Real Life Huckleberry Finn
Kenny May is a life-long resident of Bearsville, New York. I met him through Wittenberg Sportsmen’s Club when I approached them about Yankeetown Pond Project, a precursor to Catskill Waters. I asked for their help in finding members who would contribute to the oral history of the pond.
Kenny is a spirited man and a great storyteller, with infectious laughs. He opened up his home and mesmerized me in the two-hour interview.
In the first segment, he talks about all kinds of activities on the pond, from ice fishing to demolition derbies right on the ice. Yankeetown Pond of today gets covered with lily pads in summer, with floating peat mats interspersed among them, making it very difficult to kayak through. Kenny recalls the pond being much clearer until about the 80s before the lilies took over. His recollection evokes a time when most entertainment happened in the community and in nature.
The second segment is about two sawmills which operated on Wittenberg Road, possibly impacting the flow of water that kept the pond clear. He also talks about different rumors about how the water lilies were introduced to the pond, and a mysterious grave that was on the island in the middle.
The gem is in the third segment where he talks about all kinds of mischief he and his friends got into. Kenny is at his most vibrant talking about these real life Huck Finn tales. He follows in the fourth segment with stories about his family.
Yankeetown Pond is in the watershed of Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County.