Susan Drake, November 12, 2018


Susan Drake, November 12, 2018


Bob's Corner Store
Cherry Valley School
Harmon Howland
Pierstown Grange
Post Office
Union, New Jersey
Winter driving


Susan Drake is a long-time resident of Roseboom, New York. Drake was born in Union, New Jersey on September 9, 1940. After spending her childhood summers in Cooperstown, Drake married Donald Drake of Cooperstown and moved to Otsego County permanently, settling in Roseboom. Over her years in Roseboom, Drake raised three boys, became close with her many neighbors on John Deere Road, and rose to a leadership role in the Pierstown Grange.

The town of Roseboom sits outside of the larger community of Cherry Valley, New York and was home to 684 residents as of 2017. Founded in 1854 by Abram and John Roseboom, the town consists of several hamlets. The town has relied on an agricultural economy with at one point several dairy farms, a Grange, a cheese factory, and a John Deere dealership that sold equipment to surrounding farmers. Since the middle of the twentieth century, agriculture in Roseboom and surrounding communities has declined due to both out-migration from Roseboom and the growth of larger, mechanized farms.

Drake’s narrative spans the breadth of the second half of the twentieth century and speaks to the changes that befell Roseboom. Some of the most poignant information in the interview comes in Drake’s description of the changes in the Grange community of Otsego County and the effects this organization had on her life.


Phoebe Cos


Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta




Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY


28.8 mB

685 × 1218 in.

36 KB






Upstate New York

Roseboom, NY


Phoebe Cos


Susan Drake


105 John Deere Road
Cherry Valley, NY


SD = Susan Drake
PC = Phoebe Cos

[START OF TRACK 3: 0:00]
[The first 30 minutes of this interview were not recorded. The included beginning of the interview (Track 3) was re-recorded after the interview finished with most of the same questions that were asked on the lost first half of the interview.]

This is Phoebe Cos with Susan Drake at her home at 105 John Deere Road in Cherry Valley, New York in Roseboom. It is Monday, November 12th [2018] at 3:30pm. Thank you for being here, Susan.


What is your full name?

Susan Bunyan Drake.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 9th, 1940. Our home was Union, New Jersey, which isn’t that far from Newark. It was just the hospital that my mother went to that was in Newark, but we lived in Union, New Jersey. My grandmother on my mother’s side was born and brought up in Cooperstown. Her name was Florence Bunyon [Bunyan?]. She married Alexander Kerr, who lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey. When she married, then she lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey. My mother was brought up in New Jersey, but they still had summers in Cooperstown, because my grandmother had a nice camp house that they went to. Once my mother and father were married, they lived in Union. Still every summer we used to come up to my grandmother’s camp, my brother, sister, and myself. I think it got a little much for my grandmother, probably. So, my parents bought a camp house that was two houses away from hers on the west side of Otsego Lake. They were the Kerr Kennel and our camp was called Lakeview. I used to go to my husband’s father’s farm. It was the Hickory Grove Farms. I liked milking the cows and working with the hay and all those things on the farm. That was the farm of Clifford Drake and I married his son Donald Drake, which is how I got up to this area from New Jersey. We lived a couple years after we were married in a house that his father owned across the street from their house that they lived in. Then, we moved to Roseboom, because he [Donald] taught at Cherry Valley Central School. He was the high school math teacher. The school board wanted all the employees to live in the school district. Fred Howland, who was a real estate agent and lived right across from the first house that we bought in Roseboom, was the one that showed us the house. We bought it. That was probably in about 1963. In 1976, we bought our present house, which was two houses up from the one on the corner. It was a house built by Harmon Howland; he was one of the founders of Roseboom. Fred Howland was his descendant, although I think someone was adopted, so he might not have been a blood descendant of Harmon Howland, but I’d have to look up that genealogy to be sure. Nevertheless, this house that we’re living in now was built by Harmon Howland. That’s how we ended up in Roseboom.

Did you have your eye on this house when you were living two houses down?

Not really, except maybe we had our eye on it after it was up for sale. I think previous to that—before it was for sale—I don’t know as we had any thoughts about it really. It’s amazing how much quieter it is than the house right on the corner with it. Not that there’s awful much traffic on Route 165 but there’s a lot less here. I like that quiet; less traffic.

What made you want to come to a different house?

