By Arthur H. Gunther III
Upper Nyack, N.Y. -- Some 80 years ago, the triple-great-grandfather of a little fellow of today drove past the boy’s Van Houten Street home on the way to Hook Mountain where Friday night picnics were then a big thing for Rockland County residents. Not Saturday or Sunday when the crowds from New York City arrived at the Dayliner dock. Not during the work week because everyone was too exhausted.
Actually, two of the little fellow’s other distant great-grandfathers also passed the house, just off Broadway, the only road leading to the Hudson River state park. Whether any of these men glanced down at 25 Van Houten will never be known, and the young boy doesn’t yet know anything about any of his ancestors. Still, a family connection even as ships passing in the night. Time is relative, and who knows what influence a moment eight decades ago can have in present time? Or, perhaps, the other way around?
Today, walking along Broadway I almost never fail to recall trips made to the Hook by my family and by me with friends or by myself over the seasons. And until I had a grandson (Sam) and a granddaughter (Beatrice), the connection was warm enough -- stepping on sidewalks or riding on roads trod upon by others of my existence. Now, though, the roots of the tree, still growing, are very close by.
The little fellow’s kindergarten class is off Broadway, near his house and on the way to the Hook. On Mondays, I pick him up and walk him home, Gummy Bears the latest favorite treat and his deliberate jumping on and off the Village Hall porch at Castle Heights and Broadway and the across the street at Hartel’s grocery a ritual he will remember should he stare at those decades later.
Sam’s ritual has now been added to memories already accumulated in my family of Broadway to the Hook almost a century ago.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.