ROSCOE AND LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — Fred Banks remembers.
“You can’t believe the hotels, the motels, the summer cottages.” The lakes. “Tennanah Lake, Lake Muskoday... …
ROSCOE AND LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — Fred Banks remembers.
“You can’t believe the hotels, the motels, the summer cottages.” The lakes. “Tennanah Lake, Lake Muskoday... the boats, the sailboats, the fishing.”
Oh, especially the fishing.
Livingston Manor and Roscoe are so closely linked that sometimes the names run together: LivingstonManorandRoscoe, a blur of words. Many things unite these two communities, but the fish come first. At the start, the fish are what drove the economy.
Roscoe offers the Beaverkill and other streams—its trout are famous. Roscoe is called Trout Town, USA, after all; many shops cater to anglers, offering them places to stay, places to eat. How many people fish here each year? Thousands? Tens of thousands? There’s even a statue of a fish: the legendary Two-Headed Trout.
But Manor is no slouch, either. Resting on the Willowemoc, the “birthplace of fly fishing in America” as its fly fishing club says, it boasts the Dette Flies shop (the Dettes—along with the Darbees, who are no longer commercially active—are pretty much the First Family of fly fishing) and the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. Hook and Bullet lists 19 kinds of fish found in its lakes and streams.
Fish have made Roscoe and Manor famous, but the landscape is a wonder.
What’s special about the area? The countryside, said Lisa Lyons, owner of Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor. “The rivers and the forests. The river valleys and the mountains. They’re an anchor.”
Christine Routledge agrees. Among her many volunteer commitments, the Town of Rockland council member and Livingston Manor resident is involved with a beautification project. “Manor has so much,” she said. “The community is so beautiful.”
Sometimes, of course, it takes a little work to bring that out. Her committee with its corps of volunteers clears trails and “we’re working on a dog park,” she said.
“I always see people walking around there,” and the dog park will give owners and canines, visiting or local, a chance to enjoy the fresh air and the countryside.
More help, by the way, is welcome. “We’re always looking for volunteers for beautification; the more hands the better,” Routledge said.
Which brings us to the people of Roscoe and Livingston Manor.
A plumber, Fred Banks worked in countless houses and for hotels and motels. When he started, “there were seven plumbers in Roscoe and we were all friends. We swapped fittings so we wouldn’t have to make a trip.”
Just one example of how people cared.
Roscoe and Manor are places where you can walk down the street and everyone says hello, says Routledge. “It’s nice knowing the people you’re buying groceries from.” The people who fix your car, who lend out books at the libraries.
“The people,” Lyons agrees. “It’s the people who I find inspiring: hardworking families, an abundance of volunteers [who] do so much.” Firefighters, people on the ambulance corps, those who run the food pantries. “And the devoted people in the school system.”
It’s been a strange, shattering year, but the area’s teachers have worked incredibly hard creating Zoom classes, in-person classes, helping distressed families. They’ve gone above and beyond.
And the volunteers have stepped up, spending their pandemic year making sure others are being fed. To name just a few, the Livingston Manor United Methodist Church runs a food distribution center. Maria Bivins runs the Little Free Pantry along with her ongoing work to feed people and assist with household supplies. (If you need help, see the contact box below.) Routledge adds Karrie Jara and her food pantry work. There is Roscoe Cares.
Fred Banks’ wife, Marsha, is well known as the guiding light behind Roscoe’s Shepherd’s Food Pantry. “It’s in the cellar at the United Church,” he said. The church itself is a welcoming shade of red, well worth seeing. “We feed 115 to 125 families a month,” Banks said.
Even this year, volunteers lined up to help, but because of coronavirus restrictions, they had to limit numbers. However, the food still gets collected and distributed, and there is no reason, he emphasized, to be ashamed to need help.
In the past, “people used to hunt and give others the deer.” And given the people here, it’s probably still going on, unheralded, because it’s the right thing to do.
As the towns feed people, Dr. Joyce Conroy and her helpers at the Roscoe library are feeding minds.
Maybe you need reading material. You’re overwhelmed with the world and you want an escape. Nothing’s better than a book, and the library staff has set up, as they call it, Blind Date with a Book. “We will cheerfully find books for you,” Conroy said. “Tell me what you want and we’ll put [five books] in a bag. It’s a blind date... and if you don’t like them, we’ll do it again.”
It’s not just the grown-ups. You can stay on top of local news through a top-quality teen-run newspaper called Manor Ink. They kept publishing during the pandemic, making sure the important stories of the day got out, all while teaching the power and responsibility of the press.
These days, innovation is needed. “It’s a scary time for all of us in the towns,” Conroy said, “but we’re trying to serve the community and still stay safe.” And bring a little light, too.
“Now I see troubling times in the country,” Fred Banks mused. But reaching out and helping others is part of living in Roscoe and Livingston Manor, and it can make all the difference. “I think it adds to your life.”