Pine Hill Petunia

Sharon Cherven, local journalist and early Woodstock Times contributor, passed away in her fifties in the early 1990s. Sharon was and wrote as a local. She ended up at the Daily Freeman, covering local news as a beat reporter. Her specialty was catching the inner workings of the area as it started shifting from a place unto itself into something different from that.

She was born in Connelly, near where the river and the Rondout Creek met. She and husband Ken, also a reporter, lived in Chincoteague, Virginia, and then in Pine Hill for a while. They ended up in the Bearsville Flats. Their daughter moved to Athens, in Greene County. There was a grandson.

The woman could make a friend of anyone. She was tight with the hangabouts at Duey’s on Mill Hill Road, as well as the tryharders who had moved here from more urban places. She knew the old families throughout Ulster, who dated who when, and who drank a bit too much or just plain couldn’t be trusted. She wasn’t afraid of mixing in the down-home info with her coverage of meetings and politics.


For a while, she had a column as Pine Hill Petunia, in which she lovingly elbowed her community’s ribs. Yes, she was pretty much run out of town. But that didn’t dissuade her, or change her ways.

Sharon was a mountain of a woman, with a raucous laugh to match her broad sense of humor. But she was also well-read and able to cut to the quick of what was going on around her.

She’d have had little patience for all that’s been happening to the region, nation and world in the last four years. But she wouldn’t have shied from using the times to add depth to her depictions of a life that’s still here after several centuries.

Too bad her writing was ephemeral, gone by the next week. But she touched the area and its people. Sharon Cherven’s deep love for these hills and mountains, curmudgeons and jokesters, survives.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.