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Murder in the Asylum The Hudson River State Hospital (HRSH) has always been an intriguing place with looming gothic towers and windows that arch like eyes on a jack-o-lantern. Patients aimlessly wandered long hallways or were locked away in rooms. There are tales of underground tunnels that led to every wing, including the morgue where many patients had their final stay. Even though the days of seeing doctors and patients walk across the grounds are long gone, this place still invokes something in us; sometimes it's fear, sometimes it’s curiosity. Either way, we always seem to love a juicy story about the old hospital for the insane. When it comes to finding actual patient records, you can forget about it. People ask us all the time if we have their loved one’s patient file from the HRSH, and the answer will always be no. Those records are held at the New York State Archives and are under the control of the New York State Office of Mental Health. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) laws restrict access to those items as they are official medical records. However, we do have the hospital’s annual reports, which give us a general idea of
You are probably aware that Poughkeepsie was once known as a place where just about everything was made! Cars, computers, cough drops, and even indestructible pants once came from this city. In the 19th century right up through the mid-20th century, the Queen City on the Hudson had become a very attractive place to purchase a factory and build stuff to sell and make a fortune with. Some of the companies still exist today, but have taken their manufacturing elsewhere, while other companies have long since been forgotten. Did you know that there were three automobile manufacturers here at the turn of the 20th century? One of those was a small operation known as The Guilder Motor Truck Company, and even when it was here, nobody seemed to know about it. Walter C. Guilder had been in the automotive industry since the beginning. Born in Toledo Ohio in 1877, he had begun as a toolmaker in his early years before becoming an engineer in the early work of automobiles. He first worked as an engineer for the International Motor Company in Pennsylvania and the Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Company in Springfield Ohio. In 1906 he designed the first auto truck for
by Bridget O'Donnell If you hadn’t noticed from some of the previous PPLD What’s Cooking Blog posts, I’m a fan of no-waste kitchen trends. Vegetable scrap broth, rendered drippings and compost bins are used as interchangeably in my meal prep as less processed sugars, “healthier” cooking oils and their whole food substitutions – all used in moderation, of course. So, habitually following those lifestyle choices, I was more than curious to try the “Oil-Free Italian Salad Dressing Recipe” a coworker verbally shared with me at our last CSA-Union meeting and I’ll tell you why. (Sometimes it amazes me that word of mouth still seems to be one of the best forms of dissemination. Anyway, ...) As stated in the title, it was oil free. Substituting oil with the bean brine found in a can of chickpeas, only recently named “aquafaba” in the culinary world, produces less waste. Lastly, chickpeas have become a staple in my diet. As long as I have a can available, they’re found in my assembly line salads as added protein (refer to post #24 for image). Once rinsed and/or roasted they can also be eaten as a snack. Although it’s been brought to my attention that chickpeas
Do you know the ingredients of the medicines you are taking? Maybe you don’t, but you can easily google what goes into those blood pressure pills or that cough syrup. Modern medicine must be thoroughly tested and approved by the FDA and complete a lengthy process including: discovery/concept, preclinical research, clinical research, FDA review, and finally, FDA post-market safety monitoring. This was not the case if you had an ailment in the 19th century; anyone could put together a concoction that promised to cure whatever your problem was. Some of these glass vials worked, and some didn’t, but either way, in the days before chain-store pharmacies, men like Chauncey Van Valkenburgh and Peter Howard could get you what you needed. There were several pharmacies along Main Street in Poughkeepsie during the 19th century. These stores, like modern day CVS and Walgreens, sold much more than just over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions; they also sold building materials like window glass and paints. These druggists were sometimes the only option for finding the cure for what ailed you, especially for those who might not be able to afford/or didn’t trust a doctor. Instead, you could put your trust in the hands of the man
Charles N. Arnold - Worker of Wood and Politics There were many prominent men who left their mark on the City of Poughkeepsie. Some gave us great institutions like Matthew Vassar and his college, and his nephews Matthew Jr. and Guy Vassar with their hospital and institute. Albert Tower had his iron industry and also contributed to the community by helping to build Christ Episcopal Church amongst other buildings. Some of these men sought political office, while others only hoped to make great changes with their money. Charles N. Arnold decided that he could do both as well as serve on any board you could think of. Charles Nathan Arnold was born in Poughkeepsie on June 8, 1838, to parents Nathan and Mary Arnold. The family were members of the Hicksite branch of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and as a result he supported the work of local abolitionists. His father Nathan and Uncle William were the founders of a lumber business, which he took over in 1854. The lumber yard was located on the waterfront near where the Poughkeepsie skate park is today. Besides providing lumber and other building supplies, Charles also sold handmade chairs. In his younger years he
