Life In Ulster County Photo Series
Life In Ulster County is a series where I focused on the people and places of Ulster County, NY,
to see if I could figure out a little bit about how it all works together.
Many of the photos are in my book titled “Ulster County - Discovering Home”
Click here to learn about the book and/or purchase the book
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Jill Shufeldt is the Dog Control Officer for the towns of Esopus, New Paltz, Rochester and Wawarsing. I visited her in the Town of Rochester. She has a small office and an area to house some dogs on the property of the Town Hall and Highway Department. It seems like a lot of work, and she clearly genuinely cares about the animals that she works with.
Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston is a place I knew about throughout my childhood, but rarely went to. I remember it being an interesting place to go to, mostly when my father needed ingredients for fruitcake. When I returned to Ulster County as an adult, I started going there occasionally for my grocery shopping, and enjoyed the produce and the independent family feel of it. I also learned of their reputation for their greenhouse in the spring.
I asked management if I could photograph inside, and during my first visit, it was packed with people, particularly in the greenhouse. I wasn't comfortable photographing customers, and while I got some photos I enjoyed, I didn't feel quite satisfied. Some of those photos are immediately below.
I noticed during that visit that so much of the food was prepared in house, from the meat to the baked goods to the candy and more, and that the people working there were the best part of the story. So, I asked to come back, and arranged to visit at 6 AM and meet some of the people who make it all happen. It was amazing to see what it takes to run the store and efficiently feed the myriad customers!
A few photos from the first visit
And then a return visit one morning at 6 AM.
Joe "Fish" Longendyke, below, heads up the seafood department. I am pretty sure he said he's been doing it upwards of 20 years. I learned about how the fish come out of these coolers every night, and into the walk-in, and go back to the coolers every morning. He also talked about how he likes to fish at one of the local reservoirs, among other things. The guy loves fish! I enjoyed chatting with him.
Inside the meat department was pretty cool too...literally and figuratively. In the first picture on the left below, there was a machine that weighed, wrapped, and labeled meat. Count me impressed!
Bill Beers, below, cuts up steaks to be sold for the day
Nicolaza Lopez makes guacamole and salsa and such by hand, using her own recipes.
Nicole Longo makes some delicious looking treats in the bakery department
Closeup of Nicole Longo making canolis
Rachel Connor had been working for 3 hours by the time I got there at 6 AM
More scenes from my 2 visits to Adams with my camera
Carol Armstrong's shirt sums up how many people feel about Adams Fairacre Farms
Apple Greens Golf Course opened in 1995, and as someone who likes to golf, I was quite intrigued. I enjoyed playing it a few times back then, but hadn't been back in a long time.
As I got older I realized how beautiful a setting it is, winding through an old apple orchard, with views of the Shawangunk Ridge and Mohonk Skytop seen from many parts of the course.
I contacted the ownership of the course and Jamie Roehrs worked with me to set up a time for me to come at the crack of dawn and meet and photograph some of the people who maintain the property and keep the golfers coming back for more.
Dave Tucker, pictures above and below, is a retired New York State Trooper. I spent some time chatting with him about golf in Ulster County, while he set the pin placements for the day. He took the time to make sure they weren't too difficult, or too easy, and that they were different on different holes. He told me that when his friends come to play the course, he hears from them if they didn't like where he put the pins! It was interesting for me to see the care he took to do the job right.
Below is Barry SImmons. Jamie told me that Barry is one of the longest serving members of the grounds crew. I didn't get a chance to speak with him, but I liked how he gave me the thumbs up as I took a photo of him driving by.
Next, below, is Russ Peters, the golf course superintendent. He was fun to chat with about golf in Ulster County as well, as he's worked at at least one other local golf course.
Finally, below is Fred Borman. He told me that he was nearly 70 years old when I was there, and he seemed to enjoy having the time to work outside on the golf course. He said that he was at an event at Apple Greens, and randomly asked if they needed help, and before you know it, he as on the grounds crew!
It really is a neat looking place and I look forward to returning.
For as long as I can remember, there has been daily lunch for seniors at the Rosendale Community Center, or as I remember it as a kid, the Rosendale Rec Center. I had the opportunity to visit some of the seniors while they ate lunch and enjoyed speaking with them. They were a fun bunch, that's for sure!
Above, from left to right...
Winifred Barnes, Joy Morrow Nulton, Jackie Negro, Edith Scheutz, and Ursula Makowski.
