Every year, mainlybetween the Fourth of July and Labor Day, 3 million visitors pile into theCatskill Mountains in southeastern New York state for fun, games and romance.Unlike vacation areas elsewhere that draw from the public at large, theCatskills attract ethnic groups. There are sections of the Catskills cateringto Italians, Irish, Greeks, Poles and Jews. Of all these, it is the Jewishsection, variously called the Borscht Belt, the Sour Cream Sierras and theMountains, that has the most élan, is the most famous—Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar,Phil Silvers, Sam Levenson, Shelley Winters, Jerry Lewis and Robert Merrill areamong the many entertainers who got their start there—and the mostimportant.
The Mountainsattract vacationers from all over the world, and not just with singers, dancersand comedians. The accommodations arc generally excellent, the food plentiful(and good, if you like Jewish cooking) and there is a wealth of sportsfacilities, supervised by current or former champions. At Grossinger's, thebest known of the area's hotels, Mike Souchak is the golf pro, FlorenceChadwick is the resident aquatic director and a continuous flow ofprizefighters, ice skaters, skiers and basketball players comes to visit, trainor perform. Rocky Marciano, Joey Maxim, Ingemar Johansson, Billy Conn and GeneFullmer are among those who have trained at the G; so have Olympic FigureSkaters Tenley Albright, Carol Heiss and Hayes Alan Jenkins and David Jenkins;for almost 30 years, Olympic Speed Skating Champion Irving Jaffee has run thewinter sports program.
At the Concord,the G's chief competitor, Buster Crabbe is "director of wateractivities," Jimmy Demaret is resident golf pro. The Concord was the firstresort to use an artificial snow machine for winter skiing. Last summer, in themiddle of a heat wave, the hotel froze its outdoor skating rink, permittingguests to skate in their bathing suits. Needless to say, the Concord also hasan indoor rink, as do many other hotels. And the number of golf courses, tennisand volleyball courts, swimming pools (indoor and out), archery ranges andsoftball diamonds—concentrated in a 20-mile-by-20-mile heartland in Sullivanand Ulster counties—is staggering. There is now even a bustling harness-racingtrack—Monticello Raceway—built specifically for the resort trade and billed, intypical Catskill style, as The Mighty M.
At the height ofthe summer season the Mountains are the most densely populated resort area inthe U.S. There are some 500 hotels and 800 bungalow colonies and boardinghouses, ranging in elegance and expense from Grossinger's to the so-calledkochaleins. The word, in Yiddish, means "cook alone"; a typicalkochalein is an establishment with rooms for family groups and a large communalkitchen where each guest can cook his own meals.
But Grossinger'sand the Concord indisputably are the Mountains' two pacesetters. Theirinnovations become part of general Catskill style and culture and often spreadaround the country. (Tony and Lucille, the Grossinger dance team, introducedthe mambo to the U.S.) The two hotels are in a constant battle for supremacy, arivalry often compared to the one between Macy's and Gimbels. Grossinger's, 15miles northwest of the Concord, is big but with a haimeshe (homey) atmosphereand puts the stress on the individual guest. The Concord is bigger butrelatively impersonal and aggressive. The Concord management is always boastingthat it has surpassed Grossinger's on any number of fronts and will soonovertake it on all the rest. As Comedian Buddy Hackett, a Concord favorite,told an audience there one night last summer, "Years ago, you couldn'tmention the Grossinger at the Concord. Now what's another motel up theroad?"
Grossinger's hasbeen the subject of a book, Waldorf in the Catskills, and the inspiration for afilm, Holiday Inn. During World War II a bomber was named after it. The fame ofthe hotel has spread abroad: the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, which caters toNiarchos, Onassis and the like, is known as the Greek Grossinger's. When KingBaudouin of Belgium toured the U.S., Grossinger's was one of the places hewanted to visit. He did, spending a weekend incognito, and, according to PaulGrossinger, the executive vice-president and general manager, "he lovedit." Baron Edmond de Rothschild also has visited Grossinger'sincognito.
