Barb Dulski

Barb Dulski

Barb heard the ‘magic whistles’

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By Tim Hadac

Editor

Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound

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I first encountered Barb Dulski in 2011, when I joined the “I Grew Up in Clearing” nostalgia group on Facebook.

As a lifelong Clearing resident and member of the storied Hill family (of Hill Hardware fame), Barb had quite a bit of neighborhood history to share, and she did so with good cheer—chuckling over years gone by with old-timers in the group and giving younger members a depth of understanding of the community they shared.

Later that same year, she became an administrator of the group after its founder, Laura Lutz DuBois, passed away.

CRRNH BarbDulski 083023

Barb Dulski

Barb always impressed me as a decent person, a nice woman. But I only knew her online, so I’ll lean on her nephew, rock musician Ed Hill (of Ed Hill & The Unusuals fame) to help me out and paint the picture a little more clearly.

“Barb was an amazing woman: mother, daughter, aunt, godmother, grandmother and just an amazing friend to so many different people,” Ed told me. “If you knew her, you loved her. Barb was a mother figure to so many of us, and she taught us so much about life and how to love one another.”

As you can guess by now, Barb passed away recently. A link to her obituary (which includes a list of family members) is posted here.

“She loved Clearing and was huge on family,” Ed added. “She helped a lot of the neighborhood kids. She was kind of everyone’s mom. She was just one of the nicest people you could ever meet, not a mean bone in her body.”

Barb lived in the same house built by her great grandfather, George Hill, not far from the street that bears his name.

“Life will never be the same without her,” Ed Hill continued. “I will miss her until my dying day. And every time I hear the song Puff The Magic Dragon, I’ll be thinking of her, as well as Grammy, Grampy and Auntie Crys.”

Without a doubt, Clearing lost one of its best residents when it lost Barb.

One final thing: I learned the term MagicWhistles from Barb. It’s what she and others called the prolonged squealing sound made by steel wheels grinding against the tracks in the Belt Railway’s Clearing Yard—especially on warm summer nights when atmospheric conditions were just right.

Some folks find that sound annoying. Others, especially folks who grew up in Clearing (like Barb), find it comforting and even soothing because it sounds like—well, it sounds like home.

Sounds like home to me, too.

So as I finish writing this, I see it’s 10:45 at night–a warm summer night. And yes, there’s no wind and atmospheric conditions are just right. So I’m getting in my car, rolling down all the windows and driving slowly along 65th Street, from Harlem east to Lavergne and back again.

And as I do, I’ll think of Barb Dulski, of Laura Lutz DuBois and all those who were fortunate enough to grow up right here in the neighborhood, to be the children who heard the magic whistles, Clearing’s own music of the night.

Mark your calendar

  • If you’re looking for some great bargains, head over to the west parking lot of Kennedy High School, near 57th and Narragansett, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 and attend Sell-a-Bration, the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch’s twice-yearly community rummage sale. Free admission, plus food and beverages will be available for purchase.
  • Ed Tylka and crew at Ridge Funeral Home, 6620 W. Archer, will host their annual cookout for first responders from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 in Ridge’s parking lot. This is a nice gesture for one of Garfield Ridge’s oldest and most respected businesses. It’s a good example for other businesses to follow.
  • Bingo players, mark your calendars! A “super bingo” is set for Sunday, Sept. 10 at the St. Rene Goupil campus of Two Holy Martyrs Parish, 6340 S. New England. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and games start at 1 p.m. Admission is $20. For more information, call (773) 767-1523.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

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