Eve Baer

Eve: The reason that I got a smile on my face this morning when I was thinking about being a Woodstock Townsperson … it made me proud to be one because Woodstock is a community that I love and admire.
It almost has a sense of self that is diverse and rich and supportive and nurturing. Heartfelt. We have a small enough community that it emanates into all of the outer hamlets. It’s just wonderful because we like supporting each other and creating this wonderful community. I often wish that this was available to everybody. It is available to everybody if they could live like we do here.

Juliet: Even I’m surprised by the support outside my family and lifelong friends since I moved back last year.

Eve: I have two women’s groups with my best friends. One of the groups is Laurie Schwartz who I’ve known for thirty years and and a woman who started Hospice in this area in 1979. She and her husband Nathan – it was their idea to start the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. Look what it is now. It was astonishing to witness the whole thing from idea to manifestation to this amazing growth. Talk about something having legs of the idea carry it along and move it forward. Evelyne Puget who is just as beautiful to look at as it is to say her name “Evelyne Puget” (laughs) she’s an artist and entrepreneur, but an artist mostly. She does huge benefit events for orphanages and Haitians and she was the primary catalyst for the Woodstock Peace Festival. She does good, good work. Maria deFranco, she and her husband Paul own Catskill Art and she’s an architect. And Jan Bernhardt, a most wonderful massage therapist and wife and mother. You probably know Jan.

Juliet: Yes.

Eve: So the five of us have been meeting for I think 15 years, once a month.We’ve created such intimacy and confidentiality in our conversations. Usually we’ll have someone take the lead. We’ll exchange and we’ll talk and ask the person if they want any coaching in the matter. We also prepare lovely food for each other. Each one of us brings a dish. So that’s that group.
The other group that I’m in with Judy Jamison, Marcia Fleisher, Karen McKenna…there are 10 of us all together. We followthe guidelines of the Millionth Circle. When you are sharing, you are sharing to give your wisdom to the group about what you’ve learned. It’s a little bit more focused then just telling the story of what happened over the last month, although that’s always included. For me almost every time I share, it has to do with my children, still.
That group is very structured. But of course we bring food, and we eat together and we have our table chit chat and then we do our more formal circle and then we have dessert. (Laughs.)

Juliet: They sound so great

Eve: It is so great. It is so great. And what is so great is that each and every woman involved in those groups thinks its so great that we have what we have. “Isn’t this great? Don’t you wish everybody had this?”

Juliet: What brought you to Woodstock?

Eve: I think serendipity brought me to Woodstock. Previous to living in Woodstock, I was living in New London, New Hampshire, which is a small college town. Colby Junior College for Women is there. It’s a sister college to Dartmouth. New London is at a high elevation and it was literally in the clouds every day. Common usage was “it will burn off by noon”. I was married and had one child when I moved to New London and had two children while I was living there.  My husband John was an English teacher at Colby Junior College for Women, which had a wonderful theater program and English department. After being there for three years my husband and I were going through a marital crisis. We started to blame anything we could and we wanted to save our marriage for the children’s sake and we thought we should move somewhere closer to a big city. Whatever! (Laughs.)
After Colby he got a job at Ulster County Community College, where he was among the first staff there. The initial faculty. We had one friend in New London who was a photographer and had been to Woodstock once. He said he thought it was a cool little town. That was the only idea that we had about Woodstock. When John was interviewing in Kingston he looked around Kingston itself and then he remembered Woodstock and when he came here, he liked it. Back in New Hampshire, he told me about it. I said it sounded good because New London was a very small town, which I liked. John came down and rented the Pearlman’s house at 6 Deming Street. At the time it was “The Pink House Behind Deanie’s”. Deanie’s back in the day was right on that corner there (Mill Hill Road and Deming Street) The Pearlman’s had a nursery school. They decided they didn’t want to do the nursery school anymore. The house had a sandbox and swings, a playhouse, perfect for the kids, so we moved in.

Juliet: What year was that?

