Patterson in the 1960s


The 1960s saw major changes in Patterson, and Putnam County in general. As early as 1960, farmland began to give way to housing subdivisions, adding traffic to local roads and filling local schools to capacity. The Newburgh Beacon-Bridge and Interstate I-84 both opened Patterson to the surrounding areas, making it more accessible. As the population rapidly increased, school districts planned the construction of new school and began new talks of consolidating districts. The Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union would continue, as would the space race. Patterson men would be called to fight in a new war, and the assassinations of three prominent leaders would shake the nation and change the political climate. By the end of the decade, men would walk on the moon, meeting President Kennedy's challenge to beat the Soviet Union in the "space race".

Frontier Jamboree

Frontier Jamborees were summer events to benefit the Patterson Recreation programs. The 1960 event was held on June 16-19. The Thursday and Friday night events were cancelled due to rain, but the parade on Saturday went on as scheduled. The parade on NYS Route 311 began at the Shady Brook Lodge at NYS Route 292 and ended at the former Boot Hill property on NYS Route 22. Among the marchers were the Carmel School Band and Drill Team, Cub Scouts from Pawling and Holmes, Scouts from Lake Carmel, and several floats and bicycles. The members of the Fairfield, Connecticut, chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club and the L. L. Tompkins Agency of Pawling provided vintage cars. A fifteen foot Paul Bunyon float, entered by the HAGS, a Patterson social club that often sponsored fundraising events for charitable causes in Patterson, won first prize in the float category. The current reigning "Miss Patterson", Miss Jane Pfahl, was also featured, and members of the American Legion Auxiliary rode in a car driven by Royce Hall. Patterson Supervisor William Millar drove a jeep that pulled a trailer carrying a donkey. The donkey and several other animals were on loan from the Birch Hill Game Farm, which also sent its miniature fire engine. The Sunset Trails Riding School on NYS Route 22 contributed seven horses and riders. Frank Grady drove a horse and buggy. The Jamboree featured pony rides, hay wagon rides, and door prizes. The event was captured in the "Our Town" film. The 1959 Jamboree was also held at Boot Hill.

Our Town

In June, 1960, the Presbyterian Men's Club produced another Our Town film to capture life in Patterson. This film would be shot in color. A separate reel of film was to be entitled, "Limestone Gulch", and children were asked to participate in it by dressing in western garb or Indian headgear. Girls were asked to dress as frontier women, and to wear long skirts, bonnets, and bright colors. William Ebel of Towners was the filmmaker, and filming commenced on Saturday, June 4, 1960, in front of the Patterson Post Office, where participating youngsters were told to gather. Ebel had also filmed "Our Town 1957". Other portions of the film were shot on Main Street (NYS Route 311), the former Boot Hill, the Patterson Kart Track next to Boot Hill on NYS Route 311 near NYS Route 22, the summer camp at Le Robinson Farm on Maple Avenue, and in the nearby fields of some of Patterson's farms. The film included footage shot at the "Frontier Jamboree" that was held from June 16-19.

William Ebel films a scene from "Our Town 1960" at the former Boot Hill. The photo was published in the September 15, 1960 edition of the Putnam County Courier.

Limestone Gulch" involved approximately 50 children dressed in western garb, and featured scenes of cattle drives, a post office robbery and posse pursuing the bandits, Indian dances, and the wounding of a bandit who was taken to Dr. Genovese for first aid.

Our Town and Limestone Gulch combined were 30-minutes in length. The film had its debut at the Harvest Moon Ball held at the Patterson Town Hall on NY Route 311 on September 24, 1960. The event was sponsored by the Men's Club of the Patterson Presbyterian Church, and included music and dancing by the Frank Woron orchestra. Door prizes were awarded, with the prizes donated by local merchants. The event filled Town Hall to capacity. The Men's Club presented William Ebel with a trophy for his work on the films.

The two films can be viewed as webstreams. The stream page also provides additional details on the two films.

