Thursday, August 15, 2013


   I've been coming to Sullivan County since I was a baby. My grandfather built a little two story shack on Wolf Lake in the 40's and 50's. In the 60's my old man bought it and made it ours. And recently my brother Mupp and wife Ginger bought it. I still have (as of this writing) visiting privileges. Legend has it my grandfather had the choice of a new Plymouth or the property. His decision changed all our lives. The experience of having a lake house you can chill at all your life is immeasurable in monetary terms. It is also the reason I live in Sullivan County today. Chances are without Wolf Lake I never would've found the church..... and none of you would've burned a dollar bill.
   Osterhout is a common name in these hills, and always has been. Pick up any history of the Catskills and you'll read about my Indian killing kin. I'm not proud of them. I'm just stating the facts. Can't pick your family. What it does do is reinforce my roots amongst the red shale, blue stone and black hats of this county today. We've been here almost as long as the Indians. We were farmers, trappers, bootleggers and civilian contractors going back as far as the French and Indian wars- the early gentrifying Dutch.
   Today Sullivan County is a much different place than the one of my youth. The big hotels are gone. The bungalow colonies have transformed into large Hassidic enclaves. The dairy and chicken farms are either processing factories or have disappeared. On the surface it looks bleak. And in the wings wait our saviors: Casino Gambling and Natural Gas Drilling. But all you have to do is scratch the surface and what do you find? Pristine rivers and lakes, rolling meadows of wild flowers, abundant game, speckled trout dancing on the dappled sunlight.....Ok I'll stop. My point being that the uniquely non-industrialized and lightly developed (a depressed economy, if you will) has given us an opportunity to save it. Like Cuba- the money stopped coming in '59. We have an ecological jewel here. Hell, I hear there's even unicorns making a come back.
   A referendum is coming up on gambling. Soon the voters of this county will be able to vote on gaming in Sullivan County. It's all about $. Sure gaming will bring that.....along with unbearable traffic and more knuckleheads than we need. A few people will make a lot of money. These people already HAVE a lot of money. With that kind of money they don't put up with the everyday inconveniences the rest of do anyway. Traffic? Rent a helicopter. Loads of low end service jobs will be provided and once casinos are built, they will never leave. I'm old. I'll be OK. But I'd sure rather leave my great nieces and nephews that beautiful piece of lake front than a rusted old 2013 Plymouth.  


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