When I was the managing editor for the Pawling News-Chronicle back in the ’80s I was sort of a big fish in a small pond. Pawling had (and still does) a population of a little over 6,000 folks.
It was the town I grew up in and the school district from which I graduated. I was a star baseball player in high school; my brother was a star football player and my dad was active in local politics, as well as captain of the EMS rescue squad and an 18-year Little League coach. So, everyone knew who we were. Everywhere I went, people would either say, “hello,” or give me the finger. But at least they knew me.
I left in 1991 for Los Angeles and a new job and better weather. When I came back to Pawling 20 years later, no one had a clue as to who I was and I didn’t recognize anyone either. I was no longer the big fish, although the pond was still pretty small. But I was more like plankton now.
When I got the promotion to editor of Mahopac News back in 2015, I knew it was time to move. I left Pawling—no one was the wiser—and shuffled down the corridor to my new hometown… Mahopac.
I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the town. My best friend in college—SUNY Oswego—was from Mahopac, so during vacation breaks, we hung out together. After graduating, we both moved back to our respective hometowns and continued our friendship, much of which involved hanging around what was then known as the Mahopac Inn. It went through myriad name changes over the years but has since become the Mahopac Inn once again. Which is cool.
Anyone who has ever moved to a new community—and I assume there are a good many of you out there—knows what it entails. It is not just the physical moving of furniture and boxes of crap; it is also the quest for services. You’ll need to start over and find a new barber, a new pizza joint, a new Chinese food place, a new dry cleaner and/or laundromat, a new grocery store, a new car mechanic, a new doctor, maybe a lawyer and perhaps a new watering hole. It all takes a bit of research.
As for the watering hole, I’ve got the Inn, of course. That comes back to me via a time warp thanks to my old college buddy, who has since moved to Florida. The Inn not only serves up a nice cold draught of Samuel Adams, but their burgers are not too shabby.
For what’s left of my hair, I go see Bobby Cozi because if I let it get too long, I start to look like Benjamin Franklin. I like Bobby’s joint because it has that old-timey barbershop feel with the striped barber’s pole outside and Frank Sinatra crooning over the speakers inside.
As for a pizza joint, well, you can’t swing a dead cat in Mahopac without smacking into a pizza parlor or three. I’ve tried them all (well, most), even the Domino’s on Route 6. I like D’Berto’s (next to the Stop & Shop) and Gino’s Trattoria best—but that’s just me. If you have your own favorite, that’s fine. No point calling or emailing me. To each to his own.
For quick Chinese food, I get my take-out at Ming Hing on 6N. The prices are reasonable, and I haven’t had an objectionable meal from there yet. For higher-end fare, I’ll pop in across the street to Kobu, which reminds me of some of the Asian restaurants I frequented in L.A.
I currently am not in need of a lawyer, but that’s likely to change at any moment. When that moment does arise, I will turn to Joseph J. Tock. Joe is not only a big supporter of Mahopac News, but the entire community as well, from the public library to the youth sports programs to the art community to the Chamber of Commerce. Plus, he’s good at what he does. But on top of all that, and I think what is most important, he’s a die-hard Mets fan like me. That’s all I need to know.
The apartment I rent doesn’t have a washer/dryer, so I do all that at the Laundry Room on Clark Place. It’s overseen by Ellen, the curmudgeonly manager with a heart of gold. Ellen doesn’t suffer fools lightly, but if you are on her good side—which, thankfully, I am—she will take care of you. She is more than happy to fold my fitted bedsheets for me, which is beyond my comprehension because I am unfamiliar with the black arts. She will also surprise me with little treats from the vending machine from time to time. I mean, how cool is that?
But basically, Mahopac has greeted me with open arms and made me feel like the prodigal son come home—except for that person on Facebook who once wrote, “I hate Mahopac News.” I have no idea what we did to elicit such a comment, but perhaps over time they will see the light or get some therapy. Whatever it takes.
Now, I am no longer plankton; I’m a small fish in a pretty big pond. But thanks to my picture on our website (and up there in the corner of this column), I do get recognized at the grocery store and other public places from time to time.
“Hey, you’re the newspaper guy!” they’ll shout. “We love Mahopac News!”
I am always grateful for those ego-boosting shout-outs. But could you also tell my boss that you love Mahopac News? I could use a raise. This town is friggin’ expensive.
Bob Dumas is editor of Mahopac News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.