Love it or leave it. Opposing the Vietnam war spawned new solutions to new problems. So we left. Jim sold the Urethane Foam Business for lots of money to a couple of Connecticut businessmen. He was exhausted from the physical and emotional demands of being in business with an untried and unproven product.  The three of us moved to Saint John, USVI where Jim attempted to buy Errol Flynn’s Black Swan, a huge sailing ship anchored in Tortola. Suddenly racial unrest exploded. White golfers were gunned down on the golf course, and we were advised to leave ASAP.  We boarded the Bomba Charger on Saint John and went back to NY. We realized we loved it.

We both fell in love with a slab sided, primitive cabin (no electricity, heat, plumbing) in the primeval forest of West Park, the home of the naturalist, John Burroughs. Our young son could grow up surrounded by nature.

A trumpet vine surrounded the house. It was a gathering place for hummingbirds. The slab siding was the leftovers from a saw mill. It never needed painting.

This truck came in handy. First with the remodeling and then to bring Amber home from Kingston Hospital in 1973. 

Jim, Jason and I lived in our tent while we were making the cabin liveable.

The stone building came in handy.

Jim dismantled an ancient Highland barn and used the white oak beams, siding and black walnut flooring to build the remodeled cabin.

Interior of Slabsides.

Jim completed the building and then installed his slate solar collectors on the roof. The collectors were way ahead of their time even though they were made of low tech materials, sheet metal and roofer’s slate.

A series of drawings were inspired by the woods and the golden Klimt paintings from my Pratt years.

WEST PARK WOODS, paint and pencil on paper. 24 x 36 inches.

WEST PARK WOODS WITH PEGASUS, SUMMER. paint and pencil on paper. 24 x 36 inches.

The Mobile Pegasus was rescued from the Highland Landfill. It was on the top of the 10 ft. metal pile. The sanitation engineer charged me a six pack of beer. Amber asked for the pegasis when she was three and she still has it. She owes me a six pack.

WEST PARK WOODS WITH PEGASUS, WINTER. paint and pencil on paper. 24 x 36 inches.

WEST PARK WOODS WITH HEART, paint and pencil on paper. 24 x 36 inches.

I gilded spider webs with gold powder.

Amber became an explorer of the forest.

Jim populated our 7 acres with his sculptures.

BAT. Driftwood and copper wings. h=5ft.

The rebar structure was a creative solution to keeping our 2 peacocks from our neighbor’s yard. The birds loved to peck their shiny new car. We paid to repair the damage. Jim covered the dome shape with wire mesh. It worked fine until the day I let them out. They went right over to the neighbor’s yard. He shot them and ate them for Thanksgiving. The peacocks paid the ultimate price for their love of bling.

This dreary primeval landscape was our front yard on one of upstate NY’s fall days. The LaSalle kept on chugging.

Painting always had a positive effect on Jim.

This behavior foretold of his ability to act in front of a camera. His natural talent was featured in many full length features.

He carved a self portrait from NY sandstone.

Jim Pelish, SELF PORTRAIT. Sandstone. 30 x 20 x 20 inches.

I painted His self portrait.


Many friends from Manhattan enjoyed the unspoiled forest and our comfortable home. An artist from Manhattan, Billie Cohen was one of my favorites, Amber and I would roam the woods with Billie because she was a student of nature, and studied at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. She was able to point out the very rare walking fern on the bank of Black Creek. Click bugs, hog nose snakes, porcupines, lady slipper orchids, and many more unique forest dwellers became our companions. Billie is now an award-winning rooftop landscaper in Manhattan.


At age 11 Jason asked for a dirt bike for Christmas. Then his best friend was in a serious dirt bike accident. He was forced to choose his back up present, a computer.  Radio Shack had the TRS 80 so his wish was granted.

Beaming with joy.