The 1960 Census

The 1960 census indicated that the population of Patterson was 2,810 as of April 1, 1960. Census District Supervisor T. Channon Press reported by letter to the Patterson Town Board in July, 1960, that minor adjustments in the final count might be necessary, but that the number was close to accurate. Patterson Town Clerk Junia Dykeman also notified the Board that he had received the names of 14 new residents. Because of the Town's small size, the Town was not eligble for a district-by-district breakdown of data.

Putnam County saw much growth starting in 1960, as many farms were subdivided into building lots for homes. Even in the early 1960s, there was much discussion of the negative impact of this growth on water quality, and the need to address the problems of sewage and garbage disposal that would be created by the new building projects. New home construction attracted new families to the County, overcrowding the schools in the County.

In December, 1966, Southeast Supervisor Joseph Cioccolanti addressed the Democratic County Executive committee. He told the group:

Rapid growth in Putnam County during the past five years has placed numerous burdens on taxpayers and created problems for local government. Our population has doubled in the last fifteen years, with 50% of the growth occurring between 1960 and 1965."
Cioccolanti proposed the creation of a steering committee to study the problems faced by local governments, and to find solutions. He recommended that the group study garbage disposal, taxes, transportation, emergency services, recreation, industrial growth, and environmental conservation. Also attending the meeting was Congressman Richard L. Ottinger, who suggested that Federal money might be available to ease the burdens of local taxpayers in addressing the problems faced in the County. The steering committee was formed, and John Somers of Putnam Valley was appointed chairman. Kenneth Renak, a Patterson Councilman, and Ernest Lee, Jr., were appointed to the new committee to represent Patterson.

Rapid development in Putnam County led to zoning changes in each town. This is a portion of a countywide zoning proposal for the County, which was released to the public in July, 1972. Most of Patterson has been zoned as one acre residential, although much of the Town has been zoned for industry.

Various up zoning proposals were made in Patterson in an effort to curb growth. One such effort was made in January, 1967, when a large group of residents attended a Planning Board hearing to discuss an up zoning ordinance. Planning Board Chairman Dr. Samuel B. Ross of the Green Chimneys School presided over the meeting. The proposal was to create one-half and two acres zones in Patterson. Builders and owners of large tracts of land protested the up zoning, citing the loss of value of their property if the number of building lots would be reduced. Arguments were also made that industry would bypass Patterson if the up zoning became law. Others, however, spoke in favor of the proposal, citing water and garbage disposal issues.

Civil Defense Preparedness

As the Cold War continued into the 1960s, the fears of nuclear war remained as real as they had been in the 1950s. The Putnam County Civil Defense Auxiliary Police force continued to recruit volunteers, and disaster drills were still were still staged in the early 1960s. A Federal directive urged local communities and homeowners to create fallout shelters, under the premise that a nuclear explosion might be survivable if people could retreat to sturdy shelters filled with food and water, where they could live until the radiation would dissipate.

In August, 1961, the Putnam County Office of Civil Defense began an accelerated public information program to inform residents of the Family Fallout Shelter Program. The program was in response to a July speech by U. S. President John F. Kennedy, in which the President outlined international threats to the country's security. Putnam County Civil Defense Director Frank Barbarita announced the plan, and explained the Putnam County plan to protect and aid residents should the area suffer an attack. The County was acquiring equipment and supplies, including a 200-bed field hospital. The Putnam County chapter of the Red Cross was asked to partner with the County should a natural or civil disaster occur. The Civil Defense Department recruited volunteers to serve in eighteen areas, including police and medical services. Putnam County created radiation measuring stations in Patterson and the other five towns in the County. Mass feeding centers were also established to feed not only Putnam residents, but also evacuees from New York City, which was expected to be the most likely target for an air attack. An inventory of the County's stock of food, fuel, and clothing was undertaken. New radio equipment was installed in the County's two hospitals, the Julia Butterfield Memorial Hospital in Cold Spring and the Mahopac Hospital, to improve communications between the hospitals and fire trucks and ambulances. A team of divers was assembled for underwater rescues.

