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The Mountain View development is located off NYS Route 164 near Bullet Hole Rd. in the Towners section of Patterson. The following are the recollections of former Mountain View resident Jim Cunningham who currently resides in Cape Coral, Florida. Mr. Cunningham was born 1937 in New York City, and spent every summer through 1946 on Birch Way/Mountain View Road. In 1947, Mr. Cunningham, his mother, and sister became full time residents of Towners.
There were 25 houses that were constructed prior to 1940. These were strictly summer vacation homes, and the majority of owners and renters were winter residents of New York City. Because the entire development was built on the side of a mountain, the sloping terrain resulted in almost half the houses appearing to be one story in the back and two stories in front supported by posts. Across the road it was just the reverse with the front appearing to be one story and the rear being two stories supported by posts. The houses had one or two side outdoor porches. Water was supplied in the warmer months (April 15 - October 15) at the cost of $20 per household. Water reached the homes via above-ground pipes gravity-fed from a single well and tank at the top of the hill. The houses had a single cold water pipe throughout house and there were no hot water heaters or indoor tubs and showers. There were outdoor cold water showers. These houses lacked electricity when they were first built and relied on kerosene lanterns and kerosene kitchen cook stoves. Many homes retained kerosene lanterns for backup use after they were electrified because summer electricity outages were not uncommon. Over time, owners gradually updated the interior and exteriors of the houses although some stubbornly held onto the past. For example, the owner of # 21 Birch Way, A. Gudman, refused to bring electricity into his home because of his disgust that an electric pole would be installed in the middle of his property, ruining the panoramic view.
The residents affectionately referred to the area as "the hill". Years later, former owners and renters, adults and children alike, referred to the place and time as "Camelot".
For years the telephone was a party line. Whenever someone received incoming call, the phones in all houses rang. Residents needed to pay attention to the combination of long and short rings which identified the phone in each house. We were one long, one short. Houses with visitors would likely pick up on any ring, and then had no way to forward the call to the correct home. When I was young and used a pay phone to call home, I would lose a nickel if the wrong party picked up. I would give that party the number of the pay phone and request that they call my house and ask that my family call the pay phone. Also, when attempting to make an outgoing call someone might already be on the line talking and you would have to hang up and keep checking to see if the line was free.
Through the 1960s there was no mail delivery and no house address numbers. Without house numbers all owners had name signs on their lawns, which sometimes had amusing results. For 20 years there was a "Grant" across from "Lee".
The white house at the base of hill (Route 164) was not considered part of Mountain View community. That was originally a private drive of Mrs. Swanson, and Mountain View Road was connected to it. Many of the Mountain View homes appeared to have long private driveways, but in the original development map the driveways were considered spurs of the main road and given names such as Locust Way, Hemlock Way, Oak Way etc.
Mountain View Road was a private, unpaved road owned and maintained by Carl Bauch. The road began at the end of the current paved driveway of the house located on NYS Route 164 near the intersection of Mountain View Rd. Route 164 was known as Route 216 at that time. I do not know what arrangement Carl Bauch had made with the owner of the house (Swanson) to get permission to use the driveway to access Mountain View Road. The road was very narrow, the width of a single car, with rain ditches on both sides if the shoulders were level with the road, and others areas that had steep dropoffs dangerously close to the road.
The dirt road was scraped once a year by Carl Bauch pulling a metal beam across road from back of old 1920s truck. Because of the narrowness of the road, drivers would beep their horns when approaching blind turns to alert possible oncoming vehicles. There were only a few places where cars could manage to pass in opposite directions. When cars met, the car closest to one of these places would be forced to back up. The one exception was Ann Bauch who only learned to drive after husband's death. She could not drive in reverse. When drivers encountered Mrs. Bauch, they only had two choices: back up to a passable spot no matter how far away it was, or get out of their car and drive Mrs. Bauch's car backwards to an area wide enough for passing.
|The 1933 Plymouth owned by the Cunningham family. (Jim Cunningham)
In the 1940s, drivers unfamiliar with the road frequently drove off the road and into ditches. When visitors from New York City arrived and experienced the road conditions, most were visibly shaken and ready for a stiff drink. When they would leave, we would wait to see whether they managed the then much steeper Birch Way hill and then the exceedingly difficult turn onto Mountain View Road, which required maneuvering between a rock and an electric pole. Then everyone would wait 15 minutes to see if someone walked back to ask for help because a car had gone off the road and became stuck. This was a frequent occurrence. When it happened all would go to pull/push to get the car back onto the road. Only after sufficient time passed could it be assumed that the vehicle had made it safely to the highway.
