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Friday, August 31, 2007


History is always fascinating, and sometimes travel allows me to become part of history—sometimes even as it is disappearing from view like the photos in Back to the Future.

Warwick, located in New York's historic Hudson Valley claims many important historic moments of its own, and roadside markers throughout the area attest to them. Yet hidden in the town’s village of Greenwood Lake lies an area dear to students of African American history, and until a few years ago, this bit of history was in danger of being forgotten and lost forever. Thanks to some dedicated and hard-working people, that is not going to happen.

Greenwood Farms, a community near Greenwood Lake was the first African-American vacation community in New York State. Its inception in 1919 was the idea of prominent members of the African-American community in Brooklyn who were actually stymied in making international trade deals with South American countries because of the first World War. Taking their investment money, they bought 143 acres in Greenwood Lake, divided it into parcels and sold them. They formed the Greenwood Farms Association, and in the ensuing years because they were two miles from Greenwood Lake, made a lake of their own, built roads and homes, and established themselves as an integral part of the of the greater community.

Famous people vacationed at Greenwood Farms. Langston Hughes, one of America’s premier poets and writers frequented Gladys Taylor's Inn, a boarding house now the beautiful home of one of the Association’s members. Among the other people of note who had homes or vacationed here were Cecil McPherson, lyricist and composer Dr. Gertrude Curtis, the first Black female dentist in NY state, John Rosamond Johnson, composer of the Black National Anthem, and his brother James, who wrote the lyrics, Samuel J. Battle, the first African-American policeman in NYC, James Farmer, founder of CORE, playwright Owen Dodson, who was the first Black graduate of the Yale School of Drams, and many others. Quite a legacy, and quite a source of pride to the area.

As time passed and thankfully more opportunities for vacations arose, the community dwindled and Greenwood Farms became more integrated with the village. Grandsons of the original owners, seeing their history dissipating, decided several years ago to resurrect the association to try to mark this unique historical treasure.

Today the Greenwood Farms Association is alive and well. Two new road markers proclaim the community to visitors on Nelson Road.

My friend Hakima is active in the Association. I recently attended a barbecue with another friend, Pat, sponsored by the Association to thank supporters of the effort to raise awareness of this important community. Local politicians, businesspeople, descendants of the original Association members, community members, and people coming from places far away recognized the special nature of Greenwood Farms. We were treated to a tour of the area, shown the house where Langston Hughes stayed and walked around the property. We saw some of the other homes too. There was an excellent reading of Hughes’ poetry by Yvonne McFall, a young actress, singer and dancer, and Paul Kwame Johnson, and good talk with local leaders and Association members about plans for the future.

For more information: Greenwood Farms Association, PO Box 212, Greenwood Lake, NY 10925 or visit their website at

This hidden treasure calls for special directions. Coming from Warwick: Travel on Rt. 17A from Warwick to Greenwood Lake toward Sterling Forest, make a left-hand turn onto Old Tuxedo Road and then a right on Nelson Road. Be sure to view the historic markers. Coming from points south: Travel Rt. 17 to Rt. 17A. Follow 17A over Tuxedo Mt. and make a right onto Old Tuxedo Road and then a right on Nelson Rd.


What a bummer—Harry Potter is finished! I enjoyed every moment of these books and movies, and the neatly tied present that is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows magically produced a Christmas in July!

Rob likes to laugh at us HP fans, but JK Rowling did a great job developing her story. Over the years we grew to know her characters—and not only the main characters. We can envision Hogwarts, The Burrow, the Forbidden Forest, and all the strange and magical happenings—good and bad—created from her imagination. We knew from the beginning where the confrontation would be, and once the world got over the witch and wizard thing and stopped complaining about it, we all settled down to enjoy the magical ride. I’m not sure it’s a negative that the Harry Potter books have joined the likes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye on the banned books list. What marketing accompanied the books! Do you know any Harry Potter fan who has not, in the past ten years, gotten some sort of HP paraphernalia? I have some miniatures, bookends, and an empty book jacket box to store my "valuables."

My Red Hat group, Blithe Spirits, saw the last three movies together, and I’m sure we’ll see the next two together as well.

