Category Archives: “A Local Journey: Exploring the outskirts of New York City

My Life as a Fireman: The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association: August Meeting & Barbecue August 21st. 2022

It was a wonderful day for a barbecue and the members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home had a wonderful time.

The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association at the NJ State Firemen’s Home.

The Bergen County Firemen's Home Association

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association sponsors two barbecues at the NJ State Firemen’s Home in July and August

It was a spectacular day for a barbecue!

After having to cancel our June Barbecue because of bad weather (there was a rain storm all day on our date in June), we lucked out on our first barbecue on July 10th, when we had the most spectacular sunny and warm day with no humidity. It was the same for our second barbecue on August 21st. Clear sunny skies and low 80-degree weather had the residents of the NJ State Firemen’s Home coming out in droves to enjoy good music and delicious food.

The August barbecue was especially special. The crowd included a large contingent from the Maywood Fire Department to help celebrate the 99th birthday of Maywood’s own George Steger, a guest at the firemen’s home…

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Day Two Hundred and Forty-Six Exploring City Island in the Bronx-A Local Journey August 13th, 2022

I went to City Island in search of a witch.

City Island in New York City

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Island,_Bronx

https://www.nycgo.com/boroughs-neighborhoods/the-bronx/city-island/

This was the first time I had been to City Island since 2008 when I visited the island for research for my third book “Dinner at Midnight” in which one of the main characters is a witch that moves to City Island. I had walked every street on the island trying to get a feel for what it might be like to live on the island and what the character may experience. There is a very important scene in the book where her boss comes to the island to search for her and notes to close proximity to Hart Island, New York City’s ‘Potters Field’.

He comes searching for the truth about his unusual employee and finds out too much. I will just leave this as a spoiler as I have not finished the last chapter of the book yet. You can read the first book in my New York City trilogy, “Firehouse 101” that is available at IUniverse.com and Google Books.

My first book in the New York Trilogy “Firehouse 101”

On top of research for my book, “Dinner at Midnight”, I wanted to visit the City Island Nautical Museum for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” as I had not been to the museum since I visited the island again in 2008. That was when I stayed at La Refuge, an inn that is now a private home. To add to the creepiness of the storyline, is that when I stayed at the inn for two nights, the first night in the first room there was no problem.

The former “La Refuge Inn” is now a private home and I think is haunted

When for some reason the second night they made me move to a back room, I could not sleep all night. I kept thinking that someone was in the room with me, and I finally had to sleep with the lights on. I never stayed or came back to the inn before it closed a few years later. I never felt that way before staying in an inn or B & B, and I have stayed in a lot of old houses.

Before I visited the museum, I had to stop for something to eat. I had a very early breakfast wanting to get to City Island early so I got hungry again. I was surprised that the pizzeria around the corner from the museum was closed and the diner near the museum was closing soon as well. I found the Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue just down the road from the museum and stopped there.

The Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue

I felt like I had walked into time warp as the place looked like it was from the 1970’s. Even thought it was a bit dated inside, I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($4.00) and it was terrific (See review on TripAdvisor) and hit the spot where I was ready for a long day of exploring.

The Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll is terrific at Sea Breeze Deli

https://www.facebook.com/seabreezedelicorp/

The City Island Nautical Museum located at 190 Fordham Street, had not changed much from that visit. The museum is located on a quiet, residential street just off the main strip of City Island Avenue. It is located in what was the old PS 17, the island’s elementary school. Loaded with information but a bit jumbled with historic artifacts all over the place. Still, it is a great little museum.

The City Island Nautical Museum at 190 Fordham Street

https://www.cityislandmuseum.org/

Each room in the museum has a different theme to it with more information lining the hallways (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The Community Room toward the back of the museum shows the history of the City Island starting with the Native Americans and the Dutch and how the settlement grew. Lining the walls were signs and memorabilia from businesses that once dotted the island and a little about their history. There are all sorts of ads and items once carried by the merchants.

The Schoolroom had the history of PS 75 and PS 175 which were the public schools located on the island as well as St. Mary’s, the recently closed Catholic school. It had old class photos, pictures of the school at various times and a complete schoolroom set up. The rooms that dealt with Ship Building and the Nautical past were the most interesting.

City Island has a rich history in ship building, sail making and fishing it is reflected in the collection of materials in the museum and its archives. The museum really details the growth and history of the boating industry on the island and its importance in the local economy. What I found interesting was the rich history of the creation of the sailing ships for the America’s Cup tournament and how all the winning boats up until the 1980’s were built on the island and the one that lost the cup for us against Australia was the first one not built on the island.

The Nautical Room at the City Island Maritime Museum

Even Ted Turner’s boat “Courageous” was built on the island. There was a picture of the reunion of the boat winning twice at the museum with the crew’s signatures (The tour guide even said how he ‘freaked out’ members of the New York Yacht Club who did not consider him one of their own). All the sailing vessels lined the walls of the hallway of the museum.

Each room of the museum was dedicated to a different theme. When I toured the Community Room in the back of the museum, it held the records of a lot of old businesses of City Island with pictures and items that were once part of the businesses. There was a small FDNY display, a small WWII display about local residents who fought in the war, wedding garments, maps of the island and a small display of arrowheads.

In the School Room, the concentration was on PS 17, which the museum is now housed in and its history with all the classroom group shot pictures, graduation pictures and a small classroom set up. There were more records and event items of the current PS 175, which is the K-8 school that the residents attend. There were also records and pictures of St. Mary, Star of the Sea School, the former Catholic school that used to be on the island as well.

