For Starters

What’s in a word, St. Paddy’s pride, and an unlikely alliance between Bard and West Point.

What’s In a Word?


If you’ve lost a job or been cut from a sports team, then you know the feeling.

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David K. Barnhart (below) is quite familiar with the term (not that he’s been a victim of it, mind you). The editor and publisher of the Barnhart Dictionary Companion, a journal of new words, the Poughkeepsie resident is also a member of the 117-year old American Dialect Society. Each year, this august group of linguists, grammarians, researchers, writers, and other wordsmiths announces their choice for “Word of the Year” — a word or phrase that, while not necessarily new, has recently become particularly prominent or noteworthy in public discourse. The 2006 choice, plutoed, is defined as “to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.” Members cast their ballots at the society’s December convention, choosing from a short list of about 15 nominations; the beleaguered non-planet beat out lactard (a person who is lactose-intolerant), YouTube (the popular video Web site), and Barnhart’s own nominee, boomeritis (afflictions or injuries suffered by baby boomers, caused by their age). “There is a good deal of levity from time to time,” says Barnhart about the voting process. “It’s not all academic studiousness. And people do lobby for their choices — sometimes strenuously.”

As a lexicographer, Barnhart was able to enlighten us about several everyday words and expressions which originated here in the Valley. “Abolition was first used in 1787 in a Hudson Valley publication. And cocktail comes from the city of Hudson, around 1803,” he says. “The word cowboy originally referred to a man who supplied beef to British troops by stealing cattle from the drovers who were bringing the herds to Fishkill Landing (now Beacon) to be shipped.”

Have a Valley-centric word or phrase that you feel belongs on this list? Send it to us at, and we’ll publish the best entries in a future issue. In the meantime, we hope your boomeritis is feeling better.

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— Polly Sparling


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Strange Bedfellows

Bard College and West Point Military Academy — they’re the Odd Couple of colleges if ever there was one. The two schools’ images are completely opposite: West Point’s student body is conservative, while Bard is known nationwide for its ultra-liberal atmosphere (students have described themselves as “outspokenly unique” in their campus newspaper). So what happens when you put students from the two schools together?

Magic, according to William Mullen, professor of classics at Bard. Twenty years ago, Mullen came up with the Academy Bard Exchange (ABE), a program in which Bard and West Point students and professors interact through a series of lectures and other events. This past semester marked the first time the program included a joint West Point/Bard class via video conference. Mullen created ABE to help students from the two schools recognize (and dispel) stereotypes about one another and discover how much they actually have in common. And while you won’t see any Bard students marching to class, participants have definitely found ways to use their knowledge of the other school’s culture.

“A Bardian visiting West Point is more likely to put their newfound understanding of military ideals into their own worldly and political views,” said Mullen. “By the same token, West Point cadets have an advantage to learn more about why civilians feel the way they do about the military through the program.” He also asserts that the partnership helps participants gain insight on the diversity of their own school’s student body. “Students realize that not all their classmates fit their school’s political and cultural mold,” he said. “It’s very enlightening.”

Diversity isn’t the only thing that sends sparks flying during ABE’s events, however. Mullen also reported a number of blooming romances between Bard students and the cadets. “A little dating has resulted,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s to be expected when connections like these are made.” 

  — Laura Calhoon



It Takes a Senior

Sure, we all got excited about global warming after seeing An Inconvenient Truth — but really, how many of us are doing anything about it? So kudos to Onteora High School senior Dan Wininger, a resident of Hurley in Ulster County. He’s the coordinator of the second annual Environmental Expo, to be held at the Woodstock Community Center on Saturday, March 31, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Ultimate Frisbee player’s other extracurricular work involved getting speakers, musicians, filmmakers, and energy and environmental groups to appear at the expo, along with student participants from Onteora and Kingston schools. The high school kids are making environmentally-themed posters, while elementary school students are designing special shopping bags for the event. Says Wininger: “If each of us changes our personal habits, family habits, and community habits, we can made a difference.”

— A.J. Loftin






The overflow crowds at the Beacon and Poughkeepsie train stations every March 17 seem to indicate that


New York City is the place to party on St. Patrick’s Day. But don’t turn green with envy just yet — here in the Hudson Valley, we also know a thing or two about St. Paddy’s Day. In fact, over . So whether you’re Irish or just wish you were, here’s a list of local fetes that will surely satisfy your need to celebrate. 



Mahopac St. Patrick’s Parade

March 11: The third largest St Paddy’s parade in New York state, this annual spectacle on Route 6 includes over 100 organizations and bands coming from as far away as Ireland. Entertainment includes pipe bands and step dancing. 


Silo Ridge St Patrick’s Day Celebration

March 17: Enjoy a live Irish band while feasting on a traditional St. Patrick’s buffet. Thirsty? Enjoy specialty drinks at the bar, including favorites like peppermint patty shots. Silo Ridge Country Club, Rt.22, Amenia. Call 845-373-7000 for more information. 


33rd Annual Emerald Association St. Patrick’s Dance

March 17: This annual shindig includes dancing, entertainment by the Eamon Ryan Show Band, and a traditional Irish feast including corned beef, cabbage, and Irish soda bread. Dinner at 8 p.m., dancing 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $45/members, $55/non-members. Star Ridge Conference Center, Brewster. Contact Christine & Eddie McDowell at 845-279-3380 for more information.  


44th Annual Pearl River St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 18: The second largest St. Patrick’s parade in New York after the great New York City affair, this event includes many of the same bands and organizations that march in the New York City parade. The procession steps off from the Wyeth Corporation parking lot, off

Middletown Rd.

in Pearl River. Breakfast will follow  immediately afterwards at the Pearl River Hilton ($20/person). Contact Ray Sheridan at 845-735-8080 for more information


By The Numbers

No St. Patrick’s Day is complete without a trip to your local Irish pub for a traditional meal and a tasty brew
(or two… or 10). Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Poughkeepsie has become a hot St. Paddy’s Day hangout. Located adjacent to the Poughkeepsie train station, the eatery gets nonstop traffic on the holiday — from  the regular bar crowd and families to police officers and firefighters waiting to board the Irish Express to the Manhattan parade. It’s easily the busiest day of the year, according to Bob Dooley, part owner of Mahoney’s. “Last year we sold a lot of beers — I mean, a lot,” he chuckled. “A couple thousand, I would guess.” The restaurant opens at 7 a.m., and people start pouring in almost immediately to eat, drink, and make merry. “We get a lot of families,” Dooley said. “It’s a fun day, and that’s what it’s all about.” Here are some fun facts about the pub to discuss over your corned beef and cabbage.


21 How many hours Mahoney’s is open on St. Patrick’s Day
10 Number of bartenders on staff all day
250 Approximate number of revelers in the restaurant at 8:30 a.m.
4 Number of bagpipe bands entertaining patrons throughout the day
2,300 Pounds of corned beef diners downed during the 2006 celebration
1 Number of Irish step dance companies performing this year
6 Number of traditional Irish entrée options on the menu
3400 to 4000 Number of St. Patrick’s partyers expected this year

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