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Facebook Group Reconnects Kids of Katonah Past

The social network provides a new venue for story swapping, finding old friends and keeping alive a Katonah that previously existed only in cocktail conversation and paper memories

Remember the old high school, stores like Kay’s Corner and Jonesey’s Gyp Joint and a Blue Dolphin that dished out everyday diner fare?  How about when “Fred’s” referred not to a hair salon, but an ice cream parlor on Valley Road? Were you lucky enough to ride the miniature railroad encircling Halstead Park’s backyard?

If so, you might be a Katonah Kid.

Some six hundred K-Town youths of yesteryear have regrouped on Facebook to reminisce slower, simpler times in our humble hamlet—the days when Healy’s Deli was the hotspot, Peppino’s was still the train station and your neighbor was more likely to be a butcher or auto mechanic than a lawyer or hedge fund manager.

The “Katonah Kids” page has more than 500 posts to date of schoolyard memories, local lore, searches for long lost friends and general armchair reminiscence of a seemingly picture perfect childhood hometown.

Members who moved on to distant places speak of their lives after Katonah. Others who stayed share how it just isn’t the same. Both cases spark lengthy chains of commentary.

“My dad owned the Nosegay Florist next to Kelloggs & Lawrence Hardware; he was ‘interested’ to hear it is now a lingerie shop,” wrote poster Bill Bergen.

To which Mary Chiasson responded, “Bill, the Nosegay was my favorite store as a little girl. I just loved to walk in and take deep breaths. I even thought all florist shops were called the Nosegay. Sign of the times, flowers to lingerie.”

The group’s generation gap is quite vast, with recollections ranging from as recently as the 80s to as far back as the 40s. Posters have dusted off in discussion such distant and forgotten pieces of our past as the original A&P on Katonah Avenue, the old ski hill and even Katonah High School, which graduated its last class during the Eisenhower administration.

Before lattes at Perks or scoops at Scoops, there was the hard roll roast beef sandwich at Healy’s, described as a cult favorite akin to today’s Cluckin’ Russian at Cameron’s. The venerable deli, founded by Gus Healy in 1952, changed hands numerous times before becoming the Wooden Nickel nearly a decade ago—yet is far from forgotten.

“In those days a bottle of Coke cost a dime and there was a two cents deposit on the bottle,” wrote poster Rich Gallagher. “Mr. Healy would waive the two cents if we promised to bring the empty bottle back.”

But despite all the happy memories, the group isn’t without its occasional sad moment, too. Obituaries for old classmates, longtime teachers and other familiar faces in town frequently break the banter and shift conversation to memorializing those lost. That was the kind of thing you didn’t have to deal with as a carefree Katonah kid.

A time treasured here so very much.

david e rustici August 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Those were all fun times. Have very good memories of being a kid back then. Heard a similar story about Healy from a classmate recently. A coke and a pac of Twinkees for .25 cents and two cents back for bottle. Awesome.
Lisa Buchman (Editor) August 28, 2011 at 01:06 AM
This Facebook page is totally fascinating - and what a glimpse into the town's past. Hearing about the change in storefronts was especially interesting - who remembers Razzleberry's Ice Cream shop? Where were your favorite haunts?
E.J. Kelley September 07, 2011 at 02:07 AM
A small (but important!) addendum: I just wanted to shout out the Katonah Kids page's creator, Donna Cherubini Browne-Atkins. Donna is a Katonah native who grew up in a Bedford Rd. Victorian moved from Old Katonah and started the site a few years back. Apologies for the omission!
Jane Quinn Fulton September 29, 2011 at 01:20 AM
In the 1950's you could purchase a brown paper bag of french fries for 20 cents. You would squirt ketchup into the bag and dig in. Delicious but you always ended up with ketchup on your cuffs. Jane Quinn Fulton John Jay 1957
Lisa Buchman (Editor) September 29, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Interesting, Jane! What a deal that sounds like, even then. Donna, the Facebook page creator, sent me a few more photos, which I've uploaded here. Her family moved to Katonah in 1967 and settled in at 12 Bedford Road. The photos are of her house right after the move from Old Katonah - and a more recent photo from somewhere in the early 2000's. Her Dad worked at the Katonah Deli for years. Another photo is of her and a neighbor during the "tornado" of 1976 that ripped through the streets of Katonah. There are so many stories to tell, I'd love to see them told! Please email me for instructions on how to post your news, or see them here: http://bedford.patch.com/articles/how-to-post-your-news-on-patch. Upload your stories and old photos!
Philip D. Morrison March 05, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Going to the old KHS on Huntville rd.I remember the (SMOO) a long convex rock maybe 15 feet long x 8 feet long in the shape of CASPER the ghost. It was on the East side of the football field, 30 feet up the hill from the field. I went there from 1950-1956. It was routinely painted white & I believe black painted smiley face on the top part of SMOO Phil Morrison
Grant Morrison March 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Grant Morrison Those were the days of a wonderful town that was interested in their kids. I love the memories. It was great growing up in the "Old railroad station". Some called it the "Engine Stop, others called it a lot of other names. Especially some called it the house of many kids. Yeah there were seven boys that grew up there. Four are gone three are left. I got to ride in a real steam engine in the back siding with the movement of the local freights dropping cars off to the lumber company, etc. Fishing in the muscoot resovoir too. Caught many a green perch back there. Also ice skated on the resovoir at night. What wonderful memories. Noahs ark was across the road. There was a bum named the "Dummy" that hung out at the rr station in town. HH Park let us sleigh ride on his hill and never complained. I could go on and on. It was a great time.
susan mitchell March 25, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Just joined. My mom lived in Katonah plus my best friend still does. I actually lived in Cross River but went to John Jay High School. My mom lived on sunrise ave. I graduated in 1970, now live in vermont
Joan Beacom Leo April 21, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Saturdays taking the bus from Katonah to Mount Kisco to purchase the latest LP at Fox and Sutherland. Sometimes we'd see Bennett Cerf or another celebrity. Joan Beacom Leo John Jay 1957
Gail Sammann July 05, 2012 at 10:24 PM
An ice cream cone at Phelps Drug store then home to watch Ed Sullivan on our new tv. I lived in the house next to St. Lukes church,that was torn down long ago. My friend Marsha and I would play in the church,running between the pews.. No one knew so it was very exciting. Gail Sammann
Lisa Buchman (Editor) July 06, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Gail—I can picture it now! thanks for sharing. Love these comments and stories!
Andrew Haas February 10, 2013 at 04:41 AM
Wow! I remember almost all of these places! I was born in Mt. Kisco and lived in Katonah we moved to Texas right before I started high school. I remember the guy with the train in his yard, the tree house on Cherry st. Ice skating on Todds pond, fishing in the reservoir and the carnival at the fire station, the convenience store Hi health, the place that had the amazing meatball wedge and the Blue Dolphin! I have often wondered was this place so great simply because I was a child and after seeing the rest of the world I believe it was truly a great place to be especially if you were a child.
M.JuneKehoeAustin September 02, 2013 at 01:37 PM
I loved the old Katonah High the one year we were there 55-56 then JJ opened the next fall
Stephen Davies December 16, 2013 at 03:18 PM
My. Grandfather Fred Clark was the owner of Fred's lunchroom , which I have memories of going to with my mom.I remember there was a gum vending dispenser attached to the counter. For a penny you got a tiny box with two pieces of dentene! Stephen Davies

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