Highway 120 in Westchester County, NY

A little local “fun with highways” as I spend Thanksgiving with family in Chappaqua, just north of New York City.

We have noted Chappaqua in the past as the “home of CatSynth and Hillary Clinton.” It is a relatively small but affluent town in the middle of Westchester County. You can read more about it here, including its noted school system and famous residents.

Our main road is NY 120 which starts in the nearby community of Millwood (which is actually part of the same town), and continues southeast through the town center of Chappaqua. The main intersection is famously confusing and dangerous and years of trying to install such safety conveniences as a traffic light have met with local resistance. Apparently a traffic light would ruin the character of the town (in a way that car accidents apparently do not). 120 also crosses the Saw Mill Parkway, our nearby excuse for a highway, and the main commuter rail line that passes through town to New York City.

From there, 120 works its way southeast, through Armonk (one-time home of contributor whaleshaman of JellyPizza), the Westester County Airport (which I have never used), Purchase (home of a state university campus) and eventually the town of Rye on the Long Island Sound (home of the Playland amusement park). It's not really the most efficient way to cross Westchester, that's what our freeways including aptly named Cross Westchester Expressway are for, but that's a topic for another day…

2 thoughts on “Highway 120 in Westchester County, NY

  1. I didn't realize that Chappaqua was so far south (who knows where I thought it was). But I never enjoyed driving through Westchester County when I lived in Connecticut. Crowded? OMG. And agressive drivers. I hope you had a great holiday!

  2. dear luna & amar…

    i am sorry to hear you are parted this holiday. but you'll be glad, i hope, to hear i got to spend some time in atlanta with my grand furbabies, pablo and LUNA!

    that's right, but my luna is a blue-eyed, sable furred, kinda snooty siamese. i took a few photos [not very good, they weren't up for cooperating] and i hope to get around to posting them next week on the ark and wcb.

    we also tickled and played with lots of lovable kitties awaiting adoption at the local petsmart. BWAH! i wanted to take all of them home.

    now…route 120. i know it pretty well, though most of the time my friends & i would be turning off it onto bear ridge road on our way to pleasantville high school [byram hills didn't have a high school yet]. if it was a really bad snow & ice morning, we'd have to go through chappaqua instead of the treacherously steep BRR.

    sigh – this next part's sad. when i was in 4th grade [armonk], 2 of my precious cats actually died within months of each other in chappaqua! i can still remember to this day how heartbroken each event left me feeling.

    the first [whose name was just "kitty"] was a baby about 4 weeks old, and enjoying his first chaperoned sunny spring afternoons out on the back stoop and terrace of our house, with his mother ["cindy"] and 4 siblings. suddenly around the corner of the house came "bonesy," the neighbor's ancient and grumpy black lab, lumbering along at a pretty good clip, with only one thing on his mind — kitten killing.

    needless to say, he grabbed kitty and shook him around and i was screaming and trying to get his mouth open, the remaining kittens were dashing into the house, while my mother dropped a cement block on his big old head. that dazed him enough so we could get the kitten away from him, and he staggered home more miserable than ever.

    my mother drove like a madwoman over 120 [more commonly called king street, then] to the chappaqua vet [where 120 meets 117], while i held the wounded baby cat on my lap. sadly, he was too injured to survive, and the vet put him to "sleep." that was the first time i learned about that. of course, we were shattered by this experience, and somehow bonesy knew not to wander over to our house anymore. naturally i wanted to kill him, maybe he could tell and stayed far away from me. yipes, that was almost too much for this city kid's first year in the country. i was ready to go back to washington heights and face scary people on the subway.

    later that spring, we returned to the vet in chappaqua to have cindy, the mama cat, spayed. she never awoke — apparently, anesthesia for cats was not very advanced and this was not an uncommon event. i cried for 2 weeks, then couldn't cry anymore and refused to talk about it. i think my parents were relieved and believed i was "over it." after writing this, i don't think i'm over it yet!

    fortunately, one of the surviving kittens hadn't yet been adopted out, so we kept him. his name was "barsoap," because he was a tabby with white paws [like a bar of soap!]. he lived to a ripe old age, and he grew big and fierce enough that he wanted to kill that poor old beast bonesy, too. we'd all sort of grrr-r-r-r at him when we saw him arthritically limping on the road or in the woods.

    so, as long as roads and chappaqua are a topic, right around where [url=http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Whippoorwill+Rd,+Chappaqua,+NY+10514,+USA&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title]whippoorwill road[/url] meets [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NY_117]route 117[/url] [right up the road from the clintons' street, i believe], back in the fall of [egads] 1963, friends and i had a smashup driving after school from pleasantville [where i went to high school] to mt. kisco's fox & sutherland, to buy logarithmic graph paper for physics class. i was the only one injured [big knee gash – ugh] and horace greeley hs [did you go there?] was just letting out, so there was a real oohing and ahhing from the rubber necking, gathering crowd.

    i was real happy when the ambulance arrived to whisk me off with dramatic sirens wailing to mt. kisco hospital for stitches. nobody wore seatbelts back then, and i don't recall them even being in cars at all. so now some cold and damp days, if bonesy were still around, he'd find me limping along too. grrr-r-r-r.

    eventually i got to know a lot of kids from hghs and spent some time sowing wild oats in that neck of the westchester woods with them, when we weren't knee deep in football & basketball rivalry, that is. i also went to the youth group and sang in the choir at the congregational church on orchard ridge road throughout high school.

    there you have it, roads, cats, chappaqua…

    i hope you get home soon to your beloved luna. you've both got some packing to do and adventures to look forward to on the next exciting journey of your lives.

    thanks, too, for remembering us. that felt nice.

    ps: next time you're back east, watch out for my mother, who still lives in armonk and still drives king street & 117 like a madwoman.

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