August 25 - September 1, 2003

Habitat For Humanity
Your article on the growth of home buying in the Catskills [“Head for the Hills,” by Shyama Patel, August 4] was very interesting, but why focus only on the wealthy who’ve fled the Hamptons? My man friend and I recently purchased a very nice little house for $60,000 near Monticello in Sullivan County. We have lake rights, woods, clean air, and many reasonably priced restaurants nearby. The Catskills are for everyone—not just the rich and famous.
-Marcia Epstein, Manhattan

Not-So-New Paltz
After ten years of going to the Hamptons each summer, a friend and I decided to go in on a share house in New Paltz for a new experience and a change of scenery. We found the house to be rustically cool, the lakes amazingly beautiful, and the people laid-back and friendly. The problem? We were bored. Our weekends consisted of hiking the same trails by day and eating at the same restaurant by night, and the only “scene” we found in New Paltz was watching the sun go down over the mountains as the fireflies flew by.
-Christina Monaco, Manhattan

Reason Enough
One good reason for moving to the Catskills would be to get as far away from Lizzie Grubman as possible.
-William Siegel, Wayne, N.J.

Pottery Yarn
Jonathan Adler is quoted as saying, “There’s nothing to buy in the Catskills—and if there’s nothing to buy, what’s the point?” I would simply like to point out that last year, I opened Mid-Century Modern, a furniture store in Rosendale, New York, and have been selling, among the Nelson, Eames, and Prouvé designs, pottery by … Jonathan Adler!
-Jonathan Gallin, Rosendale, N.Y.

Spreading Contagion
‘Head for the hills” was quite entertaining. The self-indulgent, materialistic subjects you interviewed—the ones tearing down homes and replacing them with 8,000-square-foot mansions with imported seventeenth-century French stone for their bathroom—claim that they’re escaping the excesses and stress of the Hamptons. Instead, it seems pretty clear they’re hell-bent on re-creating it.
-Andy Ostroy, Manhattan

Class Warfare
As one who was smart enough (or cheap enough) to buy in Sullivan County before almost anyone else in Manhattan knew where the place was—$70,000 for a 100-year-old Victorian farmhouse with 24 acres of forest and meadows in the early eighties—I was very interested in “Head for the Hills.” But the folks Shyama Patel interviewed didn’t mention one big problem that outsiders have to deal with (maybe because they haven’t yet encountered it). I’m talking about the short-sighted attitude of local governments, most of which don’t seem to care if longtime locals despoil the countryside with junk-filled yards and unsightly shacks, but see the newcomers who try to improve things as nothing more than rich suckers to be squeezed.
-Dan Cordtz, Santa Fe, N.M.

Outside The Buff
To be added to the list of reasons to abandon the beaches of the Hamptons for the mountains of the Catskills: Baby-boomer bodies no longer look buff in swimsuits on the shore.
-Karen Purviance, Glastonbury, Conn.

Arugula Awakening
Dear Hamptonites: Oh, but we do know what arugula is in the Catskills. It is readily available in abundance in supermarkets and local farmstands. Ditto for fresh fish, mozzarella, and a plethora of gourmet items.
-Aline M. La Belle, Hurley, N.Y.

Fight The Power
What is missing in “Head for the Hills” is the bad news—the prospect of three mammoth Indian casinos slated to be built in the very near future. Will this new generation of homesteaders simply head for farther-off hills, or will they use their wealth and influence to fight Pataki’s ill-considered plan to dump casinos in the midst of a pastoral region which shows every sign of a gradual and sustainable economic recovery?
-Astrid Fitzgerald, Accord, N.Y.

Roughing It
Nothing summed up the reasons we have chosen to escape to northwestern New York as well as your “Shore Losers” [by Sarah Bernard, August 4]. Pedicures by the pool? No place to shop? Afraid of some rain? No wonder we all hit the Thruway on Friday—it’s to escape those vapid individuals whose sense of self is defined by how they look or what and how much they can buy.
-Barbara Marra Dower, Fleischmanns, N.Y.

Hope Springs Eternal
Thank you for “Head for the Hills.” Maybe now the oftentimes discourteous, unmannerly masses who invade the Hamptons will be redirected toward the wonderful acreage of the Catskills. Maybe now the Hamptons can return to its former glory and blueberry-picking tranquility, the wondrous place of my youth where once, in the fifties, I encountered Bob Hope in Bermuda shorts on Main Street in Westhampton Beach.
-Ellen D. Bullock, Queens

A Rural Girlhood
Seeing the pepacton reservoir on your map of the Catskills in “Head for the Hills” brought back a flood of memories of the 1930s, when my family’s home was among those displaced by the reservoir’s construction. I lived in Pepacton for five years, working alongside my mother, father, and grandfather on the family farm, and on hot days diving into the Delaware River from the bridge just in front of our house. Our school bus in those days was a converted hearse with no heat. It was a hard but healthy life. I shall soon be 83 years old, and much of what I am today I credit to those years in the Catskills.
-Caroline Elwood Cheraskin, Birmingham, Ala.

Men In The Dunes
Steven Gaines’s “Trouble In the Dunes” [“Intelligencer,” July 28] overlooks the key issue: There are laws pertaining to public beaches that govern safety and behavior so that all beachgoers feel comfortable and respected. These laws state that beachgoers must be properly clothed (bottoms are required), must not engage in open sex (same-sex or otherwise), must not urinate on the protected dunes, and must not litter the beaches with used condoms or drug paraphernalia.
-Cathy Callegari, Spokesperson for the Further Lane Association, Manhattan and East Hampton

Summer Reading
‘I don’t know what Michael Cunningham’s novels are like,” John Simon announces [“Theater: Guerre Is Hell,” July 28], almost as if ignorance were something to be proud of. Let me respectfully suggest that this obviously literate fellow take the plunge and read one or two. Isn’t that what those of us who care about literature (admittedly an endangered species) do?
-Joel Conarroe, President, PEN American Center, Manhattan

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August 25 - September 1, 2003