House by Hudson


While we were traveling in circles trying to get close to the Hudson (Rockwood Hall State Park), we spotted what looked like an abandoned house on a hill.  After a few wrong turns we found ourselves near the driveway and turned in.  There were a few cars there and I took what I call “the first shot” just to get something before someone came out and chased us away.  But no one did come out.  And so we walked up to the house, and I went to the front door to see if there was a name, and there was: James House.  And beneath it, the word, Hospice.*

Lester was waiting by the car in case we / he needed to make a fast getaway.  He laughed at me when I had backed the car in so that we could leave quickly, but now it didn’t seem like a bad idea.  I beckoned from the porch for him to come over.  He quietly got out of the car and came up the steps.  While he was approaching, I looked in through the big lace windows and at first I couldn’t see anything but a big room with a grand piano.  I could just see the end of the piano.  The t.v. on the wall was  going.  Sort of the recreation room I guess.  But it was empty.

I signed for Lester to look in the window and being malicious – I whispered “boo” as he did and he jumped a couple of feet back.  Then he came back and we both looked in the window.  Still no one.  Lester disappeared – going to the back of the house which faced the river.  I watched him climb over a fence and then disappear down a hill.

I saw a nurse in white walk past the grand piano and t.v. to the front door and heard the door open and her steps on the porch.  I scooted to the back of the house, but she wasn’t aware of me.  She went into the parking lot, got into a SUV and took off.

When I went back to the window to peek in again, the t.v. was off.  And there were three or four nurses walking by with empty wheel chairs.  I could just make out the some ragtime piano echo through the room.  Wow, someone was at the piano.  What was that Joplin tune?  Anyway, I’ve read enough Stephen King stories to know when to leave.

I got off the porch and watched as Lester made his way back over the fence.  I was trying to remember the name James – and wondered if it was named after the William James brother of Henry James.  William James was an early psychologist.

Lester was excited, saying that he could see how to get to the closed park near the river.  And off we went again.

As you can tell – I’m not very comfortable out of the city.  Even in the so-called burbs.  And I notice that I tend to gravitate towards water.  That makes sense as I’m comfortable around water whether it be the river or a small stream or lake.  I could take a boat anywhere and feel at peace.  But old houses, dense forest, undergrowth – that has scared me since I was a kid sent away to sleepaway camp.

When I first met Lester at a sleepaway camp, we were both counselors, he used to scare me all the time making up spooky stories.  He’s really not afraid of any of this.  I’m the timid one though sometimes when I’m writing this I might project a bit of it onto him so that I don’t look too cowardly.

View from back porch of James Hospice
View from back porch of James Hospice

[*I think the hospice is connected to Phelps Memorial Hospital Center. ]


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

One thought on “House by Hudson”

  1. At first, I was really skeptical about Dave’s ideas for photographic adventures out of the city, especially when he talked nonsense about scaling the Kaaterskill Falls. I want to live a few more years to enjoy my retirement

    But it turns out that these adventures are really fun. It’s like reliving your childhood – searching for photographic treasures, sneaking into forbidden places, defying authority to get good pictures. The best thing, though, is that we appreciate this adventure more now than in childhood because we view things from a perspective we lacked in our youth.

    Take the hospice, for example. It won’t be long before we’re inside the hospice instead of outside looking in. What a thrill it is to still be free! And what about parking illegally and driving the car on hiking-only trails. We’re old and nonthreatening enough to get away with this stuff. All we have to do is claim senility.

    So I would highly recommend these adventures to the 55+ crowd. It beats hanging around in a retirement community comparing notes about your grand kids or cruising into the sunset on the S.S. Dotage.

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