...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bridges and Brew

Crashing through the wooden bridge.

I have many memories of growing up in the house in West Shokan. I spent 18 years there before I moved out. I will share more of them in later blogs. However my older siblings and parents told stories for years of the exciting adventures of living in the country. Some of these were before Rick and I came along or were just too young at the time to know what was going on. One of those stories was of the oil truck that collapsed the bridge.

You see, there was a stream that separated Dry Brook Road from our driveway. When my family first moved in and for many years afterward (even I can remember this) the bridge was made of lumber. I think the only things supporting the planks were beams that connected the two sides (picture a ladder placed across the stream). I do seem to recall wooden beams under the bridge when we played in the stream.

I assume the bridge was originally made so crudely for the sole purpose of getting vehicles to the house and that was all the materials that were on hand and it worked, for a while. However, if I remember correctly, the oil deliveryman was leery of the bridge and didn't want to cross it, but someone convinced him to do it. Oil deliveries had been made many times before, so they knew it could be done. However, someone may not have taken into consideration how much oil was in each truck. Anyway the driver eventually was convinced. (Never doubt your instincts, people!) and he drove over the bridge. The picture tells the rest of the story.

Because the planks were placed on top of huge beams that connected the two banks of the stream. A loud noise was made every time you drove over the planks. This was a clue to us that we had company coming! This proved very handy when the Still was in operation.

The Still? You ask. Oh, I haven't told the story of how the biggest barn on the property was used as a distillery for, yes, you guessed it -- Moonshine! The Giuliano Family purchased the property and then rented it out to a group from NYC. These folks built a huge vat in the barn and had pipes running all through the property to run off the mash and operate the Still. In 1950, it was raided, the men arrested and the Still shut down. Click on the title above for the newspaper article. The story goes that a pilot working for the NYC Reservoir was patrolling the area for the security purposes when he noticed the roof on the barn had no snow on it. They sent officers to investigate and jackpot!

It made for a very exciting history of the house. In the house itself was a trap door to the basement. As kids Rick and I used to dream up stories of how the trap door was used. Once I learned of a second attic in the house, I used to wondered if there was hidden treasure up there. I also wondered if money was hidden in the ground somewhere on the property. Years later when I would put in gardens in various parts of the yard I would come across the pipes that were buried in the ground, but no treasures.

Across the creek I discovered an area where old bottles were dumped. It was fascinating finding all those bottles and wondering what they had held and who put them there. (Makes one wonder what future generations will think of all the garbage and appliances we have in land fills.)

Relatives of the Giuliano's still live in the area and shared a few more details of the Still with me. Thank you Florence! As stated above, I will share more on later blogs.

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