Welcome to Athens

Welcome to Athens

Contributed by Sharon Palmateer

This booklet was compiled and written as a combined effort of Patricia L. Martine and Bettyjean Poole, History Keepers, to help promote a forthcoming book in the year 2005, the 200th year of incorporation of the Village of Athens, New York.

Athens is the third oldest incorporated Village in New York. Waterford was the first Village to incorporate in 1794 and Salem, second in 1803.

Transcriber's Note:  There is a Bicentennial Committee currently working on a celebration of the Incorporation of the Village of Athens which will take place June 3-5, 2005.  We would like to invite anyone that has pictures, stories or any interest to contact Sharon Palmateer.  If you have pictures, please describe when, where and whom is in each one so we can document it.   We are currently working at compiling a verbal history of some of the older village residents to produce a video of their stories as a fund-raiser.  If you are interested in participating by contributing or serving on the committee, please get in touch!  The Committee meets at 7pm on the first Monday of each month in the Village Meeting Room at the Village Offices at One First Street, Athens.  Join us!  Many hands make light work!

Welcome to Athens, New York on the 8th day of July, in the Year, Two-Thousand

Pg. 1 - ATHENS is a friendly rivertown hamlet, overlooking the Hudson River. The sign catches a glimpse on the left of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, a river boat, and a schooner with some of the historic homes on the riverbank. It is located in photographer, Herb Sculnik’s gallery on Second Street in the Village. Taken down - when?

This booklet is an attempt to make you think, bring back your memories of places and things that have happened over the years.

We need help with the history and pictures to go with the memories to produce a book about the people who lived in Athens for the celebration to come in the year of 2005, our bicentennial of our incorporation.

Pg. 2 - Remember Kadin Bros. Inc. (pocketbook factory) near the ferry-slip? A huge building, they were the employers of many people in Athens and surrouding areas.

I met a woman cruising on the St. Joseph out of Rensselaer. She asked me how it was that she had never seend the light house? I replied I can tell you, becuase if you just came as far as Athens from the north, there was a gigantic factory building blocking the view. Really?? Her parents were Rev. & Mrs. Ernest Habel who had served the Athens Federated Church for many years. Today, this is the sight of our Riverside Park.

P. 3 - The old pocketbook factory on Water Street in Athens is in sad condition and is scheduled for demolition in the near future.  Factory originally manufactured thermo underwear and provided employment for most of the women of Athens.  It was later operated by Kadin Bros. as a pocketbook factory until operations were moved to Hudson.  What was there before the knitting mill?

P. 4 - As member of the American Legion Jr. Drum Corp. Post 187, do you remember our first uniforms? (khaki)  We looked like we were in the army.  But we were proud we had uniforms. 

Then when we received our new uniforms, blue and gold, (N. Y. State colors) we were ecstatic.  Remember standing on line for inspection before a competition?  How about the time we were on line so long (in the hot sun) that several members passed out?  How about when we marched in New York City?  Do you have any stories you remember? (Patricia Riley Martine is pictured)

Pg. 5 - BOXING IN ATHENS? This is a picture of Lauren Kisselburgh taken in 1929, a very good and well-known boxer from Athens. Do you know where these fights were fought and who he opposed? Were there any other boxers form Athens? Anyone have any other pictures of the fights?

Pg. 6 - BASEBALL IN ATHENS - Hear tell that Athens has always been good at baseball. The field was located at the head of Third and South Vernon Streets and is presently the site of E. J. Arthur Elementary School. We even had beautiful covered bleachers. On Sunday afternoons everyone went to the ball games. Here is a picture of the Athens Laundry Baseball Club, taken May 30, 1930 at the field. Can you identify any of the players? How about our own Bill Stafford who became a pitcher for the New York Yankess? Who else made it to a farm team or a major ball team?


This is someone's class at the Athens School in the 19??'s.  Can you fill in the memories of this picture of a by-gone year and class?

Pg. 8 - Who remembers the Metal Lathe Factory in Athens?

On the south side of Hagar's Harbor (note the rolls of Metal Lathe in the background of this 1918 picture).  This picture was taken in Brick Row.  Does anybody recognize this girl or canyou identify the motorcycle?  We would like more pictures and memories of this place.  I do have documentation of its going bankrupt because of not having enough water closets.

Pg. 9 - AEROBILT BODIES First located on Rout 385, South Washington Street (presently Teichers Metal & Plastics - Graphic Communications). Then in 1963, a new plant was built on Schoharie Turnpike. It was quoted "As the largest aluminum body plant in the United States". Aerobilt was builders of the truck bodies, J. B. C. Olsen Sales Department (Main Office was in N. Y C.) sold them. All three under one roof. (Man in picture at Olsen Bodies is Jack Martine.) Then disastor, Grumman (Aerobilt was a subsidiary) decided to close the plant. Quickly and quietly. It was a huge blow to the families of Athens and surrounding communities. Many of these men had never worked anywhere else. In the picture below is Glenn Kisselburgh (center) and to his right is William Fyfe. The man to Glenn’s left is unknow to me. I am sure there were many other local men who were employed there and who have stories to tell.

