Sunday, April 24, 2005

Times a-Changing

HOT TIP. To see what richly deserves its billing as “treasury of Catskill mountain history,” get into MOMENTUM. In March, Village of Catskill issued 52 building permits. That all-time record (according to Mayor Vincent Seeley, at recent Heart of Catskill Association meeting) probably will be surpassed soon. Pace of (re)construction likely will grow in wake of apparently definitive end of mammoth St. Lawrence Cement scheme, and of feature stories such as last Friday’s in Escapes section of New York Times. Says author David Wallis: “Urbanites from New York, priced out of more traditional weekending locales east of the Hudson, are making Catskill their port of call.” Though “rising fast,” prices of our quaint cottages and decayed Victorians still are well below east-of-Hudson equivalents. Despite “rough edges,” petty crime, exorbitant taxes and dearth of good restaurants, Catskill “retains a grandeur from its days as a busy port.” Among attractions are Thomas Cole Historic Site, specialty shops (he got that wrong), golf club, proximity to ski resorts, farmers’ market, riverside events, and—quoting a new weekender—“Everybody’s friendly and seems to care about each other.” . OLD AS NEW? East bank of Catskill Creek soon will be home, again, to Harbor Lights restaurant. That was its name when built and opened by late Lloyd Newcombe. In subsequent years it has been Watercolors, Verandah’s, and J.D. Morell’s, as well as vacant. New operator Cynthia Marotta currently runs Shady Harbor Marina restaurant in New Baltimore. Front end manager would be Tina Ottinger of The Garden Gate. Assuming wrinkles concerning lease (from Tower Water Edge, owner of condos on south side) and health inspection get ironed out, Ms Marotta anticipates opening in mid-May. LAWYERS. Joining stampede to GreeneLand is burgeoning Albany law firm of Tully, Rinckney & Associates. All being well (lease-wise), Tullyans soon will occupy second floor of Brown, Kelleher & Zwickel building at corner of William & Main in Catskill. Two of firm’s nine attorneys will move here, one will be recruited locally along with secretary and paralegal. While he’s no stranger to GreeneLand courts, Tully is known more widely as survivor of Twin Towers horror in Manhattan who subsequently represented pro bono an Arab American who was being victimized by workplace discrimination. In course of expansion, we hope, Tully will add editor who forestalls dreaded numerical disagreement between subject and verb, as in “our team of attorneys, paralegals and secretaries are available to assist you….” GALLERY #8? Another building has just changed hands on Main Street, Catskill, and buyers plan, for ground floor, an art gallery. From Peter Colges, for about $190,000, and with optimal mortgage terms from Bank of Greene County, Hudson Talbott and Rudy Berkhout bought 3-story, 4-apartment, 4000-square foot building at 462 Main. Which is right next door to what they are currently restoring for use, on ground floor, as—what else?