Those Were The Days: The Early 60’s by John H. Vargo, Publisher
This was the time, 1961, at the foot of 9th Street in Verplanck, NY, (the Coal Dock) you could buy four “dogs” and a soda for a dollar and a half. Only a quarter of a mile to the North of this is White Beach. On weekends a hundred boats would be anchored bow out with the stern anchor dropped in the white limestone of the pure white beach. Cars would be pulled up, right next to the blankets on the white sand.
Only a few years before Mayor Burke, of Buchanan and Con Edison, the company supplying electricity thorough the lower portion of New York State, had agreed to build a nuclear reactor at Indian Point Amusement Park. Predictions of electric being produced so cheaply that you would not have to pay more than 20 cents a month for all your needs to run your home had been touted in the local newspapers.
Fuel for your boat was 25 cents a gallon, a new car cost $2,600, a loaf of bread was 20 cents, renting an apartment was $98. per month. Average blue-collar workers income was $5,315. per year. In January Jack Kennedy was sworn in as President of the United States. The space race had just begun with the United States playing catch up to Soviet Russia. President Kennedy made a prediction that we would put a man on the moon before the decade was over. (Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon just died in August 2012.) The space race would play an important part in the development of boats and the boating world with techniques employed and products developed being used by the boating industry.
For the most part the sewage treatment plants were crude by today’s standards along the Hudson River. Some Locomotives were still spurning coal dust along the Hudson River Line. (The last of them were being replaced by Diesel engines.) When you swam through the tide lines, where everything that floated collected, including coal dust, you used your hands to push the debris away. The boat clubs, such as the Croton Yacht Club, Peekskill Yacht Club, Minnseango Yacht Club, Cortland Yacht Club, had men and women working together to enjoy each others company an their well loved boats. These boats were never put into the water until Memorial Day and many of them were still made of Mahogany, Oak and plywood. You built or bought a boat, kit boats were popular, and fiberglass was just coming into its own as the Pierson Brothers produced the very popular Triton sailboat. (Many are still in use today.)
Boat registration numbers were only a few years old. On hot summer nights you parked at Steamboat Dock in Verplanck and watched
Charley Perry go by with his family, others, flying by to see who could impress the shore crowd. Every once in a while a beer bottle would fly out of a car and into the river. Within a few days the broken glass would wash up on the adjacent beach. People swimming there would cut their feet on the broken glass. Molded plywood boats had a very brief love affair in the area, as they were very
light, almost indestructible. A 35 horsepower Evenrude on one of these boats made the owner a hot shot for sure. Spraying the dock with water by turning the boat at the last minute before crashing was common, as young boys jumped off the pilings’ to cool off.
Cigarettes dangled from most men’s lips, with the hacking cough associated with them captured the older mens lungs. Was it a better life than we have today, think about it, was it?
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