© 2023 by Don Hammond for Mayor

A Matter of History...

January 14, 2017

My parents moved here in the forties and I live in the house that I grew up in on Dickinson Avenue. Our entire family, my siblings, my wife and two daughters, we all went through the Nyack School system and graduated from Nyack High School. My mom Harriet was a kindergarten teacher at Lake Road now Liberty Elementary School for over 25 years. She was known as the teacher in sneakers. My Dad, too, was a teacher, at BOCES in West Nyack where he started the “Electricity” class. He was also an auxiliary sheriff and responded to the 2 events that most rocked our community in the past 40 years. The High School bus crash and the Brinks robbery. He was a first responder to both events. I can remember him crying over both tragedies.

 

I served on the Nyack School Board for 7 years, I am a volunteer coach for the football team and my wife Ronna and I work with kids who are struggling, helping them with school work and figuring out their future.  I am privileged to serve as the President of Meals on Wheels of Rockland County and have spent over 30 years in senior management of international and local non profits.

 

I have watched Nyack change. I can remember when there were a couple of grocery stores in our downtown, Woolworths was actually open and and bar fights often rolled into the street and Nyack police used batons to break them up. I remember when the now much discussed Gedney Street parcel was giant oil tanks and we would sneak in and swim there even though the water was full of dead fish. I remember when there was no such thing as the “old” High School… when Frank Sinatra moored his boat here, stories of when the St George Hotel thrived and families could go to the Lighthouse for special occasions.

 

I can remember when they tore down black family homes and replaced them in an attempt at “urban renewal” with the current strip mall and unachieved plans to build high rises on that spot. I remember when the John Green house was owned by a slumlord and families who lived their suffered from no water or electricity. I remember when Pavion actually made “Wet and Wild “cosmetics and the Time Hotel was the Soffel Seals plant; locals worked there and our streets were busy with large trucks and vehicles connected to manufacturing. Yes, we have seen it all, at least five decades of it. I know this place and, yes,

 

I have watched this place change many, many times over because that is what life is about when it is moving forward and adjusting to the times.  I remember a 9pm curfew announced by the fire signal, that it was important to stay clear of some street corners. 

 

I can tell you, as someone who has literally seen Nyack through decades of change, and my entire life, that one of the beautiful things about our great Village is that it is constantly changing and improving. The Nyack of today is completely different from the Nyack of my childhood but that is not a bad thing. It is just a reality. One of the reasons that I chose to serve on the Village Board is to be a careful agent of this change but also a protector of all that is precious about our Village. And I am incredibly proud to have done that on both the Nyack School Board and the Village Board…

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