The Nautical Room needed an overall as there was too much going on in the room with pictures all over the walls, equipment for navigation and for fishing and records of the ship building companies that used to dot the island. There were boats in various shapes and sizes on display and the companies that built them like Wood Yacht, Nevins Yacht and Minneford Yacht. There was also the history of shipbuilding and sail making on the island. The tour guide told me there were no more ship builders on the island, but one sail maker left.

The Library where all the research is done on the island and on the families and businesses that were once here was dominated by yachting pictures and nautical photography. It held all the City Island records and even the ship building plans.

The museum has a lot to see but it needs to be a bit more organized to really showcase the collections properly. Still, it is one of the best museums I have seen with a nautical history theme. The best part is that you can see the whole museum in about an hour and this leaves you time to tour the island and see how the museum better explains why the island is the way it is right now.

After I left the museum, I decided to tour the whole island and started with a tour down Fordham Street which lead me to the new apartment complex and their little walled park. It went in a spiral pattern and then I turned myself around back to the street and stood and admired the views. You get the most spectacular views on the Long Island Sound and the mysterious Hart Island from here.

I then took a tour of King Street and passed the beautiful but eerie Pelham Cemetery. It just sat in front of the beautiful backdrop of the bay still giving you a look of longing. I wanted to walk through it but the cemetery was locked and there was no trespassing signs all over the place. I just admired it from the gate looking for family names.

The Pelham Cemetery on King Street in City Island

https://www.pelhamcemetery.org/

https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/65607/pelham-cemetery

As I walked up both King and Minnieford Streets, I admired the hodge-podge of architecture of the homes on the island. There are rows of bungalows and elegant Victorians with their large porches and shade trees again with the bay in the background in some cases.

As I rounded up Terrace Street and got to the northern tip of the island, I saw the house that I used in the book as the home of the mysterious and sinister Serena Platt, the spell bounder in my novel. I set her apartment in this house and thought it had the right mood as a place that would be here home. I saw a couple of kids playing basketball on the property and did not want to stay too long to stare at it.

As I walked back down King and Minnieford Streets, I saw another Victorian home with a dark colored paint job that might fit the mood of her home as well. I had not noticed this house when I was walking around the island years earlier on a scouting trip. With its dark tones and wrap around porch, it looked like something you would find in New England or Salem, MA.

As I made my way down Cross Street back to City Island Avenue, I wanted to walk the whole street to see what stores and restaurants were there from I visited last. Most of the seafood restaurants were still there but the smaller antique and clothing stores were now gone. Many of the little unique stores had long since closed someone told me at a store I visited. Between the economy and the pandemic, they had taken their toll on business owners.

That may have been with the traditional businesses but not with the restaurants. As I walked down City Island Avenue from north to south, it seemed that every restaurant was getting a crowd especially as I walked further down the road.

Sammy’s Fish Box at 41 City Island Avenue seemed to dominate the street with its various outlets. They have really grown even more since I on the island the last time. They must have had four different buildings. I could not remember if I had eaten there the last time I visited. At the tip of the island are Johnny’s Reef and Tony’s Pier, two extremely popular seafood restaurants that I do remember eating at then I visited years ago.

When I walked into Tony’s Pier at 1 City Island Avenue, the parking lot was jammed with cars and the line was about 50 deep with customers. I was like ‘no way’ with this wait. It was too long, and everyone was getting antsy in the line. It was going by really slow.

Then I walked over to Johnny’s Reef at 2 City Island Avenue which I had dinner at the first night I visited the last time I came to City Island and the prices had gone up, but the portion sizes were still huge. The fried shrimp platters had not changed one bit. The only problem was the place was just as busy as across the street. It was really mobbed on this sunny warm night.

The sight of people eating all that fried food really turned me off, so I decided to try a restaurant that had been reviewed on my Dining Around club. They said the Fella’s Bar and Grill was where locals ate and socialized, so I decided to try it. It was closer to the middle point of the island near Bridge Park closer to the northern tip of the island. I was very impressed.

Fella’s Bar & Grill at 522 City Island Avenue

https://www.facebook.com/FellasBarandGrill

The bartender greeted me very warmly and gave me a lot of recommendations for dinner. She mentioned the Chicken Quesadilla and how terrific of it and that the burgers were really good. Then she mentioned how good the pulled pork was and that she had just tasted it. She sold me on that.

The Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of French Fries was excellent. The pork was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was a combination of honey, chilis and tomato for a rich barbecue taste. It was served on a chewy bun with a side of fries that were just out of the fryer (I needed some fried foods), and they were hot and crisp that snapped when you bit into them. I ordered an icy Coke, and it was the perfect meal after a long walk around the island (See my review on TripAdvisor).

While I was eating, I got to talk with the bartender about what was going on the island and about the over-whelming crowds of the restaurants on the southern part of the island. She just laughed and told me that they were really popular with people who lived off the island. I told her I could not understand this as the food was so good here. Then I just watched the game on TV.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries was fantastic

After I finished my meal, I was walking up City Island Avenue and noticed the large number of cars entering the island over the bridge probably coming for dinner. I walked past the busy Sea Shore Restaurant at 591 City Island Avenue and saw the cars pile into their parking lot and people coming and going. Just past that was the calm of Bridge Park-Catherine Scott Promenade at 549 City Island Avenue. Talk about views of the bay!

The sun was just starting to set so there was a beautiful glow to the Long Island Sound, and you could see all the boats sailing by and people waterskiing around the harbor. In the distance, you could see the skyline of lower Manhattan. It has the most dazzling effect of seeing New York from this standpoint. It was like visiting Cape May and crossing the bridge to a small New England fishing village. City Island is the same way escaping to a beach community with a rich shipping and fishing history and showcasing its nautical past.