Barbarita also met with a group of building contractors, real estate brokers, and building material suppliers to discuss construction techniques for residential fallout shelters. Realtors and developers were asked to encourage buyers of new homes to include a fallout shelter in their construction plans.

In early 1963, Putnam County announced the location of emergency fallout shelters within the County. Like most rural and suburban areas, Putnam did not had many large, sturdy buildings with basements that might be able to provide shelter to people during a nuclear attack. The U. S. Department of Defense and the Office of Civil Defense for Public Shelters issued standards for public shelters. Those meeting the standards would receive food, clothing, and medical supplies from the Federal government to stock the shelters. Seven shelters had been created and stocked under those Federal guidelines, and were capable of sheltering and feeding over 1,600 County residents. The guidelines required a building to have space for at least fifteen people, and meet specified "protection factors". County Civil Defense Director Clarence C. Nichols indicated that there was a great need for builders, commercial building owners, and homeowners to supplement the Federal shelter program by incorporating shelters on their properties. No public shelters were designated in rural Patterson. Three nearby buildings owners, however, signed Federal Fallout Shelter licenses for their buildings: Carmel High School, the Putnam County Office Building, and the Putnam Motor Sales, all in Carmel.

A test of the County's emergency communications system took place in January, 1963. The County test was part of a statewide drill. Fifty test messages were sent and received between the County emergency communication center in the Putnam County Court House in Carmel and the eight town emergency operating centers, one of which was located in Patterson. The County command post was operated by County Sheriff Frank Lyden, Major Henry Dale, Jr. of Putnam Lake, who was the deputy director of the County Civil Defense Auxiliary Police, and Anna Savino, Civil Defense secretary. Mr. Buechel and Mrs. Zoller operated the Patterson command center. Messages from the national air warning system were received and passed on to the towns from the County center. The drill also included the study of a simulated detonation, and the study of wind patterns that might affect the dispersal of radioactive particles.

The first delivery of Federal supplies for the County shelters arrived in February, 1963. The supplies were sent to the first seven designated fallout shelters located throughout Putnam County. Included were medical supplies, personal sanitary supplies and sanitation equipment, radiation monitoring devices, water containers to hold a fourteen-day supply of water, and special food biscuits to supply 10,000 calories of nutrition.

A mobile fallout shelter was brought to Putnam County to illustrate how a home emergency shelter should be stocked. It was thought that this type of shelter could easily be constructed in the typical basement of a home. County Civil Defense Director Nichols and Superintendent of Schools Stanley Hoffman announced that the mobile shelter would be displayed at the schools in the County beginning in March, 1963. New York State Civil Defense personnel would be on hand to distribute literature and answer questions. The public was encouraged to visit the mobile shelter and to construct their own shelters in their own homes. The mobile shelter illustrated an eight foot space that could accommodate six people. It contained sanitary and sleeping facilities, books and games for the occupants to pass the time, a battery operated radio for receiving emergency information, medical supplies, a radiation detection device, and food and water for two weeks. The mobile shelter was exhibited at the Patterson School on March 14.

Major Henry Dale, Jr. of Putnam Lake, deputy director of the County Civil Defense Auxiliary Police, supervises volunteer civil defense telephone operators during a January, 1963 drill. The photo was published in the January 10, 1963 edition of the Putnam County Courier. Putnam County highway department workers stack the first set of civil defense shelter supplies received from the Federal warehouse. The photo was published in the February 21, 1963 edition of the Courier.

In February, 1964, Putnam County Civil Defense Director Francis W. Dunford and Civil Defense Shelter Coordinator John E. Phillips announced that County civil defense shelters had been stocked with a total of 115,262 daily food rations and an appropriate amount of personal sanitation, medical, and survival supplies. Courses on shelter management would be offered to interested volunteers who would then take charge of each shelter.

