Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lost worlds

I have searched far and wide for articles with what happened to the workers in the former Catskills hotels and the garment center. The students like myself went on to careers that are likely unextraordinary. I graduated from college went into the fashion industry and reinvented myself as a federal law enforcement officer. My cousin David never finnished college and went from security in the hotels to a career as a corrections officer and recently retired. What happened to the cooks, housekeepers and others that worked full time.

Even before the Hotels were finnished many went to Florida for the winter but came back for christmas and passover.

We have the stories of the movers and shakers and to a lesser extent the guests but the kitchen help was invisibile.

Oddly, in my trip to the Catskills one place that still exists is the nasty bar the hard core alcoholics used to visit after work. The bar is long since shuttered the dishwashers and other addicts used to walk down the hill to the bar and give their whole check. They would live in a nasty place surrounded by barbed wire. The guards would almost never venture in there. A few times with shortages I ended up in a bungalow across the road with the area that handled some of the skilled kitchen help. It was memorable how the lonely workers took great pride in their cats and talked of distant dreams. Across the road you could hear the ocaisional fight.

The story of Dirty Dancing captivates many and oddly even in distant Guyana is a film that resonates there.
The workers knew their place and even when I was told it was okay to mingle there was hesitation. As a Jewish male who was a serious college student there was a chasm between my upper middle class world and many of the guests. I remember discussing it with the late Kelly Breslin who was vivacious lively and ever opinionated. Her view was that these divisions only existed in my mind and I was just another college student. Somehow, I always knew my place and never identified with that crowd. There were a few times she dragged me out and I will always cherish those memories of a fun loving fiesty and witty charachter.


Ducky's here said...

Best film set in the Catskills was Woodstock

Mr. AOW said...

Happy 4th, Beak! I wish that I could be on the Mall today!

beakerkin said...

When I feel a tad better I will be glad to treat you guys. I have been ill for three weeks and have lost 20 lbs. I hate the heat and humidity.


The real story of those hotels is better than any movie. You had artists, very wealthy people, students and various poor intersecting in family businesses.

The mix of young love and various forbidden romances were very real.
As much as I loved the age it wasn't difficult to see the end looming near. I finnished my studies and moved onto a similar dying industry.

Go figure