Bridge Park at 549 City Island Avenue on the northern tip of City Island

I had come to the island to search for a witch and why she chose to live here and found my answers in the beautiful homes, wonderful parks and spectacular views of the bay. City Island is unique New York neighborhood where you do not realize that you are still in New York City.

*Be on the lookout for “Dinner at Midnight” when it gets published in the future.

Places to Visit:

City Island, the Bronx

https://www.nycgo.com/boroughs-neighborhoods/the-bronx/city-island

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Island,_Bronx

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d109881-Reviews-City_Island-Bronx_New_York.html

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society

190 Fordham Street

City Island, NY 10464

(718) 885-0008

https://www.cityislandmuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/City-Island-Nautical-Museum-120813594596346/

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Friday Closed/Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47475-d109882-Reviews-City_Island_Nautical_Museum-City_Island_Bronx_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/8460

Bridge Park Catherine Scott Promenade

549 City Island Avenue

New York, NY 10464

https://cityislandchamber.org/listings/city-island/bridge-park-catherine-scott-promenade/

Open: Sunday 6:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

Places to Eat:

Sea Breeze Deli

325 City Island Avenue

Bronx, NY 10464

(718) 885-1263

https://www.facebook.com/seabreezedelicorp/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47369-d24884426-Reviews-Sea_Breeze_Deli-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

Fella’s Bar & Grill

522 City Island Avenue

Bronx, NY 10464

(718) 885-9898

https://www.facebook.com/FellasBarandGrill

Open: Sunday-Saturday 2:00pm-3:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d5842308-Reviews-Fella_s_Bar_Grill-Bronx_New_York.html

Day Two Hundred and Forty-Five Exploring the Historical sites of Fishkill, NY- A Local Journey August 7th and 14th, 2022

I love visiting the Hudson River Valley so any event or tour that I can go on is an excuse to come up here. I had visited all the sites that I wanted to see on a trip two weeks earlier but wanted to see them in more detail plus I wanted to take some pictures. The weather finally broke, and it was a much more pleasant 83 degrees as opposed to the 96 degrees the trip before. That makes the trip much nicer.

I asked my aunt along so that we could share in the experience, and I could use her phone to take pictures of the all the sites. It is a much nicer trip when you have someone along who enjoys these things. The one nice thing about traveling to the Fishkill, New York area is that it is only an hour away and a straight run up the New York Thruway to Route 84 and then to Route 9. Just a couple of quick back streets and you will be there.

On my first trip up, I got there so early that no one was at the first site, The Brinckerhoff Homestead Historical site, the home of the East Fishkill Historical Society at 68 North Kensington Drive in Hopewell Junction, NY. I double back and stopped for a quick snack at G & R Deli Cafe, a small deli at 2003 Route 52 in a strip mall near the old IBM campus. I needed a snack.

G &R Deli Cafe at 2003 Route 52

https://www.gnrdelicafe.com/

https://www.facebook.com/grdelicafe/

Since I already had dinner plans, I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($5.95) which was a bit more expensive than in the City but it was delicious. The sausage had a nice taste of sage and gave it a lot of flavor. I just relaxed outside in the parking lot and ate breakfast.

After my snack, I got back to the Brinckerhoff Homestead at 12:00pm when it was supposed to open but around 12:30pm there was still no one there and I kept knocking on the door. That’s when one of the county members let me know that they did not open until 1:00pm. Since I had a list of places to visit that day and the time had been posted all over the internet, I asked if we could please start early. He agreed and I got a personal tour of the house. When I came back two weeks later, I better timed it for the 1:00pm opening to take pictures.

The Brinckerhoff Homestead at 68 Kensington Drive

https://kk-kz.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057186982344

The Brinckerhoff family is prominent in the Fishkill area and family members still visit the homestead so the house’s history is ongoing. The house is broken down into three sections as you can see by the picture. The original part of the home was built by John G. Brinckerhoff in 1755 and it consisted of the “Everything Room” on the lower floor with the hearth for cooking, a beehive oven and the large room upstairs for family living.

As John Brinckerhoff’s family grew, they moved out of the house and his brother, George G. Brinckerhoff moved into the home with his family. After the Revolutionary War was over and George G.’s assignment was over in the army, he returned to the house and in 1785 added the middle main addition of the house with four additional rooms. The larger rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence in that they could heat the home.

When George died in 1812, his brother John and his family moved back into the house. In 1814, the family sold the house to the Purdy family. They lived in the house for the next 60 years and added the final addition onto the house to the left with a summer kitchen and an outdoor oven. It remained in the family until 1875 when it was sold to the Palen family who used it again as a farm. It was then again sold to the Moore family in 1926 and lastly sold to East Fishkill Historical Society in 1974 by developer Gustav Fink who was a developer in the area (East Fishkill Historical Society).

The rooms are decorated in period furnishings and when we started the tour, you begin in the oldest section of the home with the original kitchen area.

The “Everything Room” in the Brinckerhoff Homestead

This is where the family would cook, eat, do their work on farm affairs and socialize. There was also a small general store on the property as well. The upstairs was closed to the public.

You next moved into the main rooms of the 1785 addition which brought it the into then modern era with high ceilings and larger rooms so that the family had more living space and could entertain.

The Main Dining Room of the home which was set for Hot Chocolate service which again showed the family’s affluence as chocolate was very expensive then

We also toured the Living Room which was set for socializing and work women did for the home with needlepoint, weaving, and clothes making. There was still room for people to gather and entertain.

