Bill Rosecan, the Unofficial Mayor of Hudson


When I didn’t see Bill Rosecan—who I know through working with Camphill Hudson—where we had planned to meet, at the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in Hudson on Wednesday evening, I walked around for a bit. I eventually thought to check the train station. Inside, Bill, a train enthusiast, was talking with the station attendant, getting information on the schedule for the evening. Bill smiled and apologized for having lost track of time and we walked down to the park. The following is a transcription of our talk at the waterfront. At a couple different points in the interview, as you’ll notice, he briefly stops his narrative to greet passersby.

WS: Can you describe your childhood?

BR: I was born in St. Louis. And we used to go back and forth, my brother and sister and me, used to go back and forth to Chicago and to St. Louis for a long while. And then I went, originally, to the Cole School in Langhorne, Pennsylvania for a while. And then I went to the Brown Schools in Texas. And then I went to Camphill—for a long, long time.

WS: When did you first come to this area?

BR: Fifty years ago.

WS: And you came to Camphill Village Copake?

BR: Yup.

WS: Can you describe what your daily life was like there?

BR: Oh, I helped in the enamel shop there. I don’t think it’s going—no, it’s not going anymore. But, we used to make plates and stuff like that. But, I think it’s out of business.

I worked on the estate, helped make maple syrup, helped build the sugar—the old maple syrup house. And, I worked in the healing plant, helped with the garden and things like that.

And, I worked on the estate, of course. And then, I worked in the gift shop with Brian Ray—and Kumar.

And then I came here. I mean, I used to work for COARC for a couple years. Yeah, I worked with them for about three, four years. And now I’m here permanently with Camphill Hudson. I like it here.

WS: You moved to Hudson at the start of Camphill Hudson in 2007?

BR: Yeah. Actually, across the street from where that coffeehouse is there, Kam used to have an apartment. So, we used to go in there and do processing and stuff like that, before there was Solaris. And we did other good things in there. Jody used to come from Triform with Sean. They would come like every week and do a play with Roy and I and other people.

WS: What do you like about Hudson?

BR: I like that I can walk around, you know, be responsible for myself. And meet people. Make friends. I think Hudson’s a really great town. Yeah, it’s a nice town, but I wish that they would put in a bike path. So we could ride bikes. Elias wants to. I mean, I gave up my bike when I came here because there’s no bike path.

WS: What other things do you like and dislike about Hudson?

BR: Oh. I don’t like the noise. There’s a place right across from us—you know like when you’re trying to sleep and things like that.

Yeah, I really like Hudson a lot. I’m looking forward to when the library and the senior citizens’ place’ll be built. I don’t think it’ll be this year. That’s what they were talking to me about. I think next year they’re going to have it. I don’t know what’s going on with the delays and stuff. Because Galvan already has the library, I mean the old library—I don’t know what he’s going to use that for, do you know?

WS: I haven’t heard. I was just wondering that recently myself.

BR: You think he’ll use it for offices?

WS: I’m not sure. That’s a very old building though.

BR: Yeah, maybe he’ll tear it down.

WS: I hope not.

BR: Yeah.

WS: So, how did you get the nickname “the unofficial mayor of Hudson?”

BR: Oh, because I like to meet people and stuff like that, that’s why.

This is a great place here—I wish more and more people would come. I wish there would be more festivals. Down here. I mean, that would attract more people to the city. I wish that there would be a couple more boats going out. I mean, that’s twenty-five dollars to go out, you know, for an hour.

WS: On that cruiseboat?

BR: Yeah.

WS: Do you have any other suggestions on how the city of Hudson could improve?

BR: Surely. I wish they’d have a better police force.

WS: How so?

BR: Oh. They should put guys on bikes a little bit more. That would help a little bit.

I’m really happy here. And, yesterday, I was on that other side by the post office, but by Warren Street and I saw somebody going right through the turn up the street (the wrong way) and I didn’t do anything. I should’ve wrote the guy’s—the lady’s license number and gave it to the police, but I don’t know if they’d do anything.

WS: What have been your greatest struggles?

BR: Oh, arguments and things like that. But, for instance, I like to help people. It’s great to live with two people. I like living where I am. I like to help people. I mean, I wish that I could.

WS: Wish you could help people more?

BR: Yeah. I wish we could tell more people what the community supper is and spread it around because I would like to see more people come.

WS: The community dinner every Tuesday night at Solaris?

BR: Yeah. Because it’s nice to meet people. Oh, you can meet friends. It’s nice to be together with people.

WS: You’ve been involved through the years with the Sloop Clearwater, right?

BR: Yeah, definitely. Yup.

WS: How did you get involved with that?

BR: Well, one time—there used to be a movie theater here in Hudson, and Pete played music there.