—art gallery. POTS. Catskill’s Main Street soon will be dotted with 50 big new flower pots, replacing 10-year-old oak half-barrels. They’ll grace streetscape thanks to $1000 gifts from Garden Club and Heart of Catskill Association. And any merchant who wants storefront pot, replete with flowers, can have one for a measly $10 fee. CONDEMNED: Two brick, partly roofless buildings along Catskill Creek, at 125 Water Street, just north of erstwhile Oren’s Furniture warehouse. Task of clearing out will be monumental. They are crammed with engineer Frank McDonald’s lifetime accumulation of machinery, books, model trains, treasures, junk.... Once site is cleared, part of it would provide link in Walkway running along creek from Catskill Point north. DEPARTED: Tina Gagliardy, popular manager, from Creekside Restaurant in Hop-O-Nose Marina, to Sysco food company in Clifton Park. Tina and ex-boss Sean Mahur, sources say, are on speaking terms. DEALS OFF? Prospect that Catskill’s Community Theater would be sold by proprietor Tom Thornton to buyers keen to bring back Vaudeville, sources say, has receded. Parties are too far apart on price. And negotiations over rental of erstwhile Mayflower cafĂ©, sources say, have collapsed--close to finalization stage, over issue related to crockery. (Notice use of Sources Say dodge). PETITION seeking construction of new Thruway exit here, connecting to Route 23A in west Catskill, is being offered to Dan Berkowitz’s customers at Whole Donut. Case for such an addition is fortified by imminent presence of Wal-Mart and other stores in “Catskill Commons”; getting there from Thruway by way of Exit 21 will be awkward. Petition sponsors say proposed connection “was originally planned for Catskill, when the New York State thruway was originated.” . PADDLING. According to Daily Mail (4/16), Ron Rausch is forming club for canoe, kayak and rowboat hobbyists. Organizational meeting to be held April 28, 7 pm, Coxsackie Village Hall. For more information, ring 731-6077 or e-mail FILM DEAL? Rumor has it (or doesn’t) that GreeneLand screenwriter Robert Hervey has been approached about adapting recently published anthropological treatise Lust of the Mohicans for movie script. Producers could have been impressed by imaginative Hervey entry in 2004 Scriptapalooza competition: “A humiliated comedy writer steals a nasty TV producer's limo and kidnaps his precocious kids on the pretense of taking them to summer camp. The kids love it and never want to go home, and he becomes the successful producer of his own comedy showcase theater. (Saturday Night Live goes to Woodstock).” If film project eventuates, however, product may not qualify as family entertainment. Producers’ other credits may include R-rated Das Booty, All Hands on Dick, On Golden Blonde and Good Will Humping. If this item, like next one, were anything but fantasy. CRANK CALL. Cyber correspondent claiming to speak for elusive Rohrlich Trust denies sponsorship of anthropological/genitalogical research culminating in aforementioned Lust of the Mohicans. Claims instead to have backed Revolutionary War-timed study published as Yank My Doodle—It’s a Dandy.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Rumor-Monger At Work

