26 July 2018 01:03PM
When I met Cyndy Hall, fifteen years ago, she was a little wary of me. I was an interloper, proposing something slightly radical, and it took her 24 hours to take it all in, and me too. The next day, she gave me a hug, which was not only an expression of affection, but approval, appreciation, gratitude. Cyndy’s hugs were fierce, a mark of her devotion to and passion for her community, our little town of Claverack, ensconced in our little county of Columbia, and overarching all, our big country.
Cyndy was probably the most patriotic American I’ve ever met, and not in a flag-waving way. She pledged allegiance to the flag like she meant it, because she did, saying it loud enough for her voice to be heard above us slightly embarrassed mumblers. She was an unapologetic Democrat; she believed deeply in a qualitative difference between the major parties—we care about people; they care about money.
Her devotion to people was personal as well as political—her sisters, who carried her through every one of the days of her last months; her mom, whom she brought into the heart of the community in her mom’s last years; her friends, her neighbors, her colleagues, and for some thirty-seven years and beyond, her students. Miss Hall was a music teacher, first at the old Claverack School, and later, Hudson Middle and High School. She was one of those teachers kids grow to love enough to stay connected for years, sometimes decades. If her classes, rehearsals and productions were anything like her County Democratic Committee meetings and rallies, I get it.
There have likely been county chairs who were more efficient, but I am convinced that no one has ever been or will ever be as ebullient or inspiring. She conducted meetings with the enthusiasm of a young child, buttressed by the wisdom of an old pol. There was no refusing her requests for your time or your money, not because she made you feel bad if you didn’t contribute one or the other or both, but because she made you feel good if you did. She made you want to help her save the world, or at least our perfectly imperfect little piece of it.
If all politics really is local, Cyndy Hall knew it in her bones. Her death leaves a hole in the hearts of all of us who loved her, and in her beloved community’s heart.
(A memorial service for Cyndy will be held at Bates & Anderson Redmond & Keeler Funeral Home, 110 Green Street, Hudson, Saturday, August 4, 11 am to 1 pm.)
Photo: “A Year in the Life of Claverack: March 7, 2009″, by John Isaacs