A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: August 12, 2009

Everywhere I go in the Catskills, I pick up brochures, pamphlets, and those shiny rack-cards that seem to be everywhere promoting tourism in our mountains. I picked up a bunch just the other day, on a jeep-ride tour of nearby mountain attractions: new construction, old houses, some ruins, the Hunter bookstore, with lunch at Brio’s.


A Catskill Catalog: August 5, 2009

Here’s how a bit of the local mountain economy worked in 1937.
On July 26 of that year, a cauliflower auction block was opened in Margaretville on the Grange League Federation (G.L.F.) grounds. Cauliflower was once a major cash crop on the northern and eastern slopes of the Catskills where the two branches of the Delaware River originate.
The G.L.F. was created in 1920 through a combination of three farmers’ organizations: the New York State Grange, the Dairymen’s League, and the State Farm Bureau. The G.L.F. had a Margaretville operation just west of Bridge Street on land that is now paved over.


A Catskill Catalog: July 29, 2009

Somewhere in upstate New York, the word camp changes meaning. As a college freshman from the metropolitan area, I was confused by an upstate classmate who spoke of a family camp in the woods, a rustic retreat used to get away from it all. What he called a camp, I called a cottage. To me, camp meant something entirely different.


A Catskill Catalog: July 22, 2009

By Bill Birns
At the high point of Delhi’s Woodland Cemetery, a memorial obelisk to Osman Steele rises. Along the stone wall of the Halcott Cemetery, a blue sign indicates the burial place of Warren Scudder. Steele was the county lawman killed in the line of duty, on August 7, 1845, while conducting a forced sale to raise rent due on Moses Earle’s Dingle Hill farm. Scudder was the leader of the men who shot him.


A Catskill Catalog: July 15, 2009

By Bill Birns
Mention New Kingston to residents of Kingston and receive blank stares, with mutterings of “where’s that?” But shortly after the Revolution, New Kingston offered recovery and opportunity to the people of that battered Hudson River town.


A Catskill Catalog: July 8, 2009

by Bill Birns
July 4, 1776 several farms sat along the banks of the upper Pepacton, as the East Branch of the Delaware was then called. Farmers named DuMond and Von Waggoner, Hendricks and Kittle, Slyter, Green, Yaple and Carpenter made up a little outpost of settlement on the frontier. Similar groupings of farms sat in the Shandaken Mountains along the upper Esopus Creek.


A Catskill Catalog: July 1, 2009

Every organization I’m associated with is obsessed with having a Web site. Well, maybe obsessed is too strong, but every meeting I attend seems to include at least one discussion about developing, maintaining, and improving people’s ability to gain, through the Internet, information deemed important by that organization.


Catskill Catalog: June 24, 2009

Today, the term Yankee refers to the baseball team in the Bronx or, perhaps, to any American abroad, but once the term clearly identified New Englanders. The Red Sox Nation of the six states of New England (can you name them?) must swallow hard and recognize that they were once, eek, Yankees!


A Catskill Catalog: June 17, 2009

My arrival in the mountains and the publication of Alf Evers’ monumental history The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock (Doubleday, 1972) occurred at about the same time, so I have always felt a bond with the author. Alf Evers died in 2004, a month short of his 100th birthday. He was a Catskill Mountain institution.


A Catskill Catalog: June 10, 2009

“Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Bloom!” Those of a certain age will immediately recognize the catchphrase of the character Molly Goldberg, leaning out of her Bronx brownstone kitchen window calling to her neighbor across the air shaft. Molly was played by pioneering comedian Gertrude Berg.
I remember well the television show “The Goldbergs,” one of my favorite early childhood TV watching experiences. My neighbor Bud remembers the show from the radio. Either way, Gertrude Berg was a fixture in American popular culture from the 30s through the 50s. She learned her craft in the Catskills.


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