Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Thanks a lot, try the liver!

Filed under : America,Life in general
On March 21, 2007
At 4:50 pm
Comments : 16

Say, did anyone see Dirty Dancing? Good, because I didn’t. But I’m informed that it takes place in a Catskills resort populated by plenty of my Jewish brethren. Yes, that’s the way it used to be if you were Jewish and lived in the Northeastern US in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Flights to Europe were out of reach of most people and you goyim weren’t letting us vacation with you. Shockingly, once the world and Jewish vacation plans began to change most of these places went out of business.

I was lucky enough to catch the end of this era and spent a few weekends of my childhood up at Grossinger’s as well as The Concord and The Raleigh. By the time I got there they were already in really bad shape, corners were cut, and the decor was out of a Brady Bunch episode. You couldn’t quite see it as the place where Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds got married. Still, I have some pretty fond memories. Which is why I was amazed and horrified to find this website chock full of depressing pictures of what Grossinger’s looks like now. Apparently it was sold and the new owners intended to renovate, only the plans kind of came apart.

(Let me just pause to tell you how I reached this site. I wasn’t actually Googling Grossinger’s to see if I could go there and play a round of golf with the Children of Israel, but rather, I was pursuing a chain of links that began at Digg and was originally a search for information about this town in Pennsylvania where an underground mine fire has been burning since 1962. Seriously! The government gave up a la the Simpsons Garbageman episode and everyone had to leave except a few idiots loyal townspeople who decided to stay on. Anyway, a completely abandoned town is the kind of thing that fascinates me and apparently a lot of other people as there are quite a few sites devoted to the exploration of abandoned places (even ones without smoke coming out of the ground), and voilà, we have Grossinger’s.)

So here are some photos. This first one is kind of how I remember the pool, only less postcard-like. But the walls were glass and it was lovely. The deep end had a window and people in another part of the complex could see you if you were drowning, er, showing off underwater.

And, well, here it is now. Notice the beach chairs still lined up. Oh, the humanity!

Look, I found a picture on another site of the pool-voyeur window!

Well, this really took me back in a moss-covered way. I mean, believe me, I’m hugely thankful for both $400 fares to exotic locales (and by exotic I’m not talking about beautiful Mt. Airy Lodge) and the fact that Jews are welcome to sip drinks with Friends of Jesus, but I do think something lovely has been lost. Something besides Henny Youngman.

Jane’s Addiction – Mountain Song


16 Comments for this post

  1. Alex says:

    Thanks a lot for the “beautiful Mt. Airy Lodge” earworm. You know I love you, Becca, but I’m counting you responsible for every second that that one phrase of a jingle bounces around inside my head.

  2. Actually part of DD was also filmed at a mountain lake resort in southern VA as well. They did some scenes in the catskills and some in VA. I only know this because I visted the “other half of the scenes” for a wedding last year.

  3. Soxy says:

    So that was you leaping into Patrick Swayze’s arms. I knew it!

  4. Becca says:

    Alex, not “I’ve Had the Time of My Life?” This post is rich in earworms!

    Mid, I can only hope the wedding had a DD theme. Gosh, how elegant that would have been.

    Soxy, no, but that was me with the pottery in Ghost. I’ve grown out my hair since then, though.

  5. Pious B says:

    Now I completely understand why my parents honeymooned there. Who needs the sunny Caribbean when there’s (or was) an all-you-can-eat midnight buffet?

  6. Sarpon says:

    My radio-host best real life friend told me yesterday her station will be doing a promo for the upcoming theatrical re-release of DD, so you may find yourself catching a wave, Becca.

    If I remember correctly from “Marjorie Morningstar” the Tribe also chose to vacation at these resorts because the food was kosher and the young people could meet eligible potential mates. In the days before everyone had central air, people with enough money sent the wife and kids to the mountains for the summer, while Dad stayed in the city to earn a living.

  7. Becca says:

    Pi, I had no idea! That must be where they learned how to do your family simchas.

    Sarpon, I think it’s been 20 years, so that makes sense. I may have to actually see that movie now.

    Yes, and if you see Radio Days, the Dianne Wiest character (aka Jewish spinster sister), mentions either that she’s been there or is about to go. Woody Allen got his start in the Catskills, btw.

  8. Pious B says:

    “Marjorie Morningstar” is my favorite book of all time. My futile efforts to encourage Becca to read it have thus far failed. Can you help, Sarpon?

  9. Becca says:

    Does it have an RSS feed? I have a really short attention span.

  10. Sarpon says:

    It has Jews, sex and detailed descriptions of Chinese food. What more could anyone want from a novel?

  11. KP says:

    Isn’t that where in “A Walk on the Moon” Diane Lane went with her family and had crazy drug tinged 60s sex with Viggo Mortenson while her husband fixed TVs in the city?

    I want Catskills sex with Aragorn! Or a brownie! Or both!

  12. NoShowMo says:

    The interior shots were filmed here, most of the exterior filmed in Virginia:

    I went there about a year after the movie came out, and it was so unbelievably cool. At the time, of course. When I was 14.

  13. Becca says:

    Sarpon, is Scarlett O’Hara in it?

    KP, God, I haven’t seen that one either. I really must get out more. Or stay in more and actually utilize my Netflix queue.

    Nosh, hm, that does look a bit like Grossinger’s except less Tudor. OK, another one for the queue.

  14. KP says:


    I got the brownie but no Aragorn, though Mr. KP has offered to not shower and hang out with some Hobbits.

  15. Shark says:

    Most recent Dirty Dancing funny moment:

    I was out in public wearing a Mount Holyoke t-shirt. A woman at a store asked me if it was a real college. I replied “um, yeah”. To which she replied, oh, I wondered because that’s the college from Dirty Dancing.

    That should make you east coast folks laugh.

  16. Becca says:

    There’s a real Mount Holyoke? Oh, I kid.

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