Pg. 11 - Pictured here is one of the many self propelled barges built here in Athens. They were built at the site of the old marine railway. There were many kinds of boats built in Athens. It would be great if we could get pictures of kinds of boats that were built here.

Pg. 12 -This picture is of the first cruiser built by the Imperial Life Boat and Davit Company at Athens, taken in 1947. I am still looking for a picture of one of the lifeboats built here during World War II. I would also be interested in knowing who the people were who worked in this company during World War II. Can anyone tell exactly where this picture was taken?

Pg. 13 - Mayone (Diamond) Brick Yard, one of five different brick yards in Athens. Go up Route 385 to the north near the boat launch and Joe’s Bait Show, look back to see a narrow bridge which was part of the road that ran through the brick yard. Then, you figured it would last forever but what ever does? Many bricks can be found in Athens made by any one of the five brick yards. Did you guess that the road in the picture is Route 385 north of the village and it is dirt?

Pg. 14 - Remember Brady’s Laundry on the corner of Market Street (Glue Factory Hill) and Washington Street? Now the sight of Stewart’s Store. Many Athenian’s first summer jobs were at the Brady’s Laundry. Hard and hot work but also good friendships were made there. It was hard on employees when the first laundry burned.

Pg. 15 - THE OLD BROOKS OPERA HOUSE was used for many things down through the years. But do you remember when upstairs housed the place where Athens teams played their games? My brother told that the Athens Cheerleaders would go out and cheer "Athens’ High School won’t be beat." Which would be alright but he states we were always far behind (very small school). Another player remembers them cheering "Hit them high, Hit them low". Which we all know is not a cheer for basketball! Sorry Cheerleaders. Yet another former player recalls not only did you play the game, but with no showers, in the cold you ran all the way home to Brick Row. How about McArdle’s Bowling Alley with its large plate glass window, pin boys? Some of the bowlers threw so hard, pins flew everywhere. He, former pin boys, do you remember who those bowlers were? Who were the pin boys back then?

Pg. 16 - CAN ANY OF YOU REMEMBER ALL THE STORES THAT USE TO BE ON Second Street in Athens? Left - H. C. Herr, Men’s Clothing & Shoe Store - Page’s Gorcery Store..... What other stores do you remember being on main or Second Street?

Pg. 17 - Our D. R. Evarts Library is a wonderful building and an asset to the village. However, the best part is that is was donated by a man who had fond memories of Athens. He and his wife also left an endowment to cover expenses. Today, it is not enough and the village has taken over. We all grew up using the library. It has been updated to include some videos and computers. We are members of the Mid-Hudson Libraries which is a great resource.

Do you remember the Honor Roll on the front lawn dedicated to the men who had gone to war to protect our country? We had some Gold star Mothers who lost their sons.

Pg. 18 - Our Village is very blessed for having folds who cared enough to create the ATHENS’ POOL. Many kids grew up with the Pool. How many of you can swim? How many of you took life saving and how many of you were guards at the Athens’ Swimming Pool?

You can give thanks to the many volunteers who helped with the swim programs. The programs are only as good as the people who spent a lot of time there so everyone could learn to swim.

Pg. 19. - Do you remember when we had the high diving board?  Diving was incorporated into our Swim Team Competitions.  It was beautiful to watch.  Alas, through the event of an injured diver, one who was not at our pool, all pools lost their three meter boards in the state.  We had some excellent swimmers on our swim teams over the years.  Could you have been one of them?

Pg. 20 - Remember when the Athens' Ferry was still running?  People from Athens worked, and many did their banking, in Hudson.  Cars would be lined up on Second Street waiting to board the ferry.  We also, as kids, rode back and forth for five cents.  Shopping was done on Warren Street in Hudson.  Sarah (Holmes) Sickles recalls cars being lined all the way up Second Street to Vernon waiting to get on the ferryboat.

Page 21 - It was one man’s dream to see the ferry run once again across the river to Hudson. There was a start made in this direction, but now it seems to have faded away as we hear no more about it.

One thing is for sure. It would be quicker to cross by ferry boat today then to go ‘by way of the bridge’. Let’s hope that the Athens’ Street Festival can fulfill that man’s dream.

Page 22 - The beautiful house that appears to the left of the picture below was the Reger House (formerly the Brasier House) which is now a piece of lost history.  How many of you have every been in this old home? What do you remember about it? Do you remember it as the PicQuik Market?  Do you remember it as the Columbia-Greene Community College Library? It has now become the Rivertown Senior Citizens Center (on the corner of Second and S. Warren Streets).

Page 23 - Last, but not least, we remember the winter of 1996 and the months of January and February with the floods and ice jam at Athens. The tireless efforts of our Athens’ Firemen.

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