Follow Up on the
Newly elected Councilperson Henry Rank took over as Highway
Committee liaison while Linda Burkhardt, who was appointed
again as Transfer and Recycling Center liaison picked up the
position of Cablevision Representative. (Both liaison positions
were previously held by outgoing Councilperson Cindy Johansen).
Councilperson Helen Chase remained recreation committee liaison
and Councilperson Bruce LaMonda as town police commission
Supervisor Berndt Leifeld appointed Beverly Stein as Clerk
to the Supervisor. Highway Superintendent Jimmy Fugel appointed
Jennifer Vines as Secretary to the Superintendent of Highways
and Kevin Tyler as Deputy Highway Superintendent. And Town
Clerk Sylvia Rozzelle appointed Susan Henderson as Deputy
Town Clerk/Tax Collector/Records Management Officer. Other
appointments included Bruce La Monda as Deputy Supervisor;
Janice Lanzarotta as bookkeeper; and Rozzelle as registrar
of vital statistics and Henderson as deputy registrar (at
no fee to the town); Ed Swenson as civil defense director
(at no pay); and Kimball and O'Brien as independent auditors
at a fee of $7,000.
George W. Burns was appointed dog control officer while Ruth
Williams was made kennel keeper. Williams along with Dana
Mudge will serve as assistant dog control officers at a fee
of $35 per pickup.
Although the town board members did not designate an official
newspaper, they agreed to use the Daily Freeman, Woodstock
Times, Ulster Townsman and The Olive Press to post notices.
Wilber National Bank and Fleet Bank were designated official
All town board meetings for 2004 were set. Schedules are available
in the Town Clerk's office.
On The County
Trustee Tom Rosato said that as the board has been considering
the issue for four months, and the legislature has failed
to address the board's concern for the health and safety of
the children at the adjoining school, he felt it was time
to seek a stop work order. Board member Neil Eisenberg agreed,
stating, "I'm disappointed [legislator] Mike Stock has
shrugged this off as a political action. Our only concern
is the health of our students. The legislature is clearly
not taking this seriously. We have no choice but to pursue
legal action as quickly as possible."
Board president Marino D‚Orazio, a lawyer by profession,
felt it was premature to threaten legal action, and that the
legislature should be given time to respond to the board's
latest communication, especially since the body's makeup has
recently changed from a 25-6 Republican majority to a slimmer
margin of 16-15. "What I'd like to see is these new people
get off their behinds and try to make something happen politically.
They should follow up on their campaign promises. The courts
are reluctant to overturn legislative decisions. It's not
as easy as it sounds."
Rosato replied, "I don't view legal action as a threat,
but as a course of action. We have to protect our children.
But the legislature needs to know this is our intent."
Carey concurred, adding, "They did not follow the SEQR
process correctly. I believe our legislators are supposed
to follow the law when it is their job to protect the people."
The board voted unanimously to send a letter demanding the
reopening of the SEQR process and to simultaneously investigate
legal action. Representatives of the school board intend to
speak at the next meeting of the legislature on February 12.
D'Orazio suggested adding to the letter a request that the
issue be made an agenda item at the meeting, although West
Hurley activist Jim Bogner said later that he understood that
only resolutions coming from committees get onto the agenda.
District health coordinator Robin Young Sears reported on
the progress made in the last 18 months by the Onteora Health
and Safety Advisory Council‚s subcommittee on food and
nutrition, which has been working with food service head Gary
Ecklund to try to improve the nutritive value of food served
in the schools. Based on eight committee meetings, a student
survey, and extensive research, an array of changes have been
made, including elimination of the sale of cookies in the
mornings; availability of healthier snacks such as soy-based
chips, all-fruit ices, low-sugar cereal, chef's salads, granola
products, veggie burgers; stocking of vending machines with
water, Snapple drinks, seltzer, Gatorade, and fewer sodas;
limiting candy purchases to $2.20 per student per day. Snack
sales, an important segment of the food service revenue, have
gone up, rather than down, as Ecklund had feared.
The committee recommends acquiring a system of swipe cards
for each student or keypads with four-digit ID numbers, linked
to an electronic accounting system, to replace the use of
cash in cafeterias. One benefit would be to enable qualifying
students to take advantage of the free or reduced-price lunches,
which they often avoid because of the stigma of poverty attached
to public exposure at the cash register. More students using
this option would translate into more revenue to the district
from state aid. Ecklund said the system would help him keep
track of what foods kids are eating and what he should order.
