Carol Viglielmo

I met with “Mrs. Viglielmo”, who was my fifth grade teacher at Woodstock Elementary School, in her house just outside of town. We were joined by her daughter Melissa in this visit to Woodstock in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Melissa:  I’m going to go inside.

Juliet:  Maybe you’ll hear some interesting tidbits!

Melissa:  Oh trust me, I’ve heard it all.

Carol: YOU HAVE NOT! (Laughs)

Juliet: What brought you to Woodstock?

Carol: My parents brought me here in 1932 as a newborn. They had a summer house. I eloped in college with my math teacher and he wanted to live here and we settled in Woodstock in 1957.

I began working in a nursery school and I loved it. I thought “Why don’t I get into teaching?” New Paltz was just 30 miles away and so I went down there and completed my undergraduate, had my first baby, and my second baby. I started working on my Masters. After my third baby (points to Melissa in the other room) was in fourth grade, I went back to teaching full time.

Juliet:  When did you start at Woodstock School?

Carol: Jeffrey was born in 1959 and Pamela in 1960…I started teaching, subbing in Boiceville, at the elementary  school.

My classroom was on Route 28 and I had a friend who would go up skiing and every time she went by she would toot her horn and the kids knew why I was in a grouchy mood for the rest of the day. She was going skiing and I was working (Laughs) Let’s see – I worked up there until I became pregnant with Jeffrey… That’s the way it went…Jeffrey was born in ’59…(Calling to the other room) Melissa I need you.

Melissa:  (Joining us) Full time you didn’t start teaching until ’72 because I would have been in fifth grade and you didn’t want to teach the same grade I was in. I got to fifth grade and you started teaching fourth grade full time…but you had been substituting the whole time and you also went back to school and got your Masters Degree.

Carol:  That’s right.

Juliet: Were you at the Junior High School or were you at Bennett?

Carol: I was at what is now the high school but that wing facing (route) 28 was where I taught fourth grade up there.

Melissa: When was Onteora started? My father worked in the one room school house before they opened Onteora, and then he started the Math and Science department up there. That was in the 50’s

Carol: Beginning 50’s.

Melissa:  And you didn’t start teaching until later on, after Jeffrey was born.

Carol: Because I had to get through college. And that was piece meal because we only had one car. He was teaching at Onteora so I had to ride with someone to take classes.

Juliet: What’s your first memory of Woodstock?

Carol:  Oh, probably reading Nancy Drew on the terrace during the summer. It was very quiet, I was a city girl. I did a lot of reading.

Juliet: Where was home base?

Carol: We were coming up from the city. West 78th Street.

Juliet:  West 78th Street.  I lived on West 78th street.

Carol: Did you really?

Melissa: I lived on West 78th Street.

Carol: Where?!

Juliet: 113

Melissa: I was at 120. (points to her mom) She was at 119.

Carol: I was at 119. (With a big smile) Oh, isn’t that weird…

Melissa: And I didn’t know. I bought my place and then she told me afterwards. Literally you looked out my bedroom into it. So, 113…

Carol: I’ve got goose pimples

(Long tangent about when and where and just missing each other in NYC)

Juliet: Where was the Woodstock house?

Carol: Lower Byrdcliffe Road.

Melissa: Remember where Miss Ingalls was? They built that house.

Carol: There was a big picket fence, white picket fence facing the road, that’s where they brought me when I was a baby. A few years later, my grandfather died and they took his house which was way at the end of that lane.

Melissa: Then they built White Gates…who lived there? Irma…Wennig?

Carol:  Irma Wennig, right.

Melissa: And then, they were at the end of the road. There were three different houses on the road where they lived at different stages.

