From the venerable general store his grandparents opened in 1919, where you can get hunting knives, cigars, worms, khaki pants and copies of Vogue, Phil Terni has watched Dutchess County’s passing parade for most of his 68 years.
The store has seen celebrated customers — Babe Ruth, Ava Gardner, Artie Shaw, Ruth Bader Ginsburg — amble in and out. And Mr. Terni has seen Millerton prosper as an agricultural crossroads with three hotels served by three railroads, and then decline toward irrelevance as the milk processing plant shut down and the farms died. Still, none of that has prepared him for what he sees outside his door every day.
“Not in my wildest dreams would I have expected this,” he said in the back of the store, with its black-and-white photos of old locomotives, a giant Revolutionary War oil painting, bric-a-brac from a century of small-town commerce. “This never would have entered my mind.”
And yet there it is, everywhere you look: the old diner, renamed the Oakhurst and now serving gourmet curried chicken rolls, organic burgers and venison chili cheese fries; Eckert Fine Art, with its paintings by Eric Forstmann and Robert Rauschenberg; the fliers for the Buddhist Path of Fulfillment retreat; the sustainable agriculture benefit; the artsy, SoHo-esque Hunter Bee antiques; the three-screen Moviehouse on Main Street with its art gallery and cafe.
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