The committee also suggests development of a policy for student
rewards to eliminate using sugar as a motivational tool, procurement
of grants to look at physical activity levels of students,
and the purchase and lease of more vending machines to keep
students supplied with food between school and afterschool
activities. Many high school students incur risk of accidents
by crossing Route 28 to buy food before and after school.
Two students, Luciano D‚Orazio and Jesse Daly, spoke
in favor of offering breakfast sandwiches for sale to further
discourage crossing the highway. Ecklund said he was researching
options for breakfast sandwiches.
District head custodian Pete Giambrone presented his budget
proposal for 2004-2005, entailing an increase of $77,905 or
4.49 percent over last year‚s budget for a total of
$1,818,316. Changes include $13,800 for a floor cleaning machine
required for the new gym floor at Bennett Elementary School;
expected price hikes for electricity, phone, sewage treatment,
cleaning supplies; $2500 due to increased recycling and added
Maintenance leader Jim O‚Neill reported a 27.88 percent
or $188,126 increase in his budget, up to $862,928. Equipment
needs account for $70,000 of the increase, including a backhoe
attachment, 48" lawn mower, utility vehicle to replace
a 15-year-old plow truck, and other items. Another $80,000
is for repairs that were cut from last year‚s budget
but can no longer be avoided, such as repairs to boilers,
steam pipe replacement, doors, and ceiling and floor tiles.
The remaining $38,126 comes from contractual increases.
Transportation supervisor Mike Grehl offered the good news
that his budget is going down for the second year in a row
as he continues to delete and consolidate bus routes that
were contracted out and replaces them with district vehicles
and drivers. The transportation budget will go down by $196,221
or 6.81 percent, for a total of $2,684,149. He wants to offer
a separate proposition to the voters for purchase of a used
66-passenger school bus, a used 24-passenger bus, two new
28-passenger buses, and a used Suburban station wagon, at
a cost of $179,500.
A moment of friction, rare for this board, was aroused by
a discussion of sports practice on holidays, initiated by
Eisenberg in response to the report that superintendent of
schools Hal Rowe had granted athletic director Joe Ahouse
permission to schedule basketball practice on Sundays, Martin
Luther King's birthday, and Presidents' Day. Given that the
board, a year ago, had expressed its desire to spare families
the need to struggle with their children over spending time
in family observance of holidays, except in unusual circumstances,
Eisenberg felt Rowe's decision was contrary to the board's
expectation. Hochman read aloud a memorandum Rowe sent to
coaches and activity directors last fall, in place of the
board‚s development of an official policy.
Rowe responded that a policy was still not needed, and that
he had erred and would address the issue again with Ahouse.
The basketball practice schedule, with the season halfway
over, will apparently remain in place.
Most people didn't have an icehouse, but a lot of families
had an icebox. Home iceboxes were usually made of oak, lined
with galvanized tin and stood four to five foot high by two
to three foot wide. They tended to have two short doors, one
on top of the other, next to one long door. The bottom door
had a drain for the melting water from the block of ice it
held. The hinges and door levers were brass. Some people
stored ice in their cellars or root cellars or outside in
a shady spot, covered with sawdust, or hay and/or old blankets.
Families would buy their ice from deliverymen who came around
two or three times a week. A good deliveryman would remember
the size of each family's icebox. He‚d get out of his
truck, put on a leather apron that went up over one shoulder
and down his back to keep himself dry. He would chip away
at a large block of ice that would yield the right sized chunk,
grab it with a small ice tong, swing it over his back, carry
it in the house and place it in the icebox. Kids looked forward
to the iceman because they got to watch him cut the blocks.
Ice chips would fly and they‚d have a game of slippery
catch, popping ice slivers into their mouths in the summer
Larry Shurter, his father Jesse, his uncle John Traver,
Irving Bell and Lester Vankleeck were some of the last people
to cut ice. In the dead of the winter months, when the local
waters froze to a depth of ten to twenty-four inches, the
guys would head out of Samsonville to cut, harvest and deliver
blocks of ice.
By the 1930's engines had taken most of the work away from
oxen and horses. Larry and Jesse had a Model B Ford truck
and a 1930 Dodge flat bottom. They'd load their T-20 International
Crawler on the flat bottom to transport it to the ponds.
The Crawler had tracks instead of wheels, giving it better
traction in the ice and snow.
In these last years of cutting ice, some of the old timers
and people who didn‚t have the means to do anything
else were still using hand saws to cut ice. Others had gone
to various homemade engine saws, but details have faded.
Larry remembers the details. The engine was taken out of
an old Whippet or Star automobile. Both of these cars were
saved as parts vehicles because their engines came apart
from their transmissions, unlike the Model T Fords that
had one caste for both. A wooden frame held the engine and
saw. It was supported by wooden runners - like sleigh runners.
