When his parents announced, “We’re moving to Chappaqua,” and leaving the crowded environs of Long Island, Rick Reynolds, then a 7th grader, took out his Davy Crockett coonskin hat and kept it on long after the move.
“I envisioned we were relocating to the Northern Territories,” said Rick, chalking that idea up to a case of arrested development. But his instincts weren’t too far off, since at that time, Chappaqua was full of wooded areas, ponds for fishing, and even a swamp with a beaver.
Those were halcyon days for Rick, whose adventuresome spirit took him as far as Armonk by foot to wrangle rides in small planes at the local airport, until it became a victim of the Route 684 construction.
School was Cool!
Entering 8th grade at Bell Middle School, Rick adjusted to the new setting and soon made friends. He amusedly recalls his English teacher, Mr. Meiser, who “credited” him for giving him his peptic ulcer. “My papers were a sea of red ink–a fact that Rick finds quite humorous, considering all the writing he has since done for various venues, including Inside Chappaqua and his current work.
Rick especially enjoyed his high- school years at Horace Greeley where he joined the track team. His enthusiasm waned a bit, however, when he discovered that “all the spectators went to the football, baseball and soccer games. Track games attracted three mothers and a couple of toddlers.”
Many great teachers had guided him throughout his school years. But it was Greeley art teacher Stanley Tucci, Sr. (yes, father to the famous actor) who played the most influential role by taking an interest in Rick’s art. “He inspired me to get involved in the arts and awarded me ‘Most Artistic’ for two years running at Greeley,” said Rick, whose achievements were highlighted in school assemblies.
After graduation, Rick went to college in Rochester, New York, and later moved to Bedford Hills, White Plains, and Manhattan, where his various jobs took him.
Call of the Wild
Rick said he had had no intention of moving back to Chappaqua. But when he and his wife Martha started a family, he made a list of 20 things he wanted in the “ideal place to live”–items like “Has to be within 50 miles of NYC, has a good school system, open land, a swamp [yes, a swamp], culturally sophisticated, good restaurants, and New Castle sized….” Sound familiar?
In time, the Reynolds family found a great house with great neighbors where they raised their daughter, Sara. The house was near Pine Cliff Sanctuary, which boasted its own swamp
and a beaver, reminiscent of his early teenaged years. Of course, Rick had changed from his “teenaged angst” years, but much of the area had stayed the same–numerous handsome, well- maintained older homes and space, even though some properties had become subdivided over the years.
Rick summed it up: “Chappaqua is the best of all worlds, close to Manhattan and its museums and Broadway shows, but you can be home in an hour.” Most of all, “it’s a great place for raising kids and is a safe investment even in a housing downturn.” After 23 years in Chappaqua, Rick and his family moved to New Hampshire.
But Rick still has a love affair with Chappaqua. His humor column Rick’s Last Licks in Inside Chappaqua debuted with the premiere issue in April 2003 and continues to run as a final end note each time. It is his love letter to the town. “It’s my way of keeping in touch with friends and neighbors who are missed.” – Vicki de Vries