Cornerstone Traveler

Writing in New Patlz


A BIG HELLO to all my readers of this exciting and thought provoking issue of this
bi-weekly newsletter, The CCORNERSTONE TRAVELER. Also available online at

mid-Hudson Valley news: I have written this before in this newsletter, but I will repeat what I had written previously in the December issues of this newsletter.
In Newburyport Mass., where I lived for over twenty-six years there was always First Night celebrations a week or two before Christmas. This celebration was usually held on a Saturday before Christmas. The stores and shops were open to past midnight o the First Night celebration. They had sales on the items they usually sold ad they had apple cider, eggnog, eggnog with rum and/or wine. I remember it was always a grand ol’ time in Newburyport on this special night. Though one had to be careful of the amount of eggnog with rum or wine consumed. This was such a grand and special night that people for surrounding towns would come to this celebration. It was so much fun that other towns and cities north of Boston would have their own First Night celebrations. Did Newburyport start this celebration? I don’t think so, Newburyport was just the first city/town on the coast of Massachusetts to have it and other towns/ cities copied what was done in Newburyport.
I can tell and assure everyone reading this that First Night in Newburyport was always a grand ol’ time and I miss it terribly.

observations: Well O’Reilley did it again on the O’REilley Factor on Fox news. While other major media newscasts broadcast Pearl Harbor rememberances by veterans of WWII. O’Reilley could only broadcast his criticisms of President Obama and liberal Democrats (which I am one) O’Reilley went so far as to call the president incompetent in regards to the fight with ISIS
The President has said time and time again that he gets his info from his military commanders on the best way to fight ISIS. Where does O’Reilley get his info from? Retired military officers , no higher in rank than Lt. Colonel. The question remains are these military officers called upon by O’Reilley because he knows they will give him the garbage he uses to criticize the President? (Whom he doesn’t like because he is a racist.)

sports: NFL: The Giants are still in the playoff hunt with their win over the Dolphins Sunday.
The Jets are also in the playoff hunt after trouncing the Titans this Sunday.
NBA: The Knicks are still in second place in the Eastern Conference of the NBA with a record of 11-14 and 5 games back.
The Nets are in third palce in the same conference with a record of 7-16 and 8 games back.
NHL: The islanders are 1 point back in the Metropolitan Division of the NHL with a record of 18-8-5.
The Rangers are 2 points back in this division with a record of 18-9-4.

other: as with all previous issues of this newsletter, everything printed here is either copyright protected or copyright pending.
The history of P&G’s follows this newsletter from 1900 when the building was first constructed to about the mid 1930’s.
The short story included in this issue is called The CHRISTMAS ELF. Hope you like it.

Thank-you – Rik McGuire

The History of P&G’s from the Beginning

Travel back more than a century to the spring of 1900 as builder John H. Hasbrouck and his men construct a 50′ by 28′ building on the site of the current P&G’s Restaurant. Look around and begin to imagine. The first floor features a fountain with water softly falling into a cobblestone basin. The exotic effect is enhanced with darting goldfish and blooming water lilies. Palms set liberally throughout the room, provide an air of privacy for those seated at the groups of small tables. Patrons, dressed in their finest, sit chatting, sometimes courting and enjoying the establishments fine refreshments.
The upper story is a promenade, opened to a full view of sunset over the Shawngunk Mountains. Live music gently eases you from afternoon into evening. Welcome to the ambiance and hospitality of the Casino.
The Casino’s owner, Mr. Steen, had correctly envisioned the areas many tourists, summer boarders and trolley passengers stopping to enjoy the unique features of his establishment. The terminal station for the trolley line from Highland was located just across Main Street. It is said that Steen patterned the Casino after the famous Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.
On June 1, 1900 the Casino was officially opened. That evening “a large number of people enjoyed the ice cream, music and the lovely mountains views.” According to the New Paltz Independent newspaper. Music was provided by a band which included a piano and several other instruments. The Casino soon became famous for Saturday night dances held on the second floor of the open pavilion. It was decorated with flowers and vines suspended from the rafters. The crowds were so large that special late trolley cars were run to accommodate the guests and take the orchestra back to Poughkeepsie.
The electric power shut down at midnight, according to Independent writer Delia Shaw “…the time of closing and the departure of the last trolley (run by electricity) had to be reckoned with, but as was often the case, several folks ‘Missed the Last Trolley’… seems between intermissions the fellows would walk their girls down the street where numerous straw thatched summer houses were located on the banks of the Wallkill River and they were so preoccupied with making love by the light of the silvery moon that they forgot everything.” Shaw continued. “Saturday Nights In New Paltz Became A Legend! There was not a single hitching post available, nor an inch of space under any of the sheds of the five local hotels. The Casino drew people from surrounding towns and they came via hay loads and 4 seated carriages, while some men even walked and carried their dancing shoes. ‘Little Larry,’ the shoeshine fellow, did a landslide business on Sat. Nights! As did all the merchants and the stores open ‘til 9 p.m.”
By 1921 the Casino had changed hands and names, becoming the Blue Crane Inn. Ads of the era read. “The big Night at the Blue Crane Inn/Dancing Every Wednesday and Saturday Evenings/ In the Chinese Hall-Good Jazzy Music.” The cornerstone of nightlife in New Paltz continued to thrive.
In 1925, after 28 Years of service, the Highland to New Paltz trolley company folded. The demise of the trolley business and the afford ability of the automobile meant peoples outings were no longer confined to the trolley’s narrow corridor. They could drive to any village hotel, restaurant, or scenic spot that caught their fancy. Indeed, New Paltz and the Blue Crane Inn lost their captive audience. The Inn, however, continued to accommodate people well into the 1930’s. Other establishments came and went until 1947 when it became Pat and Georges and ultimately was nicknamed the P&G’s that welcomes everybody.