George Vankleeck, the Samsonville blacksmith, made the braces
and other forged odds and ends. With the motor sitting sideways
of the "sleigh", the back of the motor was to
the left with a pulley attached. That back pulley was lined
up with another pulley four or five feet in front of it.
The front pulley was attached to a shaft lined up parallel
to the engine with a 30" crosscut saw at the other
end. A Morris chain ran between the pulleys. The men stood
in back of the sideways motor and held onto a wooden bar
that came up waist high. The saw rotated clockwise, throwing
the ice chips forward - away from the men - while it pushed
the men backwards. This allowed the man on the right to
sight the score on the ice. One man could run the saw, but
it was easier with two.
They'd begin by cutting a channel out into the pond and
then starting from the end of the channel, lines would be
scored on top of the ice with a Marker. Their Ice Marker
was an adjustable iron frame - like a picture frame - that
was pushed along the ice by an attached V shaped plow handle
that came up waist high. One side had teeth that dug into
the ice, scoring the top. At the end of the run, it would
be turned around so the non-scoring side rode in the last
score, making the scores uniform. When the parallel scoring
was finished, they'd turn horizontal, completing a crisscross
Leaving one end of a wooden chute on the back of a truck,
the other end was slid out to the channel. The depth of
the ice determined the weight of the blocks and weight determined
how many blocks would be pulled up the chute at one time.
The last block in the line was secured with two hooks attached
to a chain on the hitch of the T-20 Crawler. The blocks
were pulled through the channel, up the chute and onto the
back of the truck. A man would be there with ice tongs to
slide and lift the blocks into place. Once the channel
ice was cleared, the men would use a pike pole to push the
blocks that were being cut out in the pond, into the channel
for loading. A pike pole was a long wooden pole with a head
of forged steel that came to a sharp pointed tip sided with
a crescent shaped spur.
They'd deliver to the icehouses of Salvucci's restaurant
(a local landmark in West Hurley on Route 28), the two Colange
brothers, Willie's Store in West Shokan and Leonard's in
Boiceville (currently the Creekside Restaurant) and Will
Quick's General store (across from the Tongore cemetery
in Olivebridge). The blocks of ice were lifted and slid
into the houses with ice tongs and plenty of muscle. Snow
was packed between each layer of blocks to keep them from
freezing together and against the side walls for more insulation.
As they had the time, they'd cut ice off the Shurter mill
pond to fill their own icehouse in Samsonville, but for
selling they'd cut on two popular ponds: Temple's Pond on
Route 28 and the Weir Pond, 'under' the Ashokan Reservoir.
Both of these names are extinct today.
Temple's Pond became part of the Pitcairn property and borders
the Town of Olive going towards Kingston. Old Route 28 went
down around part of the man-made dam at the base of the
pond that had been a swamp. Temple‚s Pond is the largest
body of water in the Town of Olive, other than the Reservoir,
and a lot of people cut their ice from it. It was renamed
Kenozia Lake, fifty to sixty years ago by a business association
of Kingston bigwigs, that later let locals like Chet Lyons
and Don Dubois join their private club.
The Dubois family had a boarding house on Dubois Road in
Ashokan and Don's father and grandfather, harvested ice
from Temple's Pond for their boarding house. Don‚s
wife, Betsy (Boyce) also remembers her father cutting ice
from the pond for their boarding house in Glenford.
The beautiful and secluded Weir Pond can be seen by looking
southeast over the side of the main dam of the Reservoir,
or the "lemon squeeze", as people call it now.
It was originally part of the Esopus Creek before the land
upstream was damned. The dirt roadway leading to the pond
is off of Route 28A, on the right, just after the pipeline,
heading towards Olivebridge.
Mimi McGloughin's father, Alonso and her grandfather, Lester
B. Davis also cut ice on the Weir Pond for their own use
and to sell to Will Quick. Although electricity was available
in parts of Olivebridge as early as 1924, Mimi remembers
families continuing to use iceboxes. Most of the barns and
outbuildings from their dairy farm can still be seen on
Route 213 in Olivebridge. The icehouse is gone, but the
building that they used to chill the milk with ice before
they trucked it to Babcock and Boice Dairies in Kingston
is being maintained.
In Olivebridge, two stores, Hover's (the current post office)
and Quick's sold ice. Will Quick had a big icehouse and
even though both were general stores, Will‚s warm
pot belly stove with men sittin'round drinking beer, smoke
curling in layers, and big tins of cookies you could buy
just one out of, brings more memories to life. Until fairly
recently, you could see the old gas pump and to many of
us it served as a fond memory cue (not an eyesore).
