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LETTERS IN VIEW : Times Change All Over, Not Just in the Catskills

September 23, 1990

Just to see the name Catskills evokes long-forgotten memories. My family would spend most of every summer in the mountains from the late 1930s up to the early 1960s. And even after I was married, I'd go visit my parents who retreated to the sanctuary of summer.

I vividly recollect the adventure of waiting at the crack of dawn in late June for the "hack" (a modified limousine) to pack a summer's worth of clothing and personal items inside and atop for the arduous five- or six-hour trek to the mountains. This was well before the era of super highways.

We stayed at such fancifully named establishments as Eagle Mountain House, Hack's, Sackett Lake Country Club, Friedlander's, and one or two more I cannot recall. Chances are all have disappeared.

I was a busboy briefly at Laurel's. I caddied once at Grossingers. I saw Joe Louis there playing golf in 1945. After college, I went back to work as a busboy at one hotel, another summer as a camp counselor on Sackett Lake, and even one summer as a dishwasher.

The lure was too great. Staying in the city in the summer was to be avoided if all possible. Air conditioning was not readily available except in movies and office buildings. The weather was muggy. The nighttime insects were bloodthirsty. New York City summers were notoriously bad--and probably still are.

At least there are still some hotels catering to the needs of (mostly) New Yorkers. However, the trend appears to be for their ultimate demise. Like many other places, they had their time in the sun and people just go elsewhere.


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