Joy Morrow Nulton's first name is fitting. She truly was a joy to speak with. She was ready to chat and cheerful and I would have liked to talk with her no matter what. As we were talking about her life and mine, we figured out that she's the grandmother of one of the first friends who I ever had. Her son and his children lived on the opposite corner from me in Tillson until I was about 5 years old. They moved to Kingston, and we didn't go to the same school, so I lost touch with that friend pretty quickly, but it was cool to speak with Joy and chat about what they're up to now.
Jackie Negro was fun to speak with too...I remember her a bit from when I was a kid, and she remembers my parents well.
Joy and Jackie having a laugh.
Edith Scheutz (above), and Ursula Makowski (pictured in the group shot at the top of the page) told me about moving to the US from Germany under Nazi rule as children, and their lives in Ulster Count as well.
Winifred Barnes is the organizer of the group, and the one who I have communicated this with to set this all up. I think it's great that she keeps this light hearted group going and I look forward to meeting her again.
John A. Coleman Catholic High School is in Hurley, along Hurley Ave. I visited the building for the first time since I graduated in 1996, and shot the following photos, that hopefully tell a bit of a story of what the place is like. I'm sure it will bring back some memories to those who attended, and maybe give a peak inside to those who've driven by but never thought much of it!
The driveway in to the school property
Photos of outside and the first floor of the school
And now we head upstairs
And a beautiful view from the library
Mar Kelly is the Founder and Executive Solar Developer at District Sun. I met her at a Rondout Valley Business Association mixer, and was very intrigued by what she does. I went with her to a site visit in Highland, and learnt a bit about how she measures the amount of sun a site will get, how she tries to minimize obstructing views, how solar helps families who want to keep properties that have been around for a long time, and more. She gets to work in some pretty places!
The People's Place Thrift Store & Food Pantry is located in the mid-town section of Kingston. It's mission is "to feed, clothe and respond to the essential needs of the people in Ulster County with kindness, compassion and the preservation of human dignity."
I visited on a Tuesday in July of 2017, when I knew that the "Free Farm Stand" would be happening as well. According to the People's Place website, the free farm stand "program is in partnership with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and is funded by the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley through a grant from the New World Foundation’s Local Economies Project."
There was a whole lot going on during my visit, and I certainly didn't capture all of it, but I think these photos give a good glimpse into the goings on.
I visited AJ Snyder Field in Rosendale, New York to see a baseball game for the first time since I had played on those fields as a kid. Rondout Valley hosted Indian Valley in an All-Star game. I was able to pop off a few fun photos, as you can see below.
Rondout Valley League President, Aaron Brodhead, watches on. (Above)
I caught wind of something called Repair Café through Facebook, and was immediately intrigued. According to their website "Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields."
There are several locations for Repair Cafés around the Mid-Hudson Valley. I visited Repair Café in New Paltz at the New Paltz Community Church, and coincidentally, it was their 4th anniversary, so there was much excitement. It was really neat to see the sense of community and the sharing of skills and knowledge. John Wackman is the Organizer of the New Paltz Repair Cafe, and he kindly sent me the names of some of the people, which I have indicated below. In addition to the repairs going on, there were also some folks from the church working on a piece of art that involved painting pieces of styrofoam to look like rocks. There was a lot to see!
Beverly Bilder at the Welcome Table
John Wackman reads comments to celebrate the anniversary
Group shot for their anniversary
Joe Holder of Olive works on an old sewing machine
The Kingston Stockade FC is a men's soccer club in the semi-professional National Premier Soccer League. I decided to go check out a game to see the goings on and all the Kingston-y stuff. It was such a fun atmosphere. I read more about the team, and all of the players on the team are from the Hudson Valley. They seemed to really enjoy playing in front of such a lively crowd.
Jean Miller Spoljaric lives in Kingston, along Dewitt Mills Road, which I travel often.
I have known Jean a bit for a few years, but never had much of a conversation with her, so I decided to visit her for my Life in Ulster County - Meeting Our Neighbors series.
I have been very intrigued by her eggs for sale on the honor system. I took a closer look at that, and she showed me her chicken coop, her hen house, and her garden. I got to eat a fresh strawberry from the garden, had a beer and chatted about travel, Ulster County, and more. Jean is a world traveler herself, but talked of how much she enjoys Ulster County, and how she's been just fine staying put for the last few years.
I enjoyed the visit, and now I know a bit more about what goes on at a place I so often drove past without much thought.