The Cunninghams were the first year round residents. Mountain View Road and Birch Way did not get the afternoon sun in the winter and snow lasted dreadfully long. The road was dangerous to navigate when snow covered. Because Mountain View Rd. was maintained privately, it was not plowed in winter and was muddy in the January and Spring thaws. We had to leave our car, a 1933 Plymouth, at the Swanson garage at the foot of the hill during the wintry weather, which might last from 4-6 months. After the death of Carl Bauch the condition of the road worsened with many ruts and a general washboard surface. Mary Cunningham became the homeowners' spokesperson in negotiations for a town takeover of the road. She was required to have homeowners sign a petition requesting the takeover. She was met with some opposition by homeowners who balked at the requirement that they cede approximately 7 feet of their property to allow for widening of the road. In practice, not all of that additional land was ever totally utilized.
The Mountain View Pool was private, owned and maintained by Carl Bauch. There was no road leading to the pool and no parking area. The only access was merely a path behind the Quimby property, then to the O'Brien house (# 47). There was no fence around pool area, no utility house, and no filter system. It was just cold spring water running in at the shallow end and running over a spillover at the deep end. There was a boardwalk with a bench and a bench back across the wall at the deep end. There was no soil supporting the back wall at the deep end. There was a 10 foot drop from the top of the back wall down to the continuation of the stream which entered at shallow end.
In preparation for each summer season, the pool was emptied and we kids would help Carl Bauch clean out the mud, scrub the walls, and patch the back (deep end) wall with cement mixed in wheel barrel. At the beginning of the season a path would be cut into the bushes on the right side of the pool to provide access to a private "changing" area. There were always concerns about the back wall and its capability of holding the weight and pressure of the water in the pool.
|The Mountain View pool seen in 1937 in photos from a Cunningham family album. 2½ year old Kathleen Cunningham poses on the cement wall. The fence and seating area can be seen in the background. In the second photo, Kathleen is standing on the boardwalk, and in the third photo Kathleen is seen sitting on the makeshift diving board. The last photo shows the fence and seating area and a portion of the boardwalk. All seem to be in poor condition. (Jim Cunningham)
After the death of Carl Bauch the pool progressively fell into disrepair. The boardwalk was thrown over when it became rotten, making it dangerous to walk across the wall without the protection of a barrier or fence. Eventually the makeshift high jump and diving board were removed as they became too dangerous to use. The pool was finally abandoned when the back wall was considered unsafe to hold the weight of a full pool of water.
For a number of years there was no pool, but the homeowners in the community eventually formed an association to rebuild the pool. The exact original dimensions were maintained, and a filtration system and a fence were added. Ann Bauch signed the pool and property over to the association, and the pool was named the "Carl Bauch Memorial Pool".
Carl Bauch was the sole source of water for the existing 25 houses. His home was the last house at top of the hill at the end of Mountain View Road (#152). At the end of road and the beginning of his property was a wooden pump house measuring about 4'x 8' with a large water tank buried in the ground, just partially exposed.
In the summer the sound of the pump, kicking on and running for some time to maintain the supply of water, was a noisy interruption to the peaceful surroundings of the nearby houses. All pipes to the houses followed the curvature and contour of the road and were above ground within two to six feet of the roadway. Water service was supplied during the warmer months, typically from April 15 to October 15. During the off-season the pipe was disconnected at all low points throughout the system and the ends sealed with burlap. Each house had a valve and drain at the connection to the main line. In the spring all disconnected pipes were reconnected, the pump turned on, and the system checked for leaks. Once leaks were repaired and the main line was holding water, each homeowner had the responsibility for turning on the valve to the house. The homeowner would then be responsible for any leaks from the valve to the house and within the house. Carl Bauch maintained the pump and main line until his death. After that Ann Bauch would hire Joe Lee (#95) to close down the system in the fall and turn it back on in the spring. This water system was still in use into the 1970s; when individual homeowners started to drill their own wells.
The Cunninghams (#21 Birch Way), were the first and only winter residents for many years and went without water from October 15 to April 15. The household was forced to rely on running brooks for all of their water. A hose was run from a nearby brook to the front door of the house. On weekends, large amounts of water were collected into milk cans which were then placed in the bathroom and kitchen, some for toilet flushing and for bathing, others for cooking and drinking. The brooks were fed by summer rainfall and could run dry in years when there was only light rain. As a backup, the Cunninghams started the season by catching rainwater running off the roof into cider barrels.
