Here's the Scoop: February 15, 2012

Seems like old times
When it comes to change, I usually switch my routines very reluctantly. To say I’m a creature of habit is quite accurate.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate new gadgets, clothes, etc., but I often need convincing about the benefits of embracing something different. I guess that’s why an event I attended over the weekend was so refreshing. You see, with few exceptions, the affair I went to was populated by “Catskill Mountain old-timers.” Myself included, of course.

The reception was held in honor of Len Utter, who recently retired as Town of Middletown supervisor. In addition to thanking Len for his public service, the occasion also marked the guest of honor’s 80th birthday.

In the name of full disclosure, it needs to be mentioned that some of us who served on the town board with Len were known to question whether he hadn’t shaved a few years off his real birth date. There was even a rumor that he helped Teddy Roosevelt get elected. But there’s no true proof. Fortunately, Len took the good-natured kidding in stride.

Enjoyable occasion
There were plenty more age jokes at Sunday’s celebration and “a good time was had by all,” as folks like to say.

When I got home, I started reflecting upon what I had just experienced. It struck me that such gatherings don’t occur all that much anymore. This bit of nostalgia is by no means meant to be offensive to anyone. I have lots of friends who are second homeowners. The fact is, part timers are a vital cog for our region — it’s one change that I’ve readily accepted.

But I couldn’t shake the odd comfort I felt as I gazed around the room and saw a crowd populated largely by “natives.” Some of the attendees were longtime friends and neighbors, others were merely faces I recognized. It didn’t really matter, there was a general feeling of camaraderie that’s difficult to describe.

Have some more to eat
The rural tradition of good food — and lots of it — was naturally on full display. When one of the guest of honor’s daughters announced that cake and locally-made ice cream would be served shortly for dessert, she first offered a childhood tale. The story focused on playing long hours of baseball with family friends and then capping the day with large quantities of pie and ice cream. This little aside was another snapshot of less hectic days gone by.

I’m under no illusion that life was always “better,” decades ago. It certainly was different and a lot slower-paced, though. Sunday’s gathering brought back many emotions for me and a yearning for less complicated days. It was a nice feeling.
— Brian Sweeney