The Vietnam War

Like the Korean conflict of the 1950s, the Vietnam War began as an effort to prevent the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia. The conflict had its roots in the colonial empires of the early and mid-20th century, interrupted only by World War II. Vietnam had been French territory, but was occupied by Japanese forces during the War. After the War and the defeat of Japan, French forces reoccupied Vietnam, sparking an independence movement by the Vietminh, and a bloody conflict that would result in the expulsion of French forces from Vietnam. The Vietminh received aid from China and the Soviet Union, and finally defeated the French at Dienbienphu in 1954. Like Korea, Vietnam would be partitioned, but the partition would be nothing more than a line on a map. The United States would begin training South Vietnamese troops as early as 1956, citing President Dwight D. Eisenhower's concept of the "domino theory", that held that the fall of one nation to Communism would start a chain reaction that would cause Communism to spread to neighboring countries.

American involvement in Vietnam would increase in the 1ate 1950s and early 1960s, especially after the deaths of the first Americans in Vietnam in 1959. Two American military advisors were killed in a guerilla attack on Bienhoa. In 1960, Communist forces formed the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, which would be known by the name "Vietcong". The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet War would intensify in the 1960s under the Kennedy administration, with most attention centered in Cuba. A U. S. backed invasion of Cuba by a poorly trained group of Cuban exiles from the United States was quickly defeated by the Cuban armed forces. The incident that would become known as the "Bay of Pigs" invasion put the American involvement in the coup attempt in the spotlight. The result was a buildup of nuclear missiles in Cuba by the Soviet Union that was detected by aerial photographs taken by American spy planes flying over Cuba. An intense fourteen-day showdown kept Americans on edge as the threat of a nuclear war was now only ninety miles from American soil. President Kennedy ordered Navy ships to blockade Cuba, as the world waited to see how the Soviet Union would respond. The Soviet Union eventually agreed to remove the missiles in return for Kennedy's promise not to invade Cuba. A war had been avoided, but the Cold War would continue, with a new war to begin in Southeast Asia in Vietnam.

A Memorial Day ad from the May 30, 1968 edition of the Putnam County Courier pays tribute to the County's war dead. Listed are Capt. Edward S. Starr and Cpl. James C. Foster, Jr. from Patterson.

Historians have debated the events that led to the United States entry into an armed military conflict in Vietnam. They have cited rigged elections and corrupt governments in South Vietnam, and the murky circumstances of a reported torpedo attack on a U. S. Navy destroyer in international waters in the Tonkin Gulf, thirty miles off the coast of Vietnam. Regardless of the causes, the result was the commencement of aerial bombing raids of North Vietnam by American planes beginning in 1965. The first American ground forces would also arrive in Vietnam in 1965. By the end of 1965, 200,000 American troops would already be involved in the fighting.

Putnam County men began to be drafted for the Vietnam War in 1966. Inductees received a similar, but smaller sendoff than inductees of previous wars. Inductees were summoned to appear at the office of the County Selective Service System, Local Board No. 14, located in the Putnam County Office Building in Carmel. A group leader would be appointed among the draftees. A representative of the local Red Cross Chapter would present each man with a package containing writing paper, candy, and the morning newspapers. Henry H. Wells, head of the Board since the 1940s, would then address the group as he held a small American flag, while they waited to board a Walters Transit bus to take them to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York City, for medical physicals. Afterwards, the men were sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training.

As America's commitment to the war increased, so did the need for troops. In November, 1966, Local Board No. 14 in Carmel announced that 21 men would be drafted into the military, the highest number to be called since the Korean War in the early 1950s. Only eight-men from Putnam County were inducted the previous month. After the Korean War ended, the highest number of County men to be inducted was eighteen, in November, 1955. The new group of inductees was from the previously untouched category known as "Category 4". Category 4 men were married, but childless, between the ages of 19 and 26. Putnam County would induct ten men from this category. Putnam County had already inducted men from the first three categories, which included volunteers, single non-volunteers between the ages of 19 and 26, and "delinquents". This pool had become exhausted. After the November call up, only 25 men would remain in the Category 4 pool.

The plaque commemorating Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from Patterson was added to the War Memorial by the American Legion. The War Memorial is located on NYS Route 311 at Maple Avenue.

