Spotlight on a Hurleyville Treasure: David Bockman

By Kathleen Sullivan
Pharmacist Dave Bockman with the ham radio in his store.

David Bockman (known by everyone as “Uncle Dave”), the son of Abraham and Jesse Bockman, was born in New York City on June 15, 1906, and grew up in South Fallsburg.

Abraham immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine and was processed through Ellis Island in 1903. Jesse and their five children followed a short time later. Their family grew…Dave had six brothers and three sisters.

Having chosen pharmacist as his profession, Dave gradu­ated from Fordham Universi­ty in the Bronx and became a Registered Pharmacist.

Upon graduation, Dave re­turned home to the Catskills and managed Heller’s Phar­macy in Hurleyville for three years. The pharmacy was on the corner of Main Street and Mongaup Road…today it’s a parking lot for Frankie and Johnny’s Presents Nardi’s. Dave eventually purchased the business and operated it successfully for forty-three years. Bockman’s Pharmacy, “The Complete Modern Drug Store”, was a gathering place for everyone, offering coffee, a roll with butter, conversa­tion, and most importantly, Dave’s warmth, charm and dry sense of humor.

A bit of Hurleyville lore and a sign of a wonderful commu­nity…if the store had to be left unattended for a while the door was left open. Custom­ers were trusted to come in and leave payment for their purchases on the counter.

Western Union services were available at the phar­macy. It also served as a station for the Shortline Bus Company, and was the stop in Hurleyville for the Fallsburg School District.

Dave married Augusta “Gussie” Matenson. Gussie was born in Hurleyville. Her father died at a young age. Her mother operated a dry cleaner’s shop in the Min­nie Fogel building in Hur­leyville…the site of the Hur­leyville Arts Centre.

Gussie and Dave were the parents of four children: Saundra, Flora, Sheldon and Albee. Albee is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mobilemedic EMS based in Hurleyville.

Dave and Gussie were renowned throughout the Catskills for making the “Best Egg Cream in the Mountains.”

A dedicated amateur radio enthusiast, Dave often in­vited friends to come and lis­ten while he was “on the air” communicating with folks around the world.

Dave also repaired and sold radios and televisions. Natu­rally, Bockman’s had the first color television in Sullivan County.

Dave Bockman inside his drug store.

Dedicated to the commu­nity, Dave served as Direc­tor of Sullivan County Civil Defense for more than twen­ty years. He was an ardent supporter of Congregation Anschei Hurleyville, and the Hurleyville Fire Department.

Dave was especially proud of his sons’ service in the U. S. Armed Forces. Sheldon served in the U.S. Army, and Albee was a member of the U.S. Air Force. The American flag was proudly displayed at the pharmacy.

Dave passed away in 1975 after a short illness. Gussie and Sheldon continued to run the business for several years as a country store. They eventually sold the building, a landmark in Hurleyville, and it was later destroyed in a fire.

Dave is one of Hurleyville’s many wonderful treasures.

Please visit www.hurleyvil­ to find more trea­sures in Hurleyville.