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Gan-Eden no paradise

By Lori Schneider-Wendt
June 7, 2012

My grandfather, Sam Kaminsky, bought 50 acres of land in Hurleyville in 1918. He and my grandmother, Lily, had a farm and built Kaminsky’s Luzon Lodge, a rooming house, a kuchaleyn—where people came every summer to avoid the heat of the city. As a young widow, my grandmother raised her family there. My mother went to the little red school house and to the Hurleyville High School, which is about to celebrate its centennial and now houses the Sullivan County Museum. My parents met at Kaminsky’s in the ‘40s. Grammie ran Kaminsky’s until 1975, when she sold the property.

To me, Hurleyville has always been home. I lived here only six months a year growing up—going to school in both Fallsburg and Queens in elementary school, summers only thru college, full time since 1983. When most of my counterparts were looking for the fastest way out of Sullivan County, I high-tailed it back to Hurleyville.

An EMT, I was a member of the Hurleyville Emergency Relief Squad serving as lieutenant and captain. Involved with the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop since 1983, for the county’s bicentennial, I directed a production of “The Third Violet” based on the Stephen Crane novella, set in Sullivan County during the summer of 1895. I belong to Congregation Ansche Hurleyville. I make my living as the executive director of the Sullivan County Mental Health Association.

In 1999, my then-husband and I purchased 38.55 acres on Old Liberty Road in the Town of Thompson, across from Hadley Stables—technically, in Monticello, but just up the hill and close enough to Hurleyville for me. I have my horses in a beautiful pasture. From it, I can see Pennsylvania. At night, I drink in the sights and sounds of stars too bountiful to count and a chorus of peep frogs and crickets.

My property is my sanctuary, my home, my haven. Across the road and to my right, my neighbors are now the Center for Discovery. Their property is clean and neat and remains rural. Add the sound of sheep bleating to the chorus. To my left, across the stone wall is Gan-Eden. Years ago, I heard rumors of a proposed 500-home development on the piece of about 200 acres. But there was talk of the land not supporting so many homes, water being an issue. I know from digging fence posts that my property is full of shale and my 500-foot well puts out only two gallons a minute, so that seemed legitimate.