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Ramona’s Ramblings

An interview with Pucky

Ramona Jan
Posted 4/30/24

We all know her…or shall I say knew her? She was a beauty. Even in her old age. Stoic throughout the years. A trouper with immense tenacity holding up to life’s hardships. We all …

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Ramona’s Ramblings

An interview with Pucky


We all know her…or shall I say knew her? She was a beauty. Even in her old age. Stoic throughout the years. A trouper with immense tenacity holding up to life’s hardships. We all witnessed it. We even rooted for her, wondered why no one was rescuing her. For, if not a part of us, she was us. 

We watched her age gracefully. Took bets on when she’d succumb.  In a hundred years, if you bet against her especially in a heavy snowstorm, you’d lose. It was during a mild winter, this past one in fact, when bets were nil, that she surprised us all. She went down, quietly in the night, and the next day was a pile of broken glass, aged wood and shingles. Bones to bury. The little house on 17B finally collapsed. Now she’s gone. Gravity gets all of us…eventually.

For years, she was mistaken as a one-room schoolhouse, but she loved it. She always wanted children of her own, and when she couldn’t have them, was delighted by the myth that generations learned to read and write within her walls. Imagined laughter of young’uns warming hands over a coal stove after walking three or more miles to school through freezing slush comforted her. When taken for a school house, she just smiled and nodded. It wasn’t lying. But it wasn’t the truth. And that’s where our interview begins.

“Some say you were a toll house. Were you?”

“A toll house? No way! For one, I was not always where you think I was. For starters, I was stuck ‘tween two big barns. Couldn’t a’ been a toll house. Then I got hauled ‘round 1900 to the Halsey Corners, Route 17B and Pucky Huddle Road. Much better view. And when I got there, a miracle occurred. I got me some children ‘cause a family moved in. I made them a home, but they only stayed a while, and a while’s longer than nuttin’.” 

“I hear people call you Pucky?” 

“Ha! It’s better than Halsey.”

“If you weren’t a school or toll house, then what were you?”

“A washhouse. I washed horses. I stood high on the hill with room ‘nuff for a whole team, huge steel washtubs, floorboards that drained, and a coal burnin’ stove to heat the water. Horses loved me.”

“Did you give them something to eat?”

“Yesserie! Hay, and sometimes a bucket of oats. The humans got just as good at the inn across the way.”

“When did stagecoach drivers stop washing their horses?” 

“Maybe ‘round 1915 when the damn automobile was invented. Or probably, more like ‘35, when I heard only 3,000 buggies were bein’ made, and very few come upstate. That’s when I started sittin’ quiet, watchin’ the eras pass by.” 

“Was there any era you particularly liked?”

“I loved the attention I got from them, whaddya call ‘em, hippies? When their cars backed up on 17B. Couldn’t tell boys from girls, but it don’t matter ‘cause those critters admired my figure, still perfect. And after that Woodstock thing, the picture takers and artistes come along. It was like being a Hollywood star.”

“Is that how you feel?”

“At my age, I feel more like a landmark, and thanks to Bethel Council on the Arts, I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

The BCA is soliciting images of the dwelling at Halsey Corners for an exhibit at ARTSPACE opening over the Memorial Day Weekend. Submit your images to the BCA by emailing a JPEG of the work, the size, an approximate date of when it was taken, and a suggested price (if you wish to offer the image for sale) to BCABethelArt@gmail.com with the subject line “Halsey Corners.”  

RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at callicoonwalkingtours@gmail.com.


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