Many tributes havebeen paid to Jennie Grossinger, the president of the hotel and the matriarch ofthe Mountains. A trim blonde who looks younger than her age—she is 70—Jenniewas the inspiration for a song entitled, appropriately, Jennie, that was firstsung by Eddie Cantor and Eddie Fisher. (Cantor "discovered" Fisher atGrossinger's.) She has been the subject of the television program, This Is YourLife (a copy of the tape is rerun for guests regularly), was named Noble Womanof the Year in 1962 by the Baltimore Hebrew Noble Ladies Aid Society, is afellow of Brandeis University and holds an honorary degree from WilberforceUniversity. To most visitors she personifies Grossinger's.
Grossinger's sitson a hilltop overlooking the town of Liberty. The grounds sprawl over 1,000acres, encompassing an 18-hole championship golf course; a lake; an airport,where Henry Cabot Lodge, in company with Governor Nelson Rockefeller, afrequent visitor, alighted for a speech at the beginning of his campaign forthe vice-presidency; an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool; a toboggan slide; aski slope; a riding academy; a post office, the presence of which allows thehotel to stamp all mail "Grossinger's" instead of Liberty; a skatingrink; a printing plant that churns out menus, announcements and 100,000 copiesof the weekly Grossinger News, a euphoric sheet (INDOOR POOL SMASH HIT!!)mailed to former guests; and a garden with signs saying
DO NOT PICK US
WE BLOOM FOR YOUR PLEASURE
thank you THE FLOWERS
The main building,erected in the 1920s, is a vast warren of timbered stucco in the Elizabethanmanner. It includes rooms for 325 guests, five lobbies, a nightclub, sundryshops and studios, a coffee shop ("Try our kosher pizza") and a diningroom easily the size of two football fields. The lobbies and dining room arepaneled in pine.
Despite the sizeof the hotel, the G's publicity men have no difficulty reconciling hominesswith magnitude. A press release reads: "Surveying more than 1,000like-minded guests brandishing knife and fork with carefree abandon in thepicturesquely-appointed Dining Room last weekend, Martin Burden, restaurant anddining editor of the New York Post, enthused: 'An amazing spot! A thousandpeople in a huge room—and the place still has the intimacy of a cozykitchenette!' "
As with all kosherhotels, Grossinger's has two kitchens and separate sets of dishes andsilverware for meat and dairy meals. According to Jewish dietary law, thepreparation and service of the two must never be mixed. This means that guestsmay not have cream in their coffee with meat meals. Pork, certain cuts of beefand lamb and all shellfish are never served. Establishments that designatetheir food as "kosher style" serve all dishes. At both kosher andkosher-style hotels the wide variety of food reflects the European backgroundof guests and chefs.
The G also has itsown shochet, a butcher licensed by a chief rabbi to slaughter poultry. The mainbuilding houses a small temple staffed by Rabbi Aaron Miller. The former rabbi,Harry Z. Stone, a distant relative of the Grossingers who died last fall,confessed that he occasionally had difficulty raising a minyan, the 10 mennecessary for a religious service. "Even those who pray in New York comehere to relax," he said.
Still, manypractices of orthodox Jewish life are observed by the hotel, if not by theguests. On the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday till sundown Saturday,the management removes all writing paper from the desks and posts no-smokingsigns in the lobbies. Although Orthodox Jews are forbidden to work on theSabbath, Grossinger's carries on business as usual. A number of years agoJennie Grossinger sought out a Talmudic scholar on New York's lower East Sidewho assured her that it was all right to work on the Sabbath as long as one'semployer required it. As a result of this advice, the Grossinger family drawsup a lease on the eve of every Sabbath and turns the hotel over to HansBehrens, a Gentile employee, who then requires them to work for him. Aftersundown Saturday, control of the hotel reverts to the Grossingers. The Pioneer,one of the most strictly orthodox of all Catskill hotels, feels no suchpressure to split its personality. On the Sabbath no guests are allowed toregister or drive their cars on the grounds, and all work, from flipping on alight switch to washing dishes, is done by the exclusively Gentile help.Indeed, the Pioneer was almost cited by the State Commission againstDiscrimination for refusing to hire Jewish bellhops. The hotel explained thatit could hire only Gentiles if it were to operate efficiently. The Pioneer,incidentally, once had the only rabbi-golf pro in the country.
AlthoughGrossinger's is "modern orthodox," it welcomes Gentile guests. It is amatter of pride to Paul Grossinger that the kitchen averages 50 orders of fishon a Friday night. ' "This is a nice little laboratory for grouprelations," he says. "Counting conventions, 10% to 20% of our guestsare Gentiles, and the number is increasing. A lot of Gentile people first comehere with Gentile groups, then come back alone. What appeals to a middle-classJew appeals to a middle-class Gentile."