Well, the size of our family. We were getting sort of cramped. We renovated the attic space for our two boys. Then we had a little bedroom for when we had our third boy; he was in a very small bedroom. We had a normal size bedroom. Our two older boys were in this attic bedroom, which was okay. I think we were feeling a little cramped, so that’s why we wanted to get something bigger. This was bigger. Our oldest son, as you saw, sort of has an apartment, an addition to it. He was in the bedroom in the apartment side. Then, our middle son was in the bigger bedroom which is basically over our dining room area. Then, there is a bedroom over this part of the kitchen/bathroom area and then our bedroom is over the living room. It was much more spacious in the bedroom department and we had lots of bathrooms, so it was good.

How did your sons entertain themselves while they were here? Did they play baseball?

They did. They played all the sports at school. In the winter, they liked skiing and we did sleigh riding. And as I say, we had this empty lot across the street. When it was good weather, they could play ball and so on out on that flat space right across the road. Otherwise, I guess they watched TV. They weren’t really into video games. That era hadn’t happened yet. It was mainly the TV watching era. I think that would be one of the main forms of entertainment that we had. Whereas when they were littler, we played games and they played with their toys and things. Then, when they got old enough to watch TV that’s what we did other than all the school activities. I don’t know if we’ve got that recorded. We were at school a lot. A lot of their things were going to school, sports, and so on.

Did any of the other families on the street have children their age?

Yes. The VanBurens, of course. That was entertaining. We’d go up and see the VanBurens’ cows and things like that. That’s more when they were little though. We’d sleigh ride down Van Buren’s hill in winter when it was sleigh riding time. They did enjoy going up there to see the animals when they were little. The VanBuren boys were their age. That I think was mainly it. I think there was the Yerdon family that lived in the other street in Roseboom. Some of them used to come over to play. They had school friends. They had friends who maybe didn’t live right here but would come home on the school bus and play in the afternoon and get picked up by their parents later on. So, they did have friends from their classes at school that would come and visit. Jerry, who bought the store, remembers playing with our grandson, Jason. I guess I must have taken them fishing too, because he said he remembered fishing with our grandson and I used to give them cookies afterwards. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember it at all, but he has good memories of it, so I’m glad. We used to fish in the pond that’s across, Nixon’s Pond. We’d fish and I think we might have done some swimming in there too. Some of the grandsons I’d taken on the creek, we played along the creek that along here up above a little bit. That was entertaining too.

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

[*First half of interview was not recorded. This was noticed 28 minutes into the interview. Recording of interview commenced from this point forward.]

[TRACK 1, 00:25]

Plus, Marianne ran the restaurant in Roseboom for a while. It was called Marianne’s then. That restaurant has had a lot of names. Somebody better than me can maybe remember all of them. [laughter] But Marianne called hers Marianne’s. That was easy. [laughter] [telephone rings]
Oh dear, my telephone is ding-donging, but that’s okay. Don’t mind the noise. [laughing]
Okay, I think I’m done with the neighbors, maybe, unless you want to know more. But, that’s a good summary, I think, on that question.

What things do they sell at Bob’s Country Store? Has it changed over the years?
It really hasn’t. It’s always had everything. It’s wonderful. People from other places love it and I count my blessings that we have Bob’s Corner Store. First of all, it has all kinds of canned groceries and just about anything you could want, cereals, any canned fruit or soups or vegetables, soaps and cleaners. There’s a couple freezers, so all your basic frozen foods are there. Your ice cream and stuff. Candy, naturally. Any kind of baking supplies. They always have fresh fruit and some vegetables and always have local fresh sweet corn in the summer. They have potatoes, onions, lettuce. I’m thinking cabbage, cucumbers, bananas, apples. All the basics. They have meat, sandwich meat or pork chops or hamburger or chicken. I’m thinking they must have chicken of some sort. I’ve never bought chicken there, but I know they have hamburger and pork chops plus the sliced ham and bologna and that sort of thing. Cheese that they slice. Bacon, they’ve had wonderful bacon under the new ownership. I don’t know whether they still do business with the bacon person, but they had a somewhat local bacon that was very good. Let’s see, I’m thinking, I’m kind of going around the store. Crackers, they have a lot of different kinds of crackers and cookies and bread and all sorts of potato chips. And then they have all kinds of beverages: milk and water and all kinds of soda. And, of course, beer, which I think is a good income for them, all kinds of beer. And I think they even sell kegs of beer for people that want parties. They do meat platters for people that want parties and have something of that nature. I think one thing that’s added since the early days is subs. They make very good sub sandwiches, so I think that’s been a good new addition. I don’t think Ted Haas had subs probably, but subs are more of a modern something. They do well with the subs. And I heard Jerry’s subs were as good as Tom’s subs so that’s good news, I think. And I know they’ve added breakfast sandwiches. I’ve never had one of their breakfast sandwiches, but that’s probably in the last six or seven years they’ve added breakfast sandwiches. They do have fresh coffee. If you want to buy a cup of coffee, you can do that. Then there’s things for cars, like oil and other stuff you need for your car. I’m not sure quite what that stuff is, but they have the basic car business. And then, other hardware kinds of things. And wonderfully, they have the post office, so that you can buy stamps and mail things. We’ve done a lot of business at that post office over the years. My husband was chairman of the executive committee of the New York State Grange. Vouchers were the method the treasurer used to pay a bill. He had to receive a voucher before he paid the bill that stated who the person was to pay it to and what it was for. My husband would get all the vouchers from the secretary and record them and whatever and then we had to mail them on to the state Grange treasurer. So, we did a lot of voucher mailing. The postmistress at that time was Tom Weeks’ mother, Dolores Weeks. Dolores was wonderful and a joy. It was always a friendly time with Dolores Weeks in the post office. I know our family that lived with us for many years for the opera—they were from Tallahassee, Florida—they loved Bob’s and they loved the post office part of Bob’s, because they could just go in and not have to wait in line to be waited on. They could go in and get waited on at the post office and it worked very well. They sell gas also; they’ve sold gas over the years. They’ll check the air in your tires and put oil in your car if you need it. It’s really an old-fashioned country store that takes care of all your needs. You could survive very nicely just going to Bob’s Corner Store. Thank you, Bob’s Corner Store. We love you! [laughing]

