A New Paltz Reunion

Members of the New Paltz High School Class of 1962 were born at the end of World War II. In July we celebrate the 55th anniversary of our commencement into the world at large-a world of great opportunity. Though we’ve changed beyond recognition in many cases, many areas of New Paltz are much the same. This is more a New Paltz story than ours, but for at least 18 years of our seven plus decades, our stories coincided.

Just over 80 of us graduated. We went on to become parents, nurses, musicians, educators, doctors, dentists, lawyers, writers, builders, office workers, horse trainers, artists, diplomats and more, and we spread out across the world, taking our excellent educations, optimism, and friendships with us. We hope many who attended New Paltz High School will join us on July 30, graduates or not, Class of ’62 or not. Contact viv@abouttown.us for full information.


The Bridge, New Paltz, NY

The Bridge, New Paltz, NY



High School and the College

This summer of 2017 finds the New Paltz High School Class of 1962 meeting to commemorate their time together growing up in the privileged atmosphere of a rural college town post–World War II.

Small outlying rural schools were eventually consolidated into the New Paltz Central School District.  Students from one- and two-room schools, such as Plutarch and Tuttletown, went to either St. Joseph’s Catholic School or to the Campus School. Most went to the Campus School.

There, master teachers such as Mrs. Compton, Mrs. Glenn, Mrs. Hamilton, and Miss Bent taught not only their little charges, but guided future teachers from the New Paltz State College. Also at the Campus School were Mr. Archard who taught us square dancing and Mr. Harrison, our art teacher. All Campus School teachers seemed totally dedicated to civilizing us through example. Immaculately attired every day, our teachers saw themselves as professional, and we were suitably in awe of them. We students were given responsibilities within our grades with tasks suited to our ages (taking attendance and lunch money, cleaning blackboards, watering plants). Some of us served on the Safety Patrol, guarding crosswalks and keeping the main entrance of the school orderly. It was a very different world. Today, the Campus School is the Van de Berg Learning Center, part of a much larger and richer SUNY New Paltz.


The Campus School, 1954, New Paltz, NY. Mrs. Compton's fifth grade class

The Campus School, 1954, New Paltz, NY. Mrs. Compton’s fifth grade class, the future members of the New Paltz High School graduating class of 1962 have * by name. From left, row 1: Bill Dubois*, John Keator*, Adrian DeVaux, Teddy Kreoger, Tom Vett*, Eddie Thompson*, Bob Martin*, Bill Mauer, David Reilly. Second row from left. Martin Haber, Vivian Yess*, Tom Weisz*, Henry Auchmoody, Nancy Diemer*, Jean Stark, Charlotte Romer, John Langwick*. Third row from left: Ann Smiley, Ellen ?, Unknown, Jean Ruger, unknown. Missing: Bill Schoonmaker, possibly others.


When Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited New Paltz in the mid-1950s, we Campus School students greeted her at the Old Main Building on the college campus. Very few of us understood that this lovely young woman represented a world apart. We often went to the college bookstore for supplies or treats and felt a part of the college from our vantage point at the Campus School.

The future graduates  of 1962 were the first with the option of migrating in seventh grade to the new Middle School located in the High School. (The entire building on the corner of South Manheim Blvd. and Main St. is today the New Paltz Middle School.) It was dramatic for those of us who did make the change as we were thrown in with the high school students and perhaps grew up a little faster than our peers back in the Campus School. Most of them joined us in their freshman or sophomore years.

One of the many advantages of growing up in a college town was the fact that so many of our peers came from highly educated families. Their parents expected high-quality education that prepared their offspring for post-secondary success. For those of us not hailing from that kind of background, it made for compelling competition and higher self-expectation.