The Living Room of the 1785 addition to the home

Along the main corridor of the home in the addition was all sorts of artifacts from the Revolutionary War period and items from the time.

Our last part of the tour was the latest addition by the Purdy family when we toured the ‘Summer Kitchen”, which showed how the home had progressed over the years. Little by little each family brought it into the next ‘modern era’.

Both times I got to tour the grounds and the beautiful gardens that the volunteers maintained. Rock gardens and flower beds line the three acres of land around the house. Along with the flower beds, several historical buildings have been moved to the property including the one room schoolhouse from District 9 in East Fishkill that was built in 1826, the 1870 Icehouse which once supplied another home with its ice for the home to keep food fresh before the advent of refrigeration.

The Schoolhouse and the Icehouse and gardens

Another building that is still in use and is open when the house is open for touring is the John Hyatt Blacksmith shop from 1880. It still has some of the original tools and the blacksmith on duty still works the fire and performs tasks in the building.

The last building on the property is the Van Wyck Carriage Barn from 1845. It had been built by Judge Theodorus Van Wyck for his home that was built in East Fishkill that was torn down by the development of the IBM Campus in 1984. IBM paid to have the carriage house dismantled and moved to this property.

The East Fishkill Historical Society with the Brinckerhoff home in the center, the schoolhouse to the right and the blacksmith shop and the carriage house to the left

We took our time to tour the house and the grounds and on my initial visit I got to tour the schoolhouse, the ice house and the blacksmith shop to see the inner workings of these buildings and how they operated.

The docents had told me that they had recently held a ‘Strawberry Festival’ recently promoting the local fruit crops and serving complimentary strawberry shortcake that everyone enjoyed and was gone quickly. There are also Revolutionary War reenactments done on the property and for the holiday season the home will be decorated for the period Christmas holidays with an open house, so there will be things to do and see in the future.

Our next stop on the tour of homes was the Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9, the old Albany Post Road. The house had stood on the main transportation line during the Revolutionary War period and it had served as General George Washington’s northern supply depot during the war because of this location.

Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9 (the Old Albany Post Road)

http://www.fishkillhistoricalsociety.org/

In 1732, Cornelius Van Wyck bought 959 acres of land from the original Rombout Patent and built the smaller section of the home to the right in 1732. As the family gained affluence in farming and trade, the larger section of the home to the left was built in 1757 with larger rooms and higher ceilings again to show a family’s wealth.

Because of the location of the house in Fishkill on the main road of transportation and the strategic location near the mountains to the south, General George Washington requisitioned the home as the northern supply depot for the Continental Army in October of 1776. Here supplies were run through, army regiments passed and people were buried who died during the war. The house was also used as the headquarters and court marshals and punishments took place on the property (Van Wyck Homestead Museum pamphlet). After the war was over, the house and farm was returned to the family.

The historical marker of the original home

The way the house was furnished was slightly different from the Brinckerhoff Homestead that looked more like you were walking into someone’s actual home. The old Living Room of the Van Wyck Homestead is being used as a meeting room and a place to display items from the Revolutionary War.

The Living Room and Meeting Room at the Van Wyck Homestead

The Revolutionary War Collection at the Van Wyck Homestead

Towards the back of the home is a Library/Research area and we were able to see all the old books and records that are part of the home’s collection. This is where most people do their genealogy work and family research.

The Research Library at the Van Wyck Homestead

What both my aunt and I thought was interesting was when we entered the older part of the house and the old Dining Room area. Many of the artifacts were old Van Wyck family heirlooms that had been donated over the years.

The Dining Room of the Van Wyck Homestead

Some of the recent additions were the crib which had been in the family for five generations and had just been donated to the home as well as the painting over the fireplace had just been collected by the home. Like the Brinckerhoff Homestead, there are many members of the Van Wyck family who come back to visit and still live in the area.

The Colonial kitchen and hearth are in the oldest section of the home from 1732. This is where the “Everything Room” was located. Back when this was the only section of the home, this is where all the cooking, dining, family business and social activities were located. All sorts of kitchen equipment lined the walls and shelves to show life in colonial times. It was funny that much of it has not changed over the years, just modernized.

The original family kitchen in the 1732 section of the Van Wyck Homestead

Outside the home, the organization planted the outside gardens and there is a recreation of the old beehive oven aside the home. It gave you a glimpse of how food came about for these large families before supermarkets.

The Van Wyck Gardens showed how the house was self-sufficient at one time

After touring the grounds, we walked back to see the displays one more time. On my initial trip, the tour guide let me see the upstairs rooms. In the newer part of the home, they had been turned into storage and offices for the docents. In the older part of the home, the old loft area was used for storage, and it was pretty dusty.

After touring these two homes, we were off to Wappinger’s Falls further up Route 9 to visit the Mesier Homestead in Mesier Park just off the beginning of Downtown Wappinger’s Falls. There was a concert going on in the park and my aunt said she needed a break from visiting these old homes. Too many arrowheads and Revolutionary War furniture so she stayed and listened to the concert while I toured the home.

The Mesier Homestead in Mesier Park

https://www.wappingershistoricalsociety.org/mesier-homestead

The Mesier Homestead is the home of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society, who maintains the home. The Mesier home is much like the other homes in that it had been added onto as the family grew and became more affluent. The original part of the home is currently going through a renovation and the President of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society explained that they just discovered the old hearth and oven and are currently restoring the historic windows.

