A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

A Catskill Catalog: March 25, 2009

Sonny Somelofski runs the Tremperskill Country Store, one of the few general stores left in the mountains – every little hamlet and valley used to have one – and a beacon for Catskill Mountain fishermen from April to October. The store was originally a one-room schoolhouse, it’s an old building, and a few years ago Sonny and a friend put on a new roof.


A Catskill Catalog: March 18, 2009

I got to thinking about Abe Savetman the other day when the President of the United States was talking about the importance of setting high educational standards for our young people. Abe did not live in the Catskills for very long, but, in one mountain public school, he went a long way toward establishing a standard of excellence that young people have pursued, now, for over 20 years.


A Catskill Catalog: March 11, 2009

I live in Melvin Mayes’ house. He built it himself in 1925, raised his family here, and sold it when he moved to Florida in the early 1980s. The house changed hands twice before I bought it in 1996. I like to point out that, I believe, it was the only house sold in Fleischmanns that year.


A Catskill Catalog: March 4, 2009

A friend and former colleague is the principal of the Reginald Bennett Elementary School. That’s the school in the Town of Olive, up on the knoll behind the Onteora High School-Middle School on Route 28.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 18, 2009

So, I’m driving to Albany, going to see a movie – there are a lot of high quality, grown-up movies out right now, but, living in the Catskills, you have to travel a bit to see them. I decide to take a cross-country route to the Capital District, looking for a little mountain adventure on a gray, ground-hog’s-seen-his-shadow late winter day.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 11, 2009

In the late 1800s, “the best known and most reliable guide” in the Catskills, was James W. Dutcher of the Big Indian-Oliverea Valley. So stated the Commemerative Biographical Record of Ulster County, published in 1896.


A Catskill Catalog: Feb. 4, 2009

I was amused a few years back by a cover story in New York magazine. The August 2003 article was about the Catskills’ second-home real estate boom that followed the horrible events of September 2001, when hundreds of New Yorkers discovered the Catskills and many bought homes and acreage here in the mountains.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 28, 2009

In 1883, one of the richest men in America bought 60 Catskill Mountain acres to build a summer colony for his extended family. Charles Fleischmann was a 32-year-old master distiller and yeast production superintendent on the estate of an Austrian nobleman when he first visited the United States in 1866. He came to New York City to attend the wedding of his sister Josephine.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 21, 2009

When the first January inauguration took place in Washington, D.C., this part of the Catskills was roiling in resentment, anger, and neighbor-against-neighbor ill feeling. It was January 20, 1937.


A Catskill Catalog: Jan. 14, 2009

Zena R. Travis. I must have walked by an inscription of that name thousands of times. You may have walked by it, as well. Her name appears on a commemorative plaque in the front hall of the Roxbury school, of the Margaretville school, of the Stamford school, of the Gilboa school, of the Windham school…


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