A Stunning View Improved

The bridge at the foot of Main Street, New Paltz, NY, was replaced in 2016. The new bridge is not as elegant as the first steel bridge erected in the late 1800s. Both are shown above–the new bridge in a photo taken this Spring, and the old shown in a postcard from 1910. There is no decorative flourish atop the new structure, but the replacement bridge’s lack of upper cross beams presents an unobstructed grand view of the Wallkill River flats and the Shawangunk Ridge with the stone Mohonk tower. Additionally, on the bridge’s north side is a viewing area and a pedestrian/bike lane leading to a new trail for our exploration.

Seemingly unchanged, the flats and mountain have always been the backdrop of our lives as students in New Paltz. In an earlier time, the flats saw auto and horse racing, and still earlier, there were different towers at Mohonk. Earlier still, of course, no tower at all. There exists a saying that if you have stood in the shadow of the Shawangunks “you will never really leave.”


Main Street, New Paltz

The south side of Main Street New Paltz from Church Street looking east. The photo is from the collection of Dorothy Barrach Zwerin. She vacationed here staying with her aunt and cousins on the corner of North Ohioville Road and Van Nostrand Road. She later attended and graduated from the New Paltz Teachers College. She is now a retired teacher and does archiological digs in Warwick, NY, assisting in unearthing that village’s colonial past.


Main Street

On Main Street, The College Inn (today Russo’s Deli) was a college hangout that we only ventured into on occasion. Pat and George’s (today P&Gs) was not appropriate for children as it was mostly known as a bar frequented by the college crowd (drinking age was 18 then.) Buddy’s (60 & 62 Main St.) served ice cream sodas and hamburgers and was one of our favorites at all ages. Lane and Sargent (now a restaurant and tie-dye shop) was a “five and dime” where you could find most school supplies. JC Pilch was another sundries store (now Manny’s). Pilch also occupied the site of McGillicuddy’s (today across from Manny’s) as shown in the 1952 photo above. The bakery shown in the photo is now Gourmet Pizza.

Many buildings have been lost in the years since the Class of 62 started school: In the 1910 postcard image below is the home of the Principal of the State Normal School on the corner of Prospect and Main Streets. It burned in the early 1990s and was replaced by an apartment building.


Residence of principal of State Normal School, New Paltz, NY

Residence of principal of State Normal School, New Paltz, NY


Another lost gem, shown below, was the The Sunset Inn at the southwest corner of Manheim Blvd. and Main Street. The Inn was razed in 1955 to make way for a new Empire grocery market and today is a mini-mall housing Dedrick’s Pharmacy and New Paltz Eye Care, among other businesses.


Sunset Inn, New Paltz, NY

Sunset Inn, New Paltz, NY


No tour down memory lane would be complete without our alma mater. Today, it is the Middle School, but in 1962 it housed 7th through 12th grades with an addition to the east that provided welcomed new space.

Of the class of 1962’s 84 graduates, there are eight fewer today to celebrate with us in July. In their memory we continue on.


High School, New Paltz, NY

High School, New Paltz, NY





The Way Side Inn

The Way Side Inn is today the youth hostel east of the bus station on Main Street, New Paltz.



The New Paltz Normal School

The New Paltz Normal School, formerly, the New Paltz Academy, sat above the railroad station and the Wallkill River at the western end of the village. This school burned in 1906 and the seeds of the current SUNY were relocated to its current campus a year later.



Methodist Church on Church Street, New Paltz

The original Methodist Church (1840-1924) on Church Street, New Paltz. It later was a Synagogue and Jewish Community Center.



New Paltz building on Main between Church and No. Chestnut Streets

In the 1950s (on the north side of Main between Church and No. Chestnut Streets) this New Paltz building was Lane and Sargent’s Variety Store. Today it houses a restaurant and a store with a
very different variety of merchandise.



State University Teachers College, Campus Elementary School, New Paltz, NY


Normal School and Annex, New Paltz, NY, 1947


Two views of the New Paltz Campus School which was closed in 1976 sending its 300 students into the New Paltz Central Schools. Today, it is the Van Den Berg Learning Center. In 2002 it was renovated to accommodate the college’s needs.