As resort staff that inspired ‘Dirty Dancing’ prepares to reunite — can the Catskills come back as well?

Many are fascinated by the lore of the Borscht Belt/Catskill resorts in lower New York State, either because they stayed there as guests before the hotels’ eventual decline in the 1980s and 1990s, or because they’ve seen “Dirty Dancing” or the much-talked-about recent episode of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” As a child whose family stayed at the resorts in the 1980s before the fell into ruin — and who worked at the Concord briefly during the summer of 1990 — I remember a special quality about the resorts that’s not often found in vacation spots today. Perhaps it was dining at long communal tables with families who were strangers at the start of a weekend and friends by the end (it helped that there was near-perfect attendance at all three meals each day). Perhaps it was being allowed, as a child, some freedom for the first time, whether to roam the hotel hallways or to order as much as we wanted of new foods (my brother and I dared each other to try borscht and developed a great love of the traditional Jewish cold fruit soup). Perhaps it was fetching the daily schedules at the front desk and joining the various recreational and trivia contests, or getting all dressed up to see a comedian or live band in an intimate setting.

I won this in a trivia contest during my family’s first stay at the Stevensville around 1983. It was always fun to run to the front desk each morning to fetch that day’s activity schedule.
A few taps of your keyboard and you can order Catskills alum Steve Zetlin’s novel. He’s one of many former resort staffers whose fond memories have inspired books.

Journalist & author of nerdy novel CARRIE PILBY (film version‘s on Netflix). Finishing up offbeat memoir. Love dogs & puns. Read more: http://carenlissner.com.

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