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Larissa Parks

June 9, 2013


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Kate Blofson

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This interview was conducted with Larissa Parks in Hudson, NY on June 9, 2013.  This interview will be of interest to people curious about Hudson's history, economy, community relationships, buildings, and the housing and real estate situation in town.  Larissa Parks talks about her family's deep roots in the city of Hudson (family names Cobbins and Ryan), dating to the early 1900s when her great-grandparents came to Hudson  from Alabama.  She describes in great detail many buildings and businesses that used to exist in Hudson.

She tells stories about her grandfather, Thomas “The Candyman” Ryan.  She talks about how Hudson has changed, describing Warren Street, the neighborly bonds and community feeling in the Hudson of her youth, and Hudson's problematic housing and real estate situation. Skyrocketing real estate prices in the late 80s and 90s displaced mom and pop businesses; out of town owners “warehouse” properties; home ownership, and even obtaining rentals, is now difficult for longtime Hudson residents.  She talks about her own recent difficulties acquiring housing in Hudson, and how she now lives with her children in Catskill.  She also discusses race relations in Hudson in her youth and in the present day.   Ms. Parks also talks about subsidized housing in Hudson, and new communities (including white New Yorkers and Bangladeshis) that have come into Hudson over the last decade or so. She describes how manufacturing jobs left town, the factories and industries that used to exist, and the current lack of economic opportunities.  She talks about her upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, and some of the religious institutions (Shiloh Baptist Church, the Islamic Center) in town.  She describes the “hangout spots” of her youth, including the Hudson River docks (now the Waterfront), the Warren Street loop, the shantytown near the train station, and the fishing shacks at the north end of town.

Interviewer Bio:
Kate Blofson

I was born in New York City, NY and went to high school in Princeton, NJ.  My family is from Philadelphia, PA, and I lived there for 10 years after college, and still consider it home.  I was a longtime organizer and volunteer with the Prometheus Radio Project, building and advocating for low power community radio stations.  I believe that stories connect people, and in creating spaces for people to share their stories.  I'm currently a graduate student in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, and I'm interested in story as a natural resource (not a term I came up with): sharing stories as a way of expressing and understanding connection to nature and place.  I'm particularly interested in the intimacy of audio and radio.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

Part of this interview may be played in a radio broadcast or podcast.

Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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