The little store at the end of the universe

Freddy Tetta (photo by Alan Carey)

Freddy Tetta (photo by Alan Carey)

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.

There are 7 comments

  1. Catherine

    I’ve lived in Olive for 37 yrs and have never stopped in. I never travel in that direction, but after reading this piece, I might stop by.

  2. samsonville

    you guys make this sound like the best place in ulster county to go the Store is always dirty I bet the floor has not been mopped in 6 months Or longer there is dust everywhere and their stuff is way over priced that is just barely the top of the list.. with a little bit of updating and some thought into that place it could be 100x better than it is now…

    1. samsonville local

      I hate to sound so harsh they are nice people however little more effort should go into place like what It was 15 or more years ago

  3. another Tetta's Local

    I would like to know if there is a parallel universe where this store exists as well. The one you write about certainly isn’t the one that’s down the road from our house. If it truly is the same Tetta’s you must have been there on the one day a month that they aren’t grouchy. The store hasn’t been open till 8pm for as long as i can remember and every word that “Samsonville” said above is absolutely true. The floors are always dirty, the shelves are always dusty and more then once i had to return something to the store because it was expired. I go in the store when I absolutely have no other choice in the matter and more then once i have gone without rather then go in there.

  4. Jerry"O"

    I have known the Tetta Family for almost 35 years.The humor from Fred is the icon of samsonville. You cannot compete with his uncanny humor.
    The Fred if he didn’t pick on you he didn’t like you. It’s all good with the Tettas.When I was outta work and needed tires for my truck he supplied my on a word of mouth payment.Nice to do business locally and support locals.When there is no power where does everyone go for gas,Tettas. Keep up the good work Fred and Anna!!!!

  5. Palentown Local

    The author of this puff peice, Paul Smart, isn’t very smart at all is he? Since when is 209, the southern corridor? You need to travel East to get to 209. Are you kidding me? Since when are we only 10 miles away from any other store? This store has been around forever and I’m only going there if I’m out of milk or something. Yeah, it’s expensive but they can get away with that up here in the sticks and regardless, I’m grateful it’s here. When the entire East Coast ceased to function because of a power outage in 2002 (I believe that was the year) Tetta’a store was up and running because they’re smart enough to be self sufficient with their own generator. Yes, it’s dusty but what else is new? If you’re buying expired products off of dusty shelves, well, that’s really on you. I’ve never once had to deal with any grouchy people, nor have I noticed a distinct Bronx accent. They’re nice people that have a store in an awesome location and the possibility of it being even better than it is is an endless dream of this local. Fred and Ana aren’t young spring chickens anymore and I for one would hate to see the store close its doors when they finally decide retire or worse. I hope their children will keep it up and running. By the way Mr. Smart, Fred was wearing Carhartt’s and not Carhardts. You are such a Jerk!!

  6. Palentown Local

    FYI – It’s High Point, not High Peak. Nothing ruffles my feathers more than some citiot coming up here and getting stuff all wrong and then writing about it. ? Whatever happened to fact checking?

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