SPOTLIGHT ON A HURLEYVILLE TREASURE
– By Paul Lounsbury
Born on January 10, 1923, my father, Harry “Jim” Lounsbury, was the third of four children born to Daniel and Grace Lounsbury whose family farm was at the intersection of Whittaker and Anawana Lake Roads on Columbia Hill, overlooking Hurleyville.
He attended the Columbia Hill one room school which is still standing at the same intersection. His eldest sibling, Alida Brinckerhoff, is 99 and resides in Middletown NY. The others have passed on to their new homes in Heaven.
Dad was raised in a hard-working and loving family. His father was a carpenter by trade and a dairy farmer by necessity. Each of his parents had eleven siblings, and so family was always around. His paternal grandmother was Carrie Applebee of the Applebee Farm on Old Liberty Road which is now owned by The Center for Discovery. His paternal grandfather, Daniel A., had a farm a bit farther down Whittaker Road. They took in boarders each summer, participating in the birth of what would become a regional resort destination due to the proximity of the O & W Railroad in Hurleyville. The family worshipped at the Hurleyville Methodist Church. Dad and his father were Elders there. During my young days in the 1950’s and 60’s, Dad was the Superintendent of the Sunday School and, at its peak, eighty-eight children would gather each Sunday morning for religious education and training. Dad loved all people, especially children.
He met the love of his life, Barbara Mariner of Monticello when he was in his late teens. They intended to marry but had to wait.
When America went to war in 1941, Dad enlisted in the US Navy to serve and protect our nation and freedom. He was assigned to serve on a troop transport ship, the USS Goodhue, in the Pacific theatre. His ship was one of many that delivered Marines, Army personnel and their support supplies to the beachhead battles in that part of the world. He became a “Radarman 3/c”. Thankfully he made it through the war without injury. Like most war veterans, Dad never wanted to talk about what the war was like. However, he always reminded us of the anniversary of the day when his ship was struck by a Japanese kamikaze (a fighter plane). Many, including close friends, were killed in the attack.
Upon his discharge, Dad returned to the farm in Hurleyville. He married Barbara and began working as a professional carpenter.
His first significant job was working on the building of the Neversink Dam and Gatehouse facility for New York City.
I recall him later working on the construction of the Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School in Monticello and on bridges for the new Route 17, the “Quickway.” As a union carpenter, he had to travel to where the union sent him. There were very few union jobs at home, and Dad traveled each day “down the line” to Orange County, Rockland County, Dutchess County and New Jersey. He would get up at 4:30 each morning to make his commute and often not get home until 7 PM.
Because of the excellence of his work, the owner of the construction company would keep my father employed during the winter on small jobs. He wanted to make sure that Dad would be there to work for the company when the construction season resumed in the spring.
Summer time was filled with weekend camping trips to Beaver Kill State Park with our cousins, and then to Mongaup Pond State Park when that park opened in the 1960’s.
Because of the construction business, vacations during the summer months were never an option for our family. Occasional vacations to Daytona Beach in Florida provided an escape from the New York winters.
In the late 1950’s, my grandfather sold his farm to a farmer from Monticello whose farm was taken by the “Quickway” project. My father and grandfather then remodeled “Uncle Henry’s “old house at the three-way intersection on Columbia Hill. They converted it into a two-family house. Our family lived upstairs, and my grandparents lived on the first floor. Dad and my grandfather renovated or built several bungalows on the same property for their summer tenants who had visited the farm for decades.
Dad had a lot of buildings and lawns to care for each day after working and commuting so far.
I will always remember the constant flow of visitors…my grandparents’ family members on Sunday afternoons and the visitors in neighboring bungalows during the summer.
As the years passed, Dad became a trustee and later the chairman of the Hurleyville Cemetery Association until his declining health forced him to pass the torch to Roger Dainack. He always made himself available to the local undertakers, and he worked on updating the records of the graves and made sure that current maps of the cemetery were available.
Dad was always working on the property at the Methodist church and participated in local VFW events.
He retired from the carpenters’ union twice…I don’t recall the dates, but he just wasn’t ready the first time.
My parents erected a modular home on the vacant lot just to the east of the family home after Dad’s retirement and the death of his parents. The family home is now owned by The Center for Discovery.
Due to health reasons, my parents eventually sold the last parcel of land of the Lounsbury tract and moved to Kinnebrook Park near Monticello.
Dad was always involved in the Hurleyville beautification projects. He enjoyed working with Vivian and David Ginsberg and others in the beautification group.
My mother, Barbara, passed away in January 2010. My father spent his final days at the Sullivan County Adult Care Center because of his struggle with COPD. Even at the nursing home, he was one to befriend those who needed a friend, share a shoulder to cry on, and lend an ear that would listen. The nurses there all fell in love with him and fussed over his beautiful blue eyes. He was given the nickname of “Harry Blue Eyes.” Pastor Susan Woodworth of Hurleyville was his best buddy. Everyone loved “Harry Blue Eyes”! Not surprisingly, he took on the beautification of the flower gardens at SCACC and brought them back to a level of beauty.
On August 23, 2013, his fourth great grandchild was born.
With my wife and I, his sister Alida, and his nephew and wife at his bedside, Dad breathed his last on August 26, 2013 at SCACC. He was buried with military honors in the family plot in the Hurleyville Cemetery.
My father was a true Hurleyville treasure.