The original part of the home is currently under renovation

Starting the tour at the front entrance of the home that leads to the formal Living Room that is decorated with Victorian decor. Again the large rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence by showing how they could afford to heat their home.

The Living Room at the Mesier Homestead

The copies of the Mesier family portraits in the Mesier Living Room

The Living Room leads to the back Library where many additions of older books are held and where visitors can do research on their family history in the Wappinger Falls. Many are trying to trace their family’s history.

The Mesier Homestead Library and Research Room

The back area of the house is closed for renovations, but you can climb the stairs to the old bedrooms on the second floor. Here is where both the family and the family slaves then servants lived on the same floor.

The Adult’s Bedroom set during Victorian times

A woman’s boudoir during Victorian times

The rooms also showed a child’s place in the family where during Victorian times were treated like ‘little adults’ being trained for their future lives. Toys not just sparked the imagination but also prepared children for domestic life

Children’s playthings during Victorian times spurred imagination

On top of the recreations of the family life in both Colonial and Victorian times that the family lived through, there was an extensive collection of Native American items showing the original settlers of the region when the Lenape Indians lived, fished and hunted in this area before the arrival of the Dutch in the late 1600’s.

The Native American collection on the second floor of the Mesier Homestead

The last part of the tour ended in the formal Dining Room where the entertainment was done and the family took their meals. When I asked why these homes seemed so much smaller than homes like the Vanderbilts and Mills families, it was explained that these families were older more established and did not have to show off their wealth. Since these were God fearing individuals, it was not acceptable to be ‘showy’. People knew they were affluent so they could show off but not flaunt it.

The formal Dining Room at the Mesier Homestead set for dinner

During the Christmas holiday season, the house is beautifully decorated for a Victorian Christmas with garlands and bows and period decorations. Most of these old homes are elegantly decorated as the families once had done during the holidays.

During Colonial times, Christmas meant church services in the morning or afternoon and then a formal dinner in the afternoon. You might have pine, garland and berries decorate the house whereas during Victorian times, it was a much more elaborate affair. There would be a Christmas tree, garland and pine all over the home and gift giving. Christmas cards would have also decorated the home as well.

The Mesier Homestead at Christmas time (Wappinger Falls Historical Society)

After the tour, I took a quick walk into downtown Wappinger Falls which has a great downtown with terrific restaurants and a great view of the river and falls.

Downtown Wappinger Falls has such a unique look to it.

Our last part of the tour was visiting the First Reformed Church of Fishkill at 717 Route 9 at the beginning of Downtown Fishkill, NY. This elegant old church with its historic cemetery was built in 1732 on land that had been set aside for the church.

The Fishkill First Reformed Dutch Church at 717 Route 9 with the DuBois House next door

The church was closed for the afternoon as services are at 10:00am on Sundays so I toured around the church and the cemetery. What was interesting about the cemetery is all the family plots and who was intermarried into whose families.

The cemetery behind the church is full of family plots including the Brinckerhoff and Van Wyck families

After touring the church and the cemetery grounds, I took my time and walked Downtown Fishkill which is lined with small but interesting restaurants and stores. The street had been lively the two times that I visited with people enjoying the outdoor dining and the perfect 80-degree weather.

Historic Downtown Fishkill, NY

https://shopdowntown.org/pages/shop-downtown-Fishkill-New%20York

While walking around Downtown Fishkill, I came across the Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street and needed a quick snack on a hot afternoon. The store was really busy with people eating outside on the benches and tables. I stopped in and had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Birthday Cake ice cream. Did it hit the spot! The Strawberry Cheesecake was especially good with chunks of fresh strawberries in it.

The Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street in Downtown Fishkill

https://www.facebook.com/FishkillCreamery/

After the ice cream, it was time for dinner (I always believe in saving room for dessert). Both times I tried Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9 in Fishkill. You really have to search for the restaurant as it is located in the strip mall in the Shoprite Mall.

Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9

The food here is really good. When I came up on my own, I just wanted something small, and I ordered the Cheese Calzone ($8.95). The thing was huge! The Calzone was so large that it could have fed two people easily. It was loaded with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and they make a terrific marinara sauce that accompanied it. By the time I finished devouring the thing, I was stuffed. This after all that ice cream.

We returned to Antonella’s when my aunt and I returned to Fishkill for the touring since I was so impressed with the food and service. My aunt had the Sausage, Pepper & Onion Roll ($8.50) and I had the Stromboli Roll ($8.50) which had ham, salami, pepperoni, Ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses wrapped in a perfectly baked pizza dough. Both were served with their flavorful marinara sauce. After a long day of touring, it was just what we needed. We also took plenty of time to relax and digest on this trip.

The Cheese Calzone’s at Antonella’s are excellent

It was really a nice day and there is so much to see and do in this part of the Hudson River Valley. I had not really explored Fishkill, NY so it was fascinating to see all these old homes and historic sites and know their place in history. Take the time to tour these homes and hear the family stories. Remember to head back during the Christmas holiday season and explore these homes and the downtowns when they are decorated for the season. There is a special magic in the Hudson River Valley during the holiday season. Check their websites for more activities during the year.

(Please read the accompanying reviews on VisitingaMuseum.com to see a full description on these homes).

