As I ambled back to Times Square I felt guilty about being a bit pleased to see a proper NYC mugging just like in the films, I consoled myself to the fact that he would never catch them so would not incur any injury and his phone will be insured too. I still felt guilty though.
As I got to Times Square I could not believe my eyes. There were dozens of Police standing about, not only that, there were an equal number of tooled up soldiers complete with assault rifles and even more worrying; exuding the deadly combination of twitchy and bored. Lordy those muggers would have been pureed if that lot had gotten a bead on them. And everyone else in the street too I shouldn’t wonder. Best let the insurance companies deal with it.
Upstate to Hudson N.Y.
I have always been fascinated by ‘Small town America’. Part of this interest again comes from my interest in film. Hollywood has always used ‘Small Town America’ as a backdrop to its very best horror and slash movies. You only have to take a look at the list. The Shining, Carrie, The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs, And of course the classic ‘Psycho’ to name but a few.
Why use small town America for these films? Maybe because horror and slash is already a daily staple in US cities and therefore ‘Ok, so he cut her head off with a bread knife, so what?!’ No, Big US cities are reserved for special Hollywood events such as 400ft waves of icy water or biological attacks which render 99.99% of the population with a rapacious appetite to dine on the hapless remainder.
So staging horrific murder in apple pie country adds that extra shock filled contrast to the white clap board houses and grandma on the porch knitting thing.
My other interest comes from not having much of an idea of what the middle bit of America is really like, I was told it is very different from New York but how is it different? We are given classic paintings of Norman Rockwell or the wonderful novels of John Steinbeck though seeing it for myself will deliver the personal insight I wanted. So with all that in mind Hudson, Columbia County NY state was picked randomly from a number of towns on the railroad heading out of New York City.
Getting to Hudson
‘Amtrack trains are wonderful’ I exclaimed settling to my wide, comfortable seat. These arm chairs are made for the larger person I thought as I rubbed the arms pleasingly and settling in. You can never be sure of trains and it’s always a delight when countries decide to be generous to their travellers. In the UK and Vietnam the train seats are a mite small. The Vietnamese are a small nation which is fair enough though we British are known fatties so no excuses there.
The train slipped quietly out of Penn Station and made its way North following the silky brown waters of the Hudson River with New Jersey to the West, then gliding under the George Washington Bridge, through Yonkers. From here you pass through a few towns including I was thrilled to notice ‘Sleepy Hollow’. Then quite quickly you are in a different world. The town scapes giving way to an almost wholly rural landscape and near wilderness in parts.
With my coffee I spent a few hours peering out of the window and reading up on my destination.
Hudson NY State
Hudson sits on the shores of the Hudson River and Warren Street along with one or two other streets strike out directly inland from the river, and looking at the map it seems from there all the other roads in Hudson sprang at right angles. These other roads being mainly residential. This creates the familiar US grid pattern of streets though thankfully only a few follow the numbering system found in New York, most are to my mind rightfully named things such as ‘Allen Street’ Franklin Street’ and an estate agent’s disaster of a name ‘Prison Alley’.
I got off the train at Hudson in the late afternoon it seemed hotter than mid day in New York. There was no platform just a few steps down to the track. The train moved away from the station stirring dust up from the tracks, crying a mournful siren warning the road traffic ahead of its approach as it passed over the un-gated level crossing. The dust settled and there I was in Small Town America.
The only person around was a pink, portly taxi driver calmly basting in his cab reading a paper. I asked him the where guest house was, he said it was walk able and stabbed a podgy finger in up the street then returned to sweat into the news.
I found the street and walked along it to find the guest house. The street was silent aside from the rumble of the suitcase.
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