On Monday morning we stopped by to visit Jimmy Morton, who lives alone in a little house near the headwaters of Schoharie Creek. He has spent all his 94 years within five miles of Platte Clove.
As I sketched his portrait in his kitchen, he told me about the horses that used to haul the bluestone down from the mountain, and how he used to walk to school in 30-below weather.
When he was younger he brought his pet crow Jip on his milk delivery route. “Jip was the nicest pet I ever had,” he said. “He’d sit up in a tree and then—‘caw, caw’—he’d come down and set on my shoulder. But he’d steal things from people around here—watches and keys and whatnot—and stick them all in a hollow tree. I had to climb the tree and fetch them all back to their owners.”
One time he was coming down from Roundtop Mountain through the deep forest when he heard a strange sound coming from above. “I looked up and I’ll be darned if there wasn’t a cowbell up in the tree ringing. The only thing I could figure, a raccoon hauled it up there and was ringin’ it when he seen me go by.”