Come upon Tetta’s, day or night, and the low-slung buildings with a big parking lot at the junction of County Routes 2 and 3 in Samsonville beckons warmly. The tall signs are clear; the surrounding woods and mountains makes one feel like you’ve hit an oasis. There’s gas, a store filled with most any staples you’d need…and a tire store out back.
Best of all, Ana Tetta’s there behind the counter to greet you and, if you’re lucky, her husband Freddy will pop in while you’re there, too.
“Freddy’s father Joseph Tetta built this place back in 1961,” Ana says on a recent morning as folks come in from their running trucks stamping the snow off their feet to get a cup of coffee, some newspapers, and maybe a hard roll or sandwich to eat later. “Joseph started up before that, back in the 1950s, running a store out of one half of his two car garage just up the road over there.”
She points out the front windows of the big, warm space she’s been watching over since she and Freddy took over the business in 1971.
“I raised my four kids upstairs in the big apartment Joe built up there,” she adds, shaking her head. “It’s a nice big place but Freddy doesn’t want to rent it out now that we’ve moved up the hill to our own place.”
There are newspaper racks outside and just in under a big plate window up front in the cement block building. Coolers are filled with soft drinks, juices, dairy products; there’s ice cream and some frozen food items. Bread and basic staples; some veggies and household items. Car items and a bit of hardware. These folks know what people might need ten miles from the nearest stores in Kerhonkson and/or Stone Ridge, and a bit farther back towards Route 28 and the Boiceville Market, or the stores down in West Hurley and Kingston.
Ana says locals in the Samsonville part of the Town of Olive that they are center to, especially now that post offices in that hamlet and the nearby community of Krumville are long gone, tend to drive out each week for their main shops…to either Kingston or Boiceville. Similarly, locals gravitate towards Route 28 rather than the 209 corridor to the south. After all, they’re part of Olive, even though the Rochester town line is a short distance away.
“We’re in no man’s land here,” Ana continues after someone comes in asking whether any of the Sunday papers were still around. She asks Freddy, who’s just shown up in worn Carhardts and a big grin, what he’s done with them.
“They should be where they’re supposed to be,” he says in a distinctive Bronx accent. “Now would you know where my shovel is, Ana?”
She bickers back, jovially, in her native Brooklynese.
After the woman gets her papers, pays and leaves with a hearty goodbye to the shopkeeper couple, Freddy notes how he first came up when his parents moved north from The Bronx back when he was in his late teens. And no, neither he more Ana ever went to school up here.
“They started what you now call a convenience store. We’ve kept it,” he says.
“It’s always been pretty much the same,” Ana adds. “There are more houses around now, more weekenders in the summer. There used to be more of what you could call ‘locals’ but they died off, the Barringers, the Quicks, and so forth.”
Tetta’s opens each morning around 6:30 a.m. when Freddy comes over to make breakfast — eggs and bacon and coffee — for a crowd that comes before work. They stay open every day until 6 p.m., except for Sundays when they now close at 4 p.m…and those days when Freddy still feels like keeping his place open until 8 p.m., as he used to do for years.
“I’ve been doing the tires, as well, for some 30 years now,” he adds. “That’s been a good business, too.”
Lunch is their big time of day…when they make sandwiches for the local “wood guys and loggers,” and the few who have figured out how to telecommute from home in this remote area.
Does the couple ever head back down to New York for old memories’ sake?
“Not at all,” Ana says.
“We’re too busy,” Freddy adds. “This is home.”
How well have the Tetta’s gotten to know their community?
“I’m sort of the mother confessor here,” Ana replies. “Everyone comes to me with their stories; I’m always here.”
“That’s living in a tight community,” Freddy adds before heading back outside.
Yes, the place has a generator for the hard times…and always has. And yes, they’ve started carrying a few health food items upon request, even though each says they don’t really have a taste for such things.
“I remember when Peg Leg Bates used to come in,” Ana adds of a famous hoofer neighbor who ran the region’s first resort for African Americans just down the road a spell, up into the 1980s. “He was one of the kindest person’s around…but he told us stories about when he first came up here…It was rough for him, too.”
It’s getting later in the morning and the parking lot starts to fill; people get gas or leave their vehicles running to head on in, big smiles on their faces.
Outside, you can hear the wind high overhead and see a glimpse of High Peak and other mountains in the distance. Only the hum of approaching cars breaks the near-silence…and each of those, it seems, makes sure to stop in at Tetta’s.