In This Place: October 1, 2014

Reading the Leaves

Imagine the challenge of writing about the glorious fall foliage in the days long, long, long before process color. We’ve all been dazzled by Editor Dick Sanford’s foliage shots — before around 1998, this paper had to rely on the power of the pen to drive people to leaf-peeping frenzy. In the earliest years of the paper it almost seems as if the descriptions of fall’s glory are written for the hardy deni­zens who toiled here.


In This Place: Sept. 24, 2014

Cauliflower Fever

This weekend we celebrate a crop that once upon a time — for decades actually — all but sustained our farms singlehandedly. Diane Galusha aptly titled her monograph on the subject “When Cauliflower was King” — the definitive treatment of the progress and decline of the cauliflower industry in our area.


In This Place: September 17, 2014

In the Family Way
September 14 marks the 135th birthday of the legendary and often controversial birth control activist Margaret Sanger. In addition to doing jail time for dispensing contraceptives illegally and later founding the nation’s first reproductive health clinics, which grew into Planned Par­­enthood Federation of America (PPFA), she was also largely responsible for connecting Kath­arine McCormick and her fortune to the researcher who created the birth control pill. She died in 1966, one year after birth control was declared legal for married couples by the Supreme Court. She was educated at Claverack College just south of us in Columbia County.

But rather than tapping into the controversial issues surrounding Sanger, I wanted to glimpse instead into how — or if — family planning topics came up in our archives. Of contraception, contraceptives or even condoms, our archives are silent. Even the term “abortion” usually refers to some­thing you inoculate cows against, until the new laws in the 1970s provoked heated debate about the procedure for women. Even pregnancy is overwhelming reported in reference to livestock, not humans.


In This Place: September 10, 2014

911 — No Emergency
A generation ago, everyone could recall where they were when they heard that John Kennedy had been shot. Those of us here now will always remember where we were 13 years ago on September 11. I was on a bus from New Jersey, on the way to my job in the city. We turned back, with the view of the Twin Towers smoldering in the distance, like two ugly birthday candles.

For our grandparents, it was December 7, 1941 — a day “that will live in infamy,” as FDR told a nation stunned by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And yet, human resil­ience is such, that we march on, wake up, make babies, go to work, can vegetables. As a speciies, we are hard-wired in our determination to live.

I know twin girls who were born on September 12, and it always made me feel for folks born on September 11, who must, for the rest of their lives, share their birth date with that terrible conflagration. So, this September 11, I thought we could just focus on some ordinary good times. Nothing spectacular or earth-shattering. Just some happy news, via the Catskill Mountain News, all published on September 11.

These clips date from the September 11, 1953 edition and (calves contest) 1931.


In This Place: Sept. 3, 2014

Administer One Migraine with that Methodology

When covering the Roxbury school board for the News a few years ago, I was astounded by the com­plexity and challenges of school administration these days, from the legion of regulations, the mon­strous spools of red tape and the delicate balancing act between students, teachers, staff and lead­ership. Many’s the night I went home at 10 p.m. with my head spinning, wrestling to get it down right while I still remembered the explanations patiently tendered by administrators and board members.

Back in the day, however, there were hardly any “rules” and the super’s challenges were different but perhaps just as great. Legendary educational leader Lincoln R. Long here weighs in on cows, “creative” mathematics methods, and the fine art of hiring teachers. While handling contracts, tenure and civil service law these days is tough, in Long’s day, administrators and teachers alike faced a veritable free-for-all come hiring time: