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: 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.

A Catskill Catalog: Dec. 3, 2008

“Shop local!” we’re told, particularly this holiday season with a world recession squeezing local economies. We want to help, want to do the right thing, want our holiday dollars to circulate in our mountain towns. But we also want to buy Christmas and Hanukah gifts worth giving. Happily, many regional retail outlets now stock Catskill Mountain themed books, books that just might be the perfect holiday gifts this year.