Cornerstone Traveler

Writing in New Patlz


Hi all and welcome to another exciting and thought provoking issue of this bi-weekly newsletter, The CORNERSTONE TRAVELER. Also available online at  I’m sorry if this newsletter is a few days late, but I was having trouble with my Cannon printer and Windows 10.


mid-Hudson Valley news:  The New Paltz Fire Department was able to obtain a 2+ million dollar grant from the State so they could expand an existing firehouse on North Putt Corners Road.  And build another firehouse across the Wallkill River.  The cost will not affect the real estate taxes of the residents of the village and town of New Paltz because this fire department is an all volunteer with about 38 volunteers.  This fire department has over 700 calls each year.

I tried to volunteer at this fire department, but didn’t pass the physical.

The last two snow storms that dropped two feet of snow in the mid-Hudson valley.  This snow with the rains storm of last week has caused the Wallkill Rive to rise within a few feet of flooding.  We can only hope that the April rains will not be so severe to raise the river too much more and flood the flats of New Paltz.


observations:  I have noticed that since TV is available on cable and satellite there are more interesting channels to choose from instead of the standard of yesteryear of CBS, NBC and ABC. I like the Discovery channel with Deadliest Catch, filming the hazards of fishing for Alaskan King Crab or Natgeo filming Wicked Catch fishing for Blue Fin Tuna, the History Channel filming almost everything of earth’s history and the newest channel REELZ filming shows like JK Rowling Behind closed doors or Princess Diana Behind closed doors and a host of others.   These channels are more interesting to me than those of yesteryear.

sports:  MLB:  The Yankees are tied in the East Division of the American League with Baltimore and Boston with a record of 9-5.

The Mets are 1 ½  games back in the East Division of the National League with a record of 6-7 and are in third place in this division.

NHL:  The Rangers are tied with the Canadians in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at 2-2.

NBA:  The Knicks are 21 games back in the East Division of the National Basketball League with a record of 30-50.  It is still unclear if they will make it to post season play.

The Nets are 23 games back of the same Division with a record of 20-60.  They are most likely out of post season play.


other:  As with all previous issues of this newsletter, everything printed here is either copyright protected of copyright pending.

The history of P&G’s follows this newsletter from 1900 when the building was first erected to about the mid 1930’s.

Following this history is a short story I wrote a long time ago called The SNOW LEAPORD.  This story appeared in my book of short stories called COSMIC WHISPERER.

I hope you like it.  Thank-you – Rik McGuire


      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 all 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 is located just across Main Street.  It is said that Steen had 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 and the lovely mountain 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 forget 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 Saturday nights!  As did all the merchants and stores open till 9 p.m.”

By 1921 the Casino had changed hands and names, becoming the Blue Crane Inn.  Ads of the era read.

Big night at the Bleu Crane Inn

Dancing every Wednesday and Saturday evenings.

In the Chinese Hall-Good Jazzy Music.


The cornerstone of night life 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 and the affordability of the automobile meant peoples outings were no longer confined to the trolleys 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 was nicknamed the P&G’s that welcomes everybody.













                      The Snow Leopard



My name is Jacob Liester and I landed on the shores of this new world with the rest of my people in the year of our Lord, 1630. After we had landed, it took us two years to settle our village within the grounds of the native inhabitants who called themselves Massatuckets. The native people showed us the best lands for our farms and where the game was the most abundant, if we were to hunt with native intelligence.



I learned so much from these people, I had become the village tracker for the hunting parties.


Then it happened, last year, just on the village border. Richet Burn’s mutilated body was discovered in the morning near the forest by the village’s tilled field. A village council meeting was held that afternoon, to try and determine what caused the mutilation of Richet Burns. There were wild accusations pointed everywhere. Even the Reverend Richards pointed an

accusing finger at the heathen natives. Other people insisted it was a bear and others insisted it was a wolf and still others claimed it was a Fisher Cat.


I just sat back and smiled at the finger pointing. Because I had spent most of my time in the woods that surrounded our village and knew none of the animals mentioned would do no such mutilation and I am certain the natives did not do this because they have more reverence for human life than the mind set of all the yelling and shouting of my fellow villagers.

Then farmer Darren entered and calmed the din and chaos in the hall saying. “I saw what killed Burns.”

He shouted.


They all stared at him. “Who did it?” They shouted.


Darren stood before them and looked each in the eye. “It was a large cat, mountain lion, leopard or panther. I couldn’t say for sure. I do know it was early morning just before dawn.”


“How could you see anything in that light?” The reverend demanded.


“By the light of the newly risen moon and the sun just starting to peek over the horizon” Darren said matter of factly. “I was in my field tilling for the spring crop and I saw Burns with his big rifle hunting as he usually did just before dawn. Everyone in our village knows that Burns went hunting in the early morning when the animals were still asleep or just rising. That is how he bagged much of his game.” Darren said gasping for breath.


