, pub-2480664471547226, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
Home » » BETTER THAN HEARSAY - Historically Perambulating with Planck

BETTER THAN HEARSAY - Historically Perambulating with Planck

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

By Michael Ryan

HAINES FALLS - Memory does not serve when I first met Jim Planck, a kind-hearted gentleman who now-and-then seems misplaced in time.

Jim is giving a presentation this Saturday (June 15) at the old U & D Train Station in Haines Falls where I could easily envision him being the conductor, back in the day.

His talk is called Pine Orchard: Lair of the Mountain House,” going from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, the first of two such historical sojourns, followed on September 2 by the second installment.

This weekend, he will be chronicling events leading up to the construction of the Catskill Mountain House, calling it, “one of America’s first resort destinations,” high up in the local Catskills.

Far be it for me to try to say anything about the place which could be fabled but was simultaneously real and imaginative and splendorous.

Doing some back-checking on Wikipedia (which might make the Rip Van Winklish beard of Jim bristle), the Mountain House opened in 1824, two slow-but-sure centuries ago.

It was a famous hotel near Palenville, overlooking the Hudson River Valley, “In its prime, from the 1850s to the turn of the century, it was visited by three U.S. presidents (U.S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, and Theodore Roosevelt) and the power elite of the day,” Wikipedia states.

I could also easily picture Jim absorbing the grand vista from the deck of the hotel, mingling with the pundits of that era, no longer misplaced.

It should be interesting to hear what Jim shares about the Mountain House  and the folks who frequented it, all ghosts now (except Jim, of course).

New York State operates North-South Lake near the site, part of a cozy stroll along the Escarpment Trail if you so wish. Walking there, one can wonder if the wind is the same, or has it too changed?

As for Mr. Planck, he is vice-president of the Greene County Historical Society and editor of the GCHS quarterly journal.

Jim had a 30+ year career as a reporter covering Greene County news, which is how we professionally crossed paths, working at the former Windham Journal where, for a spell, he was my boss.

Once a week, we would travel to the main office in Catskill as Jim put together the paper for publication, a situation that didn’t last long.

As a kid, I was what many teachers termed a pain in the anatomical section on which they sat. I spent most of my school days in the Dean of Students office or standing in the hallway, kicked out for disrupting the class.

It is a quality I find endearing. Jim didn’t. He soon enough advised me to stay as far away from the office as possible.

We got along fine after that. Over the years he has made his mark, writing articles for Kaatskill Life, Columbia County Heritage, and Greene County History.

Many people may not know Jim served with the Marines from 1965-69 with a tour of duty in Viet Nam, afterwards (and perhaps before) embedding himself in historical minutia like no one I’ve eve seen.

Let me take that back. There was a fellow named Charles Emil Dornbusch who is a kindred spirit with Jim Planck.

Dornbusch was a noted military bibliographer (including his classic tomes on the American Civil War) and owner of the Hope Farm Bookshop.

I worked for Mr. Dornbusch in my youth, doing everything from A to Z at his quaint bookshop, tucked in the woods outside the village of Cornwallville.

Perhaps that is where Jim and I met. However it happened, I would be curious to see if he will mention the Fried Chicken War, this weekend.

I was going to ask him about the battle if he came on my weekly radio show on WRIP, an invitation he declined. It’s probably wise. I still tend to ramble.

The way Wikipedia spins the yarn, “one summer day in 1880, a prominent Philadelphia businessman and longtime Mountain House guest, George Harding, asked a waiter to bring some fried chicken to his daughter.

Roast beef was customarily served but Harding’s daughter, Emily, had been prescribed a diet excluding red meat, prompting the request.

An argument inexplicably ensued. Word of it reached hotel owner Charles Beach who refused the request, instead suggesting Harding, if he so desired, build a hotel of his own.

“Harding called the bluff,” Wikipedia states, “beginning plans for his own hotel to be located atop neighboring South Mountain and utterly dwarf Beach’s” which was done. Maybe good ‘ol Jim will spill the rest.

Remember to Subscribe!
Subscription Options
Share this article :
Like the Post? Do share with your Friends.


Post a Comment