Dan Hust | Democrat
As a citation from the NYS Senate is pulled out of its envelope, Ed Van Put, right, gratefully accepts his 2009 Historical Preservation Award from Robert Decker, president of the Sullivan County Historical Society.
Award-winning historian pretty good fisher too
By Dan Hust
ROSCOE Images of Dan Rather, Jimmy Carter, Sandra Day O’Connor and Donald Trump Jr. flashed by on the screen.
Inside a darkened Rockland House, Judy O’Brien Van Put then promised viewers Brad Pitt.
Hard to make out at first, the slide caused nearly 100 people to lean forward in their seats.
“Wait a minute!” exclaimed Judy. “That’s not Brad Pitt that’s my husband, Ed!”
The crowd sat back and broke into laughter, then applause, as Judy’s joke became clear:
While Brad Pitt may have made fly-fishing famous in “A River Runs Through It,” he really can’t hold a candle or a fly rod to the true celebrity of the fly-fishing and Sullivan County community: Edward Van Put.
In fact, save for Pitt, Ed has given lessons to all the celebrities mentioned above just a few of the hundreds upon hundreds of individuals who have benefitted from his incredible knowledge of fishing and history.
It is that legacy that spurred the Sullivan County Historical Society to award Ed its 2009 Historical Preservation Award on Sunday appropriately enough in Roscoe, Trout Town USA.
“I greatly appreciate this honor,” Ed said as he cradled the award in front of a cheering crowd.
Save for Judy, the night’s speakers kept their comments about Ed brief, with fellow Livingston Manor resident and fisherman Dave Forshay crediting Ed with giving him a thorough education in fly-fishing, while County Historian John Conway offered an illuminating look at the true start of the local tourism trade (about 100 years before the famous Borscht Belt Golden Age).
Conway, in fact, only mentioned Ed at the conclusion of his speech, likening the author and fisherman to the two other great historians of the county: James Eldridge Quinlan and Manville B. Wakefield.
The reason for their brevity became clear at the end of the dinner: Ed was given the chance to answer questions about his life, his long service with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, his fine research and even finer writing on local history, his years spent not just honing his fishing skills but opening up and improving dozens of access areas along the Beaverkill, the Willowemoc and the Callicoon Creek.
The answers were signature Ed Van Put.
“What’s your favorite fly, Ed?”
“Because it works!”
“What’s your favorite river, Ed? The Delaware? The Beaverkill? The Neversink?”
Ed didn’t miss a beat.
“The one I’m fishing on!”