When Darren said it was a cat, I became immediately curious. I thought I knew every species of cat in the area and I knew of no cat that would cause such mutilation on a body. My curiosity became more when Darren insisted that the cat, Leopard, Lion, Panther

or whatever was snow white. I knew of no cat in the immediate area that was snow white in color. The only animal that came close was the Grey Timber Wolf and I knew that the wolf did not attack man. I became increasingly interested in what Darren had to say. I talked to him after the village meeting and asked him to show me where he was when he saw the attack on Burns.


Darren took me to his farm and brought me to the place on the field where he saw the attack on Burns. He pointed to the place where Burns was attacked and to where Burns was dragged by the cat. I saw the track of Burns body being dragged to the spot where

he was discovered and as I much as I searched, I saw no other tracks of an animal.


I questioned Darren about this and he claimed the cat looked as if it floated in air as it dragged Burns to the spot where Burns was mutilated and died. I searched the ground on my hands and knees. I found tracks of small animals, Raccoons, Rabbits, Bobcats and even deer. And this bothered me. I consider myself an expert tracker. I was taught by the best, the

natives of this land.


It happened again last month, July, in the year of our Lord 1636. The man killed and mutilated was another hunter with the same attitude as the late R. Burns. He would only hunt in the early morning when most animals were still asleep or just rising and not alert for the human predator. The man’s name was Timothy Watkins and like Burns had no family to mourn him.


At the hastily called council meeting that day, all eyes turned to me for answers of the animal that mutilated and kills men in the morning. I told all the men present that I knew of no animal that would kill and mutilate in the new world. Everyone started to clamor that they thought I knew everything about the woods and the forest in our new homeland. I just shook my

head and shrugged. “It is obvious that I don’t.”


The reverend stood up and stared at me. “Are you so certain it is not the devilish, heathen Indians that surround our village?”


“Yes reverend, I am.” I answered.


“How can you be so certain?” He demanded.


“Reverend.” I began. “The Massatuckets have taught me everything I know about tracking and the wild game in this area. I also know their language,

which no one else in our village has ever tried to learn. And in their language there is not a word for the word murder.”


“Maybe they don’t consider the killing of white men murder.” The reverend said smugly.


“Reverend.” I said tightly, trying to control my anger. “These people you call ungodly heathens have more respect for human life than you, me or anyone else here.”


“You are so certain?” He asked.


“Yes I am.” I said sharply. Perhaps more sharply than I should have. “How many people in this room or even in our village speak their language other than me?” Hearing no comments, I said. “No One! I am the only one in our village who can speak in their language. Yet, we all know there are at least thirty or forty of the Massatuckets that can speak the Kings English.

I ask you. Who among us knows these people better than I?” Hearing no comment from any man in the room, I said. “I will go and talk to the Ancient One in their village and ask him if he knows of this animal or if he has heard tales from the past ancient

ones of this beast.”


The reverend stood up yet again and shouted. “You are going to ask the village shaman, witch doctor?”



“He is not a witch doctor.” I shouted back as I stood up. “He just knows the entire history of his people from the very distant past to the present. He knows more of the history of his people than most if not all of our supposed historians in neighboring villages.” I sat down and waited for a response. None came and the meeting ended.


The next day I walked to the Massatuckets village and asked to see the Ancient One. I was told he had been expecting me for some time and I was immediately brought to his hogan.


I had been to the Ancient Ones hogan many times after I had learned the language of the Massatuckets. He was impressed that I even bothered to learn their language. I explained that I knew if I wanted to learn from them, I had to know their language.



When I entered the hogan, I saw the Ancient One sitting cross legged on a blanket with hundreds of animal talismans dating back countless generations. There were countless bird feathers dating back many, many years, along with horns from wild goats and claws and teeth from many predators. He smiled as I entered into his hogan.


“Ancient One.” I said as I kneeled in reverence to his knowledge. “I am here to ask what you know of the White Leopard as my people refer to this beast as.”


“I know.” He smiled in his native tongue. “I wondered when you would come and ask for my assistance.” He said as he directed me to a quilt I should sit upon. After I had sat down, I explained how I was lost and confused by the attacks on our village. I explained that I thought I had learned all there was to know from his people.


“Yes.” He smiled. “You learned from our trackers and hunters, but now you need to learn from me.”


I sat back stunned. I thought he had taught me all of his people’s history and I said as much.


“Yes.” He smiled with that infuriating smile. “But there is much more you should learn and understand so you understand the reason behind the Snow Leopard.”



“The Snow Leopard? It is real?” I asked.


“Of course it is. You have seen the results of its anger, have you not?”


