Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wild Ass

I think this would be a good point in time for some lighter fare. Like many other baby-boomers who grew up in the New York City Metropolitan Area and nearby region, I have fond memories of going to the Catskill Game Farm as a child on family trips and vacations. And for many years my wife and I passed the signs advertising the attraction while traveling through the Catskills on various family outings, or on the way to media ecology program conferences at Saugerties, and later Rosendale, and to New York State Communication Association conferences at Ellenville, Monticello (Kutshers Country Club was, for many years, a favorite destination), and more recently Kerhonkson. And I always said we have to go to the Catskill Game Farm, but we never actually did it until last summer.

We had a wonderful time, and vowed to return as often as possible. And then I was saddened to learn that the Catskill Game Farm, which was the first privately owned attraction to be officially designated as a zoo, was closing permanently on Columbus Day of last year. So our first visit turned out to be our last, but at least we made it out there.

I should add that the Catskill Game Farm is significant enough to have earned an entry in that arbiter of all things, Wikipedia.

The closing of the Catskill Game Farm is part of a larger trend where many of the great old hotels in the region, including those of the Borscht Belt circuit that nurtured the great Jewish comedians of 20th century, have had to close down. The Catskills once was a popular vacation destination, but now they are practically suburbs, definitely exurbs of New York City, and the combination of the New York State Thruway, which makes it possible to reach destinations by car much faster, and therefore encourages automobile vacationers to travel farther away, and cheap airfares which make distant vacation locations affordable, have eviscerated the economic viability of the Catskills as a resort.

I regret that the attraction is gone now, but I am grateful that we had our chance to see the place before it closed. And it provided some wonderful opportunities for my wife, Barbara, to take some photographs. The sequence I am showing you here is a particularly interesting, and amusing set. It started with the idea to post our son, Benjamin, next to a sign as a bit of a prank:

As funny as it seemed to us, Benjamin making an ass out of himself, we never expected that some of his brethren would want to get into the act:

And the last thing we expected is that these asses would be such hams, and actually mug for the camera:

When he went over to the sign to pose, Benjamin assumed that he and he alone was the subject of the photographs, which only goes to show that when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.

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