I realized I could no longer put off writing about Cold Spring’s unsolved mysteries when someone stole the pole used to lower and raise the awning at The Current office. The morning sun is brutal; I can’t even see the computer screen without the awning down. 

I first suspected Doug of Doug’s Pretty Good Pub because his eatery has an awning. But he had no motive: His awning is not retractable. 

Next, I called Louis, the proprietor of Xtra Change, a pawnshop in Mahopac. He could only laugh when I asked if anyone had recently pawned an awning pole. He deals mainly with collectibles and, as far as he knows, no one collects poles, awning or otherwise. 

I can’t offer a reward for solving any of the mysteries that follow, but lunch is on me if the pole is returned. 

Seriously, who steals an awning pole?

Disco anyone?

Mystery surrounds another theft here in the village years ago that impacted my family. 

Local celebrations to usher in the year 2000 included a disco ball installed at the riverfront bandstand. My son, Drew, and two of his friends, visiting from Windsor, Ontario, preferred the larger party at Times Square. They returned to Cold Spring by train around 3 a.m. and were immediately met and interrogated by police. The disco ball was missing and glitter on the Canadians’ shoes resembled a trail of glitter that led to the platform. 

Highly indignant for being considered a suspect, Drew has returned to Cold Spring, but never for New Year’s Eve. The disco ball heist remains unsolved.

Let’s pretend

In 2012, during a time of tension between Roger Ailes’ Putnam County News and Recorder and Gordon Stewart’s Philipstown.info and The Paper (later renamed The Highlands Current), a third local paper appeared on the scene. The Pretend Putnam County News and Recorder was published online by an anonymous satirist at ppcnr.com. It poked fun at The PCNR’s claim to be “the only real newspaper” in Philipstown by promising to be the area’s “only real pretend newspaper.” 

Debate raged at our staff meetings: Who was behind the Pretend PCNR? Could it have been Gordon? Someone else on the staff? Or any number of progressive residents, unhappy with The PCNR? The site has disappeared (be forewarned, the address now redirects to a Japanese porn portal), but the mystery remains. 

Arthur Warren was a hero

From 2010 to 2012, Philipstown.info allowed readers to submit comments using pseudonyms, thinking it would increase feedback. It did — but it was also a big mistake. Anonymity does not encourage civil discourse. One of the worst offenders was someone using the name Arthur Warren, which was the name of a Cold Spring resident killed in Italy in World War II.

When the policy was changed, requiring all comments to include the author’s real name, the mystery fizzled. The phony Mr. Warren’s identify never came to light, though we had strong suspicions. Some still try to submit comments with fake names, including one a few weeks ago from a reader who accused me of looking like a 1960s hippie, which I took as a compliment.

Where is A Street?

Most puzzling of all may be a sign on Main Street just east of the traffic light. How did B Street get its name, and why is there no A or C street? New York was a leader in beekeeping by the mid-1800s. Were there bees on B Street? Was B homage to the Butterfields, one of Cold Spring’s historically significant families? Did the first families to live on the street all have surnames that started with B? Was it a temporary name that stuck? Or was B simply meant to be?

Sorry, wrong number

Technology is great when it works. Then there’s real life. I’ve had interesting phone calls during my working life, including a 20-minute chat with an intoxicated long-distance operator, back when speaking to a human being at Ma Bell was a rotary dial away. I had an hour-long call from Ken Dryden, one of my hockey heroes and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, responding to a letter that I thought would not garner a response from the Zamboni driver, let alone the big boss. 

Those calls were fun and unexpected. What’s not fun and now expected is the barrage of wrong numbers that find my desk. It’s not people dialing The Current by mistake. It’s people calling completely different numbers who somehow end up with me. 

I can hear heads being scratched when I tell callers that we’re a newspaper, not the skating rink, pizza shop, funeral home, law office, flower shop, car dealer, state park, massage therapist, sculpture park or psychic. I tried being the psychic; that did not pan out well. 

The wrong numbers mystery must be solved sooner than a new awning pole and even sooner than finding the disco ball. Any leads are welcome but please include your real name.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features

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  1. As a resident of B Street for some time now, I also have wondered about why there is no A or C street. One day, sitting in a doctor’s office, I started chatting with an old-timer and told him where I lived. “B Street!” he exclaimed. “Ever wonder how that street got its name?” I had. “Well…” he said, “nearly 100 years ago a man had a driveway to his house up from Main Street, and he decided to plow it through to Mountain Avenue. Then he named the new road B Street because his last name began with a B. Town wasn’t so happy with this.” I have no idea if this story is true.

  2. The mystery surrounding the theft of the awning pole at The Current office may never be solved, but Cold Spring resident very kindly manufactured us a new one. Even in the bright morning sun I’ll once again be able to see the computer screen!

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