A Catskill Catalog by Bill Birns

Bill Birns presents a weekly essay on history, geography, day-trips, arts and culture in the Catskill Mountain region.

A Catskill Catalog: July 6, 2011

You think you know the Catskills pretty well. At least I did. Then, one Saturday, I ran into Andy Wos and Cheryl Terrace at the Round Barn.

Andy runs Broadlands Management Corporation, over in Bovina, while Cheryl’s Vital Design Ltd. provides environmentally sensitive interior design.
So, Andy invites me to come up to see the Broadlands property. Broadlands, I remember, is the current name of lands that once were part of the Gerry Estate, and I’m eager to see this historic place.


A Catskill Catalog: June 29, 2011

Here’s a Yogi Berra story.
The great Yankee catcher was already the best in the American League when, sometime in the late ’50s, he hurt his thumb. Yankee team physician, Dr. Sidney Gaynor, took Yogi from the stadium down to Lenox Hill Hospital, on Manhattan’s upper west side.
Walking down the hall toward the treatment room, Yogi and Dr. Gaynor passed a tall physician in a white coat. The Yankee looked up at the passing doc and said, “I hit a home run off you on a change-up.”


A Catskill Catalog: June 22, 2011

The Margaretville Messenger of October 15, 1896 was focused on politics. The presidential election was two-and-a-half weeks away, and editor John Grant seemed desperate to convince his readers to “vote for the straight Republican ticket. Don’t bother with split tickets,” he warned.

Every page of the four-page broadsheet contains at least one political article, admonishing readers that the very future of America was at stake at the November 1896 polls. “Don’t be swayed by a crowd,” the paper urged.


A Catskill Catalog: June 15, 2011

Let’s not mistake what I do with the work of an academic historian. I’m an old American Studies major, a generalist by training, inter-disciplinary by definition.

David Stradling is a trained, academic historian, a specialist in the emergent field of environmental history, a recent sub-specialty that could not be more current, or more necessary. Our future seems dependent on our growing understanding of, and interest in, the “human interaction with place, the physical and biological world.”


A Catskill Catalog: June 8, 2011

When Henry Hudson sailed into the harbor that would, one day, be New York, aboriginal people greeted him.

The indigenous people of New York were of two main groups: Algonquin and Iroquois. The canoe paddlers who made their way to the sides of the Half Moon were Algonquin. The longhouse culture many New Yorkers remember studying in elementary and middle school was Iroquois.
Curious, that by Education Department fiat, New York State is declared Iroquois country, despite the fact that the majority of New Yorkers live on lands once traversed by Algonquin, not Iroquois feet.