WS: Pete Seeger?

BR: Yeah. And that’s how come I became a member. And I gave them some money. And he came a couple times—hello. And I used to help. Like, the boat would come on in for the day. And people used to get on. And the Clearwater came on in for the full day. And then there was a concert where the Chamber of Commerce is right now. That used to be a firehouse in there.

WS: And Pete Seeger played there?

BR: Yeah.

WS: How long ago was this?

BR: About ten years ago or something.

WS: Did you meet Pete Seeger that day?

BR: Yeah—Oh I knew him because he came to the village two times.

WS: What was he like?

BR: Great. Great people, with his wife.

One year I got a picture of him, and I’ll save it, of the revival. I took a picture of Pete. Yeah, I liked Pete. I miss him like crazy. I wish that somebody else would—it would be nice to have two Clearwater boats. I had a great idea, but I don’t know if it’ll work, to have two boats instead of one. I know they’re going to be taking apart the Clearwater—the centerboard—and fix it up.

Yeah, I like Hudson. There’s always stuff to do. That’s what I like, I go down to watch the trains and stuff like that. It’s a great town—Hi, how are you doing?

WS: And, so you come down to the waterfront here a lot too?

BR: Yeah. It’s nice to come down. Tonight I’ll get some pictures of that lighthouse.

WS: Yeah, it looks nice right now, lit up.

BR: Oh, during Christmas they light it up at night. The lighthouse, they put on lights. For Winter Walk.

WS: Can you remember a time when you were most happy?

BR: Like now, I’m happy. I mean, I can do whatever I want. I like to be nice to people.

I like baseball a lot too.

WS: You’re a Cardinals fan, right?

BR: Yeah. I’m originally from St. Louis, that’s why.

WS: And you’ve gone to quite a few games, haven’t you?

BR: Yeah. We went this year. A friend of mine called Bill and I—we went to the Cardinal game.

WS: Can you remember a time when you were most sad?

BR: When my mom passed away. I don’t have any dad. Things like that. I miss ’em and things like that.

My brother’ll probably be here for that thing next month, the fundraiser (September 26 in Churchtown; more information at

WS: How did you first get into trains?

BR: Oh. When I was little I had the trains. And when I was living in Texas, the train was like right there, you could see ’em and things like that. I love trains. Here comes one now. Passenger. Yup.

WS: New York City-bound?

BR: Yup. And there’s another one after that.

WS: Do you know the schedules and everything?

BR: Yeah. Wow. Looks like he’s full. There’s a lot of people. I think that’s—that’s the Montreal one.

WS: What do you like about trains?

BR: Oh. I hope that they keep on all the rest of our lives. I just got something nice today in the mail. The commodore—the station manager, you know there’s a train out of Kingston? And he sent me, for me and Elias, two complimentary passes to go on the train.

WS: That scenic railroad?

BR: Yeah.

WS: That is really nice. Have you gone down the Hudson line before?

BR: Yeah. Couple times. I thought it was nice.

In the olden times, they used to have this car and you could sit on the back. And when I went to Rochester, I met the guy in the car and he said, yeah, you can go to the back. And I made friends. I used to know two people and they were technicians and they used to let me on the back. But I don’t think they’re working anymore—they’re both retired.

(train horns)

Yeah, she’s going.

WS: Onward to New York City.

BR: Yeah. But there’s another one. Sixty-four. Sixty-four is the next one coming in.  

WS: What’s your best advice on how to live life?

BR: Just take it easy. And listen to people.

WS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

BR: I like Hudson. I hope more and more people come to Hudson. It would be nice to have more buildings down here. That’s what somebody said, it’d be nice to have a restaurant. A proper restaurant. What do you think? You think that would attract people?

WS: Right down here on the waterfront?

BR: Yeah.

WS: That’d be cool. I’d also love to see that Dunn Warehouse become an aquarium.

BR: Yeah. Is there any more meetings about that?

WS: I haven’t heard much about the aquarium side of the equation.

BR: Right.

WS: I know there was a meeting recently where engineers talked about how much it would cost to refit, repurpose the Dunn Warehouse building. But I don’t think they talked too much about whether it could be an aquarium or not.

BR: Sarah, whose husband runs the coffee shop right across from us, she was for it. I haven’t seen her for a while. But I’ve got to go over there tomorrow to treat my friend Caitlin to coffee. I said I was going to treat her to coffee tomorrow. I’ll probably have a cup of coffee with her too. I just drink like one in the morning. Yeah, I’m going to go over there. It’s just nice to be nice to people.

WS: Thank you, Bill. Do you have any last, parting thoughts?

BR: Yeah, that you’re a nice person.

WS: Oh, that’s really sweet, Bill. You’re a great person too.

BR: Yeah.