Goetz, Robert recollections 2004

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY

Robert Goetz - Recollections 2004

Robert Goetz, also known as "Rags The Clown"

Morris Bolster’s family lived up the lake road from Arthur Warner's House. One of his family ran a barbershop. They kept a collection of wooden bowls of various sizes. When you came in, they would find the bowl that fit your head, and then cut off every hair that stuck out below the bowl, and that was your haircut.

Morris Bolster worked as a hired hand for Arthur Warner. I can remember many days when he worked in the hay mow, the first thing he did when he got out was to run down to the lake and take a swim, clothes and all.

In 1925 or 1926, my two grandfathers bought a lot from Arthur Warner, located at the junction of Knox Cave and Warner’s lake road. A house was built which they called the Pine Grove Lodge, later to become Bartel's and now owned by Keith and Cathy Kodra.

My mother came from Catskill and my father from Brooklyn, and they came to Warners Lake for their honeymoon. My mom told me many times, we didn’t take you with us but we brought you home. My mother and father liked it so much here that they brought my grandmother up to see it. When she arrived and first saw the area, she said, “I am Home”, meaning Heidelberg Germany, because Warners Lake reminded her so much of her homeland.

I went to the one room schoolhouse on Rte 157 in East Berne, in 1930 and 1931. Charlie Strafford was the teacher at that time. There were 8 rows of chairs for the 8 grades. There were only about 20 children at that time. The Berne Knox School opened in 1932 and I went there.

I remember Jay Engle, because I used to go down to his Fur Trading Post. His wife Lydia was a character. She was cross- eyed and for whatever reason, she would put a flax seed in her eye to cure something. When she looked at you, it was a rather unusual sight to say the least. Jay kept a pet bear on a chain by the icehouse. He also sold soda pop from Fairley's bottling plant in Altamont. If you bought a bottle of chocolate milk, he wanted to know if it was for you or the bear. It was 10 cents for you but just a nickel for the bear. Jay kept quite a collection of furs hanging on the walls, along with all his stuffed fish. He always told us kids that he shot every fur and caught every trophy fish himself right out of Warner’s lake. But you must remember, Jay was known far and wide as a teller of tall tales.

Arnold and Elsie Mattice ran a boarding house, once known as the Lake View Cottage. Arnold put on a dance hall on what he called the boathouse, he also included a bar. I believe there was music and dancing every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Every once in a while they would have what they called a “Tea Dance”, on Sunday afternoons. Mattice’s had many bands, but the majority of the time it was Ed Smith, the sax player and his band. Ed had a camp at Thompsons Lake,

In 1931, 1932 and 1933 we lived in a house behind Arthur Warner’s and dad went to work for Nat Gallup who was the town supervisor at that time. Nat and his wife rented an apartment in Arthur’s house. I used to help Arthur, at least I thought I was, he wanted me with him so I guess I was. Many times we would sit on what he called “The Piazza”, we would be joined by his cousin Elias and many times Nat Gallup. Arthur took a trip once on a train from Albany to Yellowstone National Park; he was gone for a couple of weeks. He had stories to tell for a long time after that. I believe it was one of the high points of his life.

Robert's Grove was on the south end of the lake. They had one of the biggest ice cream bars you would ever want to see. There was a dance pavilion located up behind the store. This was a very busy spot with dances and music all the time. Many groups used this facility and at times they even showed movies there. It was known as Pitchers Camp before Robert’s, but I can just barely remember that.

As you come in 157 from Ted Quay's garage, there was a 9-hole golf course on the left hand side of the road. You would turn into what is now Mill Dam road. There was a ball field on the hill to your left and the golf course was next to it.

Down at Hayden’s, in the summertime, some guy whose name I can’t recall, would bring out several riding horses. They could be rented for 50 cent an hour or 25 cents for one half hour. You would ride up the lake road past Engle’s and Mattice’s to the Knox Cave Rd and return. You did this to show off to all your friends that you were out riding. At that time there were a lot of boarding houses and many camps that were available to rent. This provided a lot of people to join the many activities that were going on around the lake.