Bob Ferris and Bob Callahan grew up in the same neighborhoods in Queens, but they didn't know each other. They went to the same high school, Manhattan Art and Design, but at different times. Along came the Korean War. Bob Ferris left his job and went into the Army. Bob Callahan replaced Bob Ferris at Gertz Department Store, but he still didn't know him.

After the war, another fellow who worked at Gertz, also named Bob, offered Bob Callahan a ticket to the ballet. Seems he'd planned to attend with a friend, but couldn't go and wondered if Callahan wanted to use the ticket. He accepted and that night at the ballet Bob Callahan finally met Bob Ferris.

Shortly thereafter the three Bob's were out with another friend one evening and she exclaimed, "There're too many Bob's here!" and proceeded to name Bob Callahan, Bip after a lyric in a song from the musical, Company. The name stuck.

Bip spent a lot of years as the Fashion Coordinator for Alexander's in New York City. Bob worked as a designer for the Navy, even designing their PX stores. He also free-lanced as a designer creating packaging for Godiva and Perugina Chocolates. In the 70's they discovered Columbia County and purchased a weekend home in Philmont.

Bob Ferris had a dream, to open a restaurant. Growing tired of the city, they made Philmont home and opened a restaurant in Rhinebeck called, "Bips". "Bips" was a lovely place illuminated by a huge fireplace and candlelight. Bip also opened a boutique, selling women's clothes, kitchen items, gifts and antiques.

Four years later, when the building was sold, "Bips" closed and Bip and Bob opened "The Pavillion" in Hudson. They looked all over the county, but as Bip tells it, "We fell in love with Hudson because of the architecture and the promise it held." Bip & Bob were early pioneers here in the Hudson Renaissance. They became active members of S.P.O.U.T. Bob was a guiding force for the business organization, a man of vision.

One Friday evening several years ago I was having an end of the week libation with Bip & Bob at the Charleston. It was a lovely June evening and the front door was open. Over our conversation, we heard an unusual sound, the sound of a distant drum and horn. Our curiosity propelled us to the front door. Outside on Warren Street the Flag Day Parade was passing in review. A small group of men, Elks Club members, perhaps 15 or 20 of them were marching up the street carrying flags. They were valiantly struggling to keep alive the tradition of honoring our flag and Flag Day. It took less than a minute for the procession to pass. Their gallant effort was both heart warming and sad in the same moment.

We went back inside and it was then I first saw that 'something special' in Bob Ferris. Bob was very much effected by this tiny parade, "This is wrong," he said. "Flag Day should be special, it should be a great celebration. We need to do something about this." For the next couple of hours, with pen in hand, Bob poured his vision, his ideas out onto a stack of cocktail napkins. It was an extraordinary thing to witness.

Due to ill health, Bob knew he could not possibly realize this vision alone, so he took his ideas to Craig Thorn. Bob infected Craig with his vision. Bob had a way of doing that. Craig loved the idea. What followed was a great deal of hard work, but Hudson's Flag Day Parade became a reality and remains a grand and glorious celebration, attended now by thousands of people. All because of the germ of a great idea was allowed to grow. It shows what can be done when one man allows himself to be moved by his vision. It shows what selfless effort can do for the good of the entire community. Bob Ferris was that sort of good, selfless man. Maybe one day they'll get around to calling it the Bob Ferris/Craig Thorn/Elks Flag Day Parade.

Bob Ferris loved to laugh. He was a superb cook because he adored good food. He loved Fred Astaire movies because they made him happy and because Bob himself was a great dancer. Bob did not like horror films. He didn't like things sad. He loved good jokes, loved to tell them, loved to hear them. He relished the good things in life; he lived for things happy. It was impossible to have a conversation with Bob and not smile, not laugh, not walk away feeling lighter, feeling happy about yourself, happy about life. Bob had that effect on people because that's how he chose to live his life.

We lost Bob Ferris this past November. It is a great loss.

I asked Bip the other day how long he and Bob had been together and he said, "More years than I admit to being alive!" I laughed. Bob would have laughed, too. When I think of Bob Ferris I always see his delightful face. The glistening, mischievous eyes of an eight year old boy filled with wonder on Christmas morning, the crooked grin that quickly exploded into a wide, happy smile and the laugh, that full soaring expression of joy at it's purest. I can hear it now; perhaps you can, too? Thank you, Bob, thank you for what you gave us.

We'll talk next time, From The Road.

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