A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 27, 2010

Cider season is October 7 to November 7. Bob Hubbell told me that. I never realized cider-making time had such particular boundaries, a generally agreed-upon beginning and end: not the 6th but the 7th. We learn.


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 20, 2010

Back in 1763, the first European settlers along the upper east branch of the Delaware River walked west from Hurley, the thriving stone-house colonial town on the Esopus, west of Kingston.


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 13, 2010

When I was in college, the American writer Stephen Crane was something of a cult hero. It was the ’60s, the burgeoning of a new youth culture that was hungry for stories of rebellious individuality among other young people of other times. Stephen Crane, a 19th-century writer who lived fast and died young, filled the bill.


A Catskill Catalog: Oct. 6, 2010

In March 1937, the Catskill Mountain News reported that, “the last vestige of the Pocantico fire” was removed, when an old maple that once shaded the hotel was finally cut down.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 29, 2010

“Nothing helps the life of a town more than a good hotel,” Clarke Sanford wrote in the pages of the Catskill Mountain News, after a prosperous 1908 summer tourist season. For the first quarter of the 20th century, that good hotel, the Pocantico Inn, and the Village of Margaretville, were, in the minds of many, practically one and the same.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 22, 2010

You don’t have to live in the Catskills for long to figure out that autumn really begins sometime in the middle of August. Labor Day is a fiction. Oh, the honoring of those among us who toil with calloused hands is real; it’s the idea of summer’s end that stretches the truth. Our mountain end-of-season cook-outs are attended with a sweater.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 15, 2010

Dolores and Sonny Somelofski sold the Tremperskill Country Store last week, a real estate transaction that marks an interesting milestone in Catskill Mountain life.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 8, 2010

Let’s face it; there is only one Catskill Mountain town, village, or hamlet that has instant name recognition. Get not-too-far-away from home and say you’re from the Catskills. You sometimes get blank stares. “Near Woodstock,” you say.

“Oh, yeah.” They get it.


A Catskill Catalog: Sept. 1, 2010

On first glance, opera might seem, I don’t know, a bit unusual for the Catskills. Somehow, not down-home, a bit highbrow, too civilized, at home in the Berkshires, maybe, but the Catskills? Yet, Phoenicia’s “Festival of the Voice” was a rousing success, three days in August celebrating the art of singing, held in church sanctuaries, playhouse and park.


A Catskill Catalog: Aug. 18, 2010

“I don’t know much about Rondout,” I said to a friend. We’d been talking about the Strand, the riverside section of Kingston.


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