The following year he was enrolled in computer college classes at SUNY at New Paltz. His technical expertise developed over many years, which has been very important to our family. The computer I’m using right now was built by Jason. He’s my connection to the new age of technology.  He’s still waiting for the dirt bike.

Tandy 1000.

Jason contributed to the arts with his collages

PARENTS. Cut outs on paper. 9 x 12 inches.

Now I need his guidance navigating this internet every day. I wonder if he ever regrets giving me a taste of computer life. There is no going back now.  

Jim created such a beautiful home for us that it made me want another baby. Amber was born. 

AMBER. colored pencil on paper. 12 x 14 inches.


Immediately after Amber’s birth, postpartum depression set in and I had to find a way out. My parents were delighted to have a granddaughter, so they gave me many hours of babysitting. I still needed help with the symptoms so I decided to open a free store. I was inspired by Abby Hoffman’s book, STEAL THIS BOOK

It extolled ways that we could help one another without letting money be a factor. I rented a strategically located barn close to the NY State Thruway on Old New Paltz Rd. and filled with all the merch I could find at the West Park and Highland landfill, and buy from the locals. As you can see we are still chugging along in our 1940 LaSalle. It’s now black because it was in the process of a new paint job.

THE FLEA MARKET. Old New Paltz Rd. Highland NY.

The sign reads Drive Thru Antiques. I made a narrow path between the merch so the cars could drive in the front door, and made a sharp turn to the right in the back of the barn and then out the side door. It actually worked! They would stop, survey the piles of stuff, and without even getting out of their car, we would negotiate their choices and I would hand them the smaller items through their window.

Jim and Amber on a frosty day in the barn.

Everything was piled up double decker.

“Come right in. If you see something you want I’ll give you a nice fair price.” Way too much trouble to write imaginary prices on random junk.

If they picked it up, they owned it.

Mrs. Orange. Staying warm in my orange sweatshirt. I was also known as Mrs. Flea.

Left to right. Pot bellied stove, white refrigerator, Diane Cole, my roommate from Pratt Institute. She became an internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of children’s books. (Diane Mannion).

All the locals patronized my barn. It even lured in some jetsetters. I charged them extra.

The walls were a chair display, like the Shakers meeting house. The skylight allowed the rain and snow to make a frozen lake in the rear of the building. Many sales had to be postponed till spring because the items would be frozen in the lake.

Soon my postpartum depression disappeared, and The Flea Market was flourishing, but I had expenses so no more free store.  Fortunately I had first pick of the desirable antiques and folk art. Kelter Malce, the foremost folk art experts from Manhattan were my best customers. My artistic training gave me the ability to tell authentic antiques from worthless items. I rescued many American historical artifacts. I always gave away clothes but to meet expenses I began my long career of buying and selling all things profitable.

Jim Pelish. MRS. FLEA. Oil on Dan Basen’s sneaker canvas. 4 x 6 ft.

Mary Rogers was my children’s companion for my working years. She was so caring and competent that I went to work with peace of mind.

Mary, Amber and Lauri.

Antiques filled our home, our trucks, and our barn.

EGYPTIAN REVIVAL CABINET. 1889. from the Villa Valley Farm, West Park. The artful wood inlay, bronze ormolu sculptures, the tiger maple, and the refinement of the construction fooled me into thinking this magnificent work of art was valuable. A trip to Sotheby’s proved it wasn’t.


A special standing seam copper roof needed to be put on John Batista’s Millbrook estate. Aldrich Roofing Co, Jim and his father, were the only craftsmen who could handle the job.

A new copper roof for a historic estate.

Old fashioned craftsmanship using tools that should be in a museum.

Left to right. Steve Pelish, Jim Pelish, Billy Douglas. 1970.

Mr Batista invited Jim to a ceremony presided over by a guru.

Jim swallowed the Kool-Aid.

He was already enlightened but needed to get the final payment for the copper roof. I painted the guru’s portrait and it was taken back to India where it hangs in his ashram.

