on the News
Shandaken, in its no-need-to-look-at-me way, may be one of the secret
glories of Ulster County. The Hudson Valley, really, even if it is in
the Catskills. Heck, it's a glory of this state.
it's turning 200 this Saturday, July 17, with a big back in Phoenicia.
town's got itself decked out with special placards and flags. The Shandaken
History Museum, on Academy Street in Pine Hill, is hosting a special
exhibit. All the restaurants are hosting specials and bands at night.
Phoenicia, there's going to be a parade at 2 PM, complete with marching
bands giving everyone something to, well, parade around for. There'll
be a fair, with music and food, in the Parish Field behind the Catholic
Church. And at night there'll be a major fireworks display over the
same field, with the surrounding circle of mountains adding backdrop
and echo-chamber for everyone's delight.
country wiz-guy Lyle Lovett will be playing in town that night, up at
the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center's summer music festival. And most
of the nightspots in town, including the ever0fun Full Moon Central
out in Oliverea, will be hosting live music with special guests.
could that mean?
B-52s and Bowie pass through here regularly. John McLaughlin lived here.
The Isley Brothers used to fish in the same stream that Dutch Schultz
and Babe Ruth, also old Shandaken fans, once tossed flies into.
Sunday, there will be a townwide garden tour. And a special farmers'
market, with music, in Pine Hill.
events over the weekend include a 9AM hike up Phoenicia's Tanbark Trail
on Saturday led by Aaron Bennett of the Pine Hill Community Center,
and Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. A Crafts fair
from 10 AM on at the Parish field. Demonstrations of the scary savior
Jaws of Life by the local fire department. Trout and falconry demonstrations.
at the old Phoenicia Railroad Station, now home to the charming Empire
State Railway Museum, there's a photo exhibit, 'Memories of Shandaken,'
up all summer.
Teddy Roosevelt's supposed to be in town at 3 PM Saturday for some speechifying,
along with the loudmouthed politicos the town's always been known for.
yes, lots of music, from big band swing to swinging fiddle bands.
information on it all, google Shandaken for its various websites, private
and public, or call June LaMarca at 845-688-5318.
information on the tour of nine private gardens in the Phoenicia area
on July 18, from 10am to 4 pm, rain or shine ˆ with $20 tickets
buying you entrance to horticulturalist and garden writer Dean Riddle's
Lanesville garden, featured in the June 3 House and Home section of
the New York Times, among others ˆ stop by the Phoenicia Plaza,
one mile east of Phoenicia on State Route 28. Participants will
be provided with a brochure that describes each garden and a tour map,
with directions for driving to each location. Or buy them in advance
at the Tender Land, Tender Land Home, Terrace Farm Nursery & Greenhouse,
Phoenicia Belle B&B, Phoenicia Wines and Liquors, or Zena
Green Nursery. Or just call (845) 688-7314.
remember, heading out for all the fun, that what this town celebrating,
as much as its birthday, is 200 years of independence from Woodstock,
its easterly neighbor.
The Odd Hike...
'We rained on their parade' Coalition Chairman Joe Kelly told reporters,
speaking for counter-protesters including Shandaken Supervisor Bob Cross
Jr., Councilman Joe Munster, and Republican Club President and planning
board member Gerry Setchko. According to Kelly and to Cross, the
group was assembled in response to a recent Northeast Public Radio story
on DEC's role in the resort's environmental review. In that story, Tom
Alworth of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development expressed
support for the inclusion of the so far unreleased Unit Management Plan
for the ski area in the Crossroads SEQRA review now in progress. Under
both SEQRA and the state's Environmental Conservation Law, the 'cumulative
impact' of contiguous projects and 'reasonably foreseeable future actions'
must be reviewed together. Whether that may happen with the Crossroads
project and the planned expansion of the agency's own ski area adjacent
to it is expected to be decided by DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty in the
coming months. Kelly's press conference appeared aimed at affecting
that decision; according to Kelly: 'We saw these issues coming. We had
the shirts made two to three months ago.'
coalition's press event marked its first foray into the realm of public
policy on the Crossroads project, though in a prepared statement, Kelly
said his group 'has taken no position on the merits of the resort.'
