Mary Hallenbeck

June 28, 2013

Home for the Aged, 620 Union St, Hudson, NY


Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen
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Mary Hallenbeck was born in 1930 to Margaret and Harry Shepard. Her mother worked at Bell Telephone and later at the New York Training School for Girls. Her grandfather owned the Iron Horse Bar on 7th Street in Hudson. She grew up in Claverack, and commuted by bus to Hudson to attend Montgomery C. Smith High School. She was in 8th grade when WWII broke out in 1944.  

Mary was a nursing student at Hudson City Hospital, which is now called Columbia Memorial Hospital. In this interview, Mary goes into great detail about her experiences while in Nursing School, as well as living as a student in the Cavell House, which is now the NYOH [New York Oncology Hematology] Hudson Cancer Center. Mary talks about the history of the Cavell House and its prior owners before it was given to the government to be used as a temporary rest home for returning military, and later for nurse residents. About 22 minutes into the interview, Mary discusses how Columbia Memorial Hospital has changed since the 1930s. 

Approximately 25-30 minutes into the interview, Mary recounts working in a few affiliate locations in December 1949, in order to meet the state requirements for nursing. She trained at Bellevue Hospital for pediatrics and adult outpatient treatment. She describes training at Willard Parker Hospital for Communicable Diseases in New York City and The Hudson River State Hospital, a former New York State psychiatric hospital. Roughly 35 minutes into the interview, Mary describes in detail what it was like training at the psychiatric hospital at a time when there were no tranquilizers, and when electroshock therapy, insulin shock therapy and prefrontal lobotomies were still in practice. 

Approximately 45 minutes into the interview, Mary discusses teaching nursing for 14 years, as a clinical supervisor and later she developed courses to aid students with their test-taking and study skills. She was also Dean of Students, worked in financial aid and with recruitments. She received her masters from Saint Rose in Albany. Later, she went on to work at Maria College in Albany until she resigned in 1988. She has been married to Charlie Hallenbeck since 1997. 

One hour in Mary discusses what it was like to be a high school student in Hudson during WWII. Everything was rationed, from gas and food to shoes and tobacco. She also talks about ration stamps and the black market. She recounts women working in nearby factories, the Red Cross teaching home nursing and first aid to residents, and she describes airplane watches, air raid drills, collecting newspapers, tin cans, and experiencing blackouts and brownouts. 

One hour and 17 minutes in Mary Hallenbeck talks about living in the Home for the Aged and its history.

One hour and 13 minutes in Mary recounts the history of Hudson and how it has changed. She describes the bygone days of Hudson with its mom-and-pop shops, movie theaters, department stores and drug stores with lunch counters. She touches upon the factories, the Day Line boat from Albany to New York, and some of the houses in Hudson that are no longer here. 

Mary Hallenbeck was one of the first people to be appointed by the mayor to the Historic Preservation Commission. She was responsible for Warren Street and Union Street as historic districts. Among the buildings she made a historic district through the Preservation Commission was the Cavell House. 

Notes during a follow-up phone conversation:

Mary Hallenbeck served as Vice Chairman and the recorder on the Historic Preservation Commission. She was responsible for recording the minutes during meetings. She also was a member of Historic Hudson. She served as secretary and was responsible for recording the minutes of the meetings. She also helped set up two old house tours: one in Claverack (an old Dutch Settlement), and one the following year in Greenport. 

Interviewer Bio:

Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen is a resident of Hudson, NY. She graduated from Bard College in 2007. She worked in publishing and the arts for three and a half years in Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway. She conducted a series of interviews with her own Norwegian grandmother, who worked underground in the resistance while Norway was occupied by Germany during WWII. She completed Suzanne Snider’s Oral History Summer School in 2012 and currently co-hosts the Monday Afternoon Show with Sara Kendall on WGXC Community Radio. The show is interview-based and focuses on people, politics, and cultural events.

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