A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 18, 2009

So, I’m driving to Albany, going to see a movie – there are a lot of high quality, grown-up movies out right now, but, living in the Catskills, you have to travel a bit to see them. I decide to take a cross-country route to the Capital District, looking for a little mountain adventure on a gray, ground-hog’s-seen-his-shadow late winter day.

A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 11, 2009

In the late 1800s, “the best known and most reliable guide” in the Catskills, was James W. Dutcher of the Big Indian-Oliverea Valley. So stated the Commemerative Biographical Record of Ulster County, published in 1896.

A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 4, 2009

I was amused a few years back by a cover story in New York magazine. The August 2003 article was about the Catskills’ second-home real estate boom that followed the horrible events of September 2001, when hundreds of New Yorkers discovered the Catskills and many bought homes and acreage here in the mountains.

A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 28, 2009

In 1883, one of the richest men in America bought 60 Catskill Mountain acres to build a summer colony for his extended family. Charles Fleischmann was a 32-year-old master distiller and yeast production superintendent on the estate of an Austrian nobleman when he first visited the United States in 1866. He came to New York City to attend the wedding of his sister Josephine.

A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 21, 2009

When the first January inauguration took place in Washington, D.C., this part of the Catskills was roiling in resentment, anger, and neighbor-against-neighbor ill feeling. It was January 20, 1937.

A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 14, 2009

Zena R. Travis. I must have walked by an inscription of that name thousands of times. You may have walked by it, as well. Her name appears on a commemorative plaque in the front hall of the Roxbury school, of the Margaretville school, of the Stamford school, of the Gilboa school, of the Windham school…

A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 7, 2009

A banker in Cincinnati is on the phone with a banker from another part of the country. After finishing their business, the Cincinnati banker asks, “Is there anything else we can do for you?”

A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 30, 2008

A good friend of mine, long a stalwart member of the community, first came to the Catskills on summer vacations with his parents in the ’50s. He’d stay at John and Martha Hewitt’s Denver Valley farm, boarding in the big farmhouse for a week or two, living the country life of fresh air and outdoor exercise.

A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 17, 2008

Mention the Catskills to someone from somewhere else and, often, they think first of the Sullivan County Borscht Belt. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the big hotels down by Monticello and Liberty seemed to be the epicenter of the mountains. Yet, the Sullivan County Catskills seem downright “hilly” to residents of the high peaks. One of my sons came home, one time, from college complaining of a classmate from Monticello who claimed the Catskills as home. “That’s not the Catskills,” he sneered, defensive of his home turf.

A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 10, 2008

What’s on Oprah’s iPod? Future historians will undoubtedly seek to understand the world we live in today through the music that has become so much a part of each of our lives. Music opens the world to us. It can also open the past.
Here is a song that originated here in the mountains in response to the August 1845 shooting of Under-Sheriff Osman Steele on Dingle Hill in Andes.

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