The first time I came across your tombstone in the Quaker Friends Meeting House graveyard, I was awestruck. It stood out. While others were weather beaten and some barely legible yours stood at attention and was clearly new. What I found even more interesting was that it listed your birthdate – May 23, 1938 but no date of death. As someone more accustomed to Jewish cemeteries, I had never before seen a headstone listing a birthdate but no information recording a date of death.
A daily walker amongst those tombstones with my two dogs, I knew that you were probably from a prominent family in Chappaqua. After all, there were tombstones from the Kipp family of Kipp Street in this same graveyard and the Haights of Haights Cross Road. I had an inkling that you were a descended from the family that built Dodge Farm which is abutting the Quaker Friends Meeting House.
And with extra time on my hands (thanks COVID lockdowns) and a natural curiosity about local history, I reached out to the New Castle Historical Society first about you and then another somewhat trusty resource aka Google who informed me of your nickname Rindy and your current residence in Vero Beach, Florida.
Gray Williams, the omniscient town historian answered my inquiry and promptly replied that “Dorinda (Rindy) Dodge is the daughter of Courtney Dodge, the developer and builder of the family homestead property, Dodge Farm. Marcourt Drive (one of my favorite running spots btw) is a compression of his and his sister’s names: Mar[jorie] and Court[ney]. Rindy decided that she wants to be buried with her family and arranged to have her monument erected to mark the spot.”
So of course, his reply piqued my curiosity and I did a bit more research on your Quaker family who had roots in this town dating back to the 1740s. Your father’s contribution to the development of this town caught my eye in particular. Looking at notes from the Horace Greeley High School Class of 1957, I found that your father Courtney started building homes 1938 around Dodge Farm, the very same year that you were born. Perhaps he needed income for his growing family or he had a strong desire to keep putting roots down in this bucolic slice of Northern Westchester.
With you turning 84 this year, I get a little burst of happiness every time I pass your tombstone and see no date of death listed. You must be alive and kicking in the Florida sun instead of succumbing to COVID as one in 100 older Americans have in this pandemic.”
It couldn’t have been easy building homes with a newborn and no formal training in construction or real estate development but he was described as a “natural at building things.” The class notes explain that Courtney would buy land in Dodge Farms from his mother, build a house on it, move in, build another house, put them both on the market and sell whichever went first.
Dorinda, I am sorry that you moved so many times in your childhood but at least you weren’t uprooted to a new town. I understand that your family moved many times because people usually wanted to buy the house your family was living in because it was beautifully adorned with antiques. The notes continue to say that “Rindy would leave one house in the morning, go to school and come back to the next house at night..almost everything unchanged.” What cherished objects did you take with you from home to home – a stuffed animal, a doll?
It is believed that your father built around 25 houses or so with a brief hiatus during World War II. Houses in the early days sold for under $10,000 but today yield well over a million.
But enough about him… I wonder more about you. I know you have many artistic talents, painting among them and have previously been an interior decorator. I was thrilled to hear that you have many grandchildren too and have traveled the world.
With you turning 84 this year, I get a little burst of happiness every time I pass your tombstone and see no date of death listed. You must be alive and kicking in the Florida sun instead of succumbing to COVID as one in 100 older Americans have in this pandemic.
And Mr. Williams confirmed for me that you are indeed “very much alive.” May you continue to live a vibrant life Dorinda and if you ever come to your hometown for a visit, look me up. I’d love to meet you and learn more about your family’s history and ties to our hamlet.
With warmest wishes,
PS I’m glad you decided to honor your family’s roots here by choosing your hometown as your final resting place and joining the six other Dodges already buried here. There was clearly a reason why the Algonquins called our town shah-pah-ka, a place where nothing is heard but the rustling of the wind in the leaves.
PPS It’s great to see that the house building talent was passed down from your father and that you are working on building your third house in sunny Florida. If wintry weather continues, I may just look you up and pay you a visit.