In Shokan, at Winchell's Corner, Winchell's General Store
(Winchell's Pizza) had a large icehouse it filled for their
customers. They probably bought ice from one of the large
distributors on the Hudson River or from one on the Rondout
(almost under the Eddyville Bridge) or the one in Springlake.
In Ashokan, behind the Methodist Church, the Lasher Brook
was dammed creating a pond approximately a quarter to half
acre in size. The Lasher family owned the pond and all the
neighbors would ice skate there before it was filled in
by subsequent owners. Mr Lasher was a butcher, so to keep
the meat cold, they‚d cut ice and store it in their
sizable icehouse next to the pond. A conveyor brought
blocks of ice the short distance up and into the building.
Bailey‚s Pond was another manmade pond that no longer
exists. It was in the southern corner of Beechford Farm
(Beechford subdivision) in Boiceville. Before the fast moving
waters of the Esopus froze to a good depth, people would
cut ice and skate on Bailey's.
Behind Leonard Colange's General Store in Boiceville was
a manmade pond that he used for cutting ice. It was another
favorite ice skating spot and a discerning eye can make
out the original size and square shape of this disappearing
Ice was also harvested from the New York City Ashokan Reservoir.
The 1905 Watershed Act of New York State, Section 38, grants
people the right to fish and cut ice. Snatches of memories
reveal that clusters of neighbors living close to coves
on the shores of the Reservoir would cut ice in their local
In West Shokan there were at least four locations; the cove
off of Wiedner's Point, Ice House Cove (down from the twin
bridges over the Bushkill Stream), across 28A from Watson
Hollow Road, and across from Skin Davis‚s Store.
Betty Cady remembers her father, Arthur Snyder and some
of his friends and family driving their truck through Reservoir
property to Weidner's Point (across from Weidner‚s
chicken farm) to harvest ice. With a chuckle, Betty said
she doesn't know how they cut the ice because her mother
wouldn't let her go with them. They‚d cut and sell
to Willie Colange and for their own boarding house, the
Traver Hollow Inn, that is now Snyder‚s Tavern. Even
though electric lines had been put up on Route 28A through
West Shokan beginning in 1927, many families could not afford
to wire their homes until well into the 1930's. Some houses
had electric only in a few rooms. Having electric didn't
mean a family could also afford an electric icebox. The
first electric iceboxes were basically the same wooden icebox
with an electric motor built to fit on top. Art Synder hired
a guy from the City to wire the Inn in 1932, but they still
cut ice for a few more years to use for certain things like
making ice cream every Sunday afternoon.
Bob Burgher also remembers his family continuing to use
ice after the electric was installed ˆ particularly
for making Sunday ice cream. His family had a boarding house
on Burgher Road in West Shokan and Jim Burgher had one across
the road a bit. Jim had an icehouse that both Burgher families
would fill and use. Bob's family cut their ice off the reservoir
across Route 28A from Watson Hollow Road. The access road
is still being used. They had made an ice cutting saw with
a motor on a sleigh that they used to cut the ice and a
large scoring apparatus that was pulled by a horse and scored
multiple lines in one pass. Bob says he remembers his family
talking about who had the "better ice" and speculates
that they meant ice that was the hardest - most frozen.
The icehouse that was more insulated and better packed kept
the blocks of ice more solid, therefore lasting longer,
once a family got it in their icebox.
Frank Carle says he heard repeatedly that the "best
ice" was across from Skin Davis' store, but no one
remembers just what the "best ice" or "better
ice" means. Skin sold blocks out of his icehouse behind
the store. Maybe the best ice meant Skin would write down
the price of a hunk of ice in his well-known credit book.
In 1931, Alberta (Gordon)Corwin worked with Skin Davis at
Colange‚s store when she was in high school. Skin
was a few years away from beginning his own store down the
road. Alberta lived at the top of the hill on McMillan Road
in Broadhead. The Brodhead post office was on the corner
of Route 28A and Turner Road. The postmaster sold candy,
but the nearest general store, hence the nearest place to
buy ice was Willie Colanges in West Shokan.
Alberta's father, Virgil Gordon, became foreman at the Reservoir
right around this time. Reservoir workers and their families
lived in the numerous buildings at the intersection of Route
28A and Beaverkill Road. The Gordon family lived in the
last house on the right before going up the hill to what
used to be the Town of Olive dump. The icehouse that supplied
the families and the laboratory with ice was next to the
Gordon house. The buildings had electric generated by water
from the Reservoir, but no one had electric iceboxes. Alberta
and her brother Bob, remember their father and other NYC
Reservoir employees going to cut ice on the corner of Route
28A and the Main Dam Road on the upper Reservoir. The road
they used is still maintained. They also cut ice on the
Weir Pond with the rest of the community.
