A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

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.)


A Catskill Catalog: March 24, 2010

If the Catskills were a kingdom, the Hardenbergh Patent would be our Magna Carta.
By the patent, I mean the piece of paper, parchment probably, upon which, in 1708, New York Provincial Secretary George Clarke wrote.


A Catskill Catalog: March 17, 2010

The capital of American colonial history has to be Williamsburg, Va. Colonial Williamsburg recreates that city, as closely as possible, to what it was like just before independence. Spend a couple of days in Williamsburg and you are in colonial Virginia.


A Catskill Catalog: March 10, 2010

The late Nat Ciccone used to photograph Catskill Mountain barns. The longtime Margaretville Central teacher and coach would drive scenic mountain back roads, stopping to capture, on 35 millimeter film, those barns of Ulster and Delaware counties, that, Nat knew back in the ’80s, would not be around too much longer.


A Catskill Catalog: March 3, 2010

Just got in from shoveling. Big snow is all encompassing, takes our full attention: physically, certainly, but mentally, psychologically, and emotionally, as well. Big snow brings up wellsprings of memory and talk.


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