But about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows….What I loved was the consistency with which Rowling developed the tale. A friend saw her on a TV interview, and she had shoeboxes with notes and little pictures. She knew how the plot and characters would develop, and she drew objects so she could accurately describe them to us. Success is all hers.

Knowing the prophecy, of course I wanted to find the end of the story, but there were other things I wanted to learn. (I’m intentionally being vague here because I don’t want to give anything away from this book or the earlier books just in case you desire to delve into the tales.)

I’d become quite fond of the main characters naturally, though I can honestly say that Harry was not my favorite; I sometimes found him too teenager-ish, arrogant and self-centered. But I liked Neville Longbottom a lot. He had such a sad history, and he kept popping up. I wanted to see what was going to happen with him. I was also extremely curious about Severus Snape. Sometimes he seemed to be on Harry’s side, and sometimes he seemed to be too dark. I wanted to know the truth. (funny to say that about fantasy fiction)

There were other loose ends lying around, and I wanted Rowling to tidy them up. She did, and I was not disappointed. No loose ends; no unanswered questions. Just a sigh as I finished. The adventure is over.


If you travel to Florida, they say that Peanut Island is one of the best snorkeling sites. How's that for hype! But I debated chickening out when they warned that sharks and barracuda also think Peanut Island is a great place to hang out.

Easy to get to, we hop the free trolley from our hotel to the Sailfish Marina.

Peanut Island is a man-made Island which served as a Coast Guard station until the mid 1990s. It was supposed to be JFK's command post during the Cuban Missile Crisis because it is located just across from his home on Palm Beach. In fact, I sat on the Peanut Island Beach looking at some of the beautiful homes on Palm Beach, barely a stone's throw away. Originally a peanut plant was supposed to be built on the island. That never happened, but the name remained.

Today one can make reservations to camp here. You can walk around the island on a brick paved road, snorkel in the lagoon, or just lie on the beach enjoying the views of Singer and Palm Beach Islands and watch the boats--sailboats, power boats--all kinds and all sizes--in the inlet and heading down the waterways to West Palm Beach or out to the ocean. Future plans for Peanut Island involve developing the artificial reefs and enlarging the snorkeling facilities. Sweet.

Rob and I come to snorkel. It's an activity we try never to miss. We walk toward the southern part of the island. We've left our rings and jewelry in the safe in our room. Our friend, Michael, warned us about sharks and barracudas. Barracudas have weak eyesight but love to attack anything that shines--no rings, no watches, NO jewelry! The woman at the water taxi stand confirmed Michael's warning but said she had never heard of anyone being hurt. She, herself, has snorkeled there and would do so again. Hmmmm

What we did bring was our beach chairs, water, a picnic lunch, and our snorkeling gear--the ingredients for a perfect day. Snorkeling is best two hours before high tide and an hour after, and we try to time ourselves.

How can I describe the incredible experience in the crystal clear, warm, calm waters of the lagoon among the rocks and artificial reefs? We swim amidst thousands of fish. No kidding. They don’t swim away from us; instead they ease close, almost as curious about us as we are about them. Fish appear in deep purples and neon yellows. They are striped, dotted, silver, black, and every shade in between. There are such tiny fish that we have to look closely, and there are fish almost as long as my arm. It is like swimming in an aquarium. It is like swimming in Finding Nemo.

We stay in the water about 45 minutes, and then enjoy the beach and the sun. Beautiful boats come and go through the inlet. At one point a double hull catamaran, Mariah, anchors with a boat full of girls who snorkel for a while, and then Mariah motors back out the inlet. We go back for another 45 minutes or so, and then enjoy the beach again. A ship, the Palm Beach Princess, comes back from an afternoon Casino Cruise. We snorkel a third time for another 45 minutes or so. We go to the far side of the rocks, and the fish are bigger and more colorful. We know we have to come back.

Oh yes, we did see barracuda, and that is the first thing the Trolley driver asks us when we board to return to the hotel. We saw at least two, but they were young and really not very scary. When we saw them, we just backed up and went somewhere else. No big deal. I felt kinda brave!

