For Starters

A new Mustang Club in Orange County, welcome to exurbia, kids books. Plus a holiday and Hudson Valley Heavens.

Get Your Motor Running


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Steve Motola clearly remembers one thing about his 1970s childhood in Queens, New York. “There was always a Mustang in the driveway,” he says. Then, the classic Ford cars belonged to his older brothers; now, the ceramic-tile sales rep happily parks his own Mustang — a 2004 Mach 1 Special Edition — in his Pine Bush, Orange County driveway.  

But what good is being a car fanatic if you can’t share the love?  For years, Motola was a member of Mustang Clubs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, “but there was nothing like that in Orange or Rockland counties,” he says. Now there is. Motola and his pony-loving buddy Joe Rementer of Middletown formed the Mustang Club of Orange County in early October — and have been overwhelmed with eager responses ever since. “Eighteen people showed up to our first meeting at Monroe Ford with their cars and applications all ready to go. And more are interested. It’s great.”

So what goes on at these meetings? “We talk about promoting and enjoying Mustangs, in addition to upcoming events and outings,” Motola explains. Joining the club has an added bonus: members will eventually be registered in the national chapter of the Mustang Club of America. The Orange County club plans to host two Mustang shows in 2007, says Motola, noting that he won six trophies at area car shows last season. They are also planning weekly “cruise-ins,” where members bring their cars and hang out. “We don’t want it to be stiff or formal,” says Motola. “It should be social and fun.”


Mustang Fun Facts:

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           The Mustang was first introduced on April 17, 1964. More than 22,000 were sold that day.

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• President Bill Clinton and baseball star Reggie Jackson — as well as Cher, Jay Leno, Lindsay Wagner, Jackie Cooper, Markie Post and  Robert Hayes —  are among the celebs who have owned Mustangs.


  There are more Mustang Clubs in the world — 250+ — than there are clubs for any other vehicle.


By The Numbers  Our Own Exurbia


The Valley’s number one! Well of course we are, you’re thinking. But once you stop patting yourself on the back, we can explain how, in this case, being first is a dubious distinction. A recent study by the Brookings Institute found that Dutchess and Orange counties have the largest share of exurban commuters in the entire country. That means a whopping 32% of these residents head to the Big Apple (or another urban area) each day. And just what is an exurb? Generally more spread out than the suburbs, the exurbs have a high rate of population growth and affordable housing; nearly one-quarter of exurbanites commute to urban jobs. Take a look at the numbers.


2 Rank of Little Rock/ North Little Rock, the study

3 Rank of the Grand Rapids/Wyoming, MI area

200,000+ Number of people who live in Dutchess and Orange who hightail it to New York City (or another urban area) for work

10,800,000 Approximate number of people living in exurbs nationwide

88 Number of other large metropolitan areas included in the study

5 New York State’s rank in total exurban population. The state trails behind Michigan, Ohio, California, and Texas.

72 to 86 Travel time (in minutes) from Beacon to Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal during the morning rush

33.5 Average time in minutes that Orange County workers spend commuting one-way



Valley Skies

by Bob Berman


The Year’s Best Meteors

This past summer, meteor junkies were thwarted by a full moon that  spoiled the famous Perseid shower. Now you’ve got a second chance: Step outdoors on December 13 for the wonderful Geminid fireworks, which tend to cough up a meteor a minute. These slow-moving stones hit Earth sideways, not head on, so they cross the sky at “just” 22 miles per second, some 50 percent slower than summer’s whizzers. Best of all, the shower is in progress as soon as night falls, and it lasts all night. 


December Highlights

Look for the return of bright planets this month. Venus starts appearing low above the sunset point by month’s end, and Saturn is up after 9 p.m. Throw in brilliant Orion and his pals, and you’ve got some impressive nighttime lights.

Astronomer Bob Berman is the author of Strange Universe (Times Books).


And kudos…

…to Governor George Pataki, for declaring the 212-acre Middle Ground Flats island (located in the Hudson near Athens) a state preserve. The state paid Greene County $254,000 for the island; that’s more than the Indians got.

…to State Senator John J. Bonacic, of Mount Hope, and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, of Kingston, for sponsoring legislation that recently turned the gorgeous 82-mile corridor between New Paltz and Wawarsing into the Shawangunk Mountain Scenic Byway.

…to Bethlehem resident and historian Raymond C. Houghton, for finishing his 10-part travel book series, A Revolutionary War Road Trip.

…to the middle and high school students who participated in the second annual Mid-Hudson Library System Battle of the Books. More than 70 students answered questions about the 10 books they read over the summer. The “Read Barons” team from Red Hook ultimately prevailed against finalists from the Hyde Park “Page-Turners.”


Reading Room


For the Little Ones


The Secret World of Magic Dolls and Imaginary Friends: The Dolls of Cold Spring Village (Outskirts Press, $9.95), by Putnam County native and doll-collector Suzanne Kraus-Mancuso, recalls daily life in that sleepy river town during the Great Depression. The author based her main character, Dorothy, on her own grandmother, whose childhood in Cold Spring she learned about from reading old diaries in her grandmother’s attic. 

Moo Press, the children’s imprint of Keene Publishing in Warwick, has three new titles:  Marvin Monster’s New Teacher Jitters, by Tabatha Jean D’Agata takes readers on a field trip with Marvin’s second-grade classmates and their new teacher, Miss Witchafred. Where the students of Grim Castle School go on the “ghoul bus” must remain our scary secret, but a monsterific time is had by all (ages 6-9, $6.95).

One Incredible Dog! Kizzy by Chris Williams tells the story of a little dog who inspires children to read aloud to him — because he doesn’t care if they stutter or stumble (ages 3 & up, $15.95).

Already Asleep, a rhyming bedtime book  by A. D. Tarbox, was inspired by the author’s favorite Mother Goose poem, “Diddle Diddle Dumpling.” Look for the gray tabby cat and white mouse hidden on every page (ages 3 & up, $12.95).

Woodstock author Joan MacPhail Knight has written Charlotte in New York, a new book in her Charlotte series (Chronicle Books, $16.95). Young painter Charlotte records the family’s adventures in New York City in her journal: a trip to Central Park, where herds of sheep and a handful of camels roam freely; a tour of the Metropolitan Museum; a costume ball at the Havemeyers’ home on

Fifth Avenue

. The hardcover book is wonderfully illustrated with museum reproductions, collages and watercolor paintings.

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