A Catskill Catalog: September 26, 2012

Fifty years ago, you could have a seatbelt installed in your car at Bear Alignment in Margaretville for $5.95. Seat belts were not mandatory in New York State until 1984, but “buckle-up for safety” was a choice many folks were making, and seatbelt installation was a growing business.

Fifty years ago, the Halcott-Fleischmanns Fish & Game Club sponsored an October Sunday morning turkey shoot on Crosby’s Flat in Halcott Center. Target-shooting winners in rifle, shotgun, and bow-and-arrow categories took home “large frozen birds.”

Fifty years ago, the Alder Lake Boy Scout recreation center boathouse burned down, in the middle of the night. The Denver-Vega Card Club met on some Wednesday evenings, at the Vega Hall, with as many as three tables of women playing. The Dry Brook Methodist Church held regular 9:30 Sunday-morning services, sharing Rev. Dixon with the Fleischmanns and Halcott Center churches.

Fifty years ago, the Victory Supermarket in Margaretville sold four- to six-pound bags of cut-up heavy fowl, urging customers, “Chicken ‘N’ Dumplings Tonight!” Customers collected S. & H. Green Stamps, saving for a toaster or an iron. Air-conditioned Evergreen Lanes was open every day but Monday, with lanes available for open bowling most afternoons after-school.

Fifty years ago, Douglas Kelly & Son sold new Delaval milking machines in their farm machinery store, right on Main Street Margaretville. “The greatest advance in milking machines in 44 years,” the new Delaval was said to be 25 percent faster than the old models.
In Fleischmanns, A. H. Todd & Son, at the corner of Main St. and Wagner Ave., advertised, “America’s liveliest, most care-free cars: Ford.”

Fifty years ago, The Gormley Lumber Company of Phoenicia, offered a $25 reward “for material information respecting cutting of timber on Gormley Lumber Company premises” up in Meeker Hollow, Roxbury. Twenty-five dollars is $25 dollars. After all, a guy down in Liberty is offering a seven-year-old ’55 Buick for only $150.

Fifty years ago, Ladenheim & Sons sponsored a special all-day Friday event at their Main Street, Margaretville, showroom to unveil the new 1963 Chevys. September was the annual debut month for Detroit’s next model year, and, 50 years ago, people got excited about the new cars.

Fifty years ago, the movies played at the Galli-Curci Theater in Margaretville every evening at 8 p.m. You could drop your kids off at the 2 o’clock Saturday matinee. Fleischmanns’ Onteora Theater was open less predictably, once the summer season had ended. Weekends, the Galli-Curci ran a double feature.

Fifty years ago, Becker’s Feed Store up in Grand Gorge also sold tires. Dugan & Taber sold feed in the old Margaretville opera house, converting it to a granary. They also sold coal and fuel oil. Selling farm supplies was the biggest business in town.

Fifty years ago, you could rent a “beautiful two-bedroom California style ranch house located on Wagner Avenue in Fleischmanns, not furnished,” for $75 a month. Fifty acres, with a house (with heat) spring water, and a stream sold for $6,500. Forty-five hundred dollars would buy a small village house.

Fifty years ago, a large percentage of local families with children qualified for free surplus food, under a new government program for people not on welfare. Surplus food distributed included “butter, dry milk, lard, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, rice, dried eggs, peanut butter, rolled oats, pea beans, canned meat and cheese.”

Fifty years ago, half of Margaretville Central School’s graduating class went on to college, 16 out of 32. The State of New York promised to review the use of Belleayre Ski Center as an year-round recreational draw. A Walton ironworker was killed constructing the highway bridge over the Cannonsville Reservoir.

Fifty years ago, out-of-town savings banks sought local deposits, paying four percent interest. The last two passenger trains in and out of Oneonta faced imminent cancellation. Nine dollars and ninety-nine cents bought a powerful electric room heater at the Margaretville Hardware Store. Furnace filters, to be changed monthly during the heating season, cost 59 cents.

Fifty years ago, Congregation B’Nai Israel held services for the High Holy Days, with Cantor Martin Katz presiding. The Free & Accepted Masons of Delaware County’s 11-some-odd lodges held their fall county meeting in Delhi. The Maison Lafayette served French Provincial Cuisine down in Big Indian. Chef-owner Honore Martin had for many years been executive chef at the renowned Keeler’s Restaurant in Albany.

Fifty years ago, our Catskills.
billbirns@gmail.com