Reservoir Deli, Shandanken, New York


Reservoir Deli, Shandanken, New York

The Reservoir Deli, another local roadside gem.

The full name of this Route 28 Ulster County roadside treasure is “The Reservoir Delicatessen and Dairy”. How many times had I driven by this great sign and said to myself “I have to stop, get a picture and PAINT that sign”? Hundreds, I’m sure!! So one day a few summers ago, I finally did it: jumped out of the car, snapped a few pics and dashed inside, notebook in hand to find out a little more about the place.

A brief history: the current owners Brian and Julie Scott have operated this deli for over 40 years! That is a real accomplishment! Brian told me it was a drug store and a yarn store before they owned it. He was not sure when the first owner Henry Kromke opened it as the Deli Dairy and put up the marvelous sign of the cow, but we thank him for doing so. She’s smiled upon millions of drivers over the years wending their way up Route 28 through Shokan and deep into the Catskills for summer and winter adventures!

Martha Frankel, the founder of The Woodstock Writers Festival, was in love with my painting of the sign and thought it would be a great jumping off point for another writing contest (#5). Which indeed it was! We got so many great entries, but here is the story that won by Susan Ades Stone:

Vidalia at the Reservoir

My daddy put that cow up there, to tell ya the real truth. You probably think it’s paper maché, like the puppets we made in the first grade around a blowed up balloon with the newspaper strips and flour paste. All I wanted to do was eat that flour paste, cause it smelled so good. And, actually, Eddie Frank did eat a bunch of it and had to get taken to the hospital after he got cramps so bad he had to get carried to the nurse’s office, moaning and groaning. For a smart kid, Eddie could be pretty stupid. We was sure he had glued all his insides together and we couldn’t stop laughing about it until the ambulance came and took him to the hospital. Then we thought he might die, but he came back to school two days later.

So that cow up on top of my grandpa’s Reservoir Deli came off’a our dairy farm in Shandaken. Her milk was probably in your milk shake if you ever tried one there. They’re famous, you know, all over the Catskills. Anyways, you probably won’t believe me, but one minute that cow – her name was Vidalia -­-­ was standing in the field eating grass and the next minute a freak storm come outta nowhere and struck her down with one bolt of lightening. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t of believed it myself. My picture got in the newspaper with the dead cow that Friday.

Next thing I knew, daddy took the poor cow to the guy who does deer heads around here and had her stuffed and shellacked with an awful-­smelling paint. We borrowed Mr. MacInerny’s cherry picker and I helped the men get Vidalia up there on top of the restaurant sign. The milk pail was grandma’s idea.

I just thought you’d wanna know.

Oil on canvas, 36×48″

Giclee prints available for purchase here.

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