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Where in the Hudson Valley…?

“Orchestrated mayhem” is one way to characterize the comedy of (Ole) Olsen and (Chic) Johnson, the famous vaudeville duo and former owners of the Putnam County dairy farm pictured in our February issue. And you could also use that term to describe the contents of our E-mail inbox: So many of you wrote to recount your memories of the farmhouse, its occupants, and their hit revue Hellzapoppin’, it’s been hard to keep up with it all. Our special thanks to local resident Betty Behr for her help in piecing together the property’s long and lively history. And congrats to contest winner Ken Stringer of Wappingers Falls. For this month’s riverside riddle, see page 104.


The farm is on Route 52 near Kent, the comedy team’s name was Olsen and Johnson, their revue was called Hellzapoppin’ — and no, I’m not old enough to have attended one of their performances.

Gregory A. Clark

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My husband and I just started a subscription to Hudson Valley, and “Where in the Hudson Valley…?” is like a game to us now. This month’s question was easy, since we used to live in Carmel and passed by the gate many times. Thank you very much for your terrific publication.

Lynne Baycora

Hopewell Junction


For 17 years I lived in the house next door that used to belong to Chic Johnson’s daughter. I bought the place in 1970. When we first moved in, there were costume trunks in the garage that had belonged to Johnson. I wish I had hung on to them, but am sad to say I was young and foolish and threw them away. I was told by some locals that people such as Ethel Merman and Jackie Gleason used to come up there quite frequently.

Nora Strasser



I used to live near the farm. I know nothing about the place, so I was glad to find this picture. There were lots of little theatres tucked into the back roads of Putnam County, since many of the Broadway and off-Broadway stars had weekend homes there. I’d love to see a story on them. Thanks for the memories.

Judy Brennan

Via E-mail


My mother, a lifelong native of the area, worked for Chic Johnson and Ole Olsen. She remembered how well they treated their help, especially at Christmas. She was given a dog and a red leather jacket.

Sybil Light

Via E-mail


My grandparents saw Hellzapoppin’ on Broadway. [Olsen and Johnson] would come down into the audience, and sneak up behind an unsuspecting theatergoer. If it was a woman, they would give her a kiss on the cheek, and then blow a horn or rattle something to scare the wits out of her. They did it to my grandmother!

Laura Bennett Allen

Via E-mail



In the Winter 2008 of Hudson Valley Home, furniture designer Nicholas Simile’s phone number was listed incorrectly. The correct number is 845-658-3662.

In the February “Small Bites,” the selling price of the nonalcoholic drink 12 is given as $14 for two bottles. That price is available through the product’s Web site; local retailers’ prices may vary.






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