March 4, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

(also on Facebook)

     On the South Mountain, in Pomona, N.Y., named for the goddess of fruit, there came in 1711 Nicholas Concklin, a descendant of an English family arriving in 1637. Nicholas bought 400 acres and began the orchards that continue today. Looking toward the rise from South Mountain Road, you can feel the magical pull on your soul. The view is magnetic over the apple trees and old family barn. It makes you linger though the speeding vehicles of “progress” push you to the side of the road.

     You can feel the strain that hit so many farming muscles over the generations, lifting the endless rocks in tilled soil, the wind hitting your face as it swirls in the valley as if a small tornado, the sweet smell of spring and the fruit tree budding.

     Harvest time brings its own emotion, reinforced by what a father/mother saw, a grandfather/grandmother, those forebears in the early 20th, the 19th, the 18th   centuries. Endurance, though change has proven inevitable.

     In the 1936 Broadway play written by South Mountain resident Maxwell Andersen to help save the High Tor cliffs from quarrying, the Indian in greatcoat who is the wise man of the story notes that there is nothing made by succeeding land owners  “that will not make good ruins.” This has been true as all America continues to develop in its manifest destiny, certainly in once-rural Rockland County where Pomona lies.

     Yet, as sure as fruit matures from the pink and white blossoms that are the underpainting of South Mountain Road’s  beauty, the “ruins” are far off, “progress” so far unable to bulldoze the leprechaun-like magic of South Mountain Road, from the Concklin Orchards at state road 45 to the drop of High Tor at state road 9W.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.