Don Veith, an avid motorcycle rider and collector talks about his favorite motorcycle.
Patrick Oehler, Poughkeepsie Journal
Let’s face it — life is busy. When it comes to working, taking care of our families and doing daily chores, finding time to enjoy a hobby can be difficult.
Hobbies can take you away from the daily grind and help reduce stress. They can open up endless opportunities to be creative, to relax, to socialize or just to have something to look forward to.
Statisa.com reports that most people in the U.S. spend about five to six hours a day on leisure and sports activities, personal interests and hobbies, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. On weekends and during holidays the number of hours spent on leisure activities rises.
For some people in the Hudson Valley, taking time out for hobbies is a must. From a motorcycle collector to a roller-derby skater by night, meet some local folk who know how to make time-outs count.
Get your motor running …
When Donald Veith was 6 years old he started riding motorcycles. At 9, he took up racing and by the age of 16 became a professional motorcycle racer. He raced for eight years before he started his own business — Veith Electric on Salt Point Turnpike in Poughkeepsie.
Today, the 62-year-old Hyde Park resident’s love of motorcycles has stayed with him, especially as a hobby, amassing a collection of some 25 different cycles.
“My favorite motorcycle is my 1949 Harley Davidson, because it was my father’s,” Veith said. “He bought it in 1960, drove it for a few years and then I started racing. He put it in the garage and gave it to me, and it’s in my will that I will give it to my oldest son.”
Veith’s collection also includes a 1910 Harley Davidson, the oldest one in his collection that’s restored to its original.
“Then I have bikes that I made that replicate the 1920s motorcycles, a 1949 Harley Davidson, older Triumphs and Yamahas, and a 1960 Jawa Speedway bike in my office,” he said. “Maybe there are 10 Jawas left in the world and this is one of the finest ones that anybody’s seen.”
Every week, Veith is also part of the ROMEO Riders group, which stands for “Really Old Men Eating Out.”
“We ride on a Friday night to Connecticut, have dinner, and ride back,” he laughed.
While Veith loves anything on two wheels, Frank Castella Sr. prefers the four-legged variety.
“When I moved to New York in 1972, I boarded my horses until I found a piece of property and I built my farm here,” said Castella, who retired from his local printing business in April after 40 years. “I cleared the land and built the house and married and had four children. They all have been involved with the horses growing up.”
Castella has trained and shown some of the top Percheron horses in his career and retired from the show ring after the 2014 World Percheron Show.
“I was driving horses that we raised and trained as a family with a restored, rebuilt Studebaker wagon that I built myself,” he said.
And at the age of 70, Castella won senior driver at the show.
“I thought that this was a great way to retire, going out on top,” he said.
But his interest in horses wasn’t over.
A few years earlier, he was contacted by the Town of Pleasant Valley to bring his horses to a local parade to carry various politicians. Castella rejected the idea, but decided to take some of the local veterans instead.
“At that show, I brought out the Warrior Wagon for the first time as a way for me to give back to my country,” he said. “We honor current military, past military and we have done ceremonies for local public service.”
“They were all very thankful to have been recognized,” Castella said. “We had it all decorated in red, white and blue with an American flag. That night, I thought about building a repurposed military wagon that I would be able to take people that are disabled or unable to go up, to get on my big wagon, and I would put a wheelchair lift on it. I built it with disability stairs.”
Castella’s Warrior Wagon project is a hobby and a labor of love. The 75-year-old also maintains a 25-acre farm and restores antique cars.
“It’s a work ethic,” he said. “My wife’s family and my family were hard-working Americans. The wagon was dedicated to my father-in-law and his flight crew. They got shot down over Germany in a B-17 in 1944. He survived it, so when we finished the Warrior Wagon, the last thing we put on it was a plaque dedicating it to the crew of ‘Katie’s Boys.’ ”
Last November, after a lengthy career, Castella had a heart attack which he said “opened up his eyes.
“I like to be active,” he said. “I know people who are retired and sit down and watch TV all day. They don’t really have any direction and I’m just not cut out for that, I guess.”
