"Those were the Days"
We are fortunate to have the recollections of long time residents Steve Axinn, founding member and current President of LOCA and a member of LOAC, and Kathleen McLaughlin, granddaughter of the Sibenman family, major land owners, and head of LOAC and on the LOCA Board, as we remember past years on the Lake.
- ABELE PARK
This section of the Lake was named after Harry Abele, a lawyer and judge from Peekskill, who was the original property owner. It really began to thrive at the beginning of the 1900s. There were several summer hotels such as the Putnam followed by the Abele Hotel and the Casino where guests would gather in the social halls in the evenings to play cards and attend vaudeville shows. During Prohibition there were a few speakeasies. Perhaps the most interesting player in a wide cast of characters was Barney Edelman, proprietor of Barney’s Clubhouse, a store as well as a tavern. Barney also owned the candy store and gasoline filling station. He was a life-long bachelor who dressed the same every day - with a sailor’s cap. Although all of the summer hotels eventually disappeared, such as the Gloc O’Morra in the l970s, many through fire, Barney’s store still survives.
Another summer hotel, Hilltop Lodge, was constructed on the hill at the southwest corner of the Lake. While certainly not as large as Oscawana Lake House, the first of the series of resort hotels, it welcomed summer guests during the l940s and l950s. Close to Hilltop was a soda shop called Headquarters – during the l950s it was the perfect teenage hangout – picture a scene from Grease! complete with pinball machines, a juke box, a counter piled high with banana splits and you get the idea. F.K. James, the developer of Wildwood Knolls, across on the east shore, also owned land at the southwest end of the Lake (now included in Hilltop Estates) – in fact, his original stone house on Lee Avenue, at the very south end, which was then left to his heir, June Webber, is now occupied by a new family. After Hilltop Lodge no longer continued to accept guests in the l960s it became a community center for the Property Owners Association. In l978 the Hilltop District, which had taken possession of the property, put it up for sale; the Lodge was torn down by the new owner and the parcel is now occupied by a single family house.
- LOOKOUT MANOR
Located in an area generally southwest of Oscawana with many of the property parcels out of sight of the actual Lake, Lookout Manor residents have access to a beach on Lee Avenue at the south end.
- NORTHVIEW ESTATES
The northwest end of the Lake was known as the Trading Post – the name of a bar located not far from the Lake shore. The reputation of the area and the people who frequented the bar and beach did not make for a child-friendly environment during the l930s through the l950s. It is now a beautiful area where new, single homes are being built. The Boys Scouts of America have a large camp northeast of Trading Post Lane.
- WILDWOOD KNOLLS
In the early 1900s this section of the east side of the Lake was enlarged through dredging and then with real estate developed by F.K. James. James built a community of small, summer bungalows on ¼ acre lots with running water from Easter through early November. James retained ownership of the waterworks, a common dock and the unsold property lots. He had a single employee, June Webber, who inherited all of his assets upon his death who continued to live until the late 1960s. In an effort to negotiate with June Webber, the Wildwood Knolls Homeowners Association was formed after WWII. After a protracted series of negotiations the Association was finally able to acquire the common properties and the waterworks. Under the leadership of its first, popular President, Harry Bracken, Wildwood Knolls continued to welcome summer and then year-round residents as the original two-bedroom cottages were turned into winterized homes.