July 2, 2023

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     Recently, in my suburban, now partially urban/suburban part of “upstate New York,” just 20 miles from the Big City, a local police department marveled at cows moseying on once-rural roads and grazing on a development house lawn. But why not? They were there first.

     Not so long ago, until growth and “progress” came to Rockland County, there were numerous dairy farms here, including in the Monsey/Tallman/Airmont/ south Spring Valley (now Chestnut Ridge) area where the cows were chomping not far from their barn.

     The Ramapo P.D. posted a humorous play on words with photos of the apparent dairy cows, some with little horns, which some girl cows have, too. Not just the bulls. (Women rock no matter the species.) 

     Back in the day, until the 1950s, old Ramapo Chief Abe Stern and even young to-be-future chief Joe Miele might have to slow down the black 1955 Customline Ford cruiser to avoid cows that might have wandered, though few did because the farmers kept after their fencing, and the “pasture” anyway was so large in acreage before development came.

     In summer, the area noted by the modern P.D. was also dotted with numerous bungalow colonies and summer hotels that attracted more people in season than year-round residents. 

     City kids marveled at the cows, and their parents bought the milk.  

     The numerous dairy farms, particularly in the towns of Ramapo and Clarkstown, supplied milk to Gotham via several rail lines then existing.

     Times changed, and most of the dairy farms and fruit orchards were long ago plowed under for homes, strip shopping and other businesses.

     You don’t hear much mooing in the area now. Other notes and rhythms of “progress,” but few cowbells are heard.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.