A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: May 7, 2008

The first settlers in the Ulster County Catskills discovered on their properties outcroppings and ledges of a hard bluish-gray stone they soon found could be mined and cut and put to a variety of uses around the farm.


A Catskill Catalog: April 30, 2008

Often, when I would run into the late Kenny Miller, I’d ask him for the Satchel Paige story. Kenny was the longtime proprietor of Bussy’s Store, on the main corner in Margaretville, who served several terms as mayor of that village. He was also a baseball player.


A Catskill Catalog: April 23, 2008

Jackie Robinson Day is an every April 15th celebration of the man who broke the color barrier in baseball. This year marks the 60th anniversary of that first season in Brooklyn, when Jackie stoically took the curses, slurs and verbal brick-bats hurled at him by opposing players and fans alike.


A Catskill Catalog: April 9, 2008

The congressional district on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is known as the Silk Stocking District. Now, clearly, that nickname reflects the wealth of the people of that neighborhood, but it also suggests a congressional district that has a history and an identity beyond the identity of the particular person holding office, a district that exists to be represented by a series of elected representatives over time. Kind of like basic democracy: the district exists before the representative.


A Catskill Catalog: April 2, 2008

To trout fishers, the Catskills are the home country, the old sod, and the reverently referred-to birthplace. Words like Beaverkill, Willowemac, Esopus and East Branch are uttered almost like prayers, the names of the steams where trout and dry fly first made their American acquaintance at the beginning of our national life.