In common with anumber of other hotels in the Mountains, the G began as a farm. In 1914 SeligGrossinger, an Austrian immigrant living in New York, sought to recoup hishealth in the country by buying a 50-acre farm in Ferndale, N.Y. He had failedin running a restaurant on the lower East Side—according to the Grossingerpress agents he had insisted on making the portions too big—and at first he hadno better luck on his farm. The soil was unproductive. In desperation, Selig,his wife Malka, known to generations of G guests as Mom, and their children,Jennie and Harry, started taking in boarders. In the summer of 1914 theyattracted nine who paid $9 each for a one-week stay. Their generous servings offood became an asset, and the next year they attracted so many guests that theyhad to put up tents in the backyard. By 1918 they had done so well that theywere able to sell their farm for $10,000 and use the money as the down paymenton an old hotel near by, the site of the present G.
With the slogan,"The Kingdom of Outdoor Happiness," the Grossingers engaged A. W.Tillinghast, the planner of Baltusrol, in the late 1920s to build the first18-hole golf course for a Catskill resort. Soon after this, Eddie Cantorhappened to wander in unshaven while out for a walk. Mom Grossinger mistook himfor a tramp and insisted he have a free meal. Amused and delighted, Cantorspread word about the hotel. In 1928 Jennie and her husband, Harry (she marrieda cousin named Harry Grossinger; her brother, Harry, was always called HarryJr. to avoid confusion), felt prosperous enough to hire Milton Blackstone, aLehigh student summering at the hotel, as a tutor for their son, Paul. Whenfall came, Blackstone stayed on to handle accounts, and a few years later hewent to New York to handle Grossinger's advertising. In New York, Blackstone,who is perhaps best known today as the manager of Eddie Fisher, proved to bethe publicity genius who put Grossinger's on the national scene. The big breakcame in 1934 when Abe Lyman, the bandleader, told Blackstone that Barney Ross,the lightweight champion, was looking for a place to train for his match withJimmy McLarnin, the welterweight champ. Blackstone immediately invited Ross totrain free of charge at Grossinger's. Mom Grossinger was upset at the idea of afighter on the premises, but she came around when she learned Ross was anOrthodox Jew. Ross's presence made Grossinger's a mecca for sportswriters andentertainers who came up with Lyman to serenade the champion. Damon Runyon wascharmed. Grossinger's, he wrote, was "Lindy's with trees." TheGrossingers were so elated by their good fortune that they changed the sloganto "Grossinger's Has Everything."
Ever since Ross,the G has gone in heavily for sporting celebrities. Eight other world championshave trained there, and the lesson of Grossinger's success with sports has notbeen lost on other hotels. Kutsher's, in Monticello, has so copied the G'spenchant for athletes that it is known as "the Little G." WiltChamberlain, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and other top pros often play on Kutsherbasketball courts in games organized by Red Auerbach of the Celtics, and theannual Spalding coaches' clinic is held there. Sonny Liston is punching a bagright now at the Pines in South Fallsburgh.
Grossinger's canaccommodate 1,200 guests. Serving them are 900 employees, all treated withextremely benevolent paternalism. To house the help in comfort, Grossinger'shas gone to the point of buying a nearby hotel. Dismissal is unheard of. WhenHarry Grossinger once told an employee he was fired, the man retorted, "Youcan't fire me—I live here."
Perhaps the bestknown of the male staff members, or "G-men," is a tall, sad-faced mannamed Lou Goldstein, who rejoices in the title of Director of Daytime Socialand Athletic Activities. In the old days he would have been known as a tummler,or "tumult creator." The tummler (pronounced toomler) was the chap whoput on funny hats to keep the guests from going home on rainy days. Goldstein'sstock-in-trade is an enormous fund of games and patter—he can go a week withoutrepeating himself—a dialect lilt to his voice that can sweep his audience intohysterics and, as Morris Freedman has noted in Commentary, a "bawdinesskept carefully this side of some invisible line." Goldstein is also expertat a particular kind of gag, often just an aside in the middle of a story, thatwill bring laughter from a Jewish audience. The listeners will be laughing atthemselves. A Gentile might well consider the remark anti-Semitic.