Places to Visit:

Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society

68 North Kensington Drive

Hopewell Junction, NY 12524

(845) 227-4136

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057186982344

Admission: Free

Open: Sundays 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday Closed/June-August

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47922-d24829233-Reviews-Brinckerhoff_House_Historical_Site-Hopewell_Junction_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/8327

Van Wyck Homestead Museum

504 U.S. 9

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 896-0560

https://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites/Van-Wyck-Homestead-Museum-/details

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Wyck_Homestead_Museum

Admission: Free

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday Closed/June-October

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47724-d263982-Reviews-Van_Wyck_Homestead_Museum-Fishkill_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/8339

The Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society

2 Spring Street

Wappinger’s Falls, NY  12590

(845) 632-1281

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Check website for special events

Fee: Adult $10.00/Seniors $7.00/Children 7-18 $5.00/Members Free

https://www.wappingershistoricalsociety.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48799-d16919924-Reviews-Mesier_Homestead_and_Museum-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4173

First Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill

1153 Main Street

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 896-4546

Open: Church Services are on Sundays at 10:00am

https://www.facebook.com/FirstReformedChurchofFishkill/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47724-d263921-Reviews-First_Reformed_Church_of_Fishkill-Fishkill_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/8333

Where to Eat:

G &R Deli Café

2003 NY Route 52

Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

(845) 202-7669

https://www.gnrdelicafe.com/

https://www.facebook.com/grdelicafe/

Open: Sunday 7:00am-2:00pm/Monday-Friday 6:00am-4:00pm/Saturday 7:00am-3:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g47922-d24829555-r851173564-G_R_Deli_Cafe-Hopewell_Junction_New_York.html?m=19905

Antonella’s Italian Restaurant

738 Route 9 Suite 13

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 896-9191

https://www.antonellasrestaurant.com/fishkill-menu

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm/Friday and Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g47724-d5112543-r851247421-Antonella_s_Italian_Restaurant_Pizza-Fishkill_New_York.html?m=19905

Fishkill Creamery

1042 Main Street

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 214-5544

https://www.fishkillcreamery.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FishkillCreamery/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Friday-Saturday 12:00pm-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g47724-d23864092-Reviews-Fishkill_Creamery-Fishkill_New_York.html?m=19905

First Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill 1153 Main Street Fishkill, NY 12524

Don’t miss this interesting tour of the church and its cemetery in the start of Downtown Fishkill, NY.

The First Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill, NY

Don’t miss touring their historic cemetery.

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

First Reformed Dutch Church of Fishkill

1153 Main Street

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 896-4546

Open: Church Services are on Sundays at 10:00am

https://www.facebook.com/FirstReformedChurchofFishkill/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47724-d263921-Reviews-First_Reformed_Church_of_Fishkill-Fishkill_New_York.html

After visiting three historical homes in the Fishkill area covering the towns of Hopewell Junction and Wappingers Falls, my last stop of the day was the First Dutch Reformed Church of Fishkill, NY. The church was closed at this point with services being on Sunday’s only starting at 10:00am. I was able to tour around the church admiring its architecture, looking over the DuBois House which is also owned by the church and exploring the cemetery.

The cemetery was the most interesting being the final resting place of many of the ‘first families’ of the area, including family plots of the Van Wyck and Brinckerhoff families, who also intermarried with each other. There were sections dedicated just to the families…

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Newark Museum 49 Washington Place Newark, NJ 07102

Don’t miss the wonderful treasures at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ.

The Newark Museum at 49 Washington Place in Newark, NJ

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Newark Museum

49 Washington Place

Newark, NJ 07102-3176

https://www.newarkmuseumart.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Newark.Museum/

Telephone: (973) 596-6550/Fax: (973) 642-0459

Open: Wednesday-Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm

Closed: Mondays (except for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President’s Day), Tuesdays, January 1st, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day and December 25th.

Fee: Adult $15.00/Seniors-Children 5 and UP/Veterans/Children 5 and under Free

Amenities: Museum Shop, Junior Shop, Museum Cafe and onsite parking.

The Newark Museum: Always New

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46671-d217958-Reviews-Newark_Museum-Newark_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Services:

General Information: (973) 596-6550

Membership Office: (973) 596-6699

Volunteer Office: (973) 596-6337

Member Travel Office: (973) 596-6643

Group Tours: (973) 596-6613

TTY 711

I have been a member of the Newark Museum for 29 years and have enjoyed the experience. There is a lot of things to do at all times of the year.

During the Summer months, I enjoy “Jazz in the Garden” where local and international Jazz musicians perform in the beauty of the back garden of the…

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Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society 68 North Kensington Drive Hopewell Junction, NY 12524

Don’t miss the interesting look at farm life in early America at the Brinckerhoff Homestead.

The Brinckerhoff Homestead at 68 North Kensington Drive

The Dining Room at the Brinckerhoff Homestead

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society

68 North Kensington Drive

Hopewell Junction, NY 12524

(845) 227-4136

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057186982344

Admission: Free

Open: Sundays 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday Closed/June-August

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47922-d24829233-Reviews-Brinckerhoff_House_Historical_Site-Hopewell_Junction_New_York.html

The Brinckerhoff House Historical Site

The Brinckerhoff House Historical Site was built in three different time periods with the oldest part of the house to the right, the main part of the house was built second and the Sun Room and porch to the left was built last. The house opens up in all parts but you can see the distinct different in the style of the design.

The entrance of the original homestead

The entrance of the Homestead has the schoolhouse and icehouse to the left of the entrance and the blacksmith shop and the carriage house to the right. The Blacksmith shop has a real blacksmith on duty working when the house is open for tours.

The original section…

View original post 895 more words

Van Wyck Homestead Museum 504 U.S. 9 Fishkill, NY 12524

Don’t miss visiting the Van Wyck Homestead for an interesting look into the Hudson River Valley past.

