Compiled from the best of John Conway’s popular “Retrospect” column, these articles shine a spotlight on famous faces of the past, from George Suslosky, phenomenal yet feisty diner cook, to “the worst woman on earth,” Lizzie Brown Halliday. Enlightening and entertaining, the remarkable historical vignettes in this volume explore the customs and curiosities of the Sullivan County Catskills. High on a bank in Craig-e-Clare sat the stately Dundas Castle, rumored to house a beautiful woman who lured fishermen from the Beaverkill River into her lair. In the hamlet of De Bruce, every spring a monstrous panther prowled, feasting on trout and tourists. These are no myths from the dark history of foreign lands, but tales from the colorful past of Sullivan County, New York.
About the Author
As the official county historian since 1993, John Conway is generally regarded as the most authoritative source for Sullivan County history, and his long association with these topics makes his name immediately recognizable to those interested in the subject. He has published a regular local history column in the Sullivan County Times Herald-Record since 1987 as well as several titles with Purple Mountain Press. He is an adjunct professor at SUNYSullivan County and lectures regularly throughout the state.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I liked the book because it is close to my heart. I grew up in Sullivan County NY and know a lot about the area. My cousin is the author but that had nothing to do with why I found the book interesting. John was able to fill in history that I did not know.
About ten years before retiring and moving to Sullivan County, I became an ardent New York City history buff after reading Jack Finney¿s magnificent novel Time and Again and his lesser known but equally fascinating compilation Forgotten News: The Crime of the Century and Other Lost Stories. It was such an addictive topic that I found myself desperately seeking fragments of old New York wherever possible. Thus I¿d walked down Fifth Avenue on foggy nights, hoping to leap into the past and hearing hoofbeats on grey cobblestones, walking under the soft blue and yellow glow of gaslight amid the clank and roll of passing trolley cars. Sounds of muffled laughter, hats tipped, skirts clutched, peanut vender, newsboy and flower girl on the corner. I read many books on the city¿s remarkable history, gazed dreamily at countless photos and engravings of old New York, marveled at the neo-Romanesque splendor of nineteenth century Manhattan, but saddened and appalled by the poverty and squalor of places like the Lower East Side, as captured by Jacob Riis in his classic How the Other Half Lives. Although I miss those wistful strolls, I¿ve discovered to my delight that Sullivan¿s history is similarly captivating after reading county historian John Conway¿s books, in particular his delightful new collection of vignettes, Remembering the Sullivan County Catskills. So once again I find myself strolling down memory lane and stopping and searching for a glimpse of the past.
Mr. Conway divides this slim but informative and enjoyable book, gleaned from his ¿Retrospective¿ column for the Sullivan County Democrat, into five parts, thus giving us a brief but well-rounded portrait of a fascinating time and place. We read about famous people, scandals, disasters, early industries, noteworthy towns and villages, resorts and recreation. Meeting along the way bold settlers, town founders, wheeler-dealers, shrewd entrepreneurs, celebrities, artists, anglers, suffragettes, loaded golfers, skiers, eccentric millionaires, a haunted castle with a seductive apparition on the lookout for unwary fishermen, scoundrels and serial killers, and enough disasters and triumphs to enchant readers averse to social history. Charles Atlas, Danny Kaye and D.W. Griffith were just a few of the people that gave the Sullivan Catskills its well earned good repute. Mr. Conway neatly refers to the two major Catskills periods as the Silver Age, nineteenth to early twentieth century, and the Golden Age, which ended in 1965 with the decline of the great upstate resorts. The book is richly illustrated with period pictures that capture the beauty of this once famous and still popular place. Readers unfamiliar with the region will find it helpful having a good map of the county readily at hand to pinpoint the places covered in this fine book.
-Victor Rodriguez, author of Ravenhall