed, the resemblance was uncanny. Later, I realized that it actually had been Sorvino. I have heard since that he teaches night classes at the Culinary. (Tel: 845.473.1392, 6-A La Grange Avenue, Arlington; www.saigoncafe.net/)
There are numerous vineyards in the valley. Some have tastings. Some have restaurants. Late September might be a very pleasant time to visit. I would not go, since I cannot conceive of paying extra just to have a breeze with my food. Here are a friend's recommendations.
"I like the Cascade Winery in Amenia. They have lunch and dinner, but I'm not sure of the days. There's also the Millbrook Winery, and Benmarl Winery across the river has an art gallery and great views of the Hudson. There is also the West Park Winery, and one outside of New Paltz. Some of the wineries have food, but you'd have to phone to find out which. They change from season to season."
Cascade Mountain Winery & Restaurant 835 Cascade Mountain Road, Amenia, NY 12501 Tel: 845-373-9021 Fax: 845-373-7869 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.cascademt.com/ Millbrook Vineyards and Winery Wing Road, Millbrook, NY 12545 Tel: 800-662-9463 Tel: 845-677-8383 Email: email@example.com web: www.millbrookwine.com Benmarl - America's Oldest Vineyard 156 Highland Avenue, Marlboro-on-Hudson, NY Tel: 845.236-4265 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.benmarl.com/ West Park Wine Cellars Route 9W, West Park-on-Hudson, NY 12493 Tel: 845.384.6709 web: www.westparkwinery.com/Also, HVNet (www.hvnet.com/) has a section on area vineyards.
Thanks to Sam Patton for considerably extending the list of changes in the Valley.
Bill Collier email@example.com
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Last updated 3 pm, July 25, 2002.