Winter Bonfire Brings Out a Crowd


Rhinecliff, NY.  There are few things that can be more mesmerizing than a bonfire, with gradients of oranges and yellows popping up sporadically and sparks and smoke piercing the sky. On the same token, the way in which a fire can bring people together as a community is equally rich.

Saturday, January 27 was the perfect day for Rhinebeck Grange #896 to hold its first Winter Bonfire in Rhinecliff at Firemen’s Field. The event was the idea of Grangers, Sue Sie and Richard Kopyscianski, who noticed a need for holiday tree clean up in the Hamlet and came up with a productive solution. Twenty trees from around the Rhinecliff Fire Protective District were picked up from people’s homes earlier in the day by Grangers, Joe Baer and Kopyscianski, while several more were delivered directly to the burn.

At 4pm, people began to gather as the fire was set and the first tree was tossed into the embers. Commented Granger, Evelyn Gartner, “It’s a sobering thing to see how fast a fir tree goes up in flames and crazy to think that people used to decorate their holiday trees with candles.” It is not surprising that according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 200 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2011-2015. These fires caused an annual average of 6 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage.

As a group of 40-50 people gathered, a batch of stone soup became heartier as guests brought freshly cut vegetables and added them to the broth. Granger, Sue Sie arrived with banjo in tow and an ad hoc band played in the background.

The Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Company stood by in case any mishaps occurred. Said Rhinecliff’s Fire Captain, Jake Euell, “We were happy to help out at this event. We enjoy hanging out and it gave our newer members and opportunity to have a dowsing drill with live fire conditions.”

SAVE THE DATE!! Rhinebeck Grange 896 in partnership with the Rhinecliff Volunteer Fire Co. will host Rhinecliff Winter Bonfire

Rhinecliff Firemen’s Field 

Saturday, January 27(Snow Date Feb 3)

4pm – 8pm


Dress warm and join us to celebrate Winter around a bonfire made from local holiday trees. Holiday trees from the Rhinecliff Protective Fire District will be picked up from 8am – 12noon from your home. Simply call Joe at 845-876-6488 to arrange for your tree pick up and set it at the end of your driveway. Trees must be cleared of decorations. Bring a veggie to add to Sandy’s Stone Soup and enjoy soup and hot cocoa on-site! Musicians welcome! Firemen’s Field is located on Valley Rd, next to the Old Schoolhouse Condos.

2017 Rhinebeck Grange Events




Rhinebeck Grange presents… A.R. Gurney’s Romantic Comedy: Love Letters               A Valentine Treat if there ever was one! 

On Sunday, February 12, 2017 the Rhinebeck Grange #896 will present a one-time performance of Love Letters, a play by A. R. Gurney at the Morton Memorial Library and Community Room. Two long-time Rhinecliffers and thespian friends, Joe Baer (Christmas Carol (2016), Vince Dirango (2011, 2012) Camelot (2013), and Lorna de Zengotita (Night Mother (2012), will perform as two childhood friends, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Staged sitting side by side, the friends read notes, letters and cards they received from one another over a time span of nearly 50 years. Through their lifelong correspondence, the audience learns of their hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, and victories and defeats that have passed between them throughout their separated lives.

Coincidentally, the play was first performed by the playwright himself and Holland Taylor at the New York Public Library. In the late ’80s, he was ready to perform the piece in front of an audience but needed a venue and a leading lady. As the story goes, according to Lindsey Champion (, 2014):

Gurney was scheduled to give a speech at the New York Public Library—but instead, armed with his friend and collaborator, actress Holland Taylor and a stack of letters, the pair read Love Letters to the crowd. “We started at 4:00, and I put in an arbitrary intermission at 5:00, saying, ‘Well, I’m sure a lot of you have to go,’” Gurney recalled. “And nobody wanted to leave! So I figured we had something.”

Later that year, the show premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT in 1988.

The event will begin at 2pm and the price of admission includes a festive array of Valentine treats throughout the show. Live music will precede the play. Seating will be arranged as tables of two with a beverage and appetizers served prior to the show, a selection of desserts and coffee or tea served during intermission and a cordial and chocolate delight to conclude the afternoon entertainment. The event will benefit the Rhinebeck Grange #896, a family-based community organization with  a mission to serve the communities of Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Tivoli, Rock city and West Milan. Fund-raising supports Grange efforts to offer educational programs, implement service projects such as planting trees, and funding food pantries and offer quality social interactions. Rhinebeck Grange welcomes new members interested in continuing their legacy of service. To learn more, call Cynthia Baer at 845.876.5738.

Don’t miss Love Letters, Sunday, February 12, 2017 at Morton Memorial Library and Community Room. Doors open at 1:30pm. Reservations are encouraged as seating is limited. Pre-sale tickets are $30.00 for a table of two, $20.oo per person. Tickets at the door will be $25.00 per person and are based on availability. For tickets and more information call Joe Baer, 845-876-6488.


Comedy PC A free-will donation will benefit Morton Memorial Library & Community Room


GrangeLuncheonRhinebeck Grange Celebrates Members’ 70 Years of Community Service

APRIL 2016. Rhinebeck, NY. Recently the Rhinebeck Grange held their annual luncheon within the walls of the Beekman Room at the historic Beekman Arms. This year the lunch was held to honor three very special members all celebrating 70 years of membership and faithful service in the Rhinebeck Grange: Catherine Hall and Raymond Cookingham of Rhinebeck and David F. Queen of Red Hook. Says Grange Master, Cynthia Baer, “When I think about my own life, as much as I would like it to be true, there isn’t anything that I will be able to say that I did consistently for 7o years. I have so much admiration and respect for Catherine and David. The fact that they have persevered in serving the Grange and The Rhinebeck community and have kept the values of the Grange vital throughout the course of their lives, is simply inspiring.” The Grange is a family-oriented organization that supports agriculture and the Rural Communities that thrived particularly during the 1920s, 30, and 40s. Despite loosing their actual Grange building in the 1980s (now the Steven Melley Law Office at 24 Closs Street) the Rhinebeck Grange is still active today.