Carol: One summer after I graduated high school I was going to college and I wanted a job or something to kill time. I took a course at Kingston High school and I figured my parents would give me a car. I didn’t figure right. I had to pick classes based on the bus schedule. I think I took geometry and chemistry. I’d never taken chemistry in high school because I was a Social Studies major. I walked into the Chemistry class the first day and there was this adonis in front of the room and I thought “Ooh, this is cute”.  Of course I proceeded to give him a very hard time all summer long. I was doing very well in Chemistry. The day before the Regents test I said  “Thank you very much Mr. Viglielmo, I won’t be seeing you again.” He said “What do you mean?” I said “Well, I”m not coming in for the Regents if I don’t have to.”  He said “Oh yes you are.”  He marched me to the principal’s office. The principal told me off but I said “I’m not coming here on a hot August day. I have a pool in Woodstock and I want to be in my pool and I’m not coming down here.”

Skip ahead maybe three or four months. I came up here one weekend with my folks and my husband-to-be was in Deanie’s. I went up to the bar and said “Hello, how are you?” and introduced him to my parents. They invited him back for a drink at the house. I went off to college. In the spring when I came back for the summer, my dad said “Some guy with a long Italian name called.” We went out a couple of times and he was going off to Cornell. He had a G.I. bill he was using up. Fast forward to that December. By then I was coming up weekends and falling in love. We eloped at Christmas time.

Melissa: You can imagine she was a nice Jewish girl from New York, and he was not.

Carol: (Laughing) He was not a nice Jewish boy.

Melissa:  He was Protestant, so he was the antithesis of anything…and his parents were right off the boat from Italy. He came from a community that only spoke French and Italian at home.

Juliet: Where was he living?

Carol: He was living in Ulster Park and teaching in Hyde Park.
And what, 62, 63 years later he died. He would have been 91.

Melissa: And now she’s 19 again.

Carol: Yes, now I’m 19 again! It was a very nice marriage.

Juliet:  You both wanted to live in Woodstock?

Carol:  We got involved with the Playhouse in the summer. He was kind of a frustrated actor I think at heart.

Juliet: What about Woodstock has changed?

Carol: The restaurants have gotten better. It hasn’t really changed.

Melissa: The nightlife?

Carol: Oh, the nightlife!

Melissa:  You talk about all those people. It was different when you got here, you think about Sioux Goffredi and you guys out at Deanie’s and out doing stuff together.

Carol:  It was quieter. The complexion has changed.

Melissa:  You were friends with all the artists. Those were the rock stars of the day. They used to have big parties, setting up a bar in the front lawn. That’s when cocktail parties in Woodstock would easily be 60, 70 people showing up. They’d park all up and down the road – my brother would be leaning out driving the cars and parking them for everybody…you never knew who was going to be here. It was always an eclectic group of people from the New Yorkers who would come up on the weekend and my mother might know from that world and people they knew because they played tennis or were at the Playhouse together. The Sweeneys, the Burgs, the Wests, the Mullers and Molyneauxs…

Carol: I remember for one of our parties it was threatening rain and somehow somebody mentioned it to the undertaker in town. He came over and set up a tent. Of course it worked out beautifully and he never charged us.

There was a place called the White Horse Inn which was right at the end of Maverick Road. On Friday and Saturday you had a lot of artists who were also musicians. They got a band together. That was the highlight of the town really. Besides the Playhouse.  My husband and I acted in plays.

Melissa: When they first got married, their kerosene heater blew up and they moved in to the guest house over at John Pike’s. His property backed up to her parent’s place. They lived there and became close with John and Zellah Pike just because they were the waifs they took in.

Carol: I was heartbroken. Our first little house. (Sighs) Town was very interesting, a real art community. Lots of parties. Then IBM came in and changed the whole complexion. My husband wasn’t making much teaching, I think $2,700.00 a year. So, he took a position with IBM.

Juliet:  What is your favorite thing about being here?

Carol: Oh probably the different groups of people, that’s the most fun. Everyone is so different, coming from different places and life experiences. The interesting thing is that so many people move away but they come back to Woodstock. There is something about Woodstock. There is a quality about it. It’s a great town. It really is.

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