Alter ego on the rink
Working in an emergency room can be an extremely tense, and sometimes, a life-or-death situation. As an operating room registered nurse, AnnMarie Altman, who works at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, knows this pressure all too well, so when her shift is over and she’s looking to enjoy herself, she heads to the roller rink.
There she meets up with Paige Banfield, who works in Newburgh as a congressional staffer for U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. A career in politics also can be a highly public and stressful position, so at the end of the day, Banfield wants to do something she enjoys, too.
Both women shed their work attire, put on their gear and become their Hudson Valley Horrors Roller Derby alter egos: Cherry Lifesaver and Bruisin’ B Anthony. This is their hobby, one the 42-year-old Altman has been doing for the last decade.
“It is a stress relief from my daily work and life,” said Altman, a Walden resident, aka Lifesaver. “I love the camaraderie and that we all have the same goals and encourage one another to achieve them.”
Banfield enjoyed watching roller derby on television years ago.
“I come from a hockey family and always loved to skate,” said the 25-year-old Brewster resident. “When I was looking for something to do, I found the Horrors and this is the first sport I’ve ever done, even though I didn’t think I was tough enough, but I love being with such strong women.”
When it comes to finding your own hobby, Banfield suggests finding what’s right for you.
“See what events or happenings are on Facebook, or talk to friends,” she said. “If you find something that interests you, try it. Nothing is set in stone. Try a lot of different things until you find something that you enjoy.”
Hoofing it up
For many people, taking dance lessons as a kid is something that lasts for a few years and then stops when the next interest comes along. Monica Cleveland started tap dancing at the Stissing Loft School of Dance in Pine Plains when she was 3, but that next interest never came along.
“That first year my song was ‘The Donkey with the Crooked Ear’ and I clearly remember my mother trying to get my costume ear to stand up for the recital,” said the 40-year-old who works as town clerk and tax collector for the Town of Ancram, Columbia County.
Cleveland tap danced until she was in the 10th grade. She returned to dancing and took two years of ballet and modern dance in college, but tap dancing kept calling her back.
“I am not a person who tends to try new things and I have a great fear of failure,” Cleveland said. “Yet, when I put on my tap shoes, that all melts away. I have a very official job, but I think this shows that I can have fun and that I have a talent besides typing minutes and handing out dog licenses.”
The busy mom of a 17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son said it is nice to have a few moments to herself.
“I enjoy getting together with the other women — called the Stissing Divas — most of them moms,” said Cleveland, who still dances at the Pine Plains studio. “There are women who have never danced, trying it for the first time, and women who have danced for dozens of years, cheering the new ladies on.”
With politics aside, the curtain rises
If you’ve watched Showtime’s drama series “Billions,” you might have caught a glimpse of former state Assemblyman Patrick Manning. He wasn’t there as a special guest star, but as an actor on the show. It’s a hobby he has come to love.
Manning sang, acted and performed in high school theater and minored in theater in college, but when politics came calling, he took a break.
“When I left politics (in 2006), I promised myself that I was going to do some bucket list things,” said the 54-year-old Dutchess County resident. “My wife, Christine, and I now run the Hopeland Rest glamping business and she’s a professional actress who got me into acting.”
Manning has been in several commercials, including one for the not-for-profit One Love Foundation, and one with his wife for Philips Light Bulbs. He has also appeared in the CBS series “Madam Secretary” and has a role in Showtime’s “The Loudest Voice,” starring Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News.
“I love acting; it’s a great relief for me,” he said. “I always loved TV and try to go for work in TV shows I like. I’m a big fan of ‘Billions’ with Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, so to be on the show and work with people like that is so surreal.”
Now that he works from home, Manning said he has more time to explore his hobbies.
“I’m also trying to get to the highest point of every single county in the state of New York,” he said.
Contact freelance writer Lisa Iannucci at [email protected]
Top 10 hobbies in the U.S.
- Video games
On the web
Warrior Wagon: www.facebook.com/WarWagon2
Hudson Valley Horrors: www.horrorsrollerderby.com
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