VAUDEVILLE REDUX? Catskill’s Community Theater is being sold to New York-based entertainment professionals, who intend to bring some art films to upstairs screen, then make renovations suitable for live entertainment. Or not. TRIPLE HEADER? Three adjacent Main Street buildings in Catskill will change hands soon in deal worth more than a million dollars. Maybe. IT’S LOWE'S? That “other major retailer” reputedly headed for Catskill Commons, along with WalMart super store, is Lowe’s. And new up-market restaurant will be Applebee’s. Or won’t. 2 MORE GALLERIES? Half of frontage formerly occupied by Anne Stewart’s kilt-making (and Scots accessories) store will become Catskill’s seventh Main Street art gallery. And what recently and briefly was Mesa Traders, and before that was Smart Systems Group, will become gallery number 8. NEWTRITION? Currently vacant store next to Bob Meo’s barber shop will sell “natural” foods (which implies that other stores traffic in artificial food). FIRST CASE? After month-long absence to acquire new right knee, County Judge Daniel K. Lalor is back on bench. So: in first new trial did he have occasion to say “The charge here is theft of frozen chickens. Are you the defendant?” And did defendant reply “No sir, I’m the guy who stole the chickens”? LIBRARY IN SHAMBLES? Stay tuned. NEW BOOK? Anthropologists armed with new investigative tools, utilizing materials collected by GreeneLander Doug Nelson (among other sources), funded in part by little-known Rohrlich Trust, have managed to shed light on sex practices of Hudson River-dwelling “Indians” of yore. Their findings will be published by Bald Dome Press, under title Lust of the Mohicans. ACTUALLY LATEST DOWNTOWN acquisition by exemplary entrepreneur Frank Cuthbert is venerable, classic building at 408-10 Main Street, Catskill—now home, on ground floor, to Taste of West Indies cookery and to Sports Cards (postmaster Donald Stegall’s sideline). Frank plans renovation with ornate facade that restores look going back at least to 1888. (And by the way, in previous blog we incorrectly numbered Main Street address of future up-scale country furniture store. It’s to be at number 392, not 396, latter being Purple Heart boutique). GROWTH. GreeneLand’s population, according to Census Bureau estimate grew last year to 49,195 souls. Rate of growth, 0.7%, slightly exceeded Columbia County’s 0.6%. Biggest growers were Orange and Sullivan counties (1.6%, 1.2%). Total State population grew by 0.1%. Our most rural counties lost people. COOLER NEWS. GreeneLand’s jail currently is filled to capacity: 50, uh, guests; one cell under repair. And 31 more, uh, clients are being boarded in five neighboring county jails. It would be a relief, of sorts, if more defendants who are awaiting trial would make bail. Jail housing and feeding here, says Sheriff Richard Hussey, costs taxpayers $59 a day. Boarding elsewhere costs about $75 a day, plus transportation expense. But over-crowding is not main motive for present quest for new jail site and design. Our 93-year old pokey, behind county courthouse in Catskill, falls short of present legal standards for incarceration rules (cell size, etc.). It’s eligible for condemnation. TEAR DOWN Beattie-Powers House? With friends like advocate of that action (Village Trustee Angelo Amato, e.g.) Catskill doesn’t need enemies. Much more salutary, and sane, is scheme of moving County Council on the Arts into that historic Village-owned building, which would still serve, along with its majestic riverside grounds, for weddings and other special (fee-earning) events. Meanwhile, Council’s present 3-floor quarters in splendid 398 Main Street building could become substantial revenue earner. “NO TREE Left Behind.” That’s State Controller Alan Hevesi’s characterization of Bush Administration’s environmental mind-set. Hevesi was star attraction at pep rally of GreeneLand Democrats (there are some) at Pegasus Restaurant last Wednesday (4/13). Republicans won 2004 election, he opined, “because they lied” (about Iraq, among other things). Now they are “burying our economy in debt,” and their basic belief is that “government is The Enemy.” Lots of amens. SHOWING: narrative stick figure paintings and other works of GreeneLand artist (by way of Cuba, Beloit, San Francisco)Kico Govantes; from April 16; at Hudson’s Modo Gallery. For more info ring (518)828-5090 or treat self to view of excellent web site And if you do venture across bridge Saturday, you could also check out Hudson Valley Literary Magazine and Small Press Fair, at Hudson Opera House, from noon on Saturday. UP HILL UP SCALE. Show called “Burgeoning Spring” opens Saturday at Windham Fine Arts. On display are works of Anthony Brownbill, Guy Chirico, Lynne Friedman, Fay Wood, Deborah Dorsey and Judy Thuss. More information: And that night, in Catskill Mountain Foundation’s red barn (Rte 23A, Hunter), master pianist and piano historian Vladimir Pleshakov expatiates on “The Hamburg Steinway Concert Grand” and plays Schubert, Chopin, Prokofiev and Liszt. AMPHIBOLY (as well as syntactic, vs. semantic, ambiguity) is what occurs in headline (Calgary Herald, via World Wide Words) “Police Kill Man With Machete.” L.O.N.G., qua lack of numerical agreement between subject and verb, is exemplified (among other faults in use of English), in sentence (from Daily Maul of 3/25) saying “He believes the plans to build a super Wal-Mart in the village is step in right direction for the village, but acknowledged it might hurt some of the existing business.”