Not every ice harvesting operation involved a lot of people
and equipment. Gordon Miller, who was quite likely the last
man to cut ice in the Town of Olive, delivered blocks out
of the trunk of his car.
But mostly it was a joint effort. The last years of
ice cutting in the 1930's marked a time of overlapping era‚s.
People using oxen and horses with wagons and hand tools
were working with people driving trucks and tractors and
using motorized equipment. Now and then some young men would
drive their cars out on the ice and do spins to impress
the young ladies.(I wonder who and am only rewarded with
tightlipped smiles and sparkling eyes.) Extended families
and neighbors came together to help one another in the back
aching, muscle bulging necessity of harvesting ice for the
warm months ahead. It was hard work and often cold, and
sometimes dangerous if a person wasn't paying attention.
But, it was a part of winter life and the adults made the
best of it, while the children skated and played games and
dreamed of warm Sunday afternoons making and eating ice-cream.
Growing up with such emphases on the frailty and specialness of
sight, Spark says she was "allowed to draw and paint as much
as I wanted." As her eyes developed cataracts, and then glaucoma,
she reached a point where her college studies were diverted into
an English Literature major for a while. But then cataract surgery
brought her back to her first love.
Spark holds both a Masters of Fine Art in painting and an M.A.
in Art Therapy.
"Do you know Claude Monet's Water Lilies and their blurriness?"
she asks. It turns out Monet had cataracts during those influential
final years of his long career. And that's how Spark saw the world
for years, and still sees much of it to this day.
"No hard edges," she explains. "All glistening
in an almost psychedelic manner∑
Now, she adds, things have been worsening again. But such things
don't seem to daunt Spark, who says she's learned to work with
whatever small field of vision she's given to translate through
"I'm trying to find ways to express what I see and how I
see it. I feel this has given my work a purer, direct means of
Since moving upstate, she's found herself drawn to working with
nature, a process that forced her through a more classical form
of depiction as she found her way with such a vast, always re-creating
subject matter. Which is why she's so excited about her most recent
works: the fragment paintings.
"I'm just trying to draw attention to the way reality is
a juxtaposition of things that co-exist, and not necessarily in
a linear way," she says of the new work.
Spark has shown throughout the Catskills part of our readership
area, with regularity at Phoenicia's Upstate Art, Hunter's Catskill
Mountain Foundation Gallery and Margaretville's Erpf Gallery.
But she's also been collected by years, with her works in major
hospitals as well as private homes.
To fuel herself, Spark has spent years regularly seeing as much
art as she can. When we speak she's excited about an afternoon
to be spent at The Whitney.
She also brings out some important lessons she's learned over
First off, Spark taught art therapy for years, but also worked
in hospitals with handicapped clients who taught her "this
startling thing: that art can be a direct link between image making
and what's going on inside a person."
Secondly, the move Upstate, and the establishment of a strong
connection with Mt. Tremper's noted Zen Mountain Monastery, provided
Spark with "a big opening" that has allowed her to explore
new ways of looking and seeing via the world of nature's that
has opened up to her up hear. Which, among other things, has shifted
her direction, seasons-wise, to a new respect for the winter season
we are in the midst of.
"I, like many artists I know, do a lot more work in winter,"
Spark says. "You see the structure of everything now that
the leaves are gone. All that green in the summer is like a carpet,
and somewhat stifling. But the current season brings out the uninterrupted
rawness of the landscape we inhabit here."
Finally, Spark says that her way of seeing, for all its faults,
is starting to match the landscape she's moved into. She talks
about being able to capture something in these mountains and valleys,
these ancient hills, that is rare.
This past summer she and her husband spent several weeks in an
artist's retreat - author Heinrich Boll's cabin by the sea - and
were deeply impressed by the sparseness of a landscape that had
once held forest as green as ours, until "men and women made
some mistakes and left things bare for the last 5,000 years."
"We have an opportunity to see what a landscape can look
like that's been revived, and avoid its second destruction,"
she says in her matter-of-fact way.
Furthermore, Michelle Spark sees her art, with its new focus on
her skewed but precious vision of our landscape, as important
because, "It still helps us see something beyond our own
constructed realities. Nature is still the one place we can still
learn new things from.
For further information on Michelle Spark's work, including whatever
new exhibits she may be having, visit her website at www.michellespark.com