Then & Now
West Point cadets and the sex-and-drug ’60s; IBM, Luckey Platt, and ice harvesters; airports, bridges, and those famous ferries. Join us for a look back at the last 100 years of Valley history
(page 13 of 20)
Reprinted with permission from Beacon Revisited by Robert J. Murphy and Denise Doring Van Buren
The Sporting Life
Then: Before the advent of television in the 1950s brought professional sports into American homes, local semiprofessional football teams like the Beacon Bears (left) provided towns with a dose of healthy competition. Originally formed in the mid-1930s, the Bears posted winning seasons from 1947-1949. Playing teams from Connecticut, New Jersey, and neighboring Hudson Valley towns, they often drew crowds in the thousands.
Reprinted with permission from Putnam County by Guy Cheli
Baseball legend Babe Ruth (first photo at right) was a summer fixture on Lake Oscawana in the town of Putnam Valley in the 1920s and ’30s. “The Sultan of Swat” was initially drawn to the summer hot spot because it wasn’t a dry town, an anomaly during Prohibition. Many lake residents recount how the Babe played pickup games in a vacant lot after church and entertained the local, adoring children. It is said that he would often throw empty beer cans from his front porch into the water for the young boys to fetch.
Photograph of Maiko Loyola courtesy of the Hudson Valley Renegades
Of course, not all local sports were played by professionals. In the 1960s, members of the Secor Sports Club enjoyed games such as curling on frozen Lake Secor, also in Putnam County (above, far right). The club is still active in Mahopac.
Now: Though the Bears disbanded in 1957, Valley sports fans are not without a “home team.” The Hudson Valley Renegades is a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. Founded in 1994, the team has launched the careers of nearly 50 major league players. The Renegades regularly face off against other minor league squads from throughout the Northeast in a short season that runs from June to September. Home games are played at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls.
If you like what you see here, check out www.arcadiapublishing.com, the Web site of Arcadia Publishing. The leading publisher of history books in the U.S., the company generously supplied many of the vintage photographs for this article. Their list includes a large number of titles that profile Valley cities, towns, and other popular locations.
Next: Bear Mountain State Park
Click on any image below to view more historic photos from 'round the Valley