“America’s Boogeyman”

It was the fall of 1992 the first time that America’s master of supernatural suspense, who set the standard for the wildly popular genre, visited Poughkeepsie. Stephen King, a renowned American author came to the Hudson Valley during the 1992 Vassar College Parents Weekend to visit his oldest son, Joe Hillstrom King. Where else would he stop for a great Italian meal but none other than The Original Coppola’s Restaurant just a few blocks away from Vassar College.

I can recall that foggy ghostly night, where the lights coming in through the restaurant windows cast eerie shadows against the stark white walls. All of a sudden I felt a chill in the air as the door opened to reveal a tall dark-haired man wearing glasses. I held back a shudder as I greeted our guest thinking he looked vaguely familiar. But it wasn’t until he sat down at a table with his wife and son that I realized it was Steven King. He was pleasant enough at first welcoming the customers’ recognition of him. But it got out of hand and a steely look came over him and everyone knew it was time to let him and his family enjoy their meal. And so Stephen King, his wife, Tabitha King and son, Joe Hillstrom King thoroughly enjoyed their meal at Coppola’s.
Joe King graduated from Vassar College in 1995 and followed in his father’s footsteps using the pen name of Joe Hill. Joe Hill wrote the widely read “Heart Shaped Box.” The younger son, Owen King also went to Vassar graduating in 1998 and followed his dad’s footsteps as a writer. But that wasn’t the last time Stephen King came to Poughkeepsie because in 2001 he gave the commencement address at Vassar College and in his speech he exclaimed, ” You invited America’s boogeyman!” On that very day at Coppola’s we all heard the echo of his laugh from a few blocks away and felt a shudder come over our bodies…..