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Agnes Spielmann

Agnes Spielmann: Keeping
Youngsville ‘In the News’

By Jeanne Sager
YOUNGSVILLE – March 01, 2002— There’s one reason Agnes Spielmann loves life in Youngsville – but that one reason is enough.
“People here are just good neighbors,” she explained.
And Spielmann should know – after all, she’s been writing the Youngsville news column for the Democrat since 1964. She knows everything there is to know about life in the small hamlet on Route 52.
At 89, Spielmann has lived her whole life in Sullivan County.
And she’s held several jobs in the community – from her time at the Hotel Claire in Youngsville to the 13 years spent at Yaun Company in Liberty.
She’s raised three sons and served her community as president of the Youngsville PTA, member of the Youngsville School Board and president during its merger with the Jeffersonville school district, the oldest living member of the Ladies Aid of the Community Reformed Church, secretary of the Greenhill Cemetery Corporation and a member of the Youngsville Beautification Committee.
But her job these days, Spielmann said, is to keep up on the news in town so folks from Florida to Washington can keep up with the news back home.
“Just when I start to think I better give this job up, someone tells me how much he or she enjoys reading my column,” Spielmann said.
For Spielmann, keeping up with the news has always been a part of life.
Growing up as a youngster in Hankins, Spielmann, then Agnes McGuire, would perk up her ears at conversations in the store and come back with information for her mother, Amanda, to include in her Hankins column for the newspaper.
Spielmann recalls the hardships her family encountered growing up – Amanda McGuire was widowed at 35, leaving her to raise five girls alone.
But the family made it through with the help of their neighbors. Hankins was, Spielmann recalls, a friendly town just like Youngsville.
“Living in a town like that – everyone was there with a helping hand,” she remembered.
But Hankins has changed since the days of her youth, Spielmann said.
“I think what really changed it was when they changed the railroad,” she surmised.
Spielmann and her sisters were among the Long Eddy and Hankins children who hopped a train every weekday morning to attend high school classes in Callicoon.
The Hankins school ended after the sixth grade, but Spielmann’s father, a railroad employee named Edward McGuire, made sure his girls had passes on the train.
Each of the girls would get on the Erie locomotive at 8 a.m., joining the students who’d already climbed aboard in Long Eddy.
Within 15 minutes, they were down in Callicoon.
“We would stay in school until classes ended around 3:30 and then stay until the janitor closed up at 6 p.m.,” Spielmann explained.
The children would then walk down to the Erie train depot in Callicoon and wait for their ride home.
If they were anxious to get back to their house early, the children would sometimes walk. But that was a long trip, Spielmann said, over some steep hills.
Usually the train would stop in Callicoon again at 7 p.m., depositing the children on Main Street in Hankins 15 minutes later.
“It was a long day,” Spielmann remembers.
Even when busses came along, two years before her graduation in 1930, the vehicles had to go over back roads to Hortonville then cut back to Callicoon, sometimes getting caught in bad weather.
But Spielmann and her sisters all made the trips, carrying their lunch to school because, of course, there were no cafeterias at that time.
The only food offered by the school was soup made occasionally by home economics teacher Helen Morey.
And while the children waited for the returning locomotive to pick them up, they had time to complete their lessons.
After graduation, Spielmann’s sisters Bertha Milk and Florence Bauer went on to work at the Delaware Valley school built in 1952 in Callicoon. Both are now retired and live in the area along with their sister Dorothy Gottschalk, who resides in Hankins with her husband Phil.
Their sister Helen Walters, a Port Jervis resident, passed away in 2000.
Spielmann moved out of Hankins in 1934 when she found a job at the Hotel Claire, then one of the grander hotels in the area.
“Making my mother a promise never to go behind the bar, the Ed Manny family became my second family,” Spielmann recalled.
It was there that Spielmann met her late husband, Karl. The couple lived in the Spielmann homestead on East Hill until they sold it in 1947, but they stayed in Youngsville, and Agnes fell in love with the community.
She raised her three sons there: Karl, who now lives with his wife, Solveig in Washington, D.C.; Gary, who lives with his wife Wendy in Kinderhook; and Glenn, who lives with his wife, Cindi, in Youngsville.
And Spielmann has kept an active role in her community, she said, because she loves people.
“I enjoy being with people, and everyone here is so friendly,” she explained. “Whenever you need a helping hand, there’s someone there, and I have a lot of friends.”
Spielmann was honored in 1996 as a senior citizen of the year and last year received a special community service award from the Youngsville Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.
And writing her column has helped her keep in contact with the faces she doesn’t get to see every day.
“People are pretty good about calling in,” she said. “Thanks to a number of people, who help me out by writing up information and dropping it off, I always manage to keep Youngsville in the news.”
She’s been blessed, she said, with a wonderful family and wonderful friends and by the people of Youngsville.
“Youngsville is a special place, with special people,” she said. “I met my husband, raised my children, learned the meaning of community service and dedication, all in the town I write for.”

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