by Bill Batson
The Knowledge Market opens its doors for the first time tonight, February 5 at 7pm at the Nyack Center. Meet experts from our village who will describe the classes, discussions, and interactive workshops that will be offered in this information boutique curated by NyackNewsAndViews.
Classes begin Thursday, February 21 and run through March 14 with morning or afternoon sessions. Operating contemporaneously with the Nyack Farmers’ Market, you can now get fresh produce and baked goods for the table and food for thought under the same roof.
Find out how you can participate, hear from the presenters, mingle with neighbors, and enjoy music from Jeff Rubin and refreshments from La Talaye Catering & Event Design.
Admission is free and your rsvp is appreciated: http://www.nyackknows.com.
Here are the courses and inaugural instructors.
Mikki Baloy has studied with shamans and ritual-keepers from around the world, and has facilitated private healing sessions and group retreats for the past ten years. Her holistic approach is both intuitive and grounded, fusing indigenous traditions with yoga, Buddhism, and more than three decades of creative training as a performer, writer, and musician. She was the Director of a 9/11 foundation in New York City, helping to create and maintain programs to assist many thousands of people—while undertaking her own healing journey. She is the author of Hallowed Underground: Sacred Hope and Healing in Dark Times, which describes her recovery from PTSD, depression, divorce, and sexual assault, and she has been featured in two books about post-disaster resiliency. Mikki is also a minister of animism, and speaks and writes from her own direct experience. mikkibaloy.com
Mikki’s course is titled Shaminism 101
Bill Batson, author and artist of the weekly Nyack Sketch Log on Nyack News And Views, has published an original sketch and essay about the Village of Nyack every Tuesday since 2011. His family has been in Nyack, New York, since the 1890s. Bill serves as the Marketing Manager for the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and the Artist-In-Residence at the Nyack Farmers’ Market where he sells and makes art, organizes events, and develops promotional tools for the Chamber. Bill is an advisor to the Nyack Center, a trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, and the chair of the Nyack Commemoration Committee, a group that erected a Toni Morrison Society Bench by the Road monument in Memorial Park in 2015. From his Nyack Sketch Log column, the Flash Sketch Mob, a crowd sourced, en plein air landscape art project, and the Nyack Record Shop Project have sprung. Antigone on Robben Island—Mandela Takes the Stage, a play by Samuel Harps, was inspired by one of his columns. A lifelong artist and activist, Bill is dedicated to using the arts to promote preservation, commemoration, cultural education, and community empowerment. To learn more, follow his weekly column or visit billbatsonarts.com.
Bill’s course is title Vigorous Civics in the Trump
Michael Hays is a local history fan and digital photography enthusiast who writes the Nyack People & Places column on Nyack News And Views. Retired from a career in educational publishing, he is President of Rockland Bicycling Club and a member of the board of directors from Marydell Faith & Life Center and Johns Hopkins University Press. His photos appear on IG @uppernyackmike.
Mike’s is teaching iPhone Photography
Jeff Rubin has been in the music business for 48 years. He has performed, recorded or toured with Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman, Randy Jackson (American Idol), Concert For Bangladesh Band (Dhani Harrison), Chuck Berry, Davey Jones, The Temptations, The Crystals, The Drifters, The Regents, The Dupree’s, Freddy Cannon, Del Shannon, Leslie Gore, and more. Currently gigging around the New York area as “Jeff Rubin Solo Artist,” the “Jeff Rubin Band,” and with a reggae band called “JLP and the Bad Ideas,” he continues his diverse career. He is a veteran teacher from Alto Music, where he began instruction in 1980. A recording engineer and Mac guru who produced “The Pipeliners (2014), Jeff also builds guitar and bass amplifiers, effect pedals, even microphones, bringing technical expertise to his comprehensive understanding of guitar and the music business. He was featured in the Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2.
Jeff is providing Guitar Guidance
Bob Timm is a Nyack resident, father, musician and a published poet. He studied poetry with Allen Ginsburg at the City University of New York and was an original founding host of the NY College Poetry Slam at the Bowery Poetry Club. He has been a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, and has served as editor for Poetry New York and Rockland’s River River literary journal.
Bob is the Mindful Poet
Chef Michelle Timothee, owner of the new Cafe La Talaye, is a proud sponsor of the Nyack Knowledge Market
Her new restaurant, Cafe La Talaye will have its grand opening on Friday, February 8, 5-8p at 3 Main Street in Haverstraw.