[TRACK 1, 8:28]

You mentioned the Grange. How did you become active in the Grange?

My husband’s parents and my husband were active in the Grange. That was Pierstown Grange over to the west side of Otsego Lake. If you’re heading north on Route 80 out of Cooperstown, you can veer off to the left a mile at the most out of town. It’s called County Route 28 officially and unofficially it’s the Pierstown Road. And you follow that road along until that point where it all of a sudden turns sharply to the right and goes back down to Route 80. If you want to go to the Pierstown Grange, you go straight, which then you’re on Wedderspoon Hollow Road. It’s just a short distance up on Wedderspoon Hollow Road. That was just over the hill from their [her inlaws’] house, because their house and main farms were there at Six, I believe it’s Six Mile Point. It would be next to what was the Hickory Grove Inn. The name of the road that goes over the hill to where their house was is Red House Hill Road. It was very close to where they lived and his parents were active and he was active and that’s how I got to be active. I’ve been active in that Grange ever since.

When did you start being active in the Grange?

I joined at fourteen. I think the first thing they got me doing was an exhibit at the Otsego County Fair when probably I was either fourteen or the next year when I was fifteen. I put it together at first in the garage at our camp. Our camp was Lakeview, which was right down next to the lake on the far end of what is now Badger Lane. Badger Lane is the name of the road. It’s a U-shaped road, so the far bend of the U away from Cooperstown, that’s where you would go down to our camp, Camp Lakeview. There was a garage and in the garage I put together this first fair exhibit on golden hours. I remember the first one. I don’t know how it did. I don’t remember how we got it from the garage down to the fairgrounds, but somehow we must have done it. That was my first involvement. I used to be involved just in the summertime before we were married and once Don and I were married then we went to all the meetings. We held different offices and we worked suppers. He had three aunts, two of his father’s sisters and one was his mother’s sister, and they used to do a lot of dinners at the Bump Tavern at The Farmers’ Museum for different affairs. We were part of that operation. We used to have a big fall supper called the Harvest Supper. It was a big turkey dinner and we had about three hundred people. We could sit about a hundred at a time in our dining room. We were very involved in that operation too. [laughter] Those were some of the big things. We were active with the county youth group. We went to the county Grange meetings also. Then, part of the youth program was a young couple contest, which we ended up being the national young couple in 1971. The national session that year was out in Boise, Idaho and his father got to go out with us. So that was nice that he could be there when we got that honor. We used to have an officer’s installation team. We used to go around and install officers in various Granges. It kept us occupied, that’s for sure, but we enjoyed it. That’s a little bit about how I got involved.

How has the Grange system in Otsego County changed since you joined it?

