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A Word From William Brustman
It's just a very small town located in the Southern part of the Catskill Mountains, approximately 110 miles Northwest of New York City. The population during Winter months remains around 100, however during late spring, summer and fall, we have a considerable number of summer guests who occupy their own housing here which dramatically increases the census figure. County road (CR-95) which runs generally North and South through Obernburg is quite heavily traveled especially during morning and evening hours, when workers from outside villages pass through enroute for their job assignments. The elevation in midtown is 1656 feet with elevations of 2000 feet bordering on the east and west. Most of our residents are hard working people, where in most instances both man and wife are out working to maintain a decent home, and contribute to the good of the community. For the most part, employment is found in Callicoon, Jeffersonville and Liberty, which is within reasonable travel distance. Within our boundaries, we have three (3) established carpenter/cabinet makers, one (1) licensed electrician and several professional auto mechanics. Dairy farmers are now in the minority, we have no full-timers shipping milk as compared to past years when we had approximately twenty (20) setting their milk cans on the stand for pickup by a local trucker who delivered the milk to the creamery.
Our Post Office, 12767, remains active, having been threatened more recently for closure on a government downsizing program.
St. Mary's Church, the only church in Obernburg, is alive and well with a full-time Pastor in residence who conducts a daily mass and two (2) on Sundays. The Church hall I consider second to none, is used extensively for social, religious and revenue-producing activities.
Briefly dwelling on the past, the record will show that the Obernburg area once had a brewery, a public school, a Catholic school, a Nun's Convent, a general store, at least 20 dairy farmers who shipped milk, 20 summer boarding houses, apple growers, chicken farmers and a saloon. Most are gone now with time and events bringing change which residents have adjusted to as necessary.
I have always loved Obernburg and in spite of my absence of 24 years in the military service, and 12 years working in the canyons of New York City, I have always maintained it as my official place of residence. Permit me to show some of my past background which qualifies me to be labeled a "Dutch Towner."
I was born here way back when President Woodrow Wilson sat under the flag pole in the White House. I received my education here in both the public and Catholic schools. I graduated from Callicoon High School in 1938. In response to Local Draft Board Nr. 310, Liberty, NY, and my draft Nr. 981, I responded for Military service on 11 September 1941. I received Basic and Advanced Infantry training in a number of Military posts up and down the Eastern seaboard. Having achieved the grade of Sergeant, I was relieved from Active duty on 5 august 1943, by reason to accept a Commission. On 6 August 1943, I was Commissioned a 2d Lt. Infantry. It was at this point in time that my travels both in Continental US and abroad introduced me to an entirely new environment for the next 20 plus years. I spent WW II in North Africa and Italy as a Combat Infantryman, one year in Korea as a Combat Infantryman, and finally I responded to one year as a Combat Infantryman in Vietnam as an Advisor to a Vietnamese Infantry Commander. Sandwiched in between the three (3) aforementioned experiences on the battlefield, there was ample time of peace time I occupation duty to visit numerous countries in Europe and the Far East. Permit me to highlight some of these places. At the height of the Berlin Crisis, I was stationed there on Military Duty with the express mission of maintaining the Peace on an Outpost of Democracy. There was ample off-duty time there to visit the shops, restaurants and splendor of the Kurfurstendamm in the British Sector and play a round of golf in the American Sector. On Military leave from Berlin I' visited the Land of the Midnight Sun on the Coast of Norway - I walked the streets of Denmark, Sweden and Finland. I kissed the Blarney Stone in Blarney, County of Cork, Ireland, and done some Christmas shopping in the stores of London. I visited the Vatican in Rome, attended Mass at St. Peter's and along with many servicemen
from numerous countries, had an audience with the Pope. Responding to Military Assignments in the South Pacific, I crossed the International Date Line, Domain of the Golden Dragon, Ruler of the 180th Meridian. I performed 17 months occupational duty in the most beautiful city in all of Japan - "Kyoto." This city is best known for its many beautiful temples and other places of Japanese worship. Kyoto was declared an "Open City" during WW II which meant the Allied Forces did not attempt to bomb or destroy it because of its long standing culture. I had the opportunity of visiting British Hong Kong on two weeks of Rest and Recuperation (R & R) when I was stationed in Vietnam. Hong Kong is a shopper's paradise and I availed myself to every opportunity - recalling I spent all my available cash at the time, buying gifts for my family back home.