To learn more about Chef Michelle visit latayale.com.
by Bill Batson
Every week, Michelle Timothee puts on a virtual cooking clinic at the Nyack Farmers’ Market. With produce purchased just steps away from her booth, Chef Michelle creates fusion meals that combine the cuisine of her childhood in Haiti and the skills acquired at Rockland Community College and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Her recipes, complete with a list of locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients are often published in the farmers market weekly newsletter.
When Timothee first arrived in Nyack in 1998, she was reminded of the hilly landscape of Petion-Ville, Haiti, where she opened her first restaurant. Entranced by the landscape and the warm embrace of a significant Haitian population that began arriving in Nyack in the 1960s, Timothee is now expanding her culinary enterprise. On February 8, she will open La Talaye Cafe at 3 Main Street in Haverstraw.
If you haven’t yet tasted her Caribbean-infused fare, you have three chances this week, all at the Nyack Center: Tuesday Feb 5 Knowledge Market Kick-off event at 7p, each Thursday from 8a – 2p at the Farmers’ Market and at Saturday’s reception before the annual Black History Month Celebration from 6:30 – 7:30p.
Nyack Sketch Log managed to put down the fork long enough to conduct this interview.
What does La Talaye mean?
Come and Get it!
Here are four opportunities to taste the delectable dishes served by Chef Michelle Timothee.
Tuesday, Feb 5 at 7pm
Chef Timothee is a sponsor of the Knowledge Market’s kick-off event
Nyack Farmers’ Market
Thursday, January 31 from 8a-2p
Chef Timothee has served as the chef-in-residence for the last five years.
Nyack Center Black History Month Celebration
Saturday, February 2, 6:30 – 7:30p
Chef Timothee is a sponsor and will be catering the reception.
Cafe La Talaye Grand Opening
Friday, February 8, 5-8p
Join Chef Timothee and her friends and family for a meal at Cafe La Talaye, 3 Main Street, Haverstraw
The proper name is Saint-Michel-de-Attalaye. It’s located on the Central Plateau of Haiti. It’s very beautiful with farmlands and mountain in the distance. It’s where my parents and grandparents are from.
Where did you learn how to cook?
Inspired by watching my grandmother cook with seasonal ingredients, I add in my own touches of ginger, garlic, lime, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, scotch bonnet peppers and curry.
I studied Hospitality Management and Tourism /Culinary Arts at Rockland Community College and also honed her skills at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. I have travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean, Europe and the U.S. to cultivate and diversify my craft, but honestly, watching my grandmother cook for years with seasonal ingredients was the best training I ever could have gotten,”
Did you have a restaurant in Haiti?
Yes, I had a restaurant in Haiti at the time of the invasion 1993, (NSL: when the United States overthrew the government of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide) where I had to meet people from all over the world from organizations, embassies, humanitarians… little babies to dogs and so on.
When did you immigrate?
I came in 1998.
I needed better health care for my son.
My best friend came here when she was 14. She was always writing letters. I saw the name Nyack on the envelope. It was unlike any French or Creole word I’d seen before. My brother moved here first to Spring Valley. I used to come and visit. One day, my brother said ‘I am going to take you to a special place and you are going to love it.’ He drove me to Nyack. Where I had my restaurant in Haiti is similar to Nyack. We have a mountain like Hook Mountain. It had restaurant s and boutiques. You don’t need a car, you can walk. When I saw Nyack I said ‘wow I love.’
When Did you Join the Nyack Farmers’ Market?
Five years ago, I came to the farmers market and was so excited. I talked to Pam right away. All my vegetables come from the market, my honey. I also go to Rockland Alliance. I’ve picked some produce right out the ground. Between Bloooming Hill and Madura, and Taliaferro is where all vegetable.
What has been the greatest challenge in launching a restaurant?
When did you become the Chef at the Marian Shrine?
I became a chef at the Marion Shrine in 2011 I make holy dinner for the priests and brothers.F or the past 6 years, I have been volunteering my time with my son cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the community at the retreat center at the Marion Shrine.
How would you describe your cuisine?
My cuisine is unique… delicious fresh, colorful and healthy creative choices -a fusion of contemporary and innovative dishes and more favorites. I season everything I cook with love!
Who helped with the decor and design of the restaurant?
The decor is a vivid imagination of my home land, special touches from my parents house in Haiti where I grew up , my old apt in the states, the farmers markets (women in Power) and my Cousin Gary helped me with the design.