However the decision to publicly oppose the implementation of SEQRA
regulations on the resort's cumulative impacts does marks a shift in
its previously arms-distance stance.
at the summit it turned out, wasn't needed, though sources on the mountain
confirmed the expected presence of organized labor in support of Crossroads,
as happened at one of the project's public hearings in February. None
appeared, although effort did seem to have made to foment antagonism
between the groups. A number of people in 'Coalition for Belleayre'
tee shirts said they'd been told by organizers and town officials that
their presence was needed because the hikers on the mountain were protesting
against the ski area's future expansion.
'Quite the opposite'
said Susanna Margolis of Fleishmanns, speaking for the group Save Catskill
Rivers and Mountains which organized the hike. 'Almost all of us ski
here, we love this place, and we'd love to see the kind of improvements
Tony Lanza's been talking about. Our issues are with the resort, not
the ski area. If you put a city ˆ and it would be a city ˆ
in the middle of a hiking wilderness, you can't still call it a hiking
wilderness. It just changes it fundamentally and profoundly. And this
is the heart, the center of hiking, in the tri-state area.'
'We see that
they're trying to link the ski area and the resort complex,' said Kelly.
'There's no connection there. It doesn't make any sense to take a public
entity and try to link it up with a private resort project.'
view however, differs considerably from the one expressed in the resort's
Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which says that the project 'will
bring to fruition the creation of a four season world-class resort associated
with the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center as contemplated in the state
and regional planning studies prepared over the last 40 years-. As envisioned,
(the resort) will marry the physical assets of the Belleayre Mountain
Ski Center and the Catskill Forest Preserve with new facilities and
'This is our mountain, the
State's mountain,' added Kelly. 'We don't want any other entity coming
here and using our mountain for their own ends.'
'That's funny,' responded
Margolis. 'I couldn't have put that issue any better myself.'
Lonnie met his wife when she was working as a telephone operator at
the town's switchboard- which just happened to be in his grandparents'
home in Phoenicia. The couple's first apartment was across from the
M.F. Whitney Hose Company. After taking a job at the local gas station,
Gale ended up buying and running The Alamo, located where the convenience
store now is, up into the early 1960s. Along the way, he started a
heating oil company that he ended up running for a full 37 years.
There was a time, during the War, that Lonnie got away from the Catskills.
He worked maritime duty in Southeast Alaska, and could have stayed
on with a decent job if it wasn't that he felt so homesick for all
he'd grown up loving.
But enough of Gale's history. It's the man's love and caring for all
of our local histories that is of interest to Shandakenites most.
Especially during this time of bicentennial celebration.
'I loved learning history when I was in school,' Lonnie remembers,
trying to ascertain how he caught the bug. 'I loved all the stories
I picked up when I was younger.'
He talks about working with Jim Simpson building what would become
the town's first ski slope, across from the Woodland Valley Bridge.
And tracing he and his wife's family histories, which encompassed
pretty much all of the town's, and much of the nation's.
But then Lonnie recalls a house Peg sold at the head of Woodland Valley
where they found a small but select post card collection with a concentration
of local images. He found he was particularly caught by the look of
several photos of the building of the Ashokan Reservoir.
'It was like I got bitten by a bug,' he says in his matter-of-fact
way, describing his movement from interest to obsession, driving up
and down the East Coast for post card shows- and finding quiet treasures
in some of the most unlikely places.
There was the time he was looking through photos in King of Prussia,
PA and came across an image of the Phoenicia Railroad Station.
'You lucky dog!' said the man behind him, a history book publisher
out of Ohio who knew exactly what Gale had stumbled upon.