Retiring from Military Service in 1964, I took up employment for 12 years with a New York City Bank until it went "bottoms up" and took protection under Chapter 11 of banking laws. Following the bankruptcy, I was employed for a short time with the FDIC, who took over and salvaged the assets and/or liabilities of the failed bank. Soon thereafter I initiated a request for and received my "Pink Slip" from the FDIC.
There should be no doubt in the minds of those who read this communication that I traveled a great deal, mostly in response to Military Orders. In the course of these travels I have rubbed elbows with the rich, the poor and those in between. I have seen the oppressed and the depressed. I have seen war and peace. Too many wars and not enough peace. I have delivered military instruction and/or Orientation to Recruits, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Colonels, Generals, Admirals, a Field Marshall and a King. Now consider if you will all the places I have traveled stateside and abroad, the people from many races around the globe, the beautiful towns, villages and cities I have passed through, and those in which I spent various periods of time. I probably have seen the best and the worst as a consequence of war.
With all of the aforementioned exposure considered, it never crossed my mind that when the time came for me to set down my foot locker and unpack my duffel bag, would there be any place on the globe for me to call home except Obernburg. Why has it always been Obernburg? For me to answer the question it would probably be more fitting to answer with another question. Was it because of the older generation I so loved, respected and admired who looked over and cared for me in growing up, - was it my faith and love for St. Mary's, - was it the opportunity to again participate in hunting, trapping, fishing especially tip-up fishing? Was it the opportunity of riding my snowmobile and 4-wheeler over the hills, valleys and streams surrounding this beautiful place? Was it because I could raise a large Atlantic Giant Pumpkin for competition in the fall festivals? Was it the 4 seasons or that I was just plain homesick? Unequivocally my answer would be, "All of the above." Stop right here and let me provide the answer which stands out above all the rest. It was on the battlefield just North of Rome during WW II when I was caught up in one of the worst Enemy mortar, machine gun and artillery bombardments I have ever experienced. There was little cover or concealment from which to take protection except small stacks of wheat scattered about. It entered my mind that they, meaning the Medics, would either carry me out of this place on a stretcher or wrapped up neatly in a mattress cover. Suddenly I remembered my Rosary Beads, which was given to me before entering Military Service by a great friend who was an Officer in the Spanish American War. I remember also what this gracious giver said to me in handing me the Rosary. "Here Billy, there may be times when you will need them." The time was right now, so I reached into my pants pocket on the right side, and hastily fingered the beads over some Our Fathers and Hail Marys. It was at that moment in time I thought of home. I asked Almighty God to spare me and if I got out of this awful situation I would return to Obernburg and never leave.
It's not easy for me to come forward and reveal myself to you like this, but on the other hand, I have so many other unpleasant experiences from the battlefields all boxed up inside which I would not discuss with anyone unless perhaps he was a soldier who earned the right to wear the Blue Badge of the Combat Infantrymen.
As I write this, the Countdown on Christmas is at hand. I will be attending Midnight Mass at St. Mary's, a custom given to me by my father and mother so long ago when they would lead me by the hand up to the pews. I will arrive early for this special Mass in order to take in the singing of Christmas Carols by the choir, and yes, there will be sufficient time remaining before Mass gets started to very slowly and deliberately reach into my pants pocket on the right side, find my Rosary Beads and finger some Our Fathers and Hail Marys in thanks to Our Holy Father for bringing me home.