A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: June 2, 2010

In the Catskills, Memorial Day traditionally marked the beginning of the season. Hotels and boarding houses often opened for business, or, at least, opened the winter-shuttered place for air. Summer residents opened the country house. Old acquaintances renewed.


A Catskill Catalog: May 26, 2010

A friend and former student is an engineer with an Ivy League education. “This was a great place to grow up,” he’s said to me, more than once, on visits home to the mountains. His buddy is a successful Catskill Mountain businessman. He says the same thing.


A Catskill Catalog: May 19, 2010

Saturday was Slabsides Day. Open House at John Burroughs’ Hudson Valley retreat is the third Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October. I went.


A Catskill Catalog: May 12, 2010

Lincoln R. Long was a teacher, Methodist clergyman, public-school administrator and state legislator. Born in 1861, Long grew up in Jefferson, over in Schoharie County, and taught, preached, or administered schools, at various times, in Sidney, Callicoon, Hancock, New Paltz, Walden, Kingston, and Margaretville. In Margaretville he served, first, as Methodist pastor, then as high school principal, and, finally as district school superintendent.


A Catskill Catalog: May 5, 2010

Trivia quiz. Category: American History.
1. When George Washington took the oath of office as our first president, who swore him in?
2. The 1776 Continental Congress in Philadelphia appointed a Committee of Five to draw up the Declaration of Independence. John Adams represented Massachusetts; Ben Franklin, Pennsylvania; Roger Sherman, Connecticut and Thomas Jefferson, Virginia. Who was the member representing the Province of New York?


A Catskill Catalog: April 28, 2010

The prototype of the smart, tough upstate operator has to be Robert Livingston, a Scots immigrant who arrived in New York Harbor in 1674, 20 years old and eager to make a New-World fortune. This hardworking immigrant, in a few short decades, made the greatest fortune, and sired the grandest family, in New York Province.


A Catskill Catalog: April 21, 2010

Once there was a town called Eminence.


A Catskill Catalog: April 14, 2010

How can a brook be dry? Isn’t a brook, by its very nature, wet. A drive up Dry Brook in the August heat of a dry summer day will reveal long stretches of baked gravel in the streambed, but, still, there is water in the brook – it’s just, temporally, a narrow brook. So how come we call that stream Dry Brook?


A Catskill Catalog: April 7, 2010

The first produce of the Catskills to achieve commercial value were seeds of the balsam fir. That’s right, evergreen seeds. Seems that landscape gardening was all the rage in 18th-century England.


A Catskill Catalog: March 31, 2010

When I was a kid, I had a record – vinyl, 33 and a third, long-playing – called “Great Moments in History,” or something like that. (I also had a complete set of small plastic statuettes of the 34 Presidents of the United States, but that’s another story.)


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