Editor’s note: This is the ninth installment of stories about Fulton Families. The monthly series tells the stories of families that have either lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common bond will be they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Ashley M. Casey, Valley News assistant editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ashley M. Casey | Photos courtesy of the Hudson family
“Can’t take the farm out of a country boy.”
That’s what Doug Hudson says about staying close to his roots.
Doug, who owns Hudsons’ Dairy, left Fulton only long enough to go to college. He and his three brothers, Dan, Eric and David, all returned to the city — or, more accurately, just outside it — to be close to their parents and help out on the farm in Granby.
“We’re lucky all the boys are around us,” Beverly says.
Through the Hudsons’ dairy business, community connections and deep roots, it seems that Fulton is lucky to have them around.
Good old days
The Hudson family can trace its roots back to the Mayflower. They even share a common ancestor with the Paine family of Oliver B. Paine Greenhouses — Elder William Brewster, who arrived in what is now America in 1620.
Two hundred and fifty years later, Henry Hudson’s great-grandparents, Daniel and Amanda Shattuck, purchased 140 acres of land in Granby.
The farm was passed down through the family for generations. Henry’s parents, Daniel and Marion Hudson, rented the farm from Marion’s parents for 24 years and purchased it in 1944.
“I was brought up during the war — I was a war worker,” Henry recalls of helping his father during World War II. “My days were from 5 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.), and go to school in-between times.”
Henry says everyone did their part for the war effort. At age 14, he held a special driver’s license to help his father deliver milk.
“It was a different life during the war. There wasn’t many sports because there wasn’t many people who had time to play sports,” he says. Young Henry didn’t lack for things to do — he showed cows from age 7 until college at the Oswego County Fair in Sandy Creek and elsewhere.
“I never did do the State Fair because the State Fair was set down some during the war,” he says.
As Fulton moved into the late 1940s, hubs such as the Dizzy Block and the Avon Theater blossomed.
“It was a booming place,” Henry says of Fulton’s golden days. “My grandmother used to say she didn’t care how many times she had to paint her house — because the house got dirty from the (factories’) smokestacks — as long as the people were working.
Beverly Hudson grew up on Broadway in Fulton. She remembers being part of the “red” sorority that high school girls formed. Their rival, keeping with the school colors, was the “green” sorority. She and her friends kept busy in the city, frequenting a coffee shop that was quite some distance from her home.
“I had to walk,” she recalls. “(Henry) saw me walking home.”
“I picked her up on the post office steps,” Henry jokes.
In 1952, Henry and Beverly married, and she began helping on his family’s farm in addition to her job at Armstrong. Beverly remembers those days as “hectic.” As the children started coming, Beverly quit her job to raise the family and continue working in the milkhouse.
Hand in hand
The five Hudson children spent a lot of time on the farm as well, but they had their share of fun. The kids remember Christmas shopping downtown, family camping trips and Fulton’s youth sports scene.
Today, David is still involved in youth sports, having coached both football and basketball. A city firefighter, he says he enjoys helping kids develop a sense of sportsmanship.
“The youth sports here are very positive for the community,” David says. He chose his profession to help the community too. “I like helping the people in need — I’m a pretty easygoing person.”
Dan has maintained an active lifestyle as well. He has run several marathons and climbs mountains. He remembers the Fulton Athletics Boosters bringing in professional athletes as guest speakers, such as Pittsburgh Steelers famed quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
“He had hands like a giant,” Henry recalls.
Although she has lived in Connecticut since 1975, Holli has fond memories of Fulton.
“One of the things I really liked was the freedom we had … the ability to walk where I wanted and when I wanted,” Holli says.
She attributes her love of the outdoors to growing up in the Oswego County countryside. That’s not the only piece of Fulton she’s brought with her: As a child, she sang in the church choir, an activity she continues in Connecticut.
For Doug, business, family and community go hand in hand. While he’s often busy with the dairy, Doug has made time to participate in Fulton life: he was a volunteer firefighter in Granby for 20 years and also served on the ARC of Oswego County board. He appears in the Fulton Memorial Day parade with a Hudsons’ Dairy wagon too.
His brothers continue to help him out, and his daughter, Heather Hudson, is now office manager at the dairy.
“It’s just what I do. It’s what we grew up with,” Doug says. “We take pride in being a family business.”
Doug says he’s never had the desire to live outside the country.
“Even the city of Fulton is too big,” he says.
Two of Doug’s brothers had a taste of life outside Fulton before deciding to stay. Dan worked in Elmira before accepting a job in Syracuse.
“When I came up here, I thought, ‘Might as well live in Fulton,’” he says. “I already had a network going (of) friends.”
Eric was offered a job in New Jersey and had his mind set on going.
“A week before I went, I decided that’s not what I wanted to do and I decided to stay here,” he says. He went to work for his father on the farm and has purchased much of it from Henry. He’s now a city firefighter like his brother, David.
The Hudsons all enjoy the camaraderie in their hometown.
“You always know somebody knows something about what your kids are doing,” Dan says of the close-knit community. “We tend to be friends with our kids’ friends’ parents too because some of them we went to school with and other ones we met along the way.”
Although Fulton has seen its share of hard times, that small-town network perseveres.
“You’ve got a core set of people here that you know you can turn to if you have an issue,” Dan says.
“Fulton’s home,” Doug says. “That’s all.”