A decade or so later, Lonnie now counts the number of postcards and
photos he's collected, all of local scenes, at 'about 7,000.'
'I've found pictures of my house, of the house I used to live in,
that first apartment,' he says, pleased with what his obsession has
brought him over the years. 'The odd thing is that 80 percent of them
are from the period of 1900 to 1920.'
Gale's love of, and deep dive into local history has found him a host
of friends, from other historians such as Alf Evers and Ed Ford, to
most of the local small press publishers who thrive on producing books
of such material. To date, Gale has written two tomes for Fleischmanns-based
Purple Mountain Press: a history of Chichester, the old factory town
up Route 214, and Pictorial Shandaken, a particularly colorful rendition
of local lore.
Lonnie says he was approached about doing a history of the hotels
and boarding houses that once proliferated throughout the area, but
dropped the project after a number of months. He may yet come back
'I just love local history. Researching it, reading all the great
authors who have worked within it,' he says, mentioning such names
as Greene County's Doris Brooks and Justine Hommel, the late Ed West,
and his old friend John Ham, among others.
So from this perspective, full of lore, nostalgia, and an understanding
of how time moves, what are the major things that have changed in
town over time? What's stayed constant?
'Jumping Jimminy, it's changed a lot,' Gale replies. He talks about
the town he remembers 50 years ago, when one could leave keys in a
car and the idea of ever hiring a lawyer was as foreign as Esperanto.
'I liked those days,' Lonnie says. 'Neighbors helped one another.
Things were much friendlier. You knew everyone.'
He says there were always tourists and summer residents. But they
were more family-oriented in the past. A lot were older than now.
'But I tell you, I still love these mountains. Always have,' Gale
continues in the next breath.
What has he learned from history, and his love for it?
'I've found a lot of friends. People call you. They come over to the
station to talk, to sit and exchange old stories,' he says, referring
to his weekends volunteering for the Empire State Railway Museum in
Phoenicia, located in the old train station he still recalls so dearly
from his boyhood. 'Maybe you have to grow older to really want your
history and genealogy.'
He pauses, then opens one of many large three-ring binders of old
pictures and postcards.
'It's hard not to love this town,' he says with his mischievous smile.
'That's what you get out of history.'
Bear Takes Main Street
"It's just in my nature, " she said afterwards," If I
see someone or something in trouble I just go help. I don't think much,
I just go."
said she never felt as if she was in danger during the brief scuffle,
but was aware that she had to figure out a way to remain safe. Thanks
to some quick witted maneuvering and broom work, all worked out for
both went back out the door at the same time," she said.
Before it was over, a window was broken and it's shade damaged. But
that's doesn't concern Hofmeister as much as what Barney was put through.
And despite Lea's
downplaying of the incident, Hofmeister sees it differently.
"Lea's life was in danger," she said.
Hofmeister said that Vince
Bernstein, a Conservation Officer with the State Department of Environmental
Conservation, came to the scene afterwards, as did Fred Holland, a Detective
with the Shandaken Police Department,
said Bernstein fears the bear, which has become somewhat of a tourist
attraction, may end up getting shot and killed, either by DEC or by
some resident. She said the bear, an 85 pounder, is becoming way too
comfortable with people and the hamlet. She believes the people are
too comfortable with the bear too, claiming that one local restaurant
feeds it off of plates. Because it's is still a wild animal, Hofmeister
is afraid that under the right circumstances things could get out hand
and someone could get hurt.
a campsite right down the street. What happens if some little kid meets
up with the bear?"
The same bear also broke
into the Nest Egg gift shop recently and appears regularly in the dumpsters
of the Country Store and other businesses. On a Field trip last month,
the second grade class from Phoenicia school delighted in seeing the
critter asleep in a tree behind Brio's forty feet off the ground.
presentation on bears will be given at the Shandaken Town Hall in Allaben
at 6:30 PM on Monday, July 26.