By Judy Garrison
Having heard raves about Peter’s Andes Roundtable presentation, with visuals, a few years ago, of his life in retirement, I decided I wanted to hear it all for myself in a Gazette interview. Peter, Linda and I chatted comfortably one recent late afternoon in their airy sunroom overlooking the swimming/boating pond and the luminous intersecting mountain ranges beyond. Familiarized with the region from 1970’s summer experiences while living with a group of friends in Highmount, they purchased their log home on Crescent Hill in 2002 and soon made it their permanent abode. The couple, readying for a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in early July, both individually and together radiate humor, enthusiasm, and appreciation for this setting and the life they are leading. From the get-go Peter set the theme by characterizing his retirement activities as lifelong interests that found new or expanded expression.
Sports: Peter’s childhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn was, by his telling, golden: playing ball on the street until nightfall with a gang of kids. The idyll was marred, however, when the Brooklyn Dodgers decamped to the West Coast, a betrayal that Peter took especially hard. He was always involved with sports: playing, coaching or watching. Tennis was his main participatory sport. A stint coaching his daughter Jaimee’s Woodmere soccer team led to a Division I championship; he also coached his son Roger’s team. After a few years’ break he coached girl’s soccer (ages 10-18); the team won L.I. and State Championships and competed in Italy. He and Linda took their pre-teen kids for 3 ½ weeks to see the World Cup in Italy. The whole family loved the experience. When Peter realized he was not himself going to excel at soccer he got involved in pickleball. Since moving to the Catskills he has evangelized for pickleball, started groups including a longstanding one in Andes, played regularly, competed in and won in tournaments. Peter credits Linda with being a superior all-around woman athlete in track and field, field hockey, tennis, and acrobatic cheerleading. He proudly refers to her 7’11” standing broad jump as a teen. Even after her stroke she has continued to play pickleball with vigor. Their home is headquarters for many who enjoy watching NCAA, World Cup and the full round of tennis competitions.
Music: Following his mother’s lead, Peter played the violin in elementary school, then took up the trombone when he realized band class was cooler than orchestra. Later he played back-up fiddle with friends at contra dances. Despite his liking for old timey Appalachian music, he acknowledged he wasn’t very good. But in retirement Peter had time to work on his musical skills, and credits Ed McGee’s helpful encouragement and the Amazing Slowdowner app with raising his skill level. He played with the Tremperskill Boys for a time and also the Phoenicia Picking Circle. Now he, Ed and others of the Godforsaken Strong Band play alternate Thursday evenings at Wayside Cider.
Boating: Living in the 5 Towns on the south shore of Long Island, Peter and Linda enjoyed sailing in the bay and around the Island. Once up here, after building a rowboat,* he developed a craving for joint ownership of a sailboat. Thanks to an ad on Craigslist he co-bought a 24’ sailboat with a partner he has enjoyed getting to know. Originally moored at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, the boat is now docked in Kingston. If the impulse strikes, he, Linda, and friends sometimes spontaneously depart for Kingston around 4 pm, delight in a couple of desultory late-afternoon hours of sailing on the Hudson, and then dine at one of the Rondout restaurants.
Education and Work: Peter’s work history doesn’t specifically carry over to retirement, but of course is interesting to hear about if one is to know Peter. Following up undergrad courses taught by legendary professors in English Lit at the University of Buffalo, Peter started a Ph.D. Program at Berkeley. But neither that nor a Marshall McLuhan style communications course at Stanford fit the bill for him. So he entered a Masters in Social Work program which led to an 8-year career in a children’s home on L.I., first as social worker, then as director. Linda had embarked on a Masters in Library Science degree, also at Stanford, and early in their marriage was working full-time. When the children arrived 10 years later, she worked part-time for a while. Seeking higher income Peter joined his father’s business in Greenpoint, which produced store interiors and counters. He developed nascent business skills and did well, but when Ames went bankrupt they lost the chain’s contracts and it was time to re-invent yet again. Goosebusters, his new venture, might have seemed a lark at first, but it met a real need by ridding properties of geese intruders, and provided a significant income for the Ledermans from 1998-2003. You’d best have Peter tell it, but with no investment or original expertise, Peter would borrow a neighbor’s dog and the dog would do what came naturally: chase the geese—huge producers of noisome greasy excrement—off of school, business and private properties for a fee, a fee that kept on renewing.
Peter and Linda (she is both a Trustee and volunteer with the Andes Library which benefits from her professional background; and she is, unsurprisingly, an avid reader) have no trouble filling their days. In addition to all of the aforementioned activities, swimming in the pond, and tending their garden and property, they travel, including visits to their married son, Roger, who has a doctorate in Operations Research and works for Amazon, and their three young children: and to their married daughter, Jaime, who is an attorney with a doctorate in Urban Planning and their baby. They all live on the west coast. Peter and Linda are looking forward to hosting their children and grandchildren this summer.
Peter is starting to re-evaluate his heretofore kinetic existence. He is beginning to be comfortable with “not doing much,” he says. His contemplative side, always there (read the below to witness his fruitful inner life) seems to be burgeoning as he wonders aloud, What is Next?
If you’d like to increase your familiarity with the mind of Peter, may I suggest borrowing his An Old Man Squawks (a collection of his 2016-2018 blogs) and Coaching Blues: the Joys and Landmines of Youth Coaching (which I look forward to dipping into) from the Andes Library.
*Search the Andes Gazette website for “Peter Lederman” (andesgazette.net) where you will find one article on boat building and another on Pickleball.~