SRI SWAMI PRAHLAD CHANDRA BRAHMACHARI. 1974. Oil on canvas. 18 x 24 inches.


Upstate NY gave me opportunities to begin exhibiting my early work at the Woodstock Artist Association, the Haldis McPherson Gallery in Poughkeepsie, and Innisfree Gardens in Millbrook.  I exhibited realistic and more imaginative works. This large shaped canvas was a realistic reflection of my new life. A Poughkeepsie art gallery called Gallery 19 created a show called 17 Women. The owner, Bonnie Gisel commented “Children who have come in here really related to that”

THANKSGIVING 73 Acrylic on canvas wrapped plywood.  73 x 73 inches. 

Woodstock had many opportunities for artists.

HUDSON RIVER WINDOW FRAME. Found objects. 24 x 12 inches. The Woodstock Artist Association Juried Show. 1972.



Our first trip to Florida was 1975. The beaches of Boca Raton gave me a vision that resulted in the creation of my BEACH PEOPLE. A solo show displaying my drawings and paintings was held in 1981hosted by the City of Poughkeepsie Arts and Cultural center.

Poughkeepsie, NY. Dec. 1981. 

Irene Gindera, my neighbor in West Park posed her hair for this foreshortened beach person.

Jim and I were enjoying all our expense and efforts to make this show fabulous.

The winter clad guests added a surreal feeling to a room full of BEACH PEOPLE. 

I sent out many invitations and was so surprised to see how many people showed up.

The gentleman on the left is my father. He taught me to always leave a place better than than when you found it. This has followed me throught my life resulting in my many charitable and public artistic donations. He also taught me how to bait a hook and fillet a pike.

Amber rolled around the show in an antique wheel chair.

My mother and father were always by my side encouraging me to realize my dreams.

They supplied my show with elegant flowers and tasty punch.


The reason for relocating from New York to Florida was an opportunity to supply Sadat City, a community for soldiers, in Egypt with Jim’s solar hot water heaters. 

It all began when a severe energy crisis began in 1973. It inspired Jim to develop a roofing slate solar water heating system. 

He was a guest on THE SOPHIA SHOW in Poughkeepsie. His solar device was featured. Jim sat next to Floyd Patterson, who twice reigned as the world heavyweight champion between 1956 and 1962. Jim championed his solar power system which is behind Mr. Paterson.

Jim Pelish, Floyd Paterson, unknown Guest and Sophia.

He applied for and received his patent.

United States Patent. Solar collector system using slate absorber panels. Roofing, Siding, Insulation magazine’s article.

He was featured in the trade publication.

Roofing, Siding, Insulation magazine’s article. 1977.

He traveled to Titusville Fl to get his design certified by the Federal Solar Commission. In the winter of 1981 we packed up Jason and Amber, 2 lhasa Apsos and a cockatiel, and drove to Florida to develop the solar prototypes.

Jim’s partners who made the prefab houses were located in Boca Raton, Florida. Research and development, prototypes and partnerships in Boca Raton were completed. Everyone was waiting for the Egyptian representatives to be in attendance.

 The Egyptian delegation landed in Miami and before any business could be commenced, Anwar Sadat was assassinated. The End. This almost became a historic step forward in the solar revolution.

The Sadat City solar project was over. 

Jim installed solar hot water devises on commercial and residental places.

Ft. Lauderdale resort’s roof top hot water pool heater.

Residential pool heaters.

Should we move  back to NY after Sadat was assassinated? Jim’s solar prospects in Florida were few.  I had a Manhattan agent who was excited about my art and was presenting it to MOMA’s New Artist program.  Also Jim’s father needed him with the family business, Aldrich Roofing Company.

We chose to stay in Florida because Amber was the new girl in a new school too many times, due to winters in Florida, developing the solar connections, and summers in NY for Aldrich Roofing Co. Being the new girl twice a year was too disruptive.  She was not happy. I just couldn’t put her through one more anxiety filled experience.





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