Sat., Sept. 12, 3-5 p.m. Mappy Hour!

Mappy Hour! 15 maps provide an up-close look at road, property ownership and place name changes over 200 years in Middletown. Maps presented by local historians. MTC community building, Academy St., Margaretville, 12455. Refreshments!

Sat., Sept. 26, 10-4 Cauliflower Festival

14th Annual Cauliflower Festival. Food, farms, music and family fun! Tractor Parade at 11, Catskill Conquest Endurance Run vehicles on display, exhibits and more in the History Tent. Margaretville Village Park.

Sat., Oct. 24, 12-2:30 Annual Meeting, Luncheon

HSM Annual Meeting and Luncheon. Illustrated talk by Chuck D’Imperio, author of “Open House: 35 Historic Upstate New York Homes.” Reservations required. $20. 845-586-2860. 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville, 12455

The day after Thanksgiving

This interesting article was taken from the Delaware Gazette, Nov. 16, 1825. Except for the Thanksgiving balls, it all sounds so familiar . . . 

The editor of the Connecticut Mirror makes the following remarks, introductory to the Proclamation of Gov. Clinton, setting apart he 24th of Nov, inst. as a day of Public Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving. It must be gratifying to the many New-England people in the state of New York, to find this good old custom of their ancestors followed so reverently by the authority of the good people of that state. Governor Clinton has recommended the observance of Thursday, the 24th of Nov. next, (the same day appointed in most the New England states,) as a day of public prayer and thanksgiving. All servile labour and vain recreation, to use an old joke, seem in that state to be by law forgiven and to tell the truth, such is the practical construction put on our own proclamations, by very many nearer home. With us there is another festival that has never been mentioned by any descriptive writer within our reading— It is thoroughly observed in all the country towns the day after thanksgiving.
The exercises consist of widely different amusements, to suit all kinds of folks. In shooting turkies and hens, visiting the neighbors, and taking a near view of the eclipsed luxuries of the day before. A pumpkin pie, that on thanksgiving day seemed like the sun, has now the appearance of a waned moon, with a penumbra of bottom crust worth looking at; and he who compared the constellations to bears and eagles etc. would need all his ingenuity in discovering the resemblance of a goose or a chicken to the bones before him.
The ladies are allowed to sit up rather later with their sparks, and the little boys, if there be safe ice in the neighborhood, may skate till 9 o’clock. This is the night for Thanksgiving balls, in the villages around, and many a ticket has been printed here with always a verse to it, sometimes written by the managers, and occasionally, by way of compliment we presume, left to be supplied by the taste and invention of the Editor.
If this seems trifling to the younger part of the community, be it known that on the day we speak of their parents send from their abundance to their poor neighbors. Clothes and quarters of beef and pork, wood, school books for their children, and dozens of other charities are bestowed to suit the wants of the poor in the coming winter. The farmers vie with each other in getting the best cord of walnut for their minister, and the richest Squire sends him the fattest turkey. The minister’s wife too is remembered, and a tribute of yarn, and other domestic comforts, is paid to show the acknowledgment to her husband for the patriotic sermon that he preached about their forefathers the day before.
There is something to smile about in thinking of the day after Thanksgiving. But there is much which excites the deepest and tenderest feelings that a Yankee possesses.

The Ruffs go to Florida

The Ruffs averaged 23 cents a gallon on their trip to Florida, probably late 1940s.

As half the Catskills prepares to load up the car to head to the Sunshine State for the winter, it’s fun to look back half a century or more to see what that trip used to cost. A penciled accounting of the pennies spent on the round trip from New Kingston to Orlando was found in a diary believed kept by Florence Cowan Ruff (wife of Howard, mother of Francis and Floyd, the family that ran Ruff Farms for several decades). The diary was written in the early 1940s; it’s unclear when the trip took place, because it would have been difficult if not impossible to do it during the gas rationing war years.
It took three days to travel 1,237 miles to Orlando. The first day they spent $5.20 on gas, $1.08 on the ferry at New Castle, DE, $3.25 for supper (for two), and $4 to rent a cabin on the outskirts of Baltimore. “Froze stiff,” was the terse comment next to that entry.
Sunday’s expenses included $2 for breakfast, 32 cents for cigarettes, $1 for four quarts of oil, three stops for gas at $1.06, $1.14 and $2.83, and $5 for lodging at Rockingham, NC.
On Monday, they had breakfast at the Greyhound stop for $2.30 and “a good fish supper” at Darien, GA for $4.

By the time they got to Florida, the car had consumed 69 gallons of gas, costing an average of 23 cents a gallon. A telephone call made in Savannah ($1.50) actually cost more than the gas they purchased “somewhere in North Florida” ($1.05).
The trip down cost a total of $48.89 and the return trip set them back $45.56. Total: $95.55.
“Reached home Dec.4th, 6 a.m. Amen.”
Thanks to Dave Burrows for donating the diary to HSM.