The Van Wyck Homestead at 504 US 9

The family heirlooms at the Van Wyck Homestead

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Van Wyck Homestead Museum

504 U.S. 9

Fishkill, NY 12524

(845) 896-0560

https://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites/Van-Wyck-Homestead-Museum-/details

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Wyck_Homestead_Museum

Admission: Free

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday Closed/June-October

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47724-d263982-Reviews-Van_Wyck_Homestead_Museum-Fishkill_New_York.html

The Van Wyck Homestead at 504 U.S. 9

Visiting the Van Wyck Homestead is like stepping back into the past to see a part of our nation’s history. The homestead sits at a once pivotal point location in the Hudson River Valley and during the Revolutionary War, George Washington established his main northern supply depot here in October of 1776. After the war was over, the Van Wyck family returned to the home and lived here for five generations until the late 1800’s. The last member of the family, Sidney Van Wyck hung himself in the barn on the property (Van Wyck Homestead pamphlet).

The house was built in two sections. The original section of the house off to the right of the building is…

View original post 786 more words

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society 190 Fordham Street City Island, NY 10464

Don’t miss the City Island Nautical Museum for an interesting look into the island’s ship building and fishing history.

The City Island Museum at 190 Fordham Street on City Island

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society

190 Fordham Street

City Island, NY 10464

(718) 885-0008

https://www.cityislandmuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/City-Island-Nautical-Museum-120813594596346/

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Friday Closed/Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47475-d109882-Reviews-City_Island_Nautical_Museum-City_Island_Bronx_New_York.html

The City Island Nautical Museum at 190 Fordham Street

The City Island Nautical Museum

I recently took a trip to City Island, a small community just off the coast off the mainland of The Bronx (which is part of The Bronx) to visit the City Island Nautical Museum. This tiny museum located in the heart of the island is noted for its collection of ship building artifacts and items that are native to a community that once built the vessels for the America’s Cup.

City Island has a rich history in ship building, sail making and fishing it is reflected in the collection of materials in the museum and its archives. The museum really details the growth and history of the boating…

View original post 1,158 more words

Day Two Hundred and Forty-Three Visiting the Ulster County Fair in Ulster County New York August 5th, 2022

I really enjoy my trips to the Hudson River Valley to attend weekend events. When I read about the series of County Fairs that will be held during August upstate, I wanted to start visiting them. I have been to the Dutchess County Fair for many years, but I never ventured outside that fair. I have never really explored Ulster County, so I decided to head upstate and visit the Uster County Fair for the afternoon. It was an eye opener.

https://www.facebook.com/ulstercountyfair/

I found that the Ulster County Fair was about half the size of the Dutchess County Fair across the river. The fairgrounds are smaller than Dutchess County’s so you could tour the fair much quicker. There were lots to do at the fairgrounds and I explored the whole fair over the next three hours.

I first visited the Volunteer Fire Museum and the Police Museum that are only open when the fair is open. The Police Museum was stocked with equipment that law enforcement has used over the last hundred years that includes batons, handcuffs and how a police station works. They even had a small jail display. The Volunteer Fire Museum was stocked with equipment that volunteer fire departments had donated, pictures and patches of local departments and like The Police Museum staffed by volunteers from the departments who could describe the objects in the museum and what their position was in their departments.

It was a nice to talk to other volunteer fire fighters who face the issues we all face, changing ranks in the volunteers with a generation gap and trying to recruit new fire fighters. All of us still have the pride of being a fire fighter but the role seems to be changing. The museum reflected that with new ways of firefighting are being practiced but keeping the traditions alive. Both museums should be a bit more updated.

After I left the museums, I toured the 4H displays. There were barn pens filled with cows, horses, rabbits, pigs and chickens. The 4H members were taking care of their animals, washing them and feeding them and the animals seemed to know that they were on display. Some of them looked like they were showing off by the way they moved around in their pens. The kids showed their pride by the way they cared for them. The way they cleaned and brushed them and cared for their pens.

What I liked about the 4H stand was their food station. They had the most reasonable food at the fair. Their hot dogs were $2.00, their sodas were $1.00, and their milkshakes were $5.00 as opposed to the higher prices of the food vendors. I had a vanilla shake that the kids made, and I will tell you that there is nothing better than a fresh vanilla shake made with fresh milk and fresh ice cream made from their cows. I really enjoyed it.

I looked around at the food vendors and I could not believe the prices. Everything was so expensive. The hamburgers pulled pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks were between $12.00 to $15.00 and I thought that was too high. The zeppole and fried dough not only were $8.00 for six small zeppole but all the fried foods were sitting under heat lamps. If there were seventy or eighty people at the fair that afternoon, it was a lot. There was no reason for them to cook so much food in advance. I stopped at one pizza stand and had a slice of pizza for $6.00 and a Coke for $3.00 and it was a lot for a slice of pizza with no flavor.

I walked around all the booths that were selling local wares and there were people selling arts and crafts and food items. There were some interesting food stuffs like local honey, jellies, syrups and baked items but again they priced them so high that it was cheaper to buy them in a grocery store. Maple syrup should not be $14.00 for a small jar. I think these vendors priced out the customers that were coming to the fair.

I walked around the amusement area of the fair and that got busier by the end of the afternoon as families started to arrive during the early evening. As I walked around the rides, more and more kids were on the rides. Most of the rides were geared towards small children and I could see the teenagers watching their younger siblings enjoying themselves. They would go off with their friends as soon as the parents returned.

The Ulster County Fair Amusement area

After I had visited all the attractions, amusement areas and walked around the fair about four times, I ventured out of the fair to get dinner. The options were just too expensive, and the selection was not very good. I decided to head into downtown New Platz for dinner.