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Catching Up

NOSTRUMS Dept. Successful Catskill Village Trustee candidate Joe Kosloski advocated exempting fire-fighters from Village taxes. This would compensate, in effect, for their service as volunteers. Kosloski acknowledged problem of equity as between firefighters who do and don’t own taxable Village property. He needs also to ponder issue of equity as between firefighters and other people who perform voluntary community services.

STILL UNCLAIMED: jewel-encrusted “Captain Kidd” crown that has been target of treasure hunters (well, a few are still at it) in GreeneLand since 1991. Find a certain gold doubloon, and you can collect crown worth around $10,000. To find that coin, follow clues that are imbedded in story distributed from Greene County Promotion Dept. (943-3223) or from Tourist Information office at Thruway Exit 21. Project’s history is well told in story by Paul Grondhall in Albany TimesUnion of March 27; text may be retrievable at wsdate=3/27/2005. According to Marge Stabile, head of GreeneLand’s tourism promotion office, Grondhall’s story attracted about a hundred requests for copies of Clues. Supply has not run out.

OPENING, April 16, at 402 Main St, Catskill, from noon to 6 pm, by artists Dina Burstyn and Julie Chase: Open Studio, second of new GreeneLand galleries. “Sculptures, totems, prints, assemblages…” with emphasis on art of everyday life, or treating commonplace objects so as to endow them with uncommon suggestions. A cellphone for interior monologues, for instance; and a Dream Processor. For more information: 943-9531 &/or

<>THAT GALLERY previously was trashy Kentucky Broiled Chicken. But farther back in time-it was Modern Bakery & Delicatessen, operated by parents of Ruth and Arthur Kay. The Kays (original name Kosakevitch, from Ukrainian village of Zvengerodkae by way of New York City and of Pine Grove House in Palenville) set up shop and home there in 1925, two doors up from Tice’s barber shop (40-cent haircuts) and four up from Berkingoff tailor shop. In 1929, recalls Arthur (from Tucson retirement), they sold milk for 12 cents a quart, sliced ham for 60 cents a pound, a dozen kaiser rolls for 20 cents. And they tolerated customers who came in after first shopping at A & P or Grand Union where they bought packages of factory-made, bleached, square, soggy Wonder Bread. COMING SOON, to 396 Main St, Catskill (=former Party Time): sophisticated country furniture and furnishings store, operated by Harold Gondrez and HonieAnn Peacock. They are retailing veterans from >LowerManhattan (E. 9th St). And she is Functional Art Klein’s sister.

ALSO COMING, next door at 394 (erstwhile Catskill Fry Shack): bakery and premium coffee shop, operated by Robert and Janet Lugo, who in another life are Special Edifiers at Cairo-Durham. In anticipation, Bob will go to Seattle for classes sponsored by Specialty Coffee Association of America. When business gets going, Main Street will swoon to scent of coffee beans a-roasting.

YOGA classes “in Svaroopa style” have started, on main floor of Wilder Gallery at 375 Main St, Catskill, on Tuesdays, 5:30-7 pm. Instructor Nicholas Dalton promises “safe and gradual release of chronic pain and discomfort” by way of “well-supported poses designed to release core tensions in the spine and throughout the entire body/mind.” (“…throughout the entire…” shows need for release from redundancy). It’s not too late to join the six gorgeous women who turned up last Tuesday or inaugural session. (Gallantry pays). More information: (845)235-2545.

CROWNED as Small Business Persons of the Year for all of New York State, by Small Business Administration of the United States: Michael Grosso and Hugh Quigley, chieftains of GreeneLand’s own DynaBil Industries. Award ceremony to be held May 10 at Desmond Hotel in Colonie. Our enterprisers then journey to Washington DC for title shot: Small Business Person of the Year for all of USA.

ACCUSED(?): Village Justice candidate (and victor) Veronica Kosich; by opponent Christine Ulscht, in campaign advertisement; of being--gasp--“lawyer with phone book ads” and of having “relative in the Public Defender’s office.” Those are faults? performance handicaps?

SELECTED for inclusion in summer tour of Europe with Honor Band recruited (via audition) by American Music Abroad: Catskill High School flautist Leah Hart. France, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Germany will be visited by her troupe of musical ambassadors. But it’s a $4000 privilege. Let’s share the burden. Local groups (Kiwanis, etc.) have helped but have not filled the cup. Donations are tax-deductible. Make checks payable to Leah Hart-A.M.A. Account and, for tax purposes, put fund raising donation-A.M.A. on memo line of check. Mail to Leah Hart at 1750 Rt. 23B # 22, Leeds NY 12451.

HONORED at Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Awards Jubilee in Albany last month, for 32 years of service to inner-city youth (emphasis on marching bands—and his legs do ache): GreeneLand’s Moses Chestnut.