I visited Kingston City Hall on a rainy day in April of 2017. It's a building I never put much thought into in my life, although I've been past it countless times. A few people told me I should check it out, and I also thought it'd be cool to meet the Mayor and photograph him, so I made it happen.
The outside architecture is neat. It was designed by the same architect at Saint Peter's Church in Rosendale, which I went to weekly when I was a kid.
I had the chance to wander around and photograph some of the interesting stairways, hallways, offices, and the city council chambers.
I discovered a great view from the upstairs men's room.
I met Mayor Steve Noble, and sat in on the end of a meeting he had. He then told me he it was time to officiate a wedding, and I watched that. He said that the job of mayor involved a lot more weddings than he expected. I wasn't comfortable photographing the bride and groom for that, but I got the picture of Steve doing his thing.
In my exploration, I had seen some stairs to a roof, where there was a locked door. I asked about the possibility of roof access then or another day, and within a few minutes, I was getting access to something better than the roof. The tower! Someone named Jim used a special key in the elevator to access a floor not available to the public, but we weren't close to the top yet.
After walking through rooms filled with boxes of old files and Christmas decorations, we headed up a series of stairways, including the ones pictures below. It was like something out of a video game or a fairy tale.
I crawled out of a small door at a top, so small that with my camera backpack it was tough to squeeze through. Then I found myself in the top of the tower, with beautiful brickwork, and great views of the surrounding city and Catskill Mountains. Even with the rain, the natural beauty and the aesthetics of the city were striking.
To me, it felt palpable that the city had a rich working class history, particularly with the style of many of the houses.
KHS! Forever the best! Full disclosure: I didn't go to Kingston High School (seen below) and I don't know much about it, besides that "Forever the Best" sports cheer that they had in the 1990s...and might still have today.
And finally, a winter shot of Kingston City Hall, that I shot a few months prior to this visit.
Carol Perry (right above) and Catherine Gormley (left above) were both born in Kingston, and Carol grew up there, while Catherine spent most of her childhood in Phoenicia. As young adults, they both became Catholic Sisters of Saint Ursula, which is the basis for me knowing them. The girls’ school in Kingston that they taught at was phased out to make way for John A Coleman Catholic High School in Hurley. Sr. Carol was the first principal there when it opened in 1966, and Sr. Catherine was the principal there from 1972-1987. Neither were there continuously, but by the time I entered high school at Coleman in 1992, both were teaching there, and I was aware of both of them ahead of time, thanks to my 3 older siblings attending the same high school ahead of me.
I hadn’t seen either of them since the day I graduated in June of 1996, until my visit with them to photograph them for my “Life in Ulster County - Meeting Our Neighbors” series. I had initially sought out Sr. Carol, who informed me via email that she lived now with Sr. Catherine in an apartment in Hurley, and that it would be nice for Sr. Catherine to be involved as well.
Sr. Carol sticks out to me as my Advanced Placement English Teacher, and I had her for homeroom, among other things. She is someone I’ve been fascinated by throughout my adult life, and someone I always hoped to speak with again. I remembered a distinct voice, with a tone of confidence and intelligence, and a cadence that made you want to hear more. My friend Mike recently reminded me that I didn’t always enjoy every moment of her classes, but in hindsight, it was all great. Every time she opened her mouth, I felt like something well thought out and intelligent would come out of it, and I was right. She had this look of intelligence in her eyes, and I enjoyed that. Many of us kids in high school wondered why she wouldn’t go on "Jeopardy!”. I’m still not sure why she never did. She would have crushed it.
Amongst other English teachers, I credit Sr. Carol for instilling in me the confidence to learn proper writing techniques, but also to add some style, and to break the rules if I knew what I was doing…and to use what could be considered slang (like “crushed it”) if I feel like that will get across the point that I want to get across. I never would have imagined that thanks to the power of the internet, I’d have an actual audience for my writing. So, I’d like to publicly say thank you to Sr. Carol for that. Plus yesterday I got to say thank you to her in person for helping me with my college application essays.
Although I didn’t like that she assigned me summer reading, Sr. Carol’s AP English class was fun overall, as those things go. I always laugh when I remember when she had us read a play with curse words in it, and made sure that the students said them out loud, no matter how much they fought against it. Then she added something along the lines of “You know these words, I hear what you say in the hallway”.
