Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Been to Hoosick Falls lately?

If not you’d better hurry because the village is seriously considering dissolving itself as a unit of government. The problem as I understand it is that the village has been experiencing negative growth for a long time (the present population of 3500 is half of what it was in 1910) and there is no longer enough revenue to provide basic services. Don’t know what affect that would have on the physical village or its inhabitants but I hope it wouldn’t change because it’s a fun place to visit.

We were in Hoosick Falls because we’d driven from Brattleboro Vermont to Berdnardston Massachusetts for an early breakfast, then drove to Bennington Vermont to check out the museums and the Battle Monument after which we had brunch, and decided that it would be cool to eat a late lunch in New York. We chose Hoosick Falls mostly because it was close, but also because we’d learned it was the home and burial place of Grandma Moses (more on that later).

Approaching Hoosick Falls from the east on Route 7 will take you past the Big Moose Deli. We didn’t stop, but there were a ton of cars parked outside and lots of photos on the internet so I assume it’s a popular tourist attraction. What it does is create the expectation that maybe Hoosick Falls is a fun place to be. And we did enjoy our visit though I think we brought most of the fun with us.

While eating lunch at the Falls Diner on the outskirts of town we inquired about the location of the tourist information center: a sign on route 22 indicated there was one, and about the location of the grave of Grandma Moses. We pretty much got blank stares for responses. Undaunted, after finishing lunch we set out in quest of Grandma’s remains.

The Hoosick Falls downtown area presents a pleasing appearance. Streets and sidewalks are clean and the building exteriors are well maintained. It doesn’t at all look like a dying town. But where was Grandma Moses? People on the streets were familiar with the name but nothing beyond that. Having driven through the town twice we were about to give up when I spotted a senior center. Surely seniors would know about Grandma…after all she died in 1961, not all that long ago. I asked the woman at the desk if she could direct me to anything in town related to Grandma Moses. After a few moments of hemming and hawing she admitted she vaguely remembered hearing the name. But she was young. She more than made up for her lack of knowledge by taking me into a large room where a group of about a dozen seniors were engaged in various activities. The young woman announced that “…this man is from Peru and looking for anything to do with Grandma Moses.” Silence. Everyone was searching the faces of the others, apparently in the hope that someone would know something. After a few moments Paul stood and volunteered that he knew where she was buried because his parents were “….only a few plots away.” That broke the ice and there followed about 10 minutes of warm conversation. Finally Paul offered to show us the way to the cemetery and we turned to go. I will never forget the comment a woman shouted out as we were leaving…”Come back and visit us sometime! We don’t know much but we’re friendly!”

We followed Paul to the Maple Grove Cemetery where he led us to the grave. Both the headstone and a commemorative plague had accumulated a coating of mold and were difficult to read. We happened to have a brush in our car and used it to remove the mold as best we could.  The cemetery is located on a hill and Grandma’s grave appears to be on the highest point. Paul used the view to point out various buildings and places and to talk about the glory days of the town.

Just one block from the cemetery is the Ice Kreme Kafe. It was a hot afternoon and after the work of cleaning Grandma’s headstone (I wonder how many people can say that) we stopped for a cone. Maybe it’s the clock, or perhaps what looks to be an old railroad station sign. But for whatever reason this photo is one of my favorites. Hoosick Falls was a memorable experience. 


  1. You said "it doesn't look like a dying town! I'm s life long resident and you must have had your eyes closed about 50% of the time you traveled trough the village. We have no shopping but 2 dollar store (outside the village) a RiteAid and a Tops grocery store. Our down town store fronts are mostly empty and there are numerous buildings that are unsafe and need to be torn down. PS that big moose tourist trap advertises on billboards that it's voted the best deli in southern VT!!!!

    1. So does that make VTers even less knowledgeable? IT IS IN NY.

      Hoosick Falls IS a wonderful place. I don't care what anyone says.

  2. Thanks for commenting.

    We saw the unoccupied store fronts. We also noticed that some of those stores were occupied by ‘secondary’ tenants who typically do not add to a community’s economy, such as senior centers, religious organizations and health screening/counseling activities. These are usually regarded as signs that a shopping mall or city center are in decline…what socialists refer to as ‘going grey’. And, as you mentioned we also saw that what appeared to be a few new businesses were located on the outskirts of town. We saw no buildings that appeared to be “unsafe and need to be torn down.” I’ll stick to my comment that the downtown area has a clean and pleasing appearance with sidewalks, streets and building exteriors well maintained.

    Actually, the lack of downtown shopping and vacant stores seemed to me to be the case with many if not most of the small towns we drove through in New Hampshire and Vermont. It would not be hard to jump to the conclusion that New England small towns are going grey, but that could perhaps be said in general of small towns throughout the United States. Anyway, we enjoyed our brief stop in Hoosick Falls. And by the way, if you Google “Big Moose Deli” I think you’ll find many favorable reviews for this business. I regret that we didn’t stop there.


  3. Show up on a Wednesday night mid summer...

    ...The Band Concert is something special.