The 21 inductees, including two men from Patterson, reported for duty on November 14. Parents and friends of the men attended the induction procedure. A representative of the local Red Cross distributed packages of writing paper, candy, and newspapers. The group heard addresses by J. Gerald Quirk, director of the Putnam County office of the New York State Veterans Administration, and by Henry H. Wells of the local draft board. The procedure concluded with recitation of the Lord's Prayer. Fifteen men were placed on a chartered Walters Transit bus to be taken to the Whitehall Street induction center in New York City, where they would receive medical physicals. They would later join the other six at an army base for basic training. Local Board No. 14 had received notice that eight men would be needed the following month.

The Vietnam War would have lasting effect on the United States political scene. Memories of the conflict and the great loss of life have been mentioned as politicians debated possible American entry into other conflicts around the world. American culture also changed during the 1960s, as the Civil Rights movement took hold, the authority of American leaders, including corporate executives, teachers, religious leaders, and politicians was questioned. Returning Vietnam veterans were not greeted as heroes in many cases, but were scorned. In Patterson, a new plaque would be added to the War Memorial to commemorate the men from Patterson who lost their lives in the Vietnam conflict.

Fire Destroys a Building on Front Street

On November 27, 1962, a fire destroyed a building that housed two of Patterson's popular businesses, Art's Barbershop, owned by Art Van Cougnatt, and The Cash and Carry Market, owned by James Rinaldi. A third store was vacant at the time of the fire. The building was a 20-year-old cement, brick, and wood structure on Front Street, near the corner of Center Street. The building was owned by Charles Bender of Danbury. Quick action by the Patterson Fire Department saved the adjoining structures, which were multi-story frame buildings that had stores on the ground level and apartments on the upper levels.

The fire was reported by nearby resident Margaret Pugsley. The Fire Department arrived at 4 AM, and found flames shooting 60 feet over the roof of the building. It would take sixty men and three fire trucks working for one hour to extinguish the blaze. Fire Chief Donald Smith contacted New York Central Railroad officials to determine if any trains were due to pass through Patterson. A passing train would cut the hoses that were stretched from the former ice pond on the east side of the tracks to the fire scene, which lay across the tracks and to the south. The fire was thought to have started in the middle room behind the barbershop. Damage was estimated at between $8,000 and $10,000, and was fully covered by insurance. Ironically, a motion had been made at the last meeting of the Patterson Town Board to begin discussion on the creation of fire codes for the Town.

Art's Barbershop reopened on Main Street (NYS Route 311) shortly after the fire. In December, 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Rinaldi purchased the building and began repairs. They reopened the Cash and Carry Market on March 8, 1963, once the reconstruction was completed.

The Kennedy Assassination

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline captivated America in the early 1960s with their charm and youthfulness. The Kennedy presidency is considered the first of the television age, and Kennedy skillfully used his televised press conferences to convey his agenda. His press conferences were filled with humor and charm, and seemed informal and unscripted. His assassination in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963, rocked the nation, and television and radio coverage of the assassination and the funeral ran continuously for three days. For the first time, broadcast journalism eclipsed print journalism, and became a serious information medium. Television and radio were able to bring breaking news to America as it happened, including live coverage on the NBC network of the murder of Kennedy's presumed killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Throughout the nation, prayers were offered for the slain president. The Rev. Horace E. Hillery presided over a special prayer service at the Patterson Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Hillery was the former pastor of the church, but was called to officiate due to the absence of the present pastor, who had been called away due to the illness of his father. The Rev. Donald Sparks, Protestant minister at the Harlem Valley State Hospital in Wingdale, presided at a special service at the Patterson Baptist Church in Towners. Prayers were also offered at the Christ Episcopal Church and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Putnam Lake.

A memorial service was held at the Patterson school on Tuesday morning, November 26. The Rev. Horace E. Hillery conducted the service, which included prayer and discussion. The service was tailored to the age of the children attending, grades six and below.

The Patterson Grange draped its charter in memory of the slain president. The draping of the charter was customarily done to honor a deceased member of the Grange, but was done for Kennedy, a non-member, at the request of the master of the National Grange, Herschel D. Newsom.

The Kennedy assassination would be the first of three assassinations of major political figures in the United States that would occur in the 1960s. Both civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, and presidential candidate and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the slain president, would be assassinated in 1968.

The New York World's Fair

The World's Fair took place at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York City, in 1964, with a second year added in 1965 in an attempt to offset operating losses. The site was also used for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The 1964 Fair featured 140 pavilions on 646 acres. The majority of exhibitors were U. S. corporations, along with 21 state pavilions and 36 foreign pavilions. The Fair's theme was "Man in a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe," and was symbolized by the Unishpere, contributed by the U. S. Steel Corporation. The Unisphere still stands. The Fair was not sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions, and, as a result, did not have a large number of international exhibitors. World fairs were limited to one-year runs, and the Bureau had already authorized the Seattle fair in 1962. Under the rules, only one U. S. fair would be allowed per decade. Attendance fell below expectations with large operating losses.

In February, 1964, it was announced that September 25, 1964 would be designated as "Putnam County Day" at the Fair. Putnam County planned to showcase local, amateur talent at the Fair, and volunteer performers were solicited to audition at talent competitions to be held in each town in May. Philipstown Supervisor, Jeremiah Downey, chairman of the Putnam County Board of Supervisors, served as general chairman for the effort. He was assisted by Patterson Supervisor Donald B. Smith and Southeast Supervisor Edward J. Tuttle. Patterson Building Inspector Anthony J. Corinna of Putnam Lake represented Patterson on the screening committee that would judge the talent in each town. Final selections were to be made by a talent representative associated with the World's Fair. Each town's show would be performed at the "Tent of Tomorrow" at the New York State Pavilion. Vocalists, musicians, dancers, and gymnasts were invited to audition. A follow-up meeting of the committee was scheduled for March 12 at the Board of Supervisors room in the County Office Building in Carmel.

The Patterson School displayed many projects related to the Fair in April, 1964. Sixth graders created an exhibit of the Fair that was displayed in the trophy case in the main hallway of the School. In addition, classroom and hallway bulletin boards were decorated with pictures of the event.

The Fife and Drum Corps of the Putnam Lake Fire Department was selected in July, 1964, to be one of the acts to represent Patterson at the World's Fair on September 25. The Corps consisted of youngsters aged 10-14, and had been instructed and drilled by music teacher Philip Davies on the grounds adjoining the Putnam Lake firehouse. The Corps was sponsored by the Parade Unit of the Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary. Parents of the youngsters supplied the uniforms and instruments. The present Corps had been together for two years, and participated in parades featuring the Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary. They marched for the first time in Putnam Lake in the 1964 Memorial Day parade sponsored by the Putnam Lake V.F.W. The Putnam County World's Fair Committee arranged transportation to the Fair for the Corps. The Corps would perform for twenty minutes starting at 12:45 PM.

Also representing Patterson was Daniel Blanar, 16, a junior at Carmel Central High School. Blanar, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Planar of Towners, was a talented organist. Blanar was scheduled to perform twice, once between 2 PM and 2:30 PM, and again between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM. Blanar had been playing the organ for three years, and was under the instruction of Peggy Bannerman of Chappaqua. He had already performed on a local radio station and at several area nightclubs, including the "Ox Yoke" in Armonk after taking formal lessons for only six weeks.

About 450 Putnam youth performed at Putnam County Day, with performances beginning at 11 AM and continuing through the night. Spectators were able to enjoy the performances while standing on the floor of the New York State Pavilion, which contained a large map of the State of New York. Special busses were chartered to bring many of the young performers to the Fair. The busses left Putnam County at 7:30 AM Friday, and did not return until very late Friday night or Saturday morning. A reception for Putnam's organizing committee was held at 4 PM in the Empire Room of the State Pavilion. William Crew of Crew Studios in Carmel accompanied the group and took many pictures of the event.