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: 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.