Well, of course, one thing is we’ve lost a lot of members and a lot of Granges. I think when I first was active, there were twenty-eight Granges in Otsego County and now I think we’re down, we just lost another one, Wharton Valley Grange. I think we’re seven if I count. Let me [stands up and walks across room] I’m going to get a directory and check myself, so I don’t mess up. [walks out of room] [silence] [walks back in the room] Let’s see, so how many have we? I’ll count them up: one [pages flipping], two, three, four, five, six, seven. Yep, there’s seven. Seven Granges. So, we’ve gone from twenty-eight to seven. Naturally, when we had twenty-eight, they weren’t that far apart, so I suppose transportation is one thing. And the decline of agriculture in the area, you know, the consolidation of farms into bigger farms and the loss of the small farm. I think television, probably was a big factor, because people could be entertained right at home. They didn’t have to go to a Grange meeting for entertainment. I think those are some of the factors that might have influenced the loss. I know nation-wide we’ve lost a lot of members, but we always are hopeful that we’re going to turn the corner. I think it’s possible that we could recover to some extent. We’ll see, because people are more interested in organic foods nowadays and how their food is grown and so on. So, it may be that we won’t lose any more members than we’ve already lost. Luckily, our Grange has managed to keep going. Right now, we have a pretty good group. I, myself, enjoy the ritualism of the Grange. I like it. I’ve been with it. But our members aren’t that interested in the ritual really. Except we have a new one who is very interested so I’m very excited about that. In fact, he’s going up to Stowe, Vermont this week to take the seventh degree. We hosted the state Grange meeting in Oneonta last week and he took the fifth and the sixth degrees, which are the county and the state degrees, there. Now he’s up for Stowe, Vermont. In fact, I’m going to be going up there myself, leaving Wednesday, because Irene Fassett, a friend of mine is going to be playing the piano for the seventh degree, which she has played at various other times when the national Grange meeting has been sort of near. She played for Rochester, she’s played in Connecticut and in Syracuse. My husband and I were the chairmen of the hosting committee when it was in Syracuse, which it was 1987 when it was in Syracuse. I’m excited that he’s going. On the whole, most of our members aren’t that much interested. The national Grange kind of changed the format and let people be a little more informal if they wanted to be and so we are. We’re much more informal. We have a covered dish supper at 6:30 and then if we have any business, we do it and then we have a program of some sort. We had a fun one in September roasting the mailman who had just retired who was the Pierstown mailman. That was a fun program. We have a chicken barbeque that we do now and we had our first agriculture day this year. In June one of our members started back up the Pierstown Garden Club. She had started it before and then her husband was ill, and she had to take care of him, so it sort of fell by the wayside. Then the Cooperstown Women’s Club, who had a garden club segment, that folded. Now she’s kind of picked up the Women’s Club Garden Club and put it into the Pierstown Garden Club. They were part of our agriculture day. We had some 4H animals that were for sale. It worked out very well. I think we’ll probably do it again. [laughing] Anyway, we luckily have a little over fifty members, so we’re hanging in there. [laughing]

Are any of those fifty members from Roseboom?

No, just myself and my husband, and well our children belong, but of course they’re not
around here at all. There was a Roseboom Grange and they were active for a while, but I
think their problem might be that their meetings are very late. They started quite late and
now people want to be done. We start at 6:30 and we’re done by 8:30. It’s funny, now that there’s transportation, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting home. You could stay up later, but people seem to be in that mode where they want to be done earlier. Things start earlier and end earlier than they used to, which is interesting. I don’t know why that is, but maybe someone has a theory. I’m not sure.

How do you currently get to your Grange meetings?

I just drive myself. I usually drive, seeing as my husband’s in the nursing home. Usually, as I said, we have a covered dish supper. Whatever it is, I might go by the Grange hall and drop it off and then I usually leave the nursing home between the three and the four o’clock time frame. There’s no need to come back to Roseboom and then go over to the Pierstown Grange. I usually just go to the Grange Hall and stick whatever it is in the oven and help set the tables and so on for the meeting. I just drive myself there. Drive in the car, not with a horse and buggy or anything like that, which they used to do way back. I think that’s why there were so many, because you were using the horse and buggy to get there. I just drive there. We meet once a month. It used to be that Granges met twice a month. Now I think most of them meet just once a month and we’ve done once a month for quite a number of years now. I think that’s good, because people aren’t interested in that many meetings. We try to have something interesting for our program. We don’t always do that. Yes, once a month is fine [coughing] excuse me, fine. We meet in members’ homes from November through April and then we just meet in the Grange Hall May through October, because it isn’t really insulated, plus we’d have to have someone plow out the parking lot. And we’d have to buy a lot of oil for our furnace. It’s very fun meeting in members’ homes, because it’s homey. [laughing] People get a chance to visit and chit chat and you get to see other people’s houses. They get to entertain, if they haven’t been entertaining, they get to entertain everybody. That’s all around a good time.

So, you mentioned that your sons were, or are, members of the Grange. What was it like raising children while in the Grange?