by Bridget O'Donnell Cool fact, according to the Mayo Clinic on Osteoporosis, throughout your lifetime the bone in your skeleton is continuously removed and replaced by new bone in a process called bone remodeling. Bone remodeling repairs damage caused by wear and tear and, ensures that enough calcium and other minerals circulate in the bloodstream to carry out many bodily functions. Remodeling also occurs in response to physical activity. In other words, your skeleton adapts to carrying heavier loads and absorbs greater amounts of stress by forming new, stronger bone. (Did anyone else just think of Wolverine from Marvel Comic’s X-Men?) Inevitably, however, a person’s bone density will slowly decline with age. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle your bones may weaken and atrophy earlier and, in some cases, result in bone disease like Osteoporosis and/or osteoarthritis. Although bone disease is more common in women, it can and does affect men too, though often at a later age. Factors that can influence a person’s bone density include: heredity, sex, race and ethnicity, diet, physical activity, hormone production, medical conditions and lifestyle. To help offset some of those factors, it’s important to try to build strong bone density during childhood. Fortunately,
Charles McCabe: A Lifetime of Service Have you ever committed a crime? Have you ever had an interaction with a police officer? Even if you haven’t, you could agree that it’s not easy to be a cop. It takes a certain personality to want to uphold the law in any situation. It also takes guts to walk into dangerous conditions. You also have to know every nook and cranny of the terrain you serve and to understand its people. Imagine doing that in the days before 911, with walkie-talkies and video surveillance all over the place! One man managed to do it for over 30 years and earned the respect of everyone, even the people he arrested. Charles McCabe was born in 1859 into a Catholic household here in Poughkeepsie. His parents came from Ireland, and he regularly partook in the activities at his church, Saint Peters. His first job was working on the railroad as a brakeman, where it was said he made a study of “tramps” as they made their way up to Poughkeepsie from New York City. He joined the Poughkeepsie Police Department in August of 1883 around the same time the Board of Police Commissioners was established.
George Sherman and the Doll Babies! Imagine you are so devoted to a cause that you make a great change in order to accommodate it. For example, you change your appearance in order to fit into a role. Some actors will lose or gain weight, or shave off all of their hair in order to play a character. Well, it appears that one local man decided to make a great change in his appearance just to blend into a role, though not all of his associates felt the need to do the same. He apparently took his charity work quite seriously, or something. George H. Sherman was known throughout Poughkeepsie as a very successful banker. Sherman was born on June 2, 1856 in the town of Washington here in Dutchess County. He came to Poughkeepsie when he was 21 with the hope of finding gainful employment. George began his banking career as a clerk at the Farmers and Manufacturers Bank, where he would continue working for the rest of his life. By the time he was 36, he was promoted to the title of cashier, which was a major role in the bank at the time. He married Alice Pease, a
Gardens in Poughkeepsie Are you interested in gardening? Do you enjoy sowing the seeds and watching as things grow? Have you experienced the joys of harvesting fresh flowers and vegetables? Or perhaps you are one of those who can’t keep a plant alive for very long, and would rather just admire someone else’s green thumb by taking a garden tour. Either way, May is a good time to get out there and start your plantings or take a walk through the irises. So let’s take a look at some gardens that were once a part of Poughkeepsie’s landscape, and hopefully this will inspire you to get out there and start your own. Back in the era before refrigerators and ice boxes, the home garden was more than just a thing of beauty to enjoy, it was essential to life. Vegetable gardens would be planted and harvested and then the bounty placed in jars to be saved throughout the winter. We can see in some of our photographs taken by Frank B. Howard, that there were plenty of backyard vegetable gardens within the city in the 1920’s. To have a flower garden or an ornamental garden was certainly a luxury. Some of
by Bridget O'Donnell While April showers do bring some edible flowers, foraging takes a little research. Many plants have medicinal properties if prepared correctly but it’s important to verify what parts of the plant can be eaten or served. Be aware that SOME PARTS OF PLANTS ARE POISONOUS if they’re eaten OR touched. If that didn’t totally deter you but you haven’t curated a private garden of Edible Plants yet, choose where to source them carefully. The florist probably isn’t the best place to do your grocery shopping. To keep flowers looking beautiful indoors chemicals are often used to maintain their shelf-life, literally. The vast sea of clover or dandelion you rode past on you last bike ride may be equally disconcerting. The flowers you see along the side of the road may be exposed to car exhaust, high volumes of pedestrian traffic and yes, some of those greens wear byproducts from [wo]man’s best friend. Woof! If you’re not quite ready to experiment with Cooking (Flowers), you might want to try using an alternate Flour. To lightly dust the surface, flour can be made from teff, buckwheat, sorghum, whole and ancient grains. Other naturally gluten-free, non-wheat ingredients including nuts like coconut
Schrauth’s Sons: Poughkeepsie’s Ice Cream Makers “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” It is getting to be that time of year where we are eager for that delicious cold snack: ice cream! In these modern times we have many options to choose from when it comes to deciding where and how to get our ice cream. At the grocery store the frozen section has everything from store brands to the trusted favorites like Friendly’s and Ben & Jerry’s. If you are a true local, then you know that Stewarts has some of the best ice cream around. We can even make our own ice cream at home with a little bit of salt, ice, cream, sugar, and flavoring. For almost a century, Poughkeepsie had its own ice cream manufacturer with an amazing shop for all of your confectionary needs. The company began as a humble bakery owned and operated by Jacob Schrauth, who at the age of 20, came over from Germany and worked his way up as a baker’s apprentice in New York City, before eventually operating a bakery of his own here in 1866. By the late 1890’s, both of Jacob’s sons had entered into