Fleischmanns businesses, c. 1950

Marilyn Mayes Kaltenborn, author of “An Unconventional Childhood: Growing up in the Catskill Mountains in the 1950s and 1960s,” compiled this list of businesses and shops in Fleischmanns at the mid point of the 20th century. She will be the featured speaker at HSM’s Annual Meeting and Luncheon Oct. 26, 2019.

Businesses in Fleischmanns during the 1950s
By Marilyn Mayes Kaltenborn
with help from Richard Pultz and Ian Cohen
(October 2013)

Open year-around:
– 2 toy/candy stores each with a lunch counter (Gale’s – Max and Shirley Geller, Muller’s – Charles and Luella Muller),
– liquor store (Sid Silberstein),
– small department store (Glen Haderup),
– 2 grocery stores (David Solomon and Sam Lipton and at some point
there was an A&P),
– 2-3 bars (Cat’s Meow, Monahan’s),
– doctor (Abraham Rottkov and Elwin Champlin in very early 1950s),
– dentist (William Cohen)
– attorney (Gleason Speenburg),
– 2 drug stores (Phillip Miller and Kaplan’s) ,
– hardware store (Paul Shaver) ,
– bank,
– post office,
– barber shop (Anthony Cerami)
– plumbing store (Louis Halpern & Sigmund Halpern),
– restaurant (Anthony Cerami),
– Kosher butcher (Meyer Dlasnow),
– lumber yard (Wadler’s: Herman, Bernard & Arthur Wadler),
– concrete and paving company (Sam & Morris Slavin)
– paint store (Izzy Sliverman) ,
– insurance agency (Flisser-DeGrof),
– 4 motels (Meinstein’s Lodge – Julius and Lori Gross, Valkarian Motel – Milton & June Valk, Delaware Court Motel – James & Geraldine Cantwell, and DePitt’s Motel. The Northland was built in the late 1950s – George Smith
– Laundromat (Sollie Darling),
– 4 garages/gas stations (Meyers’ – Ralph Meyers, Todd’s – Otis & Robert Todd, Lerner’s – Sonny Lerner, and Darling’s – Sollie Darling),
– car dealership (Ford dealership – Todd’s)
Summer only (because thousands of tourists came to the area):
– a candy store (Milt Hersch),
– candy store with some clothing (Jack’s was the name of the store, not sure who operated it)
– 2-3 more grocery stores (Klein’s, Progressive Market, Canned goods and pickles – Nat Israel),
– fish market (Charles Barrett),
– hair dresser (Diane Mathes),
– 2 taxi services,
– antiquities store (Robert Lustig – opened in late 1950s – had items from ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece),
– department store (Schwartz),
– theater opened (name was Onteora Theater),
– 2 -3 restaurants (Bel-Air, Elsie’s on the Green, Sugar Bowl (a teenage hangout)),
– lake opened,
– many hotels (some very large, e.g., The Takanassee Hotel’s pool was so large it had a raft and The Grand Hotel had its own golf course), rooming houses and bungalows opened.
There was passenger train service to Fleischmanns until the mid-1950s.

Annual meeting features Fleischmanns talk

Speaker Marilyn Mayes Kaltenborn, age 6

The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) will hold its annual meeting and luncheon Saturday, Oct. 26 at noon.
Marilyn Mayes Kaltenborn will be the featured speaker, with a talk on “Growing up in Fleischmanns in the 1950s and ‘60s.”
Space is limited. Reserve your spot by October 20 ($20 per person) by calling 845-586-2860 or emailing history@catskill.net.
The luncheon, catered by Anna Blish, will be followed by a business meeting that includes the annual HSM Executive Committee election. HSM members will be asked to approve officers Diane Galusha (President), Bill Blish (Vice President), Marilyn Pitetti (Treasurer) and Amy Taylor (Secretary). Pat Moore is up for re-election as a trustee, and Doris Warner is also a trustee candidate. Both are for three-year terms.
In her illustrated presentation, Marilyn Kaltenborn says, “I hope to give the audience a sense of what it was like to live within an hour’s drive of nearly all of my living relatives, to be distantly related to many of the year-around residents of Fleischmanns, to attend Fleischmanns High School, to work on Saturday mornings at my father’s veneer mill, and to live in a village that became a small city every summer when thousands of tourists (for whom English was a second language) came to town from New York City.”
Kaltenborn, daughter of Murray and Bertha Cowan Mayes, graduated at the top of her class at Fleischmanns High School in 1967, the year before the school merged with Margaretville. She earned a B.A. in mathematics at William Smith College and a law degree at Albany Law School. She worked at the NYS Tax Department for over 30 years.
Upon retiring, she started to write true stories about her Fleischmanns upbringing which resulted in a 2013 memoir An Uncommon Childhood: Growing up in the Catskill Mountains During the 1950s and 1960s. Copies of the book will be available for purchase on October 26.
For more information on this and other HSM activities, visit mtownhistory.org where you can become a member and donate to the Campaign for a Middletown History Center.