Eve: 1964. Since we moved here in June and John wasn’t starting school again until September, I needed to get a job. I had been working summers as a hostess at a country club in New Hampshire. I felt lucky when I got a job right away at the Espresso Cafe as a waitress. One of the great highlights of my life in Woodstock is that at night when I was putting the food away and shutting down machines and cleaning the restaurant, Bob Dylan, who was living upstairs with the Paturels, would come downstairs and play honky-tonk piano and write songs. He and Lloyd the dishwasher, one of his roadies, and I would go to Kingston and go to the old bus terminal and get bagels at three in the morning. We’d go dancing at an after hours place down on old lower Broadway or shoot pool. Bob was my idol. I was thrilled to hang out with him. Anyway that was my arrival in Woodstock. How lucky did I feel. And then of course I became close friends with Mary Lou and Bernard. (Paturel, the owners of the Cafe Espresso). Mary Lou’s been my best friend for over 50 years.

Juliet: What’s your first memory of Woodstock?

Eve: That’s it. Bob Dylan. Without a doubt.

Juliet: What has changed about Woodstock?

Eve: I think the biggest change is that there are more second home people from the city. I think that’s probably the biggest change. There still aren’t any traffic lights. Even though the real estate agency that used to be a bakery that used to be a drug store that used to be a something … and Zane’s deli isn’t there and Pam isn’t on the corner, now Shindig is there. Essentially the signs on the buildings change … but oh God I love Houst! One of the few fan letters I ever wrote I wrote to Ned Houst. It was about what a contribution that store is to the community. (H. Houst and Son).

Juliet: When did you do that?

Eve: Oh I don’t know. Ten or twenty years ago. Ive been here fifty years now! It’s crazy.

Juliet: What is your favorite thing about being here?

Eve: The first thing that comes to mind is the nature of Woodstock. The pure physical beauty of Woodstock. Every day in every season it is beautiful. You don’t even have to fake that. You just have to look around and it’s absolutely gorgeous. So that’s the first thing. Then along with it is the people that live here. The people that find themselves drawn here, people that were born here and are real locals. There’s just a wonderful sense of community.  In 1977 I had a Woodstock benefit concert when my house burned down, so I’ve also been beneficiary of the generosity of the musicians in town. The fact that there is such a breadth of appreciation for creativity. Whatever your art. You know. It allows me to say when people ask me if I am an artist, I tell them that my life is my art and that’s that. I really feel that that’s true. And Woodstock has been a wonderful place to raise my four children Christine, Gregory, Geoffrey and Ian. They are all wonderful adults.
When my youngest son Ian had his accident in 1986, I was lifted by this town. It was something that I do not think for sure that I could have gone through alone. First of all, lots of people came to see him in the hospital. When we came home we had patterning teams. There were four or five people on each patterning team. We had four patterning teams a day. Patterning is to keep a body mobile and limber and in touch with itself as a body. Four people – feet and hands and head. (she demonstrates moving all the body parts) All of his joints, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders. We’d brush the hands so that the hands don’t get super sensitive was the theory. We’d go ‘brush two three four’ and then we would also pound the table. (She pounds table and laughs) The patterning teams were about an hour long. There were tons of Woodstock volunteers coming for that. You can imagine all of those people from my town coming in to help me with my son who was seriously damaged. They gave kindness and compassion with nothing coming back. Ian could not say “Thank you”. I know for a fact that he made a difference in their life. I saw that his life for him was an opportunity for exactly that. To be the space where people could be kind and compassionate. I’ve been able to hold his beingness in a whole different way than feeling sorry for him. That is what the town is about too. That’s what it is. You know, when he was in the hospital Maria from Maria’s Bazaar sent many picnic baskets up.
To this day, now we’re talking thirty years ago – I will go to town and somebody will ask “How’s Ian”? I can keep him fresh in the conversation. He maintains his personhood in our community. People tell stories about him, about how he touched their hand and touched their hearts. It’s a wonderful thing to live in a town small enough so that you actually can embrace the continuity that you are in the weave of things. That we know each other so deeply, so well.
The natural beauty of this Catskill area hooked me right away. I’m not kidding when i say it. When we were driving down following the moving truck from New Hampshire, I was thinking that there could be no place as beautiful as New Hampshire which is stunningly gorgeous. Coming down the thruway, not so great, but when we turned off – we came the Kingston way and were on 375. There was something just something about that drive in that I knew I was coming home. I was going to be where I belonged.

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