One afternoonrecently he was conducting Simon says, his most popular game, with 30 or 40guests on the terrace outside the main building. "Don't enter to getulcers," he warned. "Believe me. I saw the prize." In betweenordering the contestants to do what Simon said, he made small talk. "Bweee,how they eat in the dining room!" he exclaimed, eying a heavyset man inshorts. A man named Max spoke up, and Goldstein congratulated him for havingsuch a good Jewish name. "Such names they have today," he lamented,putting a hand to his cheek and rolling his eyeballs heavenward. "Desiree?That's a name for a Jewish girl? Today you holler Sol and a horse comes over.Drexel? You should hear what his grandfather calls him for short."
When a hecklerinterrupted, Goldstein shrugged. "I got so many partners today it'swunnerful," he said. "Simon says clap your hands once. Simon says handsup. That's up? Where you from?"
"Boston,"said the heckler.
"I loveBoston," Goldstein said. "That town is so clean even the birds flyupside down. At Grossinger's we get people from all over. We had a lady in her60s, a bubba [grandmother] from New York, and I asked her, 'What do you thinkof sex?' And she says, 'It's a fine department store.' "He then ordered theheckler from Boston out of the game. "O.K.," Goldstein said, "allthe people who've been cheating in the back row now move up to the frontrow."
Toward the end ofthe game, a contestant happened to mention the rival Concord. Goldsteinbanished him. "You say a dirty word, God punishes," he admonished,wagging a finger. The guests roared. At Grossinger's the Concord is neverreferred to by name but always as dorten, Yiddish for "over there."
When the game wasover, Goldstein reminded everyone that there would be a lecture on suburbialater by the pool. After most of the crowd moved off, Goldstein talked abouthimself. A Brooklyn boy, he came to Grossinger's in 1945 with the WilliamsburgYMHA basketball team. After he and his teammates beat the Grossinger team, theywere hired to play for the hotel, and he has been there ever since. He has beenthe daytime director since 1953, and returning guests who forget his nameaddress him by calling, "Yoo hoo, Simple." Besides Simon says,Goldstein stages games like "Who's the boss in the home?" "Rouletteor change of identity or state of confusion," and a parody art quiz."One picture shows a woman seated," he said, explaining the art quiz."Across her knee is a man on his stomach. She is sewing a patch on the seatof his pants. The caption says a famous movie actress. Answer: Sonja Henie. Getit? In this, it's all for laughs.
"On my staff Ihave a public-speaking instructor, an art director and a photography expert. Wealso arrange special events during the season. Don Budge brings up fellas likeBobby Riggs for a tennis exhibition. Abe Sharkey coordinates the golfingactivities. When you go to golf, he'll say, 'How do you do? Do you have anyoneto play with?' People will come back because of the friendly atmosphere. Youdon't have to walk up there as a champion.
"Baseballlately has not been going over well because of the locality of the field. Itused to be where the indoor pool is now. Then they moved it beyond the day camparea. The important thing about socializing is that you have to be seen. Allathletes, especially single fellas, like to be watched. The setting forlocalities should be where there is traffic, a thoroughfare. Notice how thelecture is situated on the way to the pool. As people walk toward the pool,they'll see a crowd and they move over there, and once they are there it's thejob of the M.C. to keep them there."
Part ofGoldstein's job is to foster romance. "I use an indirect approach," hesaid. "I organize a coed volleyball game, not spotlighting that there isany social purpose in this. From then on, they're on their own. Through sports,many people can meet and enjoy not only the athletic activities but socializingand, as they say in the Mountains, 'without any obvious matrimonialintentions,' and if something happens, so much the better."
He smiled. "Iwas running Simon says," he went on, "and a very nice fellow wasstanding next to an attractive girl, and he wasn't even listening to the game.So I worked it out where they were among the last six in the game and I said,'Simon says face each other.' Then I said, 'Simon says walk toward each other.'And there they were standing face to face. And then I said, 'Give her a hug.'Which he did! He was so excited. And I shouted, 'You're out. Simon didn't sayto hug her.' He shouted back, 'The hell with you and the game—I'm happy!' Onemonth later they came back and she was wearing an engagement ring, and they arenow happily married."
Another Grossingeremployee concerned with romance is Mrