July 5, 2020

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     Back when, and “when” is whenever you or I hold a memory about a place or someone or thing, there was a country road in Pomona, N.Y.,  named McNamara, and though the signs still proclaim it, no longer is this a rural place. 

     Nor is Pomona, named by apple farmer Nicholas Concklin in the 1700s, still wearing the robes of the goddess of fruit, for most of the trees are now 2x4s in suburban development.

     There was a ritual in youth back “when”  included a summer walk from Hillcrest, a nearby Rockland County  hamlet, to McNamara, early on before the day’s heat and humidity. It began off Eckerson Road onto State Street, to Hillcrest Avenue, across Rt .45 to Locust (sometimes it was the parallel Faist Drive) to Hempstead Road to Brick Church Road to Union to McNamara, where the hills and valleys, however light, caused young legs to stretch and the heart rate to quicken.

     It was all worth it, for along McNamara, just before the old ASPCA  animal center, were wildflowers and hay-like straw, which in the increasing warmth and bathed overnight in the wet, gave off a fragrance that Nick Concklin himself enjoyed so long ago.

     For youth a bit bored by even summer recess, a walk to McNamara with or without pals brought accomplishment as well as passing the time of day. It was also ritual, and we all want that because regularity means some things in life can be put the shelf where they ought to be, and we can count on having them there and taking them down when we need to do that.

     Back when McNamara still looked like it had for more than 100 years, a simple walk brought a trip to a friendly place, made that way by familiarity. Its many changes now in suburban growth and the equally major modifications and morphing in a youth’s growth to adulthood and its own journey toward sunset mean McNamara Road, now mostly in the Village of Hempstead, can only be a memory. But close the eyes, and a whiff of those wildflowers easily returns.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at

5 thoughts on “ALONG MCNAMARA

  1. Howard Gleichenhaus

    Not being a Spring Valley native I appreciate the history of a time long before I came to Spring Valley (actually our house was in Monsey just south of Viola Road) before there was a Ramapo HS and Viola was straightened out.
    When I read your memories of growing up in Rockland I know how much I missed growing up on the hard concrete streets of The Bronx. I knew that from the very first day I arrived at SVHS and met Fred Yatto and Leland Meyer.

    1. thecolumnrule Post author

      Howard, our SV was so special. My father went to school with Fred Sr. and Selma. I was a pall bearer for Fred. He would have become governor, at least. Leland Rickard-Meyer was my dad’s principal as well. The best.

      1. Howard Gleichenhaus

        I was fortunate to be part of a family (Sarafan) by marriage) that were natives going back into the early 1900 and had a farm on the Hill. My stepdad Hymie Sarafan went to high school in Rockland when there were only 2. He delivered wood to Haverstraw as a kid by horse and carriage. My two stepsisters were Julie SVHS 59 and Wilma SVHS 56.

  2. Ed Feder

    I fondly remember those days, we lived on McNamara Road, first bend off I believe Union Road.Mrs Sandsberry lived on the corner of Union and McNamara, On McNamara Mrs Scott Lived, across was the house where Allie and Mrs Ridgeway lived, we lived by the sharp turn,Mom, Dad, Robby,Harriet and I in a big old two story house. There were hundred of acres of apple orchards and I would pick apples for twenty cents an hour. I went to the Brick Church School and graduated in 1944, My classmates were Sammy Konnight, Tony Teplitz, Betty Boese, Sue Brown, and Seyma Ocho. I went to Spring Valley High School and graduated in 1948. Those were the good old days on McNamara Road, Eddie Feder

  3. thecolumnrule Post author

    Ed, what wonderful memories! Wewere so lucky to grow up in Rockland in those days. I, too, recall those apple orchards, including the ones off Willow Tree near the Pomona Country Club. You sure have great name recall. Take care, sir.

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