Everyone was seated at the kitchen table, eating the last of their breakfast of eggs, home fires and toast. The father finished his breakfast first. He shoveled the last of his eggs and home fries into his mouth. He drained the last of his orange juice then sipped his coffee as he scowled at the latest letter from the national financial institution demanding immediate payment on the equity loan he had taken out to keep the family farm going, so he could pay himself and the two local boys who worked on the farm.
The farm had been in his family for countless generations.
“Damn it!” He muttered. “The bank sold our loan to a national financial institution and this financial institution is chuckling because of the $50,000 loan that I am two months behind in payments, they’re threatening foreclosure so a $50,000 investment that will net them over a million dollars because our land is prime land for real estate. I can’t be blamed if a blight devastated our corn, wheat and barley fields. The only way I was able to scrape up the money for the loan payments was through the milk of our dairy herd. On most loans there is a window for devastating problems. But this financial institution, Occidental Finance has a clause in the loan application that you needed a magnifying glass to read that said . . . Acts of God are not an excuse for non-payment.”
The farmers wife, Betty, could only nod, “I know my dear. But we have always been able to get through the hard times.” She said.
The father, Big John, looked out the kitchen window. He saw it would be another relatively warm day for mid December. He saw that the large red thermometer outside the window was showing mid forties temperature. “John-John.” He said to his son, who was barely eight years old, but had helped on the family farm since he was five years old. “John-John.” He

repeated. “Since we are barley scrapping by with what little we have. You are to take the herd out of the barn to the south pasture so they can graze. That way I can save their feed for the colder months.”
“Will there be enough for them to feed on dad?” John-John asked.
Big John laughed. “There should be more than enough. I planted winter rye in the south pasture and winter rye grows in the coldest weather, even when covered with snow.”
John-John grabbed a medium weight jacket from the hook in the parlor, pulled it on and made sure he had his gloves in his pockets. “I’m off dad.” He said as he trudged out the back door.
“Will you be warm enough, son?” His mother asked.
John-John nodded. “If I get cold, I’ll just stand by one cow and warm my hands, like I have done a million times before.”
Big John laughed. “That’s my son. Make me proud boy.”
John-John walked lightly to the rear of the barn that held the cows and one bull. The other bull they had was castrated to fatten it up for slaughter in the spring.
It took all of his strength in his 4’6″ frame to pull the doors open. He then opened the gates to the stalls of one cow and a bull . He led the Bruno, the bull, out of the stall and slapped his rump. “Go.” He said to the bull. He then went to Betsy’s stall, led her out and slapped her rump. “Go Betsy.” He yelled. “Follow Bruno.”
Betsy went docilely up behind Bruno and followed. John-John then went to the other fifty stalls, opened and then slapped the rumps of the cows to follow Betsy and Bruno. They

