Hudson Valley Project: Gardiner

Betty Moran

Betty Moran

Joe Katz

Joe Katz

Gladys Dubois

Gladys Dubois

Annie O’neill

Annie O’neill


Launched in 2006, the goal of the Hudson Valley History Project: Gardiner is to preserve the personal histories of Gardiner's longest-standing residents. Each of these story subjects has lived in Gardiner for at least 50 years. The project’s coordinators have enlisted the services of local writers to document and edit these special stories. The coordinators hope to broaden the scope of the project as time goes on.

Gardiner Library Board President Barbara Sides, Town Librarian Peg Lotvin, Gardiner Library Assistant Ken Greene, the Gardiner Historical Society, and local historian Carleton Mabee, are all in support of the project and consider it to be a major contribution to the Local History section of the new library, when it is complete.

The Gardiner Library is both the clearing house for the project, and the repository for the finished stories. Writers are provided with a briefing packet containing a list of potential interview questions drawn from the Library of Congress's oral history website,, and other relevant information.


Gladys Dubois by Peter Beuf 

Gladys DuBois looks much younger than her age would suggest: she is imperially slim and moves gracefully.  When we met, she was dressed in a natty dark sweater and pressed slacks, with jewelry both elegant and understated.  Her taste was reflected in the décor of her house, a country colonial furnished with comfortable antiques meant to be used.  Paintings and pictures decorated the walls and a grandfather clock kept time with a comforting rhythm. ... >>>> more

Bernice Aumick by Patty Parmalee

Throughout southern Ulster County, there are streets named after her relatives - and now she lives on Aumick Road, named after her husband’s family. Of course, when she married him in 1940 and moved to Gardiner, it was just called Number One Road. In fact, as Burnice recalls, “No one ever used the name ‘Gardiner.’ The place didn’t really have a name. It wasn’t Gardiner, it was just the farm at the foot of the mountain, out in the country, near Tillson Lake.” ... >>>> more

Dot Decker by Ray Smith 

When asked what her parents were like, Dot responds with a single word, "lovable," and says she wishes she had them back. Her father died at sixty-nine while her mother lived to be seventy-nine, and thought she would make it to eighty. "She thought it would be on the tombstone," Dot says, "eighty – and she thought she was the oldest in the family." Dot looks off and smiles, "She didn't know how old I could get. I can't believe it either."  Dot was born in 1916, and is now 91... >>>> more

Annie O’neill by Lew Eisenberg 

Starting when they were four and five, Annie and her sister Nina, who is 14 months younger, were sent to camps during the summer months. One of these was a favorite with their Upper West Side after-school group: Camp Viller Vallen in Gardiner. It was at the top of Shaft Road in the 50's, at the intersection of North Mountain Road, Annie said. It was a dirt road at the time. One of my big thrills was when I drove down Mountain Road on my father's lap. It was an unpaved dirt road back then... >>>>more

Joe Katz by Jenny Wonderling 

People would ask, If you have all those chickens how come no eggs which gave me a great idea. There used to be an egg auction in Poughkeepsie. I had a Model-A Ford truck and I would drive over every Wednesday. I'd fill the truck with tiny pullet eggs, no more than a couple of inches long. These are the first eggs a chicken lays. I bought cartons at GLF, where Kiss My Face is now in Gardiner, and I individually made them into dozen packs. Then I made a new sign for the road: Eggs - Three Dozen for a Dollar. I used to have a line of cars ... >>>> more

Betty Moran by Wendy Rudder 

The farm life also provided occasions for some fun and whimsy now and then, such as a clothing fad that swept the area when she was a teenager. The Gardiner Feed Mill, (which stood next to the railroad, just north of the Main St, in the center of the hamlet) provided a continuous supply of discarded muslin feed sacks, which were put to great use by many of the local girls. These sacks were already decorated in lively colors and patterns ...  >>>> more

Joan Decker by Carleton Mabee

Joan Wells Decker grew up with her parents, she recalls, in Gardiner’s Ireland Corners neighborhood. The Wells home was a little house located on the west side of Route 208, four houses south of the long-established Ireland Corners Hotel. Like much of Gardiner at that time, their home was surrounded by extensive open land, which is very different from the area’s wooded character now. >>>> more

Vivian Beatty by Ken Greene

She moved to Gardiner with her husband, Joe, in 1951. They had already been married seven years; Vivian was 27 and Joe was 29. They were poor, wanted land, and knew they could be self-sufficient. "We were born farmer’s children," she says, "and we both loved the land." As she speaks, Vivian’s voice crackles with an energy that contrasts with the matter of fact tone of many of her statements. >>>> more

Lillian Schoonmaker by Jenny Wonderling

The first thing that would strike anyone about Lillian Schoonmaker is her hearty, contagious laughter. She has an amazing sense of humor about life, which, perhaps, has been her secret ingredient in becoming not merely ninety-four years old, but a ninety-four-year-old who still mows her own lawn, cleans her own house and blows her own snow: Lillian Schoonmaker simply defies time. >>>> more

Bill Conner by Ray Smith

And so, the Conner family arrived in mid-winter 1939, driving out in an uncle’s 1938 Buick. They got stuck in the snow a half-mile from their destination, the Schoonmakers’ camp, which was really a boarding house where tunnel workers without local residences stayed. The Conner family, parents and four children, of whom Bill was next to the oldest, stayed at the camp for just a few days until they found a home in one of the two small houses which still stand today on the northwest corner of Benton Corners. >>>> more


We would like to thank the following talented writers who have made time in their busy schedules to interview and write the personal stories of longest standing residents. These collective memories constitute the history of Gardiner in the 20th century:

Wendy Rudder, Jenny Wonderling, Lew Eisenberg, Peter Beuf, Helen Zimmerman, Ken Greene, Doris Chorny, Fred Mayo, Annie O'Neill, Patty Parmolee, Carl Zatz, Ray Smith, Bill Connor

We would also like to thank Ray Smith and Barbara Petruzzelli for their editing services. Mostly, we would like to thank all our story subjects for being willing to share their lives with us, and Barbara Sides, Peg Lotvin, and Ken Greene at the Gardiner Library for giving this project a home. The growing volume of personal histories will be permanently available at the Library and will be published in successive volumes as the stories accumulate.


Writers, editors and Story Subjects who would like to participate should contact the the Gardiner Library at 845 255-1255 or A prototype "kit" is available for use by towns that would like to model similar efforts on the Gardiner project.