Mary Cunningham's brother, Fred Imhoff, built a cement catch basin in the brook off the property. He ran an underground pipe to the front right corner of house, then to the back of the basement with a valve directing water either up toward the house plumbing or down into a drain in the floor to run back outside. It was not possible to have a water tank or pump in an unheated basement because it would freeze. Because the house was built on a slope, the basement was at ground level in the front of the house. Therefore, the water flowed by gravity down to the lowest point and back up into the house faucets and toilet tank, using the theory that water will reach its own level. During the day water was directed up into house, but every night the up valve would be turned off, water drained from the upper level, and allowed to flow constantly into the floor drain and back outside through the underground pipe back into the original stream. The running water never froze in the basement or back up into the catch basin. "Running water" was now available in the house.
This list refers to residents of the Mountain View community in the 1940s and 1950s, into the 1960s.
Mountain View Road
#??? (Between #146 and #152 House burned down 1960-70s ?)
Breslin, Howard & Patricia: Breslin was a novelist and script writer. He wrote the story for the movie "Bad Day at Black Rock", starring Spencer Tracy, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Walter Brennan, and authored the books "Tamarack Tree" and "Let Go of Yesterday". For many years he wrote for the radio show "Mayor of the Town" starring Lionel Barrymore. At Mountain View he told ghost stories by fireside to neighborhood children.
Bauch, Carl & Ann: Carl was a waiter in New York City and developed Mountain View Park where he owned many building lots. He built many of the houses which he sold and/or rented, and owned and maintained the road and pool, and supplied water to all houses during summer months.
This home was referred to as "Honeymoon" when it was a Bauch rental. A young wife renting the house during a summer of the World War II years received the horrific War Department letter informing her that her husband had been killed in action.
Hayes, Al & Lee: The Hayes purchased the property in the mid-1950s. She had been member of the famous "Rockettes" of Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Known as the "Barfoot House"
Hirshkorn, M/M: He was in sales and service of restaurant and bar equipment. He sold the house and moved to a house on the east side of NYS Route 22, ½ mile north of Haviland Hollow Road.
Known as "Story and half" when it was a Bauch rental.
Owned by Professor West. The next owner was Phil Buxbaum who later built a home on Cornwall Hill Road near the intersection of NYS Route 311.
MacNeil, Hermon & Carol: Both were world renowned sculptors. They were winter residents of College Point, Queens, New York City. The name "MacNeil" was etched into rock along the stone wall of the driveway. The cement chimney on the roof featured four faces. Hermon designed the 1916 U.S. Quarter, the Standing Liberty, which was minted from 1916 - 1930.
Anderson, Arthur: This house was previously a Bauch rental. Arthur was a journeyman actor who appeared in many small, sometimes non-speaking roles in movies. His claim to fame was a couple of national TV automobile commercials in early 1950s.
Birch Way Intersection
D'Alesandro: This was the sole house on the original "Oak Way" at the end on the right. Mrs. D'Alesandro had four grown children, two daughters, and two sons in the Army during World War II. One son was declared missing in action while the other, John "Dell" became a career serviceman.
Grant, who was followed by owners and long time residents Mr. & Mrs. Joyce.
Lee, Joe & Mae: Prior to buying, Mae's siblings Tommy, Johnny, and Dorothy Sullivan were early guests of John and Catherine Lane, Birch Way. Joe was a retired plumber from New York City.
Welcher, Walter & Gertie and daughter, Jackie, a 1940's teenager. Jackie later enlisted in the Marine Corp. Walter was retired from the New York City Sanitation Department. They were the first homeowners to drill their own well. They built a garage and two "mud rooms", at the kitchen door and the living room door, when they began staying on the property during winters at a much later date.
Mulligan: Had two or three child magazine models.
McLean, Ed & Ruth: Ruth worked at John Wanamakers's Dept. Store in New York City with Catherine Lane of Birch Way. They built a garage with upper rooms much later.
Brown: The property was formerly a Bauch rental. The father was killed in an automobile accident one Sunday night returning to New York City. There were three daughters.
The Quimby House: Many youngsters and a horse. The next owner was "Tony", a retired baker from New York City who was originally from Italy. The house was utilized by his daughter/son-in-law O'Brien and their two children.
Parsons, George & Lyn: This house was the only house built after 1940 and the first house constructed for year round use. The Parsons originally lived here only during the summers and rented the house owned by Hirshkorn on Mountain View Road.
The Bright House: The house was situated at the beginning of Mountain View Road, just prior to the first bend in the road. There was a long drive ("Way") leading to the house and not visible from Mountain View Road.