How do you stay in contact with the Haitian community in Rockland?
Attending community events, churches and support their businesses.
What are some of the more interesting catering jobs you’ve had?
Colleges, Commanding general retirement party at West Point military academy.
When were you home last? What’s going on in Haiti today?
I was home in 2009 to feed some kids in St Michel De L’attalaye for Christmas literally 2 weeks before the earthquake.
Haiti today is still striving for success, warm and the beauty in everyone heart keeps the county alive regardless of challenges the country has encountered within the past 9 years. With faith and hope every goal is achievable.
I’m going to become a herbalist. I am studying at the Herbal Academy.
To learn more about Chef Michelle visit latayale.com.
Timothee Photo at Farmer’s Market by Luis Bruno. Find him on Instagram at lbfoto318
by Bill Batson
Were it not for an assassin in Memphis in 1968, our nation’s Nobel Prize winning champion of nonviolence would have turned 90 years old today, January 15, 2019. In a time of voter suppression and the deployment of crude racial stereotyping to distract from the growth of a foreign-influenced kleptocracy, the annual remembrance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is more urgent than ever. In Nyack, there are two wonderful celebrations of King’s life and legacy on Monday, January 21 at St: One at the St. Charles AME Church at 432 Valentine Avenue, Sparkill (9:00am) and the other at Pilgrim Baptist Church at 80 N. Franklin Street, Nyack (2:00pm).
Dr. King famously observed that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The results of a mid-term election in 2018 that seated the most diverse Congress in history is strong evidence that King’s maxim is true.
Here are four essays and sketches published to celebrate King’s legacy over the last eight years of the Nyack Sketch Log. Below find a link to each. Whether you are commemorating the day through service, or at a public ceremony, the value of having an annual opportunity to refocus our eyes on the prize of social, political and economic equity becomes more apparent.
Nyack Sketch Log: Fellowship of Reconciliation
January 17, 2012
This is the house where Martin Luther King would have slept. Were it not for an assassin in Memphis in 1968, our nation’s Nobel Peace Prize winning champion of nonviolence would have made it to Nyack. The purpose of his visit would have been to commune with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an organization that shared his philosophy and stood with him during his defining struggle.
Nyack Sketch Log: Dr. King Almost Owned a Gun
January 15, 2013
Would you be surprised to know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a concealed carry gun permit? In his fascinating essay “The Secret History of Guns, Adam Winkler recounts that after King’s Montgomery, Alabama home was fire-bombed in 1956, he applied for a pistol license. Less shockingly, he was denied. If King had not been shot down in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, he would surely be speaking out for gun control today. Detractors might have tried to use his Alabama gun application against him. I would have argued that this fact made him an even more reasonable advocate for sensible reform. His voice is sorely missed.
Nyack Sketch Log: Let Freedom Ring, Again, on August 28
August 13, 2013
I was born in the interval between the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, and the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, where four little girls lost their lives. America was at a perilous crossroads. These two months were a time of great uncertainty for our nation: would we embrace Dr. King’s enlightened vision of interracial cooperation, or descend into the anarchy of violence motivated by racial animus?
Nyack Sketch Log: Suicide by Assassination
April 3, 2018
No one took Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life on April 4, 1968, he gave it. In an act that was the ultimate example of the non-violent philosophy he championed, King absorbed a fatal blow, borne of the racial animus his 14 years of non-stop activism hoped to end. James Earl Ray may have been convicted of killing the anti-racism, anti-poverty and anti-war leader with a Remington Gamemaster rifle, but King consciously signed his own death warrant by living the social gospel of his faith to the letter. In a speech publicly opposing the Vietnam war, given at Riverside Church in New York exactly one year before his death, King said “Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?”
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Dr. King Compilation“ © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com
by Bill Batson
Every time I passed this sign, I struggled to decipher the mysterious acronym. Not knowing the meaning of the hieroglyphic written in glass neon tubing gnawed at me. And when I finally obtained the answer, I was launched on another voyage of discovery. What on earth was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and what did they do inside this building at the corner of Franklin and Main Streets?
This three-story brick structure was erected in 1895 as the local lodge for the international fraternal organization. The etymology of the name is more mundane than the evocative word “odd” promises. Fraternal orders were originally organized around a particular trade, like the Freemasons who were drawn from Masons. Odd Fellows drew their members from various or “odd” trades.