Autumn History Stroll is Oct. 6 in Margaretville

A leisurely walk in the Village of Margaretville on Sunday, Oct. 6 will combine the season’s colors with some local history at an event to benefit the Historical Society of Middletown (HSM) Building Fund.
The Autumn History Stroll from 1 to 4 p.m. will be an easy walking tour covering about a half mile with stops to visit interiors of three distinctive homes and a church.
Hear architectural and family histories at Gail Lennstrom’s 1926 kit-built house with its arts and crafts sensibility; Phil and Carol O’Beirne’s 1939 stone house built by a local mason for his daughter; a sumptious 1896 Victorian owned by Tom and Connie Jeffers, and the venerable Presbyterian Church, dedicated in 1895.
Church pastor Shirley Davis will talk about the evolution of the Presbyterian congregation while visitors view a display of photos and artifacts. Then they’ll go downstairs for a quick tour of the Catskill Mountain Model Railroad Club’s impressive HO train layout featuring some local scenes and buildings.
At the last stop, the Jeffers’, tour goers will get to see all three floors of this beautiful home, as well as one of the most well-equipped woodworking shops in the area. Guests will enjoy a delectable buffet of finger foods prepared by the four homeowners.
Between stops, HSM tour guides will share anecdotes and stories about some of the Village’s other landmarks.
Space is limited. Reserve your spot ($25 per person) by October 1. Reservations and info: 845-586-4973; history@catskill.net.
For more information on this and other upcoming programs, visit mtownhistory.org where you can become a member of HSM and donate to the Campaign for a Middletown History Center.

16th Annual Cauliflower Festival is Sept. 21

The 16th Annual Cauliflower Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 to 4 in Margaretville’s Village Park, sponsored by the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce.
This family-friendly festival features a tractor parade (11:30 a.m.), a tent full of farmers and local producers, a petting zoo, pony rides, kids activities, history exhibits and music all afternoon. Funders include Pure Catskills and the Delaware County Tourism Grant program.
New this year will be a Quilting Tent where visitors can learn about traditional and contemporary quilting techniques, watch demonstrations by skilled practitioners and try their hand at collage quilting and rope bag making. The quilting tent is coordinated by Lori and Katie Rosa of Bloom Quilts and Retreat shop in Margaretville.
The winner of a quilting retreat for six at Bloom will be drawn at 3 p.m. Winners of five Catskills Getaway Giveaway stay and play packages will also be announced. To register for these prizes, visit the News/Updates page at sceniccatskills.com
Another fresh addition to the festival is the music of John Holt and Jon Light. Their acoustic-based Americana sound features the distinctive voice of vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist John Holt accompanied by pedal steel guitarist Jon Light. The Ulster County performers’ repertoire runs the gamut from lonely mountain ballads to stone cold funk. They will perform from noon until 3pm.
The 3rd Annual Catskills Conquest Endurance Run for vintage automobiles will make the Cauliflower Festival one of the stops on the route from Mt. Tremper to Unadilla. Festival-goers will have an opportunity to view these fine vehicles and talk with their owners. The run commemorates a 1903 test of endurance among early car makers and drivers who traversed the Catskills along what is now NYS Route 28 – the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway. Cars are due to arrive mid-day.
Agricultural and community history exhibits can be found in the History Tent. This year’s featured display is about the Grange and its impacts on farms, families and national agricultural policies. The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown will also share photos and artifacts from the cauliflower growing industry which flourished in the Catskills from the 1890s through the 1950s.
The Pure Catskills Tent will be filled with members of this valuable organization. Purchase maple syrup, spirits, farm made cheeses, honey and honey products, naturally made dog treats and more.
Businesses, artists, craftspeople and non-profit organizations will be on hand. From green energy purveyors to craft distillers, alpaca products to home décor, there will be lots to learn and to explore.
Food of all sorts will be offered for sale, and of course cauliflower will be sold (get there early, because it sells out quickly!) For more information, call the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, 845-586-3300.

Vendors, tractors sought for Cauliflower Fest

The 16th Annual Cauliflower Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21 in Margaretville’s Village Park, and there is still room for vendors! Tractors, too!
Businesses, artists, craftspeople, food purveyors and non-profit organizations are welcome. Find vendor forms at https://margaretvillecauliflowerfestival.org/forms/. The festival runs from 10 to 4 and traditionally attracts hundreds of people. For more information, call the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce at 845-586-3300.
Tractors of all makes and ages are also sought for the Tractor Parade which starts at11:30 a.m. at the school parking lot on Academy Street. The route is up Main Street to the festival grounds. Contact Sally Fairbairn if you are interested in participating. 845-586-2813.