A plethora of very special websites has exploded onto the internet and I
intend to have my site join in the fun. These sites are devoted to one of the
nation's strangest route numbered road systems, stretching across three
Northeastern states, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, thence into Ohio.
Within NY State, from the edge of Harriman State Park onward, upward and westward to Binghamton some 100 miles further, this highway has been lovingly, if misnamed during typical summer weekend rush hours, The Quickway.
West of Binghamton, to Pennsylvania, it is known as the Southern Tier Expressway.
This highway, a mixture of traffic signalled secondary stretches and pure super highway, has achieved an almost mythical cult-like status for thousands, if not millions of travellers frenquenting the southern tier counties of Upstate New York and the Catskills.
The big news at present is the ongoing reconstruction of various highway sectors across the Southern Tier, in preparation for the supersession of the State designated Routes 17, with Interstate 86 in Pennsy and NY State. With Route 17 an often maligned and sometimes hated, (not without good reason) but sentimental part of so many New Yorker's lives, stretching from Woodstock hippies to Borscht Belt old timers, to interstate truckers and hard scrabble Shawangunk Mountaineers, the changeover to interstate status is not without protest or pain, but more on that to follow.
So what the heck is my connection with this highway anyway? Every summer, from 1964 until well into the 1980's, my family rented bungalows at various colonies in the Sullivan County area. Every trip back and forth took place along the Quickway, mostly between exit 104 and the Thruway. By the 70's , the Thruway leg of the trip got replaced by the less crowded and more bucolic Palisades Interstate Parkway.
The first two summers were spent in the town of White Lake, a stones throw away from Bethel, famed site of THEE Woodstock. For those who don't know the term, a bungalow colony is a collection of two and three room cabins, usually two or more connected. Most colonies had around 30 bungalows, although some of the larger "prestige" colonies had over 100. Most had swimming pools, athletic facilities, so-called casinos which usually had adult shows on the weekend and day camps, counselored by the older resident teens.
The first colony in 1964 was called Dubins. It was located at the top of a rollercoaster like hill that absolutely tortured our 1954 Pontiac Catalina Coupe. Only a couple of months after that, the old car's transmission expired. I don't know if my father ever made the connection then, but I'm damn sure making it now. That car would be a sensational classic today. Hell, it was only 10 years old then! I was 6 and had two girlfriends. That was the good news. The bad news was that I sucked at sports, got my worst maternal beating ever after unhooking the pipes under one of the bungalows and flooding the whole line, freaked out while horseback riding when my nag suddenly galloped out of control and worst of all, would not have such an active social life again with the opposite sex until adulthood...and even that was dubious.
The second colony, in 1965, was Mintz's in nearby Kouneonga Lake, which is about as much of a suburb as a place like White Lake is ever likely to get. I still sucked at sports, a condition which seemed to get worse as I got older. I got stung by a darning needle dragonfly and suffered a second summer beating detailed in my "Jeff in England" feature, linked to from my Jeff page, itself linked to atop this page (I like keeping links where I can see them). Isn't summer fun? I remember playing Herman's Hermits Henry the 8th over and over on the jukebox and for the only time in my life, loved digging for worms and fishing, although I had the crappiest pole you'd never want to see. I also had my last girlfriend until well out of latency, a cute little girl with a bobbed haircut who also loved gigging in the worm hill, which in retrospect is suspect was a compost heap. My father's 1962 Olds, which replaced the Pontiac that winter and actually had SEATBELTS!, was very popular among the colony's kids, since most of the families there still had 50's vintage vehicles.
While in the first two colonies, our summers tended to be oriented around White Lake, Swan Lake, Ferndale and Liberty. In 1966, we shifted all the way to the other side of Monticello, down Cold Spring Road about half way to Forestburgh, where there was a little theatre group. The new colony was a weird affair set back from the road, called Hideaway. Most every other colony was hard against whatever road it resided along. For better or worse and I know it was for the worse, we remained at Hideaway until 1972. The only reason we moved then was because the owner lost the colony in a poker game...I KID YOU NOT!...right smack in the middle of the 71 season. The winner promptly sold it to a Hasidic group who promptly did everything possible to impress upon us 40 families the great value of not wanting to come back again!
The next colony was on the northern side of the Quickway, whose spindly green painted overpasses where increasingly rusting away as obvious cutbacks in maintenance left their marks. It was called Clearview, no relation to the Queens Expressway. My family remained there through 1976, although by '74, I was commuting there on the weekends with my father, since I had a full time summer job by then in the city. I also spent half of 1975 in Europe. One night as we drove up, our '68 Olds suffered a blowout near Tarrytown and it was four hours after that before we pulled into the colony. Back in the mid 70's the Quickway still had what has to be the all time original for an arterial highway; A RAILROAD GRADE CROSSING!
Ironically, it was another trunk of the old railroad whose right of way the Quickway usurped in many spots. I don't think it was eliminated until the 1980's, maybe even later. By 1982, the only times I ever got up that way was to singles weekends at the remaining hotels still breathing. I've been west of Roscoe only a couple of times and not in years. In 1974, we took a trip to Cooperstown and took the Quickway to East Branch before branching off towards Walton, Oneonta and points north. On the way back, we got stuck in a logjam caused by a jackknifed 18 wheeler, being attended to by more emergency vehicles than I'd ever seen in one placce before. They didn't have the driver freed by the "Jaws of Life" two minutes, when another vehicle, this time traveling westbound, skidded in the rain and flew clear across the Quickway's wide grass median, straight across our eastbound lanes, which were still closed off pending the further cleanup of the truck accident. This new car finally came screeching to a stop less than an inch from the chintzy guardrail that stood between it and a long, steep slope. I'll never forget the lead rescue worker running towards the scene with his hands over his head yelling, "Oh no! Not another one!" Good going Quickway!
That's enough for now. Enjoy the links and join the ring!