Horseback

Red Hook Then & Now

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More than 14,500 cars now pass through the stoplight in the center of the village of Red Hook every day, according to Mayor Ed Blundell. Even for a town of more than 11,000 residents, that’s a lot of cars.

Yet there was a time when dirt roads were more the norm in Red Hook and horses were almost as common – and unremarkable a sight – as the ubiquitous black-and-white Holsteins that then filled the landscape.  That was before the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.

From the late 1800s until “the bridge” opened in 1957, Red Hook’s population was remarkably stable, hovering around 4,000. There were cars, of course, but you knew who “they” were: Mike Odak, the mailman, on the rounds in his 1947 Chevy coupe; Phil Newmark (of Feller-Newmark Road), king-of-the-road in his big Buick; the farmer-brothers Bob and Harry Teator, going slowly to-and-fro in their Ford pickups.

And of course, the drivers knew you – and your dog and horse, too. And everyone waved to each other, windows down, hand extended.  (Air conditioning, tinted windows and high speeds were yet to come.)

Postwar America’s love affair with the Wild West was in full television flower, with every little cowgirl and boy a would-be Dale Evans, Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Just like the posse above, posing for the camera in 1951 on Hal, a former New York City police horse living out his retirement years on Echo Valley Farm

More than 14,500 cars now pass through the stoplight in the center of the village of Red Hook every day, according to Mayor Ed Blundell. Even for a town of more than 11,000 residents, that’s a lot of cars.

Yet there was a time when dirt roads were more the norm in Red Hook and horses were almost as common – and unremarkable a sight – as the ubiquitous black-and-white Holsteins that then filled the landscape.  That was before the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.

From the late 1800s until “the bridge” opened in 1957, Red Hook’s population was remarkably stable, hovering around 4,000. There were cars, of course, but you knew who “they” were: Mike Odak, the mailman, on the rounds in his 1947 Chevy coupe; Phil Newmark (of Feller-Newmark Road), king-of-the-road in his big Buick; the farmer-brothers Bob and Harry Teator, going slowly to-and-fro in their Ford pickups.

And of course, the drivers knew you – and your dog and horse, too. And everyone waved to each other, windows down, hand extended.  (Air conditioning, tinted windows and high speeds were yet to come.)

Postwar America’s love affair with the Wild West was in full television flower, with every little cowgirl and boy a would-be Dale Evans, Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Just like the posse above, posing for the camera in 1951 on Hal, a former New York City police horse living out his retirement years on Echo Valley Farm.

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