The first Odd Fellows lodge was established in England in the 17th century. The group’s American presence was established in Baltimore in 1819 as an altruistic social organization. When the Nyack lodge was dedicated, the Odd Fellows claimed to be the largest international fraternal organization in the world.
Support for the veracity of the boast comes from Kjeld Tideman, a painter who had a studio in the building in the 1980s and 90s. Kjeld (pronounced Shell) had a childhood memory of seeing an I.O.O.F sign in Oslo, the capital city of his native Norway. When he was setting up his painting studio, he found daguerreotypes among artifacts left behind by the group that gave the appearance that the entire white male population of Nyack belonged to the Odd Fellows.
Several facts about the Odd Fellows distinguish the group from other fraternal organizations. They were the first to accept both men and women in their ranks, and they were the first to build homes for orphans and the elderly. Illustrious past members include Ulysses S. Grant, Wyatt Earp and Charlie Chaplin, an assortment of fellows that some might find odd.
There are still Odd Fellows organizations operating in 29 countries. Nyack’s lodge closed decades ago.
But with theatrical garments, resplendent with elaborately mono-graphed cloaks, upside- down-ice-bucket-shaped-hats, and matching collars and cuffs, the Odd Fellows are very similar to their sibling service clubs. However, they had nothing to compete with the off-beat practice of the Shriners to appear at public events in miniature cars. I guess if you fund children’s hospitals, you amass the social equity to parade around in whatever strikes your fancy.
The man who solved the riddle of the defunct neon Odd Fellow’s sign for me was Philip Biagioli. A transplant to Nyack from the Bronx, Biagioli, used to pass a similar display near the Whitestone Bridge. Biagioli, who worked as coordinator of media services for Rockland Community College is the local champion of a national movement to preserve ghost signs, the vanishing commercial messages that are decaying in plain sight in cities across America.
In his campaign to save the numerous ghost signs in Nyack, like Havermales Hardware’s fading advertisement that is across from the I.O.O.F sign, Biagoli hopes to enlist the support of Frank Jump. Jump is the author of the book Ghost Signs of New York and publisher of the Fading Ad Blog. In an interview with the New York Times, Jump explained. “The sense of urgency I felt every day drove me to document New York’s fading advertisements, and capture the marks left by artists and artisans, most long since dead, who spent their lives painting huge commercial murals over the last 150 years.
As bland, crassly commercial and irrelevant as a sign that lists the items available for purchase at a hardware store that closed decades ago may be, there is something unnerving about a landscape that is constantly in flux. Freezing the process of public entropy of these signs creates monuments of local archeology that connect the multiple generations that have shared and shaped our village.
There are some philosophical differences among preservationists on this matter. One camp would like to restore these fading ads to their original mint condition. Others, including Jump, are more ambivalent. In the same New York Times interview Jump said, “Personally, I feel these ads should be left alone to fade into imperceptibility, which is part of their natural life cycle. Although I understand the motivation behind recreating these images to remind us of their former glory, for me, the fading quality of these images is a beautiful process to behold.”
However, Biagioli would like to see the power restored to Odd Fellows sign. His affinity with the group was on display in his recent Christmas card, where he donned the fraternal order’s ceremonial garb.
The tubes that once carried illuminated neon gas in the service of spreading the Odd Fellow message have survived intact. This restoration project should not offend the purists: It doesn’t need new paint, just a visit by an electrician and the flick of a switch, and voila, the gateway to our downtown business district would have a distinctive historically significant beacon. And as a landmark, Nyack can be proud of the sentiment behind the motto emblazoned on the Odd Fellow’s antique electric billboard, represented by the letters F.L.T: Friendship, Love and Truth.
Originally posted February 5, 2013
by Bill Batson
“Music is the light of the sun at night,” declares a mural on the back wall of this Casa del Sol. Legends of music, both local and far-flung, like Frankie Dee and Bernie Williams, regularly transform a few squares of floor into a magic carpet. A kitchen with a staff that have worked together for decades serve plates that generate testimonials on Yelp. Crowds of art lovers and drum circles fill rooms at monthly Casa hosted confabs. Many return because on the first visit, this casa will feel like yours.
Nyack Sketch Log sat down with owner, Tom Lynch to learn who the house of the sun was built.
How long has Casa been here?
Casa del Sol opened in Nyack in February 1997
What was here before?
Before it was Casa, it was a Middle Eastern cafe that was famous for their belly dancers.