Remember Peanut Island. If you're a snorkeler, you'll love it. If not, go to picnic, soak in the rays and watch the boats and people passing through the inlet. If you check the Third Age Traveler archives for March, 2007; you'll see what happened when we got back to Bayside Marina. It just gets better!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Life is good. When I finished Blue Shoes and Happiness, the novel I believed was the last of the Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, just to be sure, I linked to Amazon. Lo and behold, a new one came out on April 23rd!!! Susan did tell me she thought there was a new one in the works. Thanks Susan! Must have been done as a result of The Secret (see the review under the Books lable). (You'll only get that in-joke if you've read it.) Anyway, I ordered it along with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Let me quit meandering and get back to the matter at hand.

In some ways, I found Blue Shoes and Happiness the weakest novel in the series. While I still enjoyed it, there is not nearly as much character development as in prior books, although Alexander McCall Smith allows Mma Makutsi to be more independent, and, indeed, critical of her boss, Precious Ramotswe. She is also learning about relating to her fiancĂ©, Phuti Radiphuti, sometimes a bit difficult for this independent woman. The apprentices are less prominent as are Puso and Motholeli, the young children from Mma Potokwane’s orphan farm. Even Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni takes a back seat (that’s a hint).

Weak, however, is relative in this series. I enjoyed it, and I’m ready for the “new last” one, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. There are some interesting cases to solve here, and as usual, Mma Ramotswe uses her common sense coupled with Clovis Anderson’s wisdom to solve them in her unique manner. There are also glimpses into culture here, and some comments on the clash between new Africa and old, something upon which Smith often touches. That is not to say that old is always better, but leaving it behind is often more difficult than it seems and sometimes a source of national embarrassment.

For readers, getting a glimpse of another culture is vastly rewarding. At one point, Mma Ramotswe, visiting the National Park in Mokolodi, meets a dying American woman. A friend photographs both of them, and “The woman reached for her [Precious] hand, and clasped it briefly in her own…Mma Ramotswe whispered …The Lord will look after you, my sister, and then she stood up and said goodbye, in Setswana, because that is the language that her heart spoke.” As I said, weak is relative.

In addition to its serious nature, humor is never forgotten. At one point, Precious has an interesting run-in with a very poisonous snake. Her story becomes very important later as she solves a case.

I also enjoyed a conversation between Precious and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni:
“Is it not strange that men and women think about such very different things? There you are thinking about mechanical matters, and I am sitting her thinking about tea.”
“Yes,” said Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. “It is strange.”

Now that I’ve told you more than I usually do about a book, I’m wondering if my initial reaction is a bit harsh. I like this one too, and I’ve got The Good Husband of Zebra Drive waiting in the wings.
Just a note: They've cast the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, so we should be seeing it soon in theaters. How will they do Precious?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


1. If you haven’t gotten a passport yet, it’s time. Although the government postponed implementing the new passport requirements for Canada and the Caribbean because of the backlog in processing passport applications, if you need one, apply now. Eventually they will get their act together, and if you are planning to leave the country, you’re going to need it. Don’t wait until the last minute. Our local post office is telling people it takes 12 weeks to get a passport!

2. Save some money if you’re in Florida. Want to snorkel? Get your own snorkeling gear at the mall, or if you will rarely use it, at Walmart. It will work just fine, and you’re not obligated to carry it home. Same goes for beach chairs. Many of the hotels charge for chairs. Pick them up at a beach shop or, again, Walmart.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I love reading your Third Age Traveler. I started my 4th Age when I turned 70 this past June. I especially loved the piece on Arethusa, your sorority sisters.. This is something I do with my HS sorority sisters from Sigma Tau Alpha or, as we called it, ETA. Next year we are getting together in the Berkshires. One of our sisteers purchased a summer home there and has invited us. We've done it here and in LA so far.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I like tweaking Third Age Traveler. In addition to the new look this month, I've added a new element to the sidebar. It's called LABELS. Scroll down and you'll see it below Links.

I've begun to categorize the articles so that you can access them easily.

Someone asked me about the area around Lenox, MA, and I wanted to recommend some places to see and some nice restaurants Rob and I enjoyed. With Labels, she can just click on the Massachusetts' link and/or the restaurant link, and she'll find places we've been. Someone wrote about Farmer's Market and the Grove in Los Angeles, asking if I'd been there, and I sent him the archived issue. With these catalogued links, I could have directed him to the California Labels' link for my impressions.

Seems like a good addition to the site. What do you think about cataloguing like this? Let me know. Thanks