This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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Sandy Tanzillo-Gay is 58 years old and has been a resident of Hudson her entire life. Sandy narrated her life history on June 5, 2013 in the cellar of Tanzy's, the restaurant she co-owns with her sister Tisha, at 223 Warren St in Hudson, NY, which was formerly the old Berelli pool hall. In this interview, she describes her life growing up in an Italian Catholic family in Hudson, and recalls the bakeries and mom n' pop shops of her neighborhood and the reciprocity of her neighbors. She talks about Mt Carmel church, where she was baptized, confirmed, and married-- and how the church closed the following day. The church has since reopened, and Sandy repeatedly describes the cyclical nature of life, transformation, and regeneration in Hudson. She has seen Hudson grow, seen it fail, seen it die, and seen it come back, and she expresses great pride in being a part of a lively and loving Hudson community. She said she contributes to making the town prosper by making people happy, whether through serving generous portions of pancakes or staying open during the snowstorm, she is helping to give back to Hudson. She says the town has changed, but it has also stayed the same.
She believes that life isn't all about money; life is about compassion, sharing food, giving comfort. Food makes friends, food makes comfort, food can introduce you into a new chapter of your life. She tells a stories from her Childhood that she does not often tell, including the time she snuck a jelly donut and the time she set the backyard on fire. She describes her house in Greenport which means a lot to her because her mother helped her build that house and her husband loves her to death in that house. While she doesn't have children, she believes she was born to take care of other people, and the tree that her mother planted in the yard that is still there and growing, even though her mother has passed on. She says she realizes now that she never had to leave Hudson; she loves everything that has kept her here, good and bad, because it made her who she is.
LJ Amsterdam is an activist, writer, and dancer. She was born and raised in New York City but loves stealing time outside the city because she can see more sky and is currently living with friends in Millerton, NY. Her background is in ethnomusicology and she has worked on numerous music-centered social justice projects and collaborative ventures with indigenous communities. She organizes with several groups in New York around land liberation, the housing crisis, and foreclosure resistance, and is becoming increasingly involved in making action education media. She passionate about working with young people and storytelling, and hopes to continue facilitating oral histories for the Hudson Area Archive.
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.
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.”