Describe the first day you walked in?
One the first day we opened, it was a Saturday Night special invite dinner for friends and family. The construction workers were all there still building the bar. At 7 pm when the first guests started arriving, I was still sweeping up the saw dust while Chef Jorge was going over the menu with the staff.
How long have you been at Casa?
Along with myself (22 years), we have Alex (22 years), Juan (20 years), Efran (5 years), Amanda (10+), Carley (12), Elena (5+) & Anna (5+). I’m very fortunate
How did you come to own Casa?
In 2003, Gina the previous owner brought me on as full time manager. Prior to that I was working 3-4 shifts a week bartending. A few years later, she would always say “someday Tommy will buy Casa from me.” By 2013 we started talking more seriously about it and in September 2015 we did it!
Has music always been an important part of the scene?
There’s a mural in the back wall of the dining room that reads “Musica es la luz del sol en la noche”, which translate to “music is the light of the sun in the night”. Live Music has always been a huge part of the fabric of Casa del Sol. Over the years we’ve had some pretty big names perform. Grace Vandeerwal, (America’s Got Talent Winner) and Jermaine Paul (The Voice Winner) have both made appearances at our Thursday Night Casa Jam. Bernie Williams performed recently along with Gil Parris who is a Grammy nominated guitarist.
Those are all some big names and amazing musicians, however the artist that graced our stage that I am most proud of is Pedro Capo. Pedro won a Latin Grammy earlier this year and his latest music video “Calma Remix” has over 150 million Youtube views and counting. To us, he is not the Latin Superstar, he’s just Pedro, part of the Casa family, He worked at Casa on and off for 8 years and played countless shows with his band Rustico Acoustico and was one of original host of the Casa Jam.
What was the best set you’ve seen?
Pedro and Rustico Acoustico had some epic shows back in the day. Both No Discipline and Frankie Dee have been playing regularly at Casa for nearly 20 years. When ever ND plays, Casa turns into a full blown Reggae dance party. (ND will headline Casa’s New Year’s Party this year!)
Frankie Dee is a Nyack legend. His music will take you back in time to a blues club in the 60s or 70s. I’m proud to keep the tradition that he started at the Coven Cafe alive and dancing at Casa del Sol.
The new generation of bands include Dead Meat, Danielle Sheri & Mr Breakdown. All local artist with amazing talent that always draw a great crowd. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Dylan Kelehan.
Dylan has been our resident rocker over the years in many, many bands. He was also one of original host of the Casa Jam.
I often catch myself listening to our musicians and thinking how lucky I am to have them perform in my place.
I am proud that we still do not charge a cover charge for our bands!.
When did the Nyack Collective starting holding their monthly exhibits here.
I’d like to think of Casa as a haven for both musicians and artist alike. We host the Nyack Art Collectives First Friday Art Show. The Collective is local group of super talented artist that exhibit their work, auction it off and generally just get together for food and drinks and to display their craft.
Glenn Schloss and his group For Vibration put together a Drink-n-Drum on the 2nd Friday of every month. D&D is a Drum circle and unfortunately any description will not do it justice. Its an experience!!!! Glenn creates a spiritualistic, almost trance-like combination of music, dancing and drumming.
On the 1st Saturday of every month the Rockland Poets host a Poetry Slam. This energetic group is fully organized with judges, scoring and cash prizes.
Nyack Pop-up Chorus is the newest group calling Casa home. They pick an musician or theme and meet up once a month on a Sunday for an evening of singing. They request a small donation to help pay for their band. Its always a fun event for vocalist and the casual singer. Recently they’ve performed songs from the Beatles, Cat Stevens and Tom Petty.
What is your favorite dish?
Picking my favorite dish on the menu is like picking my favorite kid. I’ve always been a “seafood guy” so i would probably pick the Fish Tacos. We change them every week. Some recent favorites were Mahi-Mahi in a Caribbean Jerk-Brown Sugar Sauce w/ Grilled Pineapple and Southern Fried Catfish w/ Red Cabbage Slaw and Srirachi Mayo.
Some of of newer items on the Casa Menu are Sonoran Style Hot Dogs. The Baja Dog is a jumbo hot dog topped w/ chorizo, Mont Jack Cheese, Onions, & Pickled Jalapeños. The Tijuana Dog is a jumbo dog wrapped in bacon and jalapeños, w/ mayo, avocado, pico-de-gallo and cotija cheese.