Mostly due to the circumstances of what classes I took with Sr. Catherine, my memories of her aren’t as strong, but there are some funny ones. My first memory of interacting with her directly was when myself and a few others had Junior level Math during Sophomore year, and Sister Catherine met with the 4 of us without the Juniors on the first day of school. When Sister Catherine said to us “You must all really like math”, the aforementioned Mike responded “I don’t like it, but I’m good at it”, and that about summed up my feelings on math at that time. (Those feelings have since changed. I like math now) Another funny memory that sticks out though is the time that I wanted to ask a girl to the prom, so I attacked my acne a bit too hard and broke out in an even worse rash. During religion class, Sr. Catherine noticed my face while glancing up from reading The Bible to us, and stopped reading to ask if I was ok, in front of the class. I was humiliated, but I knew then and know now that she did it because she cared!
While both Sisters were authority figures, and disciplinarians as necessary, I always knew that they cared and wanted the best for us.
During my visit to photograph them, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t want it to be an interview per se, and it really ended up being an interesting conversation. Both sisters are very up on current events, including locally, and our conversation touched on everything from the local arts scene, to the economy, to raised ranch houses, to the middle class white Catholic bubble that I grew up in in some ways, to the changes at the Rondout waterfront, and more.
No local conversation like this could go without talking about IBM’s impact on the area, and Sr. Carol was very kind in mentioning that IBM brought great people to the area, and without IBM my parents would have never been around, thus us 4 kids wouldn’t have been either, and she seemed pleased that we all had been.
I gave them the short version of the past 20 years of my life, and told them about what my siblings are up to, and about my parents’ farm, along with some other family stories they’d probably never heard.
They updated me on their lives, which are very active. Sr. Carol published her first book of her life in 2014, her second in 2016, and is working on her third. She has been the full time resident bible scholar at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City full time since she left Coleman in 1997, and had been there part time since 1980. Ever since she went full time, it has involved taking the bus to New York City and back 4 days a week. She told me about how she can even direct new drivers on what is the appropriate route to take, as she has done “a lot of bus riding”.
Sr. Carol is, as she put it, “recycling” her life in May, and ending her full time position at Marble Collegiate Church, to spend more time writing. She said that she always felt like she “talked better than she wrote", and it took “the right editor to encourage her" to become a book writer, in “her somewhat advanced age”. I haven’t read her books, but I have read her blog, which she actively keeps up with, and her writing is fantastic.
Sr. Carol said to me “One will not be idle John, don’t worry”. I think it’s really cool to see her continue to evolve how she makes her way through life. It’s inspiring.
Sr. Catherine has been retired from Coleman since 2001, and spends much of her time tutoring children, and doing taxes for people who can’t afford professional tax services. She described doing taxes as a “ real learning curve", as she hadn’t been one to do her own taxes, but she seemed to get great satisfaction out of it.
When I first got in touch with Sr. Carol a few weeks ago and she told me that she would be happy to have me visit and take photos, I was thrilled and very proud that I would be able to tell a bit of her story, a bit of Sr. Catherine’s story, and a bit of my story, using some of the English skills that she so passionately taught me, and that I’d have a chance to be inspired again by them. I am glad that it morphed from an interview situation to just 3 adults having a conversation. This was a major highlight of my adult life.
I visited Bacchus Restaurant in New Paltz on a rainy Monday.
I found Owner Linda Bradford, who I'd coordinated the visit with, at the end of the bar having lunch.
Linda showed me around some of the places you normally don't get to see, like the basement and the brewery
Brewer, Conor Webster
Cook, Fidel Gutierrez
Bartender, Kristin Iadanza, on her last day
Cook, Romeo Monjaras
Linda in her office way at the top of the building
Tyler Borchert welcomed me to his studio and gallery underneath the train trestle along Abeel Street in Kingston. Tyler specializes in sculptures and art made with found items. He speaks enthusiastically about his adventures to find the items he uses for his art, and how his jobs doing groundskeeping allow him the time to dedicate to art as well.
In the gallery space you find sculptures and photos of sculptures. Many of the sculptures include animal shapes, like the one in the middle below with the eagle shape. On the right below is the Money Man giving the Peace Sign, who travels widely.
The three photos below involved Tyler doing a quick bit of work.
Tyler showed me around outside, which includes lots of his artistic creations, and a raft he built to get across the Rondout Creek as necessary!
February 2017: Along Wall Street in Kingston, in part of what used to be Newberry's Department Store, lies Kingston Candy Bar. It features local ice cream, donuts, cupcakes, and various other treats. Diane Reeder opened it a few years ago, and she welcomed me in to take a few photos of her and the operation. It was a lot of fun.