In This Place: March 26, 2014

“No Passengers: This Train is Headed for the (Grave) Yard
by Trish Adams

Most times, significant histor­ical transitions come and go and people don’t notice until years or even decades later that an epochal shift has had a huge impact on their lives and their communities.

That is not the case with the demise of the railroad — and especially its passenger service — among our villages and towns. Indeed, old and young alike seemed acutely aware of the immense role the railroad played in Catskills industries and its quality of life. Nostalgia was rampant before the last passenger train had left the station.


In This Place: March 19, 2014

It’s that time of year again. Mud season? Not quite. No, it’s bragging — uh, tapping — time. The sugar harvest simultaneously evokes nostalgia for the old days, marvel at the wonders of modernization and a fierce fidelity to a tradition which will always require time, patience and, it is hoped, good company.

Shawn McComas, left, brings up another kettle of sap as Joe Duggan and Douglas Cowan stoke up the fire. Jerry Duggan stands by to lend a hand. These boys have tapped several neighborhood maples and conduct their syrup-making operation in the back yard of  the Donald Cowan home. The boys have produced more than a gallon and a half of the sweet product. “Sport” accompanied the boys and seemed to be having as much fun as his young masters. A dog adds much to a group of boys whether they are making maple syrup, roaming the fields or throwing a stick in the home door yard. (From the issue of March 5, 1954)Shawn McComas, left, brings up another kettle of sap as Joe Duggan and Douglas Cowan stoke up the fire. Jerry Duggan stands by to lend a hand. These boys have tapped several neighborhood maples and conduct their syrup-making operation in the back yard of the Donald Cowan home. The boys have produced more than a gallon and a half of the sweet product. “Sport” accompanied the boys and seemed to be having as much fun as his young masters. A dog adds much to a group of boys whether they are making maple syrup, roaming the fields or throwing a stick in the home door yard. (From the issue of March 5, 1954)


In This Place: March 12, 2014

Of Saints and Sinners: St. Patrick’s Day
It’s a wee bit disappointed I am. Not that me pilferings of St. Paddy’s incidentals was an abuse of me time. But I was hoping for some doings of, shall we say, a more “spirited” nature? If it’s research into the Wearing of the Green in these archives you’ll be doing, put on your Sunday go-to-meeting finery, because nary a stain can ya find ‘mongst these temperate proceedings.

Well . . . almost none!


In This Place: March 5, 2014

Changelings: The Lost and Found Column
The theme for this week’s column was serendipitous; my first archive search revealed a story of local troopers in 1932, called out to help find the Lindberg baby, and that got me thinking about children lost closer to home.
In folklore, a “changeling” is an inhuman creature substituted for a human child, stolen by fairies or evil spirits. In earlier western cultures, children with developmental anomalies, aut­ism or deformities could be deemed changelings, a designation that could be a death sentence. I did stumble on a few local cases where children met with changeling-like fates, or at best, bizarre childcare arrangements.


In This Place: February 26, 2014

By Trish Adams
When I promised sappiness this week, I was jumping the gun a little. Maple season is often still going strong in early April. Meanwhile, another great tradition, ice harvesting, had better be done by now or everybody’s butter will melt come May. Huge blocks of ice, “plowed,” sawed and harvested, at 80 pounds a piece, once kept men and horses busy for weeks in the coldest times of year. Snow was no help: it warmed the ice and made it thinner (thus the “scraping” in these excerpts). The enormous energy it took to harvest ice has since been diverted to other chores and is now a diversion at museums like Hanford Mills that preserve our living traditions.