Of course, our main focus was school, because Don was the high school math teacher and then he got to be vice principal and then he was the principal. We did a lot of going to school. It seemed like it was fairly fast that he was the vice principal. Anyway, for whatever reason we always went to all the sporting events, all the games. We never missed football and basketball and baseball and then any concerts or plays. We were just part of it, which we enjoyed. It was getting the kids there. The Cherry Valley School, the stage was on one side of the basketball court. When our children were little, I would take them up on the stage. They could run around on the stage for a while. They didn’t have to sit still and watch the game the whole time. It was a lot of getting them ready. Of course, they all went to school there anyway. They were all in sports, so it was sort of natural just going and watching them and their other brothers. Some would be participating; some would be watching. It was mainly just getting them there, so we did go to school a lot. As far as Grange was concerned, oftentimes Don’s mother in later years didn’t go; she didn’t feel that well. She liked having the boys stay with her, so they would stay with their grandmother while we went to the Grange meeting. That seemed to work out pretty well all the way around, so that’s what we did; that’s how it worked out. I don’t think the boys rode the school bus much then, although they must have some. Eventually they would ride with their father to school and come back when he came back. I take it would be when they were older when they were involved in sports themselves; I think when they were younger, they rode the school bus and then came home on the school bus too. Then when they got old enough to be involved in sports and be involved for the hours that he was there, they would ride with him. I think that’s how they did it.

So, this will probably be our last question of the interview.


[TRACK 1, 28:59]

You’ve mentioned you’ve lived this wonderful life in Roseboom ever since you married your husband. I was curious—How did you feel when you were moving to Otsego County permanently, specifically to Roseboom, from New Jersey?

Well, the first time I ever was going to Roseboom, we’d been in the house on Route 80 across from his parents. I’d never been to Roseboom. We’d been married a few years. We’d had our first son, John. When I first came to Roseboom, I felt like it was the end of the world. [laughing] As you come onto 165 and you look down that road [START OF TRACK 2, 0:00] and think “Oh my goodness! This is waayyyy out in the country.” It felt like you were out in the middle of nowhere, but I guess I must have gotten over that. We looked at a house when we bought our first house in Roseboom on the corner. The other house we looked at was down in what they call Sprout Brook, which is actually north of Cherry Valley. You go down to Sprout Brook, because you go down a hill. That even seemed more remote to me than Roseboom did. We went with the house in Roseboom, just because in contrast to that one it seemed a little closer to civilization. I was telling the people at the nursing home I had to practice up for this interview. One asked me if I knew people in South Valley and I said I did, and we reminisced about people in South Valley. Then, I told them about one time I was fairly newly married and newly here and I was collecting for the Red Cross. I must have had to go up the South Valley hill road for some reason. I got part way up and the road was slippery. I couldn’t make it the whole way. Then, I had to back down all the way, which I told them that was a very scary process. The first year we were married and we lived on Route 80. I was coming to some event at school. Don was at school and I had to drive over to school. The road had iced up, but I didn’t realize it. I’d never really had any experience with icy roads in New Jersey, although I guess we had them, but not much. I was coming along old Route 20 at a fairly good clip. There’s a place where there’s quite a curve on old Route 20 and right there I spun right around in a circle. I thought, “Why did I do that?” I opened the door and put my foot out and then the road was icy and said, “Oh, that’s why I did it!” After that I was much more cautious. We’ve had some icy drives. This doesn’t have much to do with Roseboom, but I’ll tell it anyway. His [Don’s] brother was a farmer down [Route] 166 towards Milford. Unfortunately, his house burned up at one point. Luckily, he and his wife got out okay, safely. We’d been to Utica to buy him some clothes. He was quite a large fellow. We went to the big men’s store to get him some clothes. A terrible ice storm must have occurred between us leaving Utica and getting home, when again old Route 20 was just a sheet of ice. We crawled along at a slow pace, like five miles per hour. We made it; we made it okay. Luckily, knock on wood [sound of banging on table], we have made it safely through all the winter driving we’ve had to do, which is tricky. It’s tricky in Roseboom, but we’re on the flat. I would never live up on a hill or with a steep, long driveway. I think it was just by lucky chance that we picked these houses with short driveways. Probably, Don knew what he was doing. There. I think we might have two or three minutes, but not much I don’t think.

So, I think that was our last question. Thank you, Susan for sharing your experiences and your stories.

I hope they’ll work out okay for you, Phoebe. And thank you for bringing the pumpkin muffins.

You’re most welcome. Thank you!

[STOP: 46:20]


30:00-Track 1
5:01-Track 2
11:19-Track 3

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Time Summary

Track 1, 00:25-Local Businesses
Track 1, 8:28- The Grange
Track 1, 28:59- Moving, Roseboom




Phoebe Cos, “Susan Drake, November 12, 2018,” CGP Community Stories, accessed September 18, 2020,