all trod slowly to the corral in the rear of the barn.
After all of the herd was released into the corral, John-John went to the gate that led to the south pasture. He opened the gate, went to Bruno, grabbed the ring of the collar around it’s neck and pulled. “Let’s go Bruno.” He said. “There is good grazing land ahead.” Bruno almost panted with anticipation and followed the lead of John-John. Behind Bruno came Betsy and behind her came the other cows in rows of two, almost like a military march.
The march to the south pasture took less than fifteen minutes. When the herd got to the south pasture, they gobbled the winter rye greedily. When thirsty, they went to the stream that gurgled though the south pasture. John-John didn’t have much to do except make certain that none of the herd left the pasture so he had time to think of the upcoming Christmas. Though He had given up on the idea of Santa Clause, he still wrote to the mythological creature for his Christmas list, just in case he really existed. As he watched the herd graze on the winter rye, he thought of the Christmas list he had written up.
He wrote to Santa that he wanted a new ten speed bike, a Sony Play Station III. ( that wasn’t a big wish on his list, but he wanted one because all his friends had one.) And he wanted a pony. He knew that the presents under the Christmas tree would be what his parents could afford and nothing more. But still he wished.
As he thought of Christmas and what he wished for, a light of green and red appeared at the edge of the pasture that he naturally had to explore.
He got to where he thought the light had shined from and saw nothing there. “Probably a reflection of sun light,” He thought.

Suddenly a small creature, not more than three feet tall appeared before him. This creature, though human like, was not human as he was to learn.
“I am a Christmas elf.” The creature told John-John. “I am here to grant your Christmas wishes if they are good wishes.”
“Good Wishes?” John-John asked.
“Yes. Good wishes that are best for you and those close to you.” The Christmas elf explained.
He put his fist to his chin. and thought. He wanted the new Play Station, but he didn’t even have Play Station one. He did want a new ten speed bike and more important he wanted a pony for himself. Then he remembered what his father wanted that was more important than his wants.
“I want my father to keep his farm.” He said, wished.
“You have chosen well.” The elf said. “And I will even grant you your wishes and desires.”
“It is enough that my father keeps his farm.” John-John said
“Granted.” The Christmas elf said and disappeared.
Suddenly John-John felt relieved and he had no idea why. He let the herd graze for another two hours until he knew they were satisfied. He slapped the rump of Bruno and led him back to the corral then to the barn. Betsy followed his lead as did the rest of the herd. John-John made certain that all the stalls for the herd were shut and the animals had enough for the night, he went back to the house.

When John-John got to the house, he saw his father and mother laughing and hugging each other.
“I told you we were always able to scrape by honey and we just did it again.” Betty told Big John.
John-John was confused. He had never seen his parents so happy as they were in front of him. “What’s going on?” He asked.
His father turned around and asked. “Is the herd in the barn and did they feed well my son?” After John-John nodded the affirmative, Big John pulled a small slip of paper from his pocket.
John-John looked at it and asked. “What’s that?”
Big John smiled. “This slip of paper I got yesterday at Hanks Drug store in town when I was picking up aspirin and a few other things. As I was paying for the items, I saw behind the clerks head that New York’s Mega-millions jackpot had an estimated jackpot of over fifty million and I had an extra buck so I asked for a quick pick on Mega-millions, thinking if I even won a small amount we could keep the farm for a few months longer. But as it turned out we won the whole kit and caboodle. Which means we will get close to a million dollars a year for the next twenty-six years.”
“That’s great dad!” John-John yelled, “The Christmas elf pulled it off.” He said without thinking of how his parents would react to what he had seen in the south pasture.
“Christmas elf?” The father asked with his mother who had a worried look in her face. “What Christmas elf?”