RECOGNIZED, tardily, by me (et al.): presence on Main Street, Catskill (#388; former home of Adventure Travel) of monthly Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art. Founder/Publisher Harold M. Hanson brought the periodical—foremost publication of its kind in New York State--over from Hudson 14 months ago, along with marketing director Diane Schmitt (of Athens) and other staff. Lead story in March issue (48 tabloid pages) covers Freehold auction house Carlsen Gallery. April issue can be obtained from Northeast office or across street at Townhouse Antiques. Web site is

SOLICITED from Governor Pataki’s Office for Small Cities, by Catskill Village Trustees, as drafted by Steve Kirk: $400,000 grant to help create an artisans’ center in renovated complex of buildings at 393-401 Main Street. There’d be studio/workshop spaces on ground floor for 20 artisans, who would receive rental discounts, with remainder paid from Village treasury. Also envisioned for this $1.3 million complex (as reported in 4/4/05 Daily Mail) are offices, apartments, up-scale market.

CONVICTED of—would you believe?—arson: John Gallagher, former chief of Kiskatom Fire Department. In guilty plea before Judge George J. Pulver Jr, Gallagher admitted torching 1991 Ford pickup at request of owner Erin Rodriquez of Palenville, as part of insurance swindle. Rodriquez also was convicted of felonious arson. Gallagher used Kiskatom fire truck to douse blaze and thereby to further fiction of accidental fire. Slated for sentencing—at least two years in prison—on May 24. First offense?

SENTENCED, for welfare fraud on scale exceeding $4000, on March 22: Danielle Farace-Irvis of Catskill. She’ll do at least 18 months in prison, and is required to make restitution, via inmate bank account, of $4520; and 7 cents.

SACKED: Deputy Sheriff Joseph Myer of Coxsackie. He was involved in crash outside tavern in Kiskatom on March 20, according to District Attorney Terry J. Wilhelm (according to Daily Mail of 4/6/05), initially claimed he was only riding in his Dodge pickup, not driving, but eventually copped to minor traffic charge as driver. Tied to plea bargain was requirement that Myer cease law enforcement work in GreeneLand.

BUSTED on drug-trafficking charges: William Hoskins and Sheila Rowell, of Brookside Mobile Home Park in South Cairo. After sustained investigation followed by raid allegedly yielding stocks of heroin, methadone, marijuana, hydrocodone, drug paraphernalia and substantial cash, they were arraigned before Catskill Town Judge Robert Carl, jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond. Which by April 7 they had not posted.

TROUT FISHING season is well under way, as of April 1. State Department of Conservation officially expects a bumper crop (so to speak), what with 2004’s cool, wet summer. And supply will be augmented by stocking, to extent of 35,000 yearlings dumped into 10 GreeneLand streams and ponds. For more information, go to splendid web site Some advice therein: early season anglers do best “by fishing deep and slow, and by using natural baits…. Fly-fishing purists should consider heavily weighted, large, flashy streamers and nymphs, possibly coupled with a sink-tip line.” Use of lead sinkers weighing more than half an ounce is prohibited, as ingestion of lost sinkers brings death to loons and waterfowl. But “Sales of jig heads, weighted flies, artificial lures or weighted line are not included in this prohibition.” Of course you’ll need a license ($19). That requirement, now taken for granted. was regarded until at least the mid-1930s as an outrageous imposition. Or so says local history buff Barbara Votta.

EUPHEMISM Dept: “Hunters in New York State took about 208,000 deer during the 2004 season…” (Associated Press).

GARBLE Dept: “Experience the improvisational sharing of the in-the-moment music and origianl poerty [sic.;sic.]and other words with the artistic duo of Gus Mancini and Patricia Martin at the Windham Galleria this Sunday, April 10” (Daily Mail, 4/8/05). From 3 pm.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


THE DEAL. Back in 1909, Willis Brazee and wife Minnie started farming in an area south of Brown’s Crossing. From the DuBois family they rented a house, barn, and milkhouse, along with 50 acres of land (half of it arable). For this they contracted to pay $20 per month and to supply landlord’s family 4 quarts of milk per day, at 5 cents per quart. After the prevailing local milk price went up, however, Willis complained about their nickel-per-quart deal. His landlord offered to pay more for milk if Willis would pay a higher rental. Willis did not reopen discussion. So says Philip H. DuBois in A Catskills Boyhood. My Life Along the Hudson: 1908-21 (Black Dome Press, 1992).

