In This Place: Stories from the News Archives by Trish Adams

In This Place: October 15, 2014

Mountain Italiano
The fate of that famous Italian Columbus — whether you consider him a daring explorer, an exploitative plunderer or a mixture of both — is well known. So instead I thought we could look at the fortunes of—and Catskills attitudes towards—the Italians who centuries later, followed in Columbus’ wake and wound up making a home in our hills.

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In This Place: October 8, 2014

Fiddlin’ Around
This weekend’s Fiddlers! festival at the Roxbury Arts Group celebrates its 21st year in a perform­ance space named for one of the most renowned and most enduring of our mountain fiddlers, Hilt Kelly. Here’s a write-up of a little get together, when by my rec­koning Hilt would have been 15, probably the same age as the kids he entertained. Hope he got in on that gingerbread and ice cream.
February 7, 1941
Leighton Scudder entertained a dozen schoolmates at a party at his home on Saturday even­ing. To start things off, Leighton took everybody for an old-fashioned hay-ride, bells and everything. Upon their return, square dancing was in order, with music furnished by Hilton Kelly and Amos Kelder. Finally the young folks gathered around the fireplace and roasted hot dogs and topped off with home-made ice cream and gingerbread. Sounds like some party!

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In This Place: October 1, 2014

Reading the Leaves
Imagine the challenge of writing about the glorious fall foliage in the days long, long, long before process color. We’ve all been dazzled by Editor Dick Sanford’s foliage shots — before around 1998, this paper had to rely on the power of the pen to drive people to leaf-peeping frenzy. In the earliest years of the paper it almost seems as if the descriptions of fall’s glory are written for the hardy deni­zens who toiled here.

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In This Place: Sept. 24, 2014

Cauliflower Fever

This weekend we celebrate a crop that once upon a time — for decades actually — all but sustained our farms singlehandedly. Diane Galusha aptly titled her monograph on the subject “When Cauliflower was King” — the definitive treatment of the progress and decline of the cauliflower industry in our area.


In This Place: September 17, 2014

In the Family Way
September 14 marks the 135th birthday of the legendary and often controversial birth control activist Margaret Sanger. In addition to doing jail time for dispensing contraceptives illegally and later founding the nation’s first reproductive health clinics, which grew into Planned Par­­enthood Federation of America (PPFA), she was also largely responsible for connecting Kath­arine McCormick and her fortune to the researcher who created the birth control pill. She died in 1966, one year after birth control was declared legal for married couples by the Supreme Court. She was educated at Claverack College just south of us in Columbia County.

But rather than tapping into the controversial issues surrounding Sanger, I wanted to glimpse instead into how — or if — family planning topics came up in our archives. Of contraception, contraceptives or even condoms, our archives are silent. Even the term “abortion” usually refers to some­thing you inoculate cows against, until the new laws in the 1970s provoked heated debate about the procedure for women. Even pregnancy is overwhelming reported in reference to livestock, not humans.


In This Place: September 10, 2014

911 — No Emergency
A generation ago, everyone could recall where they were when they heard that John Kennedy had been shot. Those of us here now will always remember where we were 13 years ago on September 11. I was on a bus from New Jersey, on the way to my job in the city. We turned back, with the view of the Twin Towers smoldering in the distance, like two ugly birthday candles.

For our grandparents, it was December 7, 1941 — a day “that will live in infamy,” as FDR told a nation stunned by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And yet, human resil­ience is such, that we march on, wake up, make babies, go to work, can vegetables. As a speciies, we are hard-wired in our determination to live.

I know twin girls who were born on September 12, and it always made me feel for folks born on September 11, who must, for the rest of their lives, share their birth date with that terrible conflagration. So, this September 11, I thought we could just focus on some ordinary good times. Nothing spectacular or earth-shattering. Just some happy news, via the Catskill Mountain News, all published on September 11.

These clips date from the September 11, 1953 edition and (calves contest) 1931.


In This Place: Sept. 3, 2014

Administer One Migraine with that Methodology

When covering the Roxbury school board for the News a few years ago, I was astounded by the com­plexity and challenges of school administration these days, from the legion of regulations, the mon­strous spools of red tape and the delicate balancing act between students, teachers, staff and lead­ership. Many’s the night I went home at 10 p.m. with my head spinning, wrestling to get it down right while I still remembered the explanations patiently tendered by administrators and board members.

Back in the day, however, there were hardly any “rules” and the super’s challenges were different but perhaps just as great. Legendary educational leader Lincoln R. Long here weighs in on cows, “creative” mathematics methods, and the fine art of hiring teachers. While handling contracts, tenure and civil service law these days is tough, in Long’s day, administrators and teachers alike faced a veritable free-for-all come hiring time:


In This Place: August 27, 2014

New Schools for a New Year

Hard as it may be for some of today’s students to believe, their 75-year-old schools were, at their birth, centerpieces of community pride. Built in the midst of the Great Depression by FDR’s “New Deal” Works Progress Administration, they were shining exam­ples of what has become a dishonored creed in many quarters: that government exists to build infrastructure and to invest mightily in its communities. The construction of these schools brought dozens of jobs at decent wages to tens of thousands of towns and villages across America, including Andes, Roxbury and Margaretville, where the new schools were a cause of com­­munity-wide celebration and reverence.

Let’s start with Andes! The following story was printed as a very long caption to the photo (above right). Note that there were still schools in Shaver­town, Pleasant Valley, Union Grove, Shaver Hollow, Cabin Hill and Dingle Hill.


In This Place: August 20, 2014

Who’s the Fairest of Them All? Margaretville, Once Upon a Time . . .

by Trish Adams

This week I’ll keep commentary to a minimum, in order to share as much possible of the Margaret­ville Fair as she existed in her heyday, 100 or so years ago. Horse racing may have long since yielded to the demolition derby, but the News archives will always bear testament that Margaretville sure knew how to put on a fair, back in the day. Note how the word “huckster” simply meant a seller of goods, and had not yet acquired the pejorative ring it has today.
From the July 26, 1912 front page.From the July 26, 1912 front page.


In This Place: August 13, 2014

It’s Fair Time!

Looking back at the history of the Delaware County Fair decades ago, I was surprised to learn that what seems to us now as an ironclad tradition almost went under, more than once! It was also fun to read the attractions, as decades went by, to see what became antiquated and what never grew old — namely rides and livestock! Eventually horse races were replaced by “motorized” amusements such as demolition derbies, but the horses continued to hold their own well into the forties.

Feb. 14, 1913 — End of County Fair
A meeting is called for next Wednesday to take definite action in regard to either doing away with the county Fair property and discontinuing exhibitions here, or determining upon some course to resuscitate the society. It's about time a spirit of enterprise manifested towards the local fair. Next Wednesday will decide the fate of the fair. Local business men will have to come to the rescue or the institution will be sacrificed to those who have claims against the society's real estate. This isn't saying the farmers don't know where their interests lie.
Someone has got to get behind the fair or its fate is sealed.—Delhi Gazette.


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