by Bridget O'Donnell One morning we unanimously agreed our coffee was too strong. Since that day, I’ve cut back to grinding almost half the beans for the same amount of water, resulting in a more palatable cup. A silver lining to this solution is that it indirectly saves money, too. The week following our small change happened to coincide with Money Smart Week. In lieu of National Financial Literacy Month, New York State sent the public library assorted materials suggesting a few ways residents might save money. Tangentially, and/or maybe because of this coincidence, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much we spend on groceries. Aware of continuously rising prices (for everything!) I was determined to try to cut our meal expense and prep time while also sustaining the quality of food we eat. As I looked for insight into smarter spending habits, Googling ‘how much X-number of people should spend on groceries per month’, bargain shopping and budgeting, I’m pretty sure I chose this month’s cookbook for its title. Don’t judge, it’s never too late to learn how to start saving money. Title of Cookbook: Five-Ingredient Dinners: 100+ Fast, Flavorful Meals. Author of Cookbook: America's Test Kitchen. What prompted you
Percival Lloyd If you haven't had a chance to attend one of our Academy Street Walking Tours, your first chance for the season will be May 20 (be sure to check your Rotunda newsletter and sign up when registration begins, as spots fill up quickly). The tour takes patrons on a journey down this historic and architecturally significant street, where we discuss some of the interesting characters that once called it home. Since we can not cover every house on the street in one brief walking tour, we thought we would mention one of the beautiful homes that we don’t see on the tour in this week’s blog post. Designed in 1900 by Percival Lloyd, 151 Academy Street is not as old as some of the others, but it certainly has character. Lloyd was born here in Poughkeepsie on January 28, 1872 and studied at the Riverview Military Academy. He began his career around 1891 by working as a draftsman in the firm of one of the city’s finest architects, Arnout Cannon, Jr. He was no doubt inspired by the works that Cannon had created during the course of his career, and it didn’t take long before Lloyd was made a
Ellen C. Roosevelt: An Early Legend of Tennis It’s Women’s History Month, so we thought we would spotlight a local lady who inspired young women to get out and play tennis in the 19th century. Even if you don’t know anything about tennis, you’ve probably heard of some of the big names of female players today, like Venus and Serena Williams, or Billie Jean King. These women are powerhouses on the court, but they have the benefit of wearing modern day shoes and light attire. Now, if you were hitting the tennis ball around in 1890, you played on grass, your shoes had a bit more of a heel, and you wore things like a corset and a long skirt. Ellen C. Roosevelt not only accomplished this feat, but she won her share of championships. Ellen was born into wealth in 1868 as the daughter of John and Ellen Roosevelt. Ellen and her older sister Grace learned how to play tennis in the 1870s after their father had a tennis court built on their family’s estate. They lived in Rosedale, a beautiful mansion located on the border of Hyde Park and the Town of Poughkeepsie on the North Road. Both of
by Bridget O'Donnell In 2021 four libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS) piloted a grant-funded service called “The Library of Local.” The service focused on gardening, foraging, and making resources available such as seeds, curated books, and programming offered by local experts. It has been recognized as an invaluable asset by providing knowledge to augment the communities’ ability to increase their own food security. Despite the pandemic, the service has blossomed and is now being offered by 15 member libraries. If this piques your curiosity, try searching the keyword “tools” in the online catalog then narrow those results by format to “equipment.” Poughkeepsie Public Library District (PPLD) is hoping to plant roots with a similar program. At this time, our new Seed Sowing Center offers kits with five packets of vegetables, annual flowers, herbs or a mixed grab bag. Read about the burgeoning service available in PPLD’s Library of Things. Keep in mind not all programs are organized the same way. This free service is a work in progress with creative ways for its evolution already in conversation. Imagine the possibilities… Title of Cookbook: Indoor Kitchen Gardening: Turn Your Home into a Year-Round Vegetable Garden. Author of Cookbook: Elizabeth Millard.
The Stove: Center of the Home If you enjoy cooking or baking, then you understand the importance of having a good stove. We live in a time of modern conveniences and technologies that help make our cooking experiences easier. We have so many gadgets to choose from: crockpots, air-fryers, toaster ovens, electric and gas stoves, induction stoves, various forms of outdoor grills and (for lazy folks) microwaves. These devices are designed to cook our food faster, or with little effort so that we can enjoy our meals and carry on with the rest of our day. Now imagine living in the 19th century. Whether you were a housewife, a servant, or a cook in a restaurant, making the daily meals would not just keep you busy, it would take up much of your day. Prior to 1790, households relied mostly on open hearths or large indoor fireplaces, with bake ovens cut into the brickwork alongside. Smoke in the household was a common annoyance until the invention of the kitchen range by Sir Benjamin Thompson. Thompson discovered that by adding a choke to the chimney, the smoke would exit the chimney faster while the heat lingered longer, thus changing the chimney design.