Rahr, Knud & Astrid: The downhill driveway is "Hemlock Way". Knud built the house himself in the late 1930s. The house was shared on weekends and summers in the 1940s with the Schmidts (his sister Edith, her husband Emile, adolescent through teenage children Barbara and "Tubby", who enlisted in the U.S. Navy prior to end of World War II). All the adults were born in Denmark. Knud, in his 40s, volunteered for service in the U.S. Army and had a brother and sister in Nazi occupied Denmark. He taught flag respect and etiquette, sunrise and sunset, to the children of the hill. After serving in Europe during World War II, Knud returned to build a fieldstone front for the lower house. He married Astrid from Denmark and had a daughter, Susan. The home was rented during the summer in the 1950s to Paddy Chayefsky, playwright and author of "Marty".
Ingham, William & Margaret: This property consisted of many building lots with a true long, private driveway. Mr. Ingham operated Employment Service for Engineers in New York City. Margaret was a school teacher.
Lane, John & Catherine: The Lanes bought the house in the early 1930s. It was rugged looking, constructed of logs with a bark exterior, and had porches on the back and side. It was later remodeled in the early 1940s, pushing the walls out and eliminating the porches, and adding exterior California redwood and interior genuine knotty pine. Catherine (Imhoff) Lane shared the home with her siblings, Frederick Imhoff and Anne Imhoff, and their Queens, New York friends for weekends during the Great Depression. (John, Catherine, Frederick and Anne were uncles and aunts of Jim Cunningham.) We sat on the back lawn and counted, with a mechanical counter, the railway flatbed cars with military tanks and artillery passing by on the New Haven Railroad Freight Line running parallel to Rt. 164 at the foot of the hill. John Lane drove a meat delivery truck to butcher shops all his life, starting with a horse drawn wagon in New York City, and Catherine was a buyer for the John Wanamaker Dept. Store in New York City. They were responsible for so many other people who bought on Mountain View.
Cunningham, James & Mary: This house was originally rented in mid to late 1930s. It was purchased in May 1940 for $1,000. James served in the U.S. Navy in World War I. He was a CPA employed by McBride Publishing Company in New York City. Mary (Imhoff) Cunningham was widowed in 1943 with two children, Kathleen, 8, and Jim, 5, and became full year residents in 1947. At the time, the house lacked running water during the colder months and the private road of Carl Bauch was not plowed in winter.
|Through the years the Mountain View community evolved from a summer
community to a community of permanent year round residents. Homes were wired for electricity,
telephones, and cable television, and individual wells and septic systems were added. Some houses
were expanded to meet the needs of larger families. The roadway was graded, paved and became a
public roadway maintained by the Town of Patterson.
The Cunningham home at 21 Birch Way is a good example of how the Mountain View houses were transformed over the decades to meet the needs of the growing community. The first photo shows the original 1938 structure which had a front porch with the main door and side stairs. The back of house was built on the ground and the front was supported by 6 foot posts, with the ground under house following the slope of side lawn.
By 1947 the front wall had been pushed out to include the porch and the main door was moved to left side of house which enlarged the living room and doubled the size of the only bedroom. The ground Under the house was dug out and replaced by cement block walls 6 feet high on all four sides. The basement or lower level was no more than a cold, damp, sub freezing in winter, and sometimes flooded area. The front cement blocks were painted white. There were three long windows in the front lower level
The second photo shows the same house in 1966. In 1966 the 3 long windows were shortened by half, consisting of a single pain of glass rather than two. The exterior cement blocks were stuccoed and painted gray. Shutters were added to all the front-facing windows.
The next photo shows the home under renovation in 2002 by new owners. The last photo shows the finished home in 2012. The entire right side of house had been removed at the left side of bedroom (rightmost) window. The house was then pushed out to the right, out to the back, and up. The picture window was removed and a new front porch was added. (Jim Cunningham)
The Drake House: Mrs. Drake had the most manicured and flowered property on the hill. She would hire youngsters to weed the lawn using just a table fork. If she found weeds in the basket without roots there was a deduction in pay. Therefore, the youngsters would carry rootless weeds home in their pockets. The next owner was Pierre Bohy. Unlike Mrs. Drake, he did not once mow or pay to have the lawn mowed in 20 years.
The Rolliston House: He was a Fuller Brush salesman. They later moved to Farm-to-Market Road. The next owner was Pierre Bohy, a Swiss watch dealer with an office in New York City. He purchased the adjoining Drake House as a weekend guest house.
The Shorsky House: The next owners were the Villagers, a Scandanavian family.
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