If you live in the Catskills chances are you’ve attended a benefit supper, concert or ball game to help a sick neighbor or a family fallen on hard times. It’s what we do. Sometimes it’s all we can do. ‘Twas ever thus, it appears.
In 1909, Margaretville came together to assist Michael Laughman, 61, who the Catskill Mountain News reported had had “a run of hard luck like the stories you read in books.” First, in April, he fell 18 feet from a scaffolding while building a house for Olney Smith in Dunraven. He broke multiple bones, pierced a lung and his recovery was in doubt. But recover he did.
In July, his 94-year-old mother died (she had raised Michael and his siblings alone after her husband died in the Civil War).
Then in September Michael, back at work, cut off two fingers in a buzz saw at Frank Mead’s shop in Dunraven. Hobbled by injuries and unable to work, Michael must have felt pretty low.
In October, his friends, seeking to help him, put together a day of play and giving in Margaretville. Goldie and Eva Myers and Clara McCumber snagged everybody on Main Street to collect donations. Horse races and a clambake were held. Mead’s Orchestra played at the Opera House for a dance. And a baseball game between Pine Hill’s town team and a local squad made up of “Hasbeens, Wantos and Neverwas” played until stormy weather called a halt to the game.
The News hailed “the excellent showing of the locals in not allowing the visiting pitcher to hit their bats with the ball.” Pine Hill won by a score of “three to minus 3.” Proceeds on the day came to $150.75.
Michael Laughman, we must assume, was grateful. But a year and a half later, his luck indeed ran out, when he died of pneumonia.