Catherine Hall comes from a family of Grangers. Her mother and father, Rita and Harry Goldsmith, were active in the Grange and her son, Lester Hall is also currently a member. She joined the Junior Grange when she turned 14 years old and has earned all seven degrees of the Grange. She has served as the Rhinebeck Secretary, Treasurer and Grange Master. In addition, she was active in County and State Grange branches. In 1972, Catherine accepted a position as manager for the Grange Food Concession at the Dutchess Co Fair. For more than 25 years, she not only made a home and raised her children, but also ran a tight ship for the Pomona Grange Food Booth, building it into one of the best fair concessions around, “with the biggest value for your buck” at the fair. The Grange concession became one of the main incomes for the Dutchess Co. Grange and remains a vital part of Grange activities during the fairtime. Today, Catherine continues to hold the office of Treasurer.

Raymond Cookingham participated in Grange activities through out his life as well. He had a small farm and worked in equipment repair. He knew how to fix a piece of agricultural equipment like no other. According to fellow Granger and former Master, Stuart Queen, “He grew and supplied some of the best produce for our Grange exhibits. He was active in Grange sports, Dartball, and picnics.He stands about 6 ‘7” so he was always a sought after player.” Although Ray is seen less around town now than in earlier years, he is still a Granger.

David Queen started with the Grange in the 1940s and held a variety of offices including Overseer and Grange Master, equivilant to V.P.. and President. Together with his wife, Ruth, he helped plan and participated in many Grange sports events, dances and plays. He worked to promote the work of the Grange not only by designing and creating many Grange exhibits at the Dutchess County Fair but by his actions: working on projects such as the rebuilding of the Boy Scout pavilion at Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck, getting new street signs for the Village of Rhinebeck, and paving a walkway from Rhinebeck to the Starr Library. In addition David has been a great advocate of the Grange and has always been willing to help others. He is keenly aware of how many people in our community need food and, to this day, promotes and distributes food donations for those in need. Says Baer, “The Rhinebeck Grange continues to be vital in serving the Rhinebeck Community. Although the organization has its roots in agriculture, the mission of the Grange has always been to help improve the lives of the every man. We are actively looking for new members, with fresh ideas and for ways in which we can make life better  where we live.”

The Rhinebeck Grange meets at the Rhineclff Firehouse the first Thursday of each month. Pot luck dinner begins at 6pm with a meeting from 7pm – 8pm. Everyone is welcome.  For more iformation call Cynthia Baer 9845) 876-5738.


2015 Mission: The Growing Need for Food & Our Local Food Pantries          

Rhinebeck Grange Joins In ion memorial Day Celebration!                  

MAY, 2015. This year has been a building year for Rhinebeck Grange P of H 896.
We had a slow start to the new year with all the bad weather so it was
decided that our Grange mission for the year would continue to be about helping supply food to the local food pantries.

In May, member David Queen, had an idea to bring awareness to our
mission of food distribution by participating in the Rhinebeck Memorial Day Parade.
With the help of family, he set out and made a 5 x 7ft. float that was adorned with canned goods donated by local supermarkets. His granddaughter dressed up as the Goddess Flora and threw candy and kisses while his son drove the truck. Afterward, all the food was donated to eight local food pantries.


CLARENCE DARROW: A One-Man Play/ November 6, 7 & 8, 2015

NOVEMBER 2015. The Grange P of H 896 is proud to present CLARENCE DARROW: A One-Man Play written by David W. Rintels, based on Irving Stone’s Clarence Darrow for the Defense. Three performances will feature Joe Baer as Clarence Darrow on Friday and  Saturday, November 6 & 7 at 8pm and Sunday, November 8 at 2pmat the Morton Memorial  Library Community Room, Rhinecliff, NY 12574. The price is $15. per person. There will be refreshments and silent auction during intermission. All proceeds will go to the Rhinebeck Grange.

Who is Clarence Darrow? 

Clarence Darrow (1857- 1938) was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was one of the first attorneys to be called a “labor lawyer.”  During his lifetime, he fought the good fight for the “every man” trying to get ahead and people living on the outskirts of society. It is a story of one man, a champion of the underdog, a loner, a fighter for causes. (Tony Mastronianni, Cleveland Press). It is the story of a man who believed that he could make a difference through his actions.

In the 1890s, he started out working as the general attorney for the Chicago & North Western Railway. However, he soon began to sympathize with the workers, and resigning his position. Thus began a brilliant career of defending the underdogs.

In more than 100 cases, Darrow only lost one murder case. However, Darrow’s most infamous case occurred in 1925 when he defended John T. Scopes, a public high school teacher accused of teaching evolutionary theory in violation of a Tennessee law. The trial became known as The Monkey Trial and caused a great stir, owing to a stewing national controversy over the origins of homo sapiens. Other notable trials included Leopold and Loeb, Ossian /Sweet, and the Massie Trial.

At a time in our nation, where violence and hate seem to be boiling to the surface, The Rhinebeck Grange felt that this play would create a time for pause to refect on the ebbs and flow in our justice system, our sense of fairness within all of society, and somehow, renew the vision for higher civility and equality within our nation.

The Morton Memorial Library and Community Room is located  82 Kelly St, Rhinecliff, NY  12574. For ticket information, call 845-876-6488 or email: