Text | Erin Vanderberg
The “Lou” behind Lou’s Tube’s is Mary-Louise Lothian. A forty-odd-year resident of the Cochecton, NY area, Lou and her husband Bill started their business from the trunk of their car during the summer of 1971.
“Necessity was the mother of invention,” says Lou. Back then, people were living dangerously, floating down the rapids with no tubes or life jackets. “It was a different time. Woodstock had just happened.” She sold hot dogs then, too, and as the only vendor for miles, the Lothian business model was an instant success.
For six bucks, up a dollar for the first time in Lou’s Tubes history to cover insurance overhead, you get a large truck tire inner tube (“lemonade tubes” as Lou calls them), a life-jacket and free reign to take the tube anywhere—though you’d be hard-pressed to find better rapids than Skinner’s Falls right outside her door.
Lou is a busy woman. She is a retired art teacher out of Sayreville, NJ, wife of a traffic engineer, a mother to three grown boys and a grandmother. She is the proprietor of not only an inner tube livery, but a bed and breakfast, two antique stores and a small Christmas shop.
The Lothians have spent summers in the area since 1970. They moved around a bit, settling for several years in Milanville, PA at the Hocker House (featured in the Fall/Winter 2009 edition of Our Country Home published by The River Reporter). In 1985, they purchased a small A-frame hunting lodge across the river. Over the course of 15 years, they turned it into a large Victorian-style home so majestic that people started knocking on the door, assuming it was a bed & breakfast—and necessity was the mother of invention once again. At today’s Lothian House B & B, the original cabin is central to the structure, mainly as a utility room, but its A-frame shape is unrecognizable from the outside.
Lou does very little advertising, since she likes a weekend off from time to time. And she’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a continental breakfast they serve.
“I’m not a morning person,” she laughs. “I’m not cooking eggs for anyone at 7 a.m.”
41 Skinners Falls Road West, Cochecton, NY 12726
(Halfway between Narrowsburg and Callicoon, just off Route 97.
Follow signs to Skinners Falls.)
Open from Memorial to Labor Day. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Closed for rain or high water.