In This Place: October 15, 2014

Mountain Italiano

The fate of that famous Italian Columbus — whether you consider him a daring explorer, an exploitative plunderer or a mixture of both — is well known. So instead I thought we could look at the fortunes of—and Catskills attitudes towards—the Italians who centuries later, followed in Columbus’ wake and wound up making a home in our hills.

In This Place: October 8, 2014

Fiddlin’ Around

This weekend’s Fiddlers! festival at the Roxbury Arts Group celebrates its 21st year in a perform­ance space named for one of the most renowned and most enduring of our mountain fiddlers, Hilt Kelly. Here’s a write-up of a little get together, when by my rec­koning Hilt would have been 15, probably the same age as the kids he entertained. Hope he got in on that gingerbread and ice cream.

February 7, 1941
Leighton Scudder entertained a dozen schoolmates at a party at his home on Saturday even­ing. To start things off, Leighton took everybody for an old-fashioned hay-ride, bells and everything. Upon their return, square dancing was in order, with music furnished by Hilton Kelly and Amos Kelder. Finally the young folks gathered around the fireplace and roasted hot dogs and topped off with home-made ice cream and gingerbread. Sounds like some party!

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.