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Guest Post: Staying Connected During the Pandemic

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As a subscriber, I received an email gifting me a preview of your May issue. I love this ongoing connection. I am now 90, with a home in Boynton Beach, FL. I usually return to our Poughkeepsie family home in May. This pattern goes back more than 30 years, but this pandemic has changed that.

My family has lived in Dutchess County for six generations. I was born in 1930, in the first St. Francis Hospital building, which was conceived by several local doctors that included my dad, Dr. Max Michael Simon, a general surgeon before specialties came into vogue. My present old age has gifted me, visually and in memory, the many Dutchess County changes.

There was no Marist College, and the then Hudson River State Hospital on Route 9 employed many locals. IBM made our community a happening place in the 1950s. Grandpa Adams, of the now Adams Fairacre Farms, sold his homegrown sweet corn from his stand on Route 44. There were no large shopping centers along Routes 44, 55, or 9. If you lived in the city of Poughkeepsie, walking to Main Street for an ice cream soda at the French Pastry Shop was the treat offered to youngsters.

Our home of 66 years is in Kingwood Park. KWP is a 1914 hidden jewel of a development in the town of Poughkeepsie, just off Route 9 and opposite the IBM Road. It has been a well-kept secret residential area in our community.  

When we purchased the original farmhouse, remodeled by Oakwood’s founding Lane family, farms were still on either side of Route 9, then two lanes. George Coleman, who lived in what is now Oakwood School’s dining hall, filed a subdivision plan for our park. He owned a horse named Kingwood, and the road was designed as a track to navigate the large, estate-like properties.

A number of my neighbors lived to l00, and a number got close. One, at almost l00, was still mowing his lawn on a tractor.

I joke that I am now on house arrest. People who love me say, “Don’t fly home now. Stay safe.” I am thanking my higher authority every day to be in a nurturing, safe environment and to be privileged to view nature in all its glory. Varieties of butterflies I have never seen circle an outside small tree. Birds freely sing to each other in an environment not clouded by traffic pollution. The sunsets are amazing. The cloud formations in a gorgeous blue sky are worthy of paint and palette.

This sad pandemic has actually gifted some of us a window to our possible future world, if our world can come together to address the obvious climate needs. It’s also opened our minds to the social needs of our country. I’m hopeful to be a participant to needed good changes.

Georgene Dreishpoon wrote her first essay in 1970 for Medical Economics, using her doctor husband’s byline. She has since used her own name in articles for other publications, including The New York Times and Hudson Valley. She has authored two books: How To Hook Your Spouse and Pursuit of Paradise: Memoir of a Bahama Mama.

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