THE MITT. When “ChuckyAdsitt was a Greene lad, he decided that he must have a certain Rawlings baseball glove autographed by his favorite Brooklyn Dodger, Pee Wee Reese. The treasure was displayed in the window of Bibbi’s Sports at the corner of Bridge and Water Streets in Catskill, next to what now is The Candyman. So Chucky saved his weekly allowance and scrounged for empty soda pop bottles (each worth a 2 cent rebate) until he had accumulated the purchase price. But then they wouldn’t sell him the mitt. Absolutely refused. Would not say why. Chucky was a bit too young, as it happened, to know that Bibbi’s was a front. The real operation was located upstairs, at the card tables and at the telephones used for running numbers. Chucky’s father helped him to understand. It was easier for a parent to explain than was the case with activities at the nearby house called Nifty’s.

THE SHIP. During World War II, the transport vessel USS Catskill II was built at a Portland OR shipyard and dispatched (under Captain R.W. Chambers, USNR) to Pacific hot spots. After picking up a troop of Marines in Hawaii, according to an entry in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, she steamed on southwest to join the transport group of the Southern Attack Force for the assault on Leyte. She anchored off Dulag on 20 October, and “smooth execution of brilliant plans resulted in a highly successful landing, and Catskill completed her offloading and was able to retire” before that epic battle commenced. After that,

Catskill returned to New Guinea, then sailed to Morotai, where from 6 to 10 November 1944 she loaded troops and cargo under almost continuous enemy air raids. As her convoy proceeded north with these reinforcements for Leyte, it came under enemy air attack on 13 November, and Catskill's gunners aided in splashing one of the Japanese aircraft. Unloading in Leyte Gulf took place on 14 November, and Catskill got underway at once for Manus, and New Guinea, where she took part in special training.

Returning to Manus 21 December 1944, Catskill sailed 10 days later with the Lingayen Attack Force, which came under air attack, although not in Catskill's sector, as it made its final approach. On 9 January 1945 the landings were successfully made on beaches so difficult that the Japanese had considered an amphibious assault there impossible. The force was under repeated air attack. Catskill nevertheless accomplished her part of the landing skillfully, and cleared Lingayen for Leyte 10 January. Anchoring 2 days later, she loaded Army troops and cargo for the first reinforcement of Lingayen 27 January.

Arriving in the Solomon Islands 11 February 1945, Catskill began intensive training for the Okinawa operation. On 21 March, she anchored in Ulithi, staging area for the massive assault which was to come, and on 27 March got underway for the initial assault on 1 April, in which she landed units of the 6th Marines. That night, she moved out to sea, and for the next 4 days, returned to the beachhead area daily to complete her unloading of men and cargo. Returning to Saipan 9 April, Catskill continued on to San Francisco, arriving 13 May.

Between 16 May and 14 June 1945, Catskill made a voyage from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor carrying vehicles and general cargo, and steamed to Pearl Harbor once again. She loaded troops there for Eniwetok, Saipan, and Guam, and after carrying out this assignment, proceeded to Manila, arriving 5 July. Here she remained until 20 September, when she sailed laden with Army troops for the occupation of Japan. Catskill anchored in Wakayama Bay 25 September, and cleared Japan 1 October for the Philippines, where she embarked homeward- bound servicemen. She arrived in San Francisco 27 October, and sailed again 10 November on the first of two more voyages to bring troops home from Guam, Ulithi, Peleliu, and Eniwetok.

On 10 February 1946 Catskill arrived at San Diego, where she was placed out of commission in reserve 30 August 1946.

Catskill received three battle stars for World War II service.

AND LOOKING AHEAD. Says Jonathan Garthwaite, editor-in-chief of "conservative" web site, on occasion of passage to independence from sponsoring Heritage Foundation: "We expect this announcement to bring the liberals out in hoards...."