What are some of the challenges of running a small business in Nyack?
I’d say the biggest challenge of owning a small business in Nyack is dealing with the elements. Trying to get people to come out in the rain, snow or cold weather is always difficult.
What do you do as a Nyack Chamber of Commerce Board member?
I’m entering my 3rd year as a Nyack Chamber of Commerce Board member. The thing that I appreciate most about the Chamber is that we’re always looking to improve on our organization as a whole and all of our events. I feel that as a group, we are all open to fresh ideas and a different ways of thinking or doing things. Along with Melody Patrick, from the Village Parks Department, we put together Nyack’s Earth Day Festival. Earth Day is family friendly festival filled with music, vendors and interactive events for children. Nyack Earth Day Festival 2019 is scheduled for April 27th
What’s your favorite drink to mix?
My favorite drink seems to change every couple of months. Right now its a ‘Mexican Mule’ made with Casamigos Blanco Tequila, Ginger Beer and lime juice.
Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 is now available at Pickwick Book Shop, Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center, Hickory Dickory Dock, Archive Home and the Nyack Farmers Market or at nyackgift.com.
Casa del Sol is located at 104 Main Street or visit casaofnyack.com
by Bill Batson
On the occasion of the publication of Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2, here is the first Nyack Sketch Log. I had spent a few weeks during the summer of 2011 sitting around the village, filing the pages of my sketch pad. NyackNewsAndViews publisher Dave Zornow saw me working around town and asked if I would submit a drawing with a caption. Twelve hundred words and one sketch later, the Nyack Sketch log was born. Even though Dave was concerned I did not know the meaning of the word “caption,” he offered me a weekly column.
My first essay was more about the absence of a place than what was in front of me as I sat on the curb at the corner of Liberty Street and Depew Avenue. I was mourning the loss of a middle-class African American neighborhood, where my grand mother had once owned a home. The house that I chose to draw is similar to ones demolished by fiat through the use of eminent domain during Nyack’s Urban Renewal period.
Here’s the essay and drawing that launched hundreds more. Information about how to buy Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 is at the bottom of this column.
Liberty Street is Aptly Named
Originally published August 23,2011
This house and this street are the remnants of Nyack’s oldest middle-class black neighborhood. In the early twentieth century, when Edward Hopper was a teenager, a group of African American families bought homes in Nyack. Homeownership by blacks in Nyack was a stunning achievement when you consider the fact that merely fifty years earlier blacks owned nothing: blacks were owned.
The speed of this reversal in fortune is hard to comprehend. In historic terms, fifty years is a tiny interval. Fifty years ago was 1968. Imagine a family advancing from slavery to home ownership in the time span that America went from black and white TV to digital cable. My 60’s reference is purposeful irony. It was urban renewal; a phenomenon of that era that destroyed the middle-class black community that many refer to as Jackson Avenue. Almost obliterated, that is, except for this house on Liberty Street.
My great grandparents purchased the house on Jackson Avenue.My grandmother used the meager sum that she got through the condemnation process of the eminent domain debacle to buy another home. The only saving grace is that this site now holds much needed affordable housing and a senior citizen development.
As I sat on the ground in front of this modest structure and drew, a parking enforcement officer walked toward me. I asked him if he was going to ticket me for squatting in a parking space. He laughed and said if that was the case, he would have written me up weeks ago; having seen me numerous times perched on the curb side drawing. I think he chose this moment to say hello because he approved of my subject matter. It turns out that he knew my aunt, who was once the Deputy Village Clerk and who grew up on Jackson Avenue.
I was then approached by a local artist who told me she admires, but avoids representational drawings. She is an abstract painter, which I told her I envy. She lamented the demands of linear perspective, telling me how she would throw in the towel after the first line went astray. Watching my imprecise and quivering depiction, she thought aloud that if she could have forgiven herself the occasional errant mark, she would have seen that the whole is greater than the sum of its imperfect parts.
Because I draw free hand with black ink on white paper, I confront the fear of failure with every pen stroke. Yet I persist and complete each drawing, motivated by my attachment to the village and enriched by my random interactions with the villagers. That someone who loves Nyack and making art would consider drawing from life after meeting me on this special site was invigorating. During this encounter, I could feel the freedom that my ancestors must have felt on this spot. As modest as this home appears, its very existence and hidden history is profound and I am pleased to have archived it.
The cartographers got this one right. Liberty Street is aptly named.
Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 is now available at Pickwick Book Shop, Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center, Hickory Dickory Dock, Archive Home and the Nyack Farmers Market or at nyackgift.com.
by Bill Batson
Some years, it’s easier to compose the gratitude list than others. With my new book, Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 arriving a week from today, I can safely say that Nyack has been “very, very good to me.” But when I opened my booth at the Nyack Farmers’ Market six years ago, I could only afford to pay rent with sketches like this one of autumnal vegetables. (Forty of these illustrated payments are on permanent display at the Nyack Library.)
Only in Nyack can you find a Farmers’ Market so dedicated to the principle that art and culture are part of a balanced diet. In honor of those who believed in me, I want to spend this Thanksgiving column giving thanks to the groups in our community who help others: Soup Angels, Nyack Center, United Hospice of Rockland and Meals on Wheels. I have included contact information if you wish to make a year end donation to support the work of these institutions that make our village home so sweet.
Soup Angels (originally published November 21, 2017)
For the hungry, the First Reformed Church tower on South Broadway is a beacon of hope. Inside this building that almost scrapes the sky, an organization called the Soup Angels provides food and comfort to the needy three nights each week. This Wednesday, for the 12th year, Soup Angels will serve over three thousand Thanksgiving meals throughout the county.
Soup Angels will provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for anyone in the Nyack area who would like a Thanksgiving meal in a welcoming, festive atmosphere (no questions asked) on Wed, Nov 21 from 4 to 7p in the First Reformed Church. The entrance is on Burd St between Cedar and S Broadway. It is accessible to the disabled. Read more about the annual Soup Angels Thanksgiving feast in Bill Batson’s Nyack Nyack Sketch Log: Soup Angels Serve Three Thousand for Thanksgiving.
Box 565, Nyack, NY 10960
Nyack Center(Originally published December 3, 2013)
The only thing not central about the Nyack Center is their location. At the corner of Depew Avenue and South Broadway, their address is too southeast to claim the geographic middle of the village. But in all the measurements that matter, Nyack Center sets the civic standard.
It is a place where children find safety, support and a space to study and adults gather to experience art and culture and discuss public policy. The premises, with a distinguished historic pedigree, shelters small businesses creating an indoor market place. Nyack Sketch Log: Support Nyack’s Center.
58 Depew Avenue
P.O. Box 764, Nyack, NY 10960
United Hospice of Rockland (Originally Published October 7, 2014)
The staff that work from this serenely situated suite of offices tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac in New City have given great comfort to thousands. United Hospice of Rockland, Inc. (UHR) provides a wide range of services to individuals facing serious illness and their families. When my family was confronted with the challenge of making end-of-life decisions for two beloved family members, all of our most urgent personal and professional needs were met by United Hospice of Rockland.
Hospice provides palliative care that not only eases the physical suffering of the patient, but also reduces the emotional and psychological stress of the caretaker. While the living have been called upon, since time immemorial, to witness their loved ones shuffle off this mortal coil, since the mid-20th century, the health care community has begun to pay more attention to the particular needs of the elderly and the terminally ill. Nyack Sketch Log: United Hospice of Rockland
Meals of Wheels (Originally Published on September 25, 2018)
Meals on Wheels delivers. For people who cannot shop or cook because of illness, physical disability or advanced age, their service fleet is a lifeline. For those who can travel, but need a destination for social and recreational activity, MOW operates five senior center in Rockland County. Granting independence for individuals and support for fragile families, MOW provides more than just the safety net, but the tent and a team of acrobats who bend over backwards to care for seniors. I should know. My mother attends their daily program at 90 Depew Avenue in Nyack.
On July 23, 2014 Meals on Wheels Programs & Services of Rockland delivered their 9 millionth meal. The milestone accomplished during their 40th anniversary, commemorates not only millions of meals served, but millions of human connections and safety checks. Nyack Sketch Log: Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels Programs & Services of Rockland, Inc.
121 West Nyack Road
Nanuet, NY 10954
(845) 624-MEAL (6325)
Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 will be available on Tuesday, November 27. Join me for the book launch at 6p at the Hudson House, 134 Main Street. Soup Angels is one of the fifty-five sketches and short essays in this new volume. Purchase an advance copy and get $5 off the cover price at nyackgift.com or stop by the Bill Batson Arts tent at the Nyack Farmers’ Market which is open Wednesday of this week, to accommodate Thanksgiving on Thursday.