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...."

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