He stammered not knowing how he would explain a mythological creature like a Christmas elf who, until that morning, he didn’t even know existed. He decided the best course of action was to tell the truth and he did, hoping his parents wouldn’t ground him for making up stories. “When I took the cows to the south pasture, I just stood off to the side making sure that none wandered off. As I watched over the cows, I thought I saw a green and red light flash on the opposite edge of the pasture. I decided I should check this light out. And when I got there the light was gone, but there was this little man, not more than three feet tall, dressed in green leggings and a red shirt with a faerie hat on his head. He said he would grant me one Christmas wish as long as it was a good Christmas wish. I knew what I wrote in my letter to Santa, but I remembered your anger at getting close to losing the farm. So I asked the Christmas elf that my wish was for you to keep the farm. But that was only two hours ago. That elf must have some powerful magic to pull it off so easily.” He finished looking, at his father apprehensively.
His father didn’t say anything for a moment then said. “Come here John-John and let me hold you.”
He went to his fathers arms that wrapped around him protectively. “I don’t know wether I should believe you, my son, but I am happy you told the Christmas elf that your wish was for me to keep the farm. And now I can. As soon as I get our first check from the lottery office, I am going to the Occidental Finance Service in the nearby city and pay off the loan in full.”
“I’m glad dad.” John-John said. “Can I go with you?”
“Sure, but why?”
“I want to see the faces of those evil men who were going to take your farm away from

you,” He explained.
His father chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right. I can’t wait to see their faces too.”

The next day, John-John went with his father to the Lottery office to claim their prize. As it turned out the total take from this lottery bonanza was just over $900,000 after taxes. His father took the check after he filled out all the forms and placed it protectively in his wallet. They then drove to their bank and deposited the check in the checking account. The teller gasped at the size of the deposit.
They went a local diner had a fine lunch and left after his father tipped the waitress handsomely.
They drove to another nearby city to the office of Occidental. Big John told the receptionist in the lobby that they were there to pay off a loan. He gave her his name and loan number where they receptionist called someone to tell him that a loan was to be paid off in full. She told them to take a seat and a person would be with them shortly.
Five minutes later a man, Mr. Daniels, in a business suit came to where they were seated and said. “My receptionist tells me that you are here to pay off your loan in full.”
“Yes. That is correct.” Big John said to the man.
“The whole loan amount?” He asked.
“The whole thing.” The father said . The man shook his head, wandering. How can you do this?” He asked. “Considering your farm was devastated by a blight?”
“It was a Christmas elf.” Big John explained.

“A Christmas elf?”
“Yes. My son found a creature who said he was a Christmas elf. And this elf promised my son any wish he desired and I won the New York Mega-millions. So I am here to pay off my loan.
Mr. Daniels motioned with his hand. “Come to my office and we will clear up everything up with your loan.”
The father and son sat on chairs facing Mr. Daniels behind a mahogany desk. He had a folder that he laid out on his desk and studied it. After a few minutes he keyed his desk top computer a few strokes. “According to the computer the principle on your loan is $49, 568 plus two late payment penalties of $1,000 each and a pre-payment penalty of $10,000. So to pay of the loan will cost you $61,658.”
“Pre-payment penalty?” The father almost shouted. “First you penalize me because I missed two payments and then you penalize again if I pay it off. Where is it in my application that there is a pre-payment penalty?” He demanded.
The man pulled the application from the folder, flipped several pages and pointed to some type words that couldn’t be more than a four point font.
Big John looked at it and said. “I can barely read that without a magnifying glass. So why don’t you read it for me?”
The man looked at the script then at Big John. “I don’t have to read it because your signature is right there under the clause.” He said pointing to Big John’s signature.
“Humor me and read it.” Big John said.

The man put the application close to his face then pulled it away slowly. “I can’t.” He admitted.
As he was trying to read the fine print of the application, Big John pulled his check book out of his pocket and wrote a check for $61,568. He slid the check across the desk to Mr. Daniels, when he admitted he couldn’t read the clause.
After all the forms were signed that Big John had indeed paid the loan off in full. Mr. Daniels said. “Before you leave, I have to confirm with your bank that you have the funds available to cover this check.”
John-john started to giggle and Big John said. “Go right ahead. I just deposited my first check from the lottery a couple of hours ago.
When Daniels confirmed that Big John did indeed have the needed funds in his checking account, he said. “If Occidental can be of financial assistance to you, come and see me.”
“Don’t hold your breath.” Big John said as he and his son walked out of the office.
“Where to now dad?” John-John asked. “Home?”
Big John shook his head. “No. First I want to go to Harrys Farm Supply and pick up some needed feed and seed.”
“Will you have the money to pay for it?” John-John asked.
“Yeah, Harry is going to be surprised when I pay in cash and not on credit.” Big John laughed.
When they got to Harry’s, Big John met another farmer who was devastated by the same blight as had hit his farm. Harry was explaining to Dick that he was way over his credit limit at the store.
“But Harry. You know I will pay off the full amount next year with the harvest.” Dick begged.
“I’m sorry Dick.” Harry said. “But half the valley owes me money big time and I am stretched to pay my suppliers.”
“What do you need?” Big John asked Dick.
Dick looked to Big John. “I need parts for my tractor that broke down in my east field. I can’t even get it back to the barn. I need about five hundred dollars worth of parts for my tractor.”
Big John pulled his checkbook out and wrote a check for Dick. “Here take this and pay me when you can.”
“How?” Dick asked.
Big John pulled his son to him. “My son made a deal with a Christmas elf. And this elf awarded me with much needed money and I have enough to help you out.”
“Thanks Big John.” Dick said as he turned to Harry. “Harry? Can I get those engine parts I need?”
“Sure thing. Give me a minute to pull them out.”
Dick left with the parts he needed for his tractor, waving a happy salute to Big John. He laughed. “Thanks Big John.”
“Merry Christmas Dick.” Big John said and turned to Harry pulling a list from his pocket. “Harry. I need this for my farm. And total my credit that I owe and I will pay it all.”

