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  Updated Dec 28, 2016 | By Bob Fugett

    Makers and Breakers

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[  That Town  |  Candle Maker  |  Breakers  |  Four Step  |  Jon Baugh  |  Too Much   |  Startup   |  Cut   |  Art   |  Community   ]

When Roger Romer first came to talk to me, he could just as well have been telling me that little green men in flying saucers were landing on his front lawn and harassing him with pop-up advertisements.

That's how much I believed him.

Roger's house overlooked New Creamery Pond on the curve going up Pines Hill Road just out of Sugar Loaf.

He added lots of his own folk-art enhancements making his home the iconic house with character that people proudly display in a photo book on their coffee table but complain about when they see it on their own street.

Roger told me the Town of Chester had allowed a mining operation to gouge a ninety degree cliff within four feet of his garage, and over the last three months the Town Board had been lying to him with promises that were just delaying tactics.

I was an eight year member of the Planning Board so knew it was impossible, knew it would be a clear violation of the law, knew he was misunderstanding how the process can take some time.

The Planning Board was all about safety and community concerns, and I assumed the Town Board was the same.

By the time it was all said and done, I was seeing the little green men on my own lawn and begging the FBI to do something about it.

Roger was from one of the oldest local families with Native American roots, so you might say his family lived here before there was a here.

Today Sugar Loaf's Romers Alley bears his family name as in, "Of course you know the Romers," while the new people use an apostrophe such as, "An alley for a Romer...oops we misspelled Roamer, aren't we cute."

Probably the correct spelling would place the apostrophe at the end: Romers' Alley with the final 's' implied.

Nobody cares.

At the moment of our first meeting, Roger Romer was a very close approximation to the character Boo in To Kill A Mockingbird.

He had retired from working at Laroe Saw Mill and could be seen sitting in his car watching the world go by: first in front of Dirty Bill's Deli (as we called it and where the police shooting took place), then on the street near the empty parking lot that had been left by its demolition, and also in various similar places in Chester Village and Goshen.

He was non-communicative and shy, so most people assumed he was illiterate.

During my time with him I came to understand that illiterate was the farthest thing from any truthful description of Roger.

While he sat in his car he avidly read the local papers; and, knowing very well the history of all the people being written about, he was on top of every situation and extremely articulate about any given subject if given a chance.

He was rarely given that chance outside the lively group of regulars hanging out at the Boone Woodcarver studio who were all either involved in, or watching, classes and work being done.

By the time my time with Roger was over, I had resigned from the Planning Board in order to bring as much press to the situation as possible, and I considered my final official duty (having pledged to uphold the law) was the afternoon I spent with an FBI agent on my back patio handing over all the information I had gathered while begging him to do something.

Finally I put the whole mess to rest in my own mind with the realization that the involved Town Officials were breakers not makers thus not worth my time or worry.

Six months later the Town delay tactics paid off when Roger died...nothing was ever done.

Except I had gained a solid understanding how to more quickly distinguish breakers from makers

The terms makers and breakers had been given to me by a craftsperson staying in our house for one of the many local craft fair events.

That was back when we used to open our backyard to event parking and gladly allowed one or two exhibitioners to stay in our house, all for free.

I was explaining our new fence, how I had put it up by hand myself in an attempt to save the trees and some neighbors, how it resulted in our being sued for a half million dollars, how it was an ongoing process close to five years running, how the person suing us had paid way too much for their property, how they had no understanding of the local community and businesses, had caused fourteen employee cars to be pushed onto our yard every day from a miniscule commercial space that was being over utilized, and how they were set up by the previous owners who had altered maps and deeds unilaterallywith changes that only had to stick until the sale was final.

Our sagacious house guest merely shook his head and put the affair into a quick coherent context as only a true artist can.

He said simply, "Well, there are makers and there are breakers. Those people are breakers."

I looked around town and knew he was right: we were all makers.

That leanest of all statements provided the framework for my view of the coming endless string of itinerate wannabe businesses as they passed through town.

Although they never caused significant damage to the truly successful artisan businesses, they were certainly not makers, and on their way to leaving they always made the same mistakes.
 


Romers' Alley - Google street level screen grab - 12/31/2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Sugar Loaf, New York  10981