How small is Andes, NY? Small enough that there's just one ATM in town, on the porch of Don Hogan's general store. And in a few weeks, the bank that owns the machine is taking it out.
At least one person is fuming about it. Yesterday's edition of the weekly Catskill Mountain News had a spectacularly outrageous letter to the editor, one of those masterworks of bile that somehow manages to offend all the way across the political and social spectrum. Its author, one Charles Foster, begins with a sarcastic barb about the Hogan's ATM being taken out, and quickly moves into full-throttled soapbox territory. To read the whole thing online, you'll have to be a Catskill Mountain News subscriber. But here's a choice excerpt:
As someone who firmly believes that America's golden days are distinctly behind us, I applaud Andes for continuing the forward march into the dark past and for continuing the concerted effort to move backwards.
I applaud the Main Street restaurants for closing. I applaud the "antique" stores for selling old junk nobody wants. I applaud the local people for whining and not getting involved. I applaud not erecting a cell tower. I applaud the historical society for not educating anyone outside of shouting distance.
I applaud whoever stole or destroyed the town "welcome" signs (obviously no one is welcome, so why pretend?). I applaud the liberal press for finally ignoring Andes after mistakenly singing its "praises" for the last few years. I could applaud, applaud, applaud.
But the point is, thankfully, Andes is over its happy little moment and back to being the bitter back-stabbing-two-faced alcoholic-gun-totin'-town that I know and love.
This morning, the letter was the talk of the coffee-and-donuts social scene at Hogan's, where patrons were busy speculating about the identity and local connections of the letter writer. (Foster didn't do himself any favors by signing his hometown as "New York City.")
At least a few Andes locals got a laugh out of it. Don Hogan, owner of the eponymous store, usually has a bunch of afternoon regulars who come by for coffee and scintillating conversation.
"I was out there on the porch yesterday afternoon, reading it out loud like poetry," he said.
Though the Delaware National Bank of Delhi will be taking down the ATM at Hogan's on November 1, there's hope the town might get another one soon. At the similarly-named National Bank of Delaware County, which has a branch just down the street, there are plans afoot to put in an ATM. The bank might even try to speed up the process, now that their competitor is closing its ATM -- a piece of news that hadn't reached the National Bank of Delaware County until a reporter came inquiring about it.
"We're working on it," said branch administrator Dawnette Giesse. "In the future, it is the plan."
Photos by Lissa Harris.