A day out in Sullivan County
What is there to do in Sullivan County, NY? Well, for myself and my husband, John, there is a lot. As locals, living just over the Sullivan County line, above Long Eddy, we had never visited a number of the biggest tourist attractions that Sullivan County has to offer. So, this past Wednesday we set out on an adventure to remedy our sore lack of local sightseeing.
We had never been to the new Resort Worlds Catskills casino in Monticello, so we went there first. On the way, we passed the ruins of the Concord Hotel and many bungalow colonies, all tributes to Sullivan County’s famous past and present. Neither of us is a gambler, so the large, neon-lit game floor was pretty much lost on us. But it was interesting to see the craps tables and baccarat games in intense, full swing. I tried my hand at a simpler slot machine but gave up after spending $10. After lunch at Good Friends Market (Asian street food), we headed to the Museum at Bethel Woods.
I have been to a number of concerts at Bethel Woods, but never the museum. Suffice to say it was an afternoon well spent. We enjoyed seeing the familiar but always intriguing images of the legendary Woodstock music festival held in Bethel in August of 1969.
Especially poignant was finally seeing the photos of the festival taken by our dear friend, the late Jack Niflot, who reported on the event for the Sullivan County Democrat. As it were, John and I met each other, through Jack Niflot, when we were all working together at the Democrat in the 1980s.
I must say that probably my favorite part of the trip was an excursion to Walmart. I personally love the Monticello Walmart in the summer. (Am I the only one?) I like the variety of people and languages. I enjoy seeing the mobs of kids running around wanting candy and chips and cold drinks. We also bought some snacks: Puerto Rican sweet bread and kosher sesame pretzels. For me it feels like vacation and fun. It feels like summer.
As we drove we ate our snacks. Driving along Route 17B, past Bethel, we remarked at how little the road has actually changed since 1969. Still largely flanked by farmland, the road is recognizable from the many photos taken when it was clogged with traffic coming in for the Woodstock Festival.
As we got close to Fosterdale, my husband remembered Jean McCoach. McCoach served as the Town of Cochecton supervisor when we both worked at the newspaper. Jean was a true, hardworking, local character. Town board meetings could be punctuated by Jean exclaiming “Happy baloney!”—whatever that meant. John also recalls her mentioning the Hare Krishnas who for a time ran a community and school in Lake Huntington.
ISKON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is a Hindu-based organization founded in 1965, which operated in Lake Huntington during the 1970s and ‘80s. As a child I remember Hare Krishna members from the ISKON group walking around Callicoon and handing out molasses cookies and cards with the Maha mantra printed on it. I ate a number of those cookies and still have one of the cards that was handed out. (Incidentally, the Maha mantra is incorporated into the lyrics of former Beatle George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord.”)
The Lake Huntington community operated a gurakula, or school, from 1980 to 1986, which has since been implicated in reports of child abuse. It is yet another chapter in Sullivan County history.
It was a good day spent sightseeing in our own region. And there is still a lot more to see.