Harry looked at the list and did some mental calculations. “Big John, the total will be over two thousand dollars.”
Big John pulled his check book and said. “Just fill my order and I will pay for everything.”
After Big John and his son piled everything into the pickup truck, they drove home to the farm.
At the house, they piled the sacks of feed and seed into the barn and went to the house to enjoy their new good fortune.
They were in the living room, enjoying the warmth of the pot belly stove when John-John said. “Dad, that was awfully nice of you to help out that farmer friend of yours. But why?”
Big John chuckled. “I came close to losing my farm, but my son who was granted a wish from a Christmas elf, didn’t think of himself, but of his family for the wish. I thought that if my son can be that giving then I must show the same to others who suffered as we did.” He said. “I know Dick will pay me back when he has the funds so I do not worry. Even if he doesn’t, it makes me feel good that I helped out someone who was in as dire straights as we were this morning.”
“The Christmas elf will be happy with how you helped your farmer friend.” John-John said.
Hi father nodded. “I hope so and I want you to take me to the south pasture and show me where you met with this Christmas elf.”
“I will dad.” John-John said. “But I don’t know if the Christmas elf will be there. He

just seemed to appear out of nowhere and for no reason at all.”
“I hope he does because I want to thank him for his magic.”
After lunch, they walked the path to the south pasture, walking along the side of the trail to avoid the dropped cow patties in the middle of the trail.
When they got to the south pasture, the father said. Show me where you saw the Christmas elf.”
John-John nodded and led his father to the side of the pasture where he stood when he saw the green – red light.
As they stood where John – John stood when he saw the light, his father asked. “Were you here long before you saw the light?”
“Fifteen minutes, maybe a little longer.” John-John said as he pointed to the spot where he met the Christmas elf. They stood there for not more than ten minutes when they heard a voice behind them as they stared at the opposite edge of the pasture.
“You are looking for me?” The voice asked.
They both turned around to the sound of the voice and Big John was surprised at the presence of a little man, not more than three feet tall, looking regal in his elf outfit.
John – John gasped and said. “Father meet the Christmas elf.”
“How do you do?” Big John said. “According to my son, I have you to thank for my sudden good fortune.”
The Christmas elf smiled. “Yes. That is correct I saw and witnessed your sons unselfishness with his Christmas wish and I granted it . I was there when I saw you help a fellow farmer, down on his luck as you were in the morning and I was impressed on how you helped him. But it mustn’t stop there. There will be others who can benefit from your sudden wealth. Don’t forget them.” The Christmas elf taught.
“I won’t.” Big John promised.
“Good. Your son learned the sacred way for giving and I believe you have also learned.” The Christmas elf said as a teacher might. “I will watch you closely to make certain you have learned.”
“I have.” Big John said and added. “I will be more giving to those who are in need. I have been there and I know how it feels. Being so desperate. It is a life I do not wish on anyone.”
“I’m glad.” The Christmas elf said. “I will leave you now and you will not see me again unless you have broken your promise to me..” The Christmas said and then disappeared.
The following season was fruitful for all the farmers in the Valley. So fruitful that many who were contemplating selling their farms to the developers decided against doing so.
Big John continued to help those in need with no thought of recompense and the family farm would continue to thrive through John-John and his heirs.

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