I looked questionably at the Ancient One. “Your people never told me about this animal. Why?”


“Because none of my people who live today in our village have ever seen it, just as I have never seen it.”


I was confused and asked. “You mean to tell me it is like the locusts that only appear every seventeen years? And why only my people in my village?” I was angry and I am quite sure I spoke with anger.


The Ancient One smiled again and it was becoming more than a little bit annoying. “The Snow Leopard only shows itself when the nature of the world is threatened.”


“Threatened?” I asked. “How do my people threaten the nature of this world?”


“Ask yourself.” The Ancient One said. “Who among your people were killed and mutilated by the Snow Leopard? They were two men who hunted with carelessness, thinking they could kill more when the animal was asleep and unable to defend itself or run



“Is that important?” I asked.


“Of course.” He explained. “The animal kills to eat and survive as does the human animal, but there must be a balance in nature. The human animal is more wanton in killing. The human animal kills for greed, ego, territory or sport. It is this attitude that upsets the balance of our world. When this balance is disturbed, the mother of nature must do something

that will keep our world in balance. Hence the Snow Leopard.”


“How do I protect my people?” I asked.


“Tell your people to kill for food and protection only. Do not kill animals for sport or for the trophies that hang on your walls in your homes. The killing of animals for sport upsets the balance of nature and nature uses the Snow Leopard to protect this balance.”  The Ancient One said pointedly.


“Tell me.” I said. “How long have your people been aware of this Snow Leopard?”


“Since the very beginning.” The Ancient One said. “But we haven’t had to confront this beast for many, many winters.”


I stood and thanked the Ancient One for his knowledge.

As I left the Massatuckets village and walked back to my village, I thought of how I would explain the Ancient One’s wisdom to our village elders especially the reverend. I was absolutely certain that the reverend would not heed the words of the Ancient One. The reverend was certain that the native peoples of this new world were primitive heathens and he couldn’t be bothered with their learned wisdom.


That evening at the village council meeting, attended by almost all of the adult residents, I was questioned of what I had learned at the native village. I explained that I talked with the Ancient One and the Ancient One explained how the nature of the earth requires balance with all living animals and that nature unleashes the Snow Leopard when the balance is shifted.


The reverend immediately stood up when I had finished talking. “Are you trying to tell this August assembly that we the humans on this earth are not dominate and in control of this earth?”


“Yes. We can’t control everything on this earth.”


“You are so certain?”


I thought briefly before answering. “Do we, the human animal have control over the weather? Can we stop those annoying hurricanes, snow storms, droughts or even thunder storms?”


“That is the nature of weather. No one can control the weather.” The reverend shouted. “There is no relevance of the weather to how we hunt for our food and clothing.”


I smiled and shook my head. “Tell me reverend.” I asked. “Can you explain those years when game was so scarce, we almost starved in the winter? Not just

here in the new world, but also in the lands where we came from?” The reverend stayed silent without a word. “You can’t.” I pressed. “You can’t because you don’t understand the need for balance in nature. And if this village is to survive in this, the new world, we must learn from the natives who have been here for hundreds if not thousands of years. More importantly we must listen and learn from the Ancient One.”


There had been no more attacks by this beast, the Snow Leopard, on our village for over a year. I had hoped that our people had learned from the Ancient One’s wisdom and not disturb the balance of nature.


Then in late September of 1637 a group of our hunters decided to try hunting in the night when the animals were docile. When I heard of their plans, I warned against it, but they were insistent because the previous year was a tough winter and we barely had enough food to survive.


I tried to argue that we should heed the Ancient Ones wisdom, but to no avail. They went out just after sundown, six of them.


Only one man staggered back at noon the following day. Robert Blochette was barely able to walk when he staggered into our village. He was badly torn, scratched and ravaged by the beast he insisted was a spirit cat, leopard.


He said it was just before dawn when they had come upon a herd of deer just rising from a nights

rest. They all started shooting at the bewildered deer when this giant leopard, all white sprang upon their party. Robert explained how he had managed to crawl away, even though the snow leopard had mauled him mercifully.  He insisted that the Snow Leopard seemed to grin

as he crawled away from the carnage. He thought that the Snow Leopard wanted him to escape. He said that as he crawled painfully back to the village, he thought that maybe the Ancient One was right and that we shouldn’t disturb the balance of nature.


That winter in 1637 had been a bitter cold, tough winter, but we survived with much sharing of our food, clothing and labors. We learned through that bitter winter how to rely on each other for survival.

One night after a hunting party with very little to show for our efforts, we all gathered in my home with hot coffee and brandy. The Reverend Richards burst into my home demanding to know of our success to feed the village. I explained we had two deer, a buck

and a doe, three turkeys a few pheasants and not much else.