As I was leaving at 6:00pm, the crowds really started to come in as the entertainment was going to start at 8:00pm. Singer Allie Colleen was headlining that night and it looked like she was going to have a big crowd. What I did not realize until later is that she is Garth Brook’s daughter and a noted Country music singer.

Singer Allie Colleen

https://www.alliecolleenmusic.com/

Trying to leave the fair was an experience as the traffic started to increase and you had to leave the way you came in. I could not believe that the entrance was the exit as well.

The funny part of the Ulster County Fair Grounds is that it is in the middle of farmland as opposed to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds that are on the edge of Rhinebeck. Two different fairs with two different vibes. I really felt that I was among the locals at this fair whereas the Dutchess County Fair gets people from the City and from New Jersey as well. I really did feel like a visitor.

I parked up in Downtown New Platz and have to admit that it has not changed much since my first visit during Christmas of 2014. Parts of the downtown have attracted more expensive restaurants and there are some newer stores but the downtown still has that college vibe to it with a ‘New Age’ feel. It’s like a bigger version of Woodstock.

Downtown New Paltz, NY

https://www.townofnewpaltz.org/

https://www.iloveny.com/places-to-go/hudson-valley/spotlight-new-paltz/

I walked all around the downtown area to see all the new places to eat and shop. I got into the downtown just before things started to close. Like many other towns, New Paltz has taken a hit in their businesses when the SUNY Campus closed but it looks like new businesses are starting to open in their place. What surprised me was the prices for meals. These restaurants were not catering to the artists or the college students but more to out-of-town visitors. I have this thing about $34.00 entrees in a college town.

I went to McGillicuddy’s restaurant at 84 Main Street for dinner that night. I had been there many times before when visiting New Paltz and I love the college vibe of the place. Plus, you can watch the games on the big screen TVs.

McGillicuddy’s at 84 Main Street

https://cuddysny.com/

I ordered one of their Original Hamburgers with a side of Waffle fries and I have to tell you it was one of the best burgers that I had had in a long time. Their burgers are large and juicy and have a wonderful beefy taste (order it medium well to get a well-done burger) and it was accompanied by a large portion of waffle fries ($12.95). Everything was delicious and the service was great.

The burger and fries were delicious

What is nice about New Paltz is that it is on the opposite side of the river from all the places I normally visit like Rhinebeck and Red Hook and once out of town, you immediately get to the New York Thruway, and I was home in just over an hour.

It was a nice experience and fun visiting the fair. Now off to visit the Dutchess County Fair in two weeks!

My day at the Dutchess County Fair:

Day One Hundred and Nineteen-Visiting the Dutchess County Fair:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7786

Places to Visit:

The Ulster County Fair (Every August)

Ulster County Fairgrounds

249 Libertyville Road

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 255-1380

https://ulstercountyfair.com/

Open: The Fair is every August but check their website for other events

Places to Eat:

McGillicuddy’s

84 Main Street

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 256-9289

https://cuddysny.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-12:00am/Monday-Thursday 3:00pm-12:00pm/Friday 3:00pm-4:00am/Saturday 12:00pm-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48245-d2192041-Reviews-McGillicuddy_s-New_Paltz_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

My Life as a Fireman: The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department lose one of their own: The passing of Chief Chris Semenecz (1952-2022)

It is tough when you lose a fellow fire fighter but when it is someone you have known for your entire time on the fire department and someone you have worked with for years, it hurts even more.

We recently suffered the loss of our fellow brother, former Chief Chris Semenecz of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. Chief Semenecz joined the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in November of 1984 and was an active and productive member until his retirement from the department in October of 2021. He always put his best into his work for the fire service.

Chief Semenecz to the far right with Chief Moots first to left, Chief Roccamo next to him and Chief Monohan to the immediate left of him (members Bernie Valente and Hippen Shah in the middle) at the 2019 Installation Dinner

Chris had been a long-time member of the former Engine One Company (before we merged the Department in 2019) serving as its Treasurer, Lieutenant, and Captain in 1989-1990. He then did his rotation as Second Assistant Chief, First Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Department in 1992-93.

Chief Semenecz standing for Inspection with Chief Roccamo at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Annual Inspection

He also served many other positions within the Department as well. He had served as a Fire Inspector in 1987, was EMT Certified in 1986, served as a mechanic for the Engine One Company from 2000-2004 and again from 2013-2018. He served as the President of the Exempt Association and the Treasurer of the Relief Association of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department.

Chief Semenecz was proud of his time on Engine One HHFD

On top of running his own business in business transport, he also served on the Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council from 1979-1981 and again from 2013-2015 and running for Mayor of the Hasbrouck Heights in 2014.

Heros are not born but over time they contribute to a community in many ways. Chief Semenecz showed that you can wear many hats in life, a devoted husband and family man both to his wife, Jayne and his family, active member of the Hasbrouck Heights community including being a Hasbrouck Heights High School Alumnus to assisting Santa each year in the department’s “Santa Around Town” celebration greeting members of the community during the holiday season.

Chief Semenecz welcoming in the holidays with other members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department including special guest, Mr. Snowman. Chief Tim Moots, former Captain Bernie Valente, former Secretary Justin Watrel and Chief Angelo Roccamo.

Chief Semenecz showed that being a hero can be accomplished in many different ways but of him giving of himself to everyone surrounding him.

He will be missed!

All the members of the former Engine One Company congratulating Chief Angelo Roccamo in becoming Chief in 2019 of the newly formed Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Santa is going on his next journey in life. We wish him all the best!