“You were out all day and into the night.” He shouted. “And all you got is barely enough to feed our village for five days, maybe a week.” He then turned to me and demanded to know how I had failed.


“I didn’t fail!” I insisted. “There were no signs of animal life in the forest and we were just lucky we got the animals we did.”


He turned away from me scowling. “Then maybe you are not the expert tracker everyone in our village thinks you are.”


I admit this statement hurt me and I responded with boiling anger and rage. “If there is anyone here or in the village who thinks they can do a better job at tracking, then they should come forward and replace me.”


The hunters in my home just murmured I had done as good a job as could be expected. But the Reverend Richards was not to be put off so easily.


“Maybe Burns and Watson were correct in their thinking about hunting in the early morning when the animals are just rising.”


“Reverend Richards!” I said sharply, perhaps too sharply. “If you feel that is the method we should employ, then take my gun and risk your own life in this pursuit.”


He shook his head. “You know, Jacob, I am not skilled in the art of hunting.”


I nodded. “Yes. You are not and not skilled in the art of farming, carpentry, stone masonry or cooking.  What exactly are you skilled at Reverend?”


“My skill is to guide and save the souls of all the people in our village.” The Reverend returned as he usually did every time we asked that same question.


“Reverend, we could use all the help we can get when we hunt from early fall to the cold of winter. We limit our kill to what we can carry out ourselves. We are always in need of two legs and two arms to help us feed the village. We even have children as young as ten or twelve with us when we hunt. Why cannot we count on your assistance?” I asked with the nodding of the rest of our hunting party.


The Reverend stormed out of my home when he realized his meager existence to our village. The other hunters came to me and clapped me on my back as they shouted that it was about time someone stood up to the Reverend. I just smiled, knowing the Reverend would have his own barb aimed at me at the next village meeting.


The following day, the Reverend Richards called another village meeting and he insisted I should be present. I admit I was apprehensive when I walked into the common room of our village meeting hall. I absolutely knew the Reverend had something planned and I was to be the center of his planning.


The Reverend rose when everyone was seated and spoke to us as he would when he sermonized behind his pulpit in our church.


“I was prodded by Mr. Jacob Leister.”  He began. “That I should contribute more to the feeding of our village. And I thought long and hard last night that I will do what is necessary to feed our people.” He stopped and stared at me before he said. “I have decided

I will follow the lead of Messrs. Burns and Watkins and hunt in the early morning. They were

very successful with this method of hunting and maybe I also can be successful in this way.”


I immediately jumped from my seat and shouted.  “You know Reverend, that is not advisable. Remember what happened to both Burns and Watkins.”  The Reverend had this damnable smile that was split between a grin and a sneer and he flashed this at me. “I

know, that is why I am going to use you to help me better flush out the game. Who better than the expert village tracker?”


At first I was uncertain. I know I didn’t want to sacrifice my life to help the Reverend prove his worth, but then again if I didn’t and the Reverend was

ravaged, how would that make me look? “Okay Reverend, I will help you, but I will not hunt with you. I will bring my gun only to protect you if the Snow Leopard attacks.” I knew my gun would be useless against a spirit, but at least people would know I tried.


The next morning I met the Reverend Richards outside the village church. “Are you ready Jacob, to lead me to the best place to shoot for our village food?”


“I still don’t think this is a good idea Reverend.  The Snow Leopard may be around and attack us or at least you.”


“I am relying on God to protect me Jacob.”


“All right Reverend. Follow me.” I deliberately led the Reverend to an area near our village where I knew the game to be scarce. When we arrived at my

designated spot, we sat on a hill overlooking the forest below us.


We sat for less than an hour before we saw a sleepy-eyed doe pass out of the forest. The Reverend took aim and fired his musket. He missed and clumsily tried to reload his musket, the doe fled into the woods. He yelled at me to fire my musket and I deliberately

fired high so as to miss the doe.


The Reverend had reloaded his musket and was prepared to shoot at the doe as it disappeared into the woods. He held up his shot as the doe disappeared. suddenly without warning, the Snow Leopard appeared before us and this Snow Leopard was not just

a big cat it was huge beyond imagination even in my wildest dreams.


The Snow Leopard floated toward the two of us as we stood back, stunned. It smiled at me and turned to the Reverend and playfully batted the musket out of his hands with a massive front paw.


The Snow Leopard turned and floated up and away over the forest, then disappeared.


The Reverend got up and retrieved his musket from where the Snow Leopard had batted it.  I rose, thinking I finally understood the Wisdom of the Ancient One.


As we trudged back to our village, the Reverend said to me. “I don’t know what happened or even understand what happened, but I believe I respect the Ancient One more, much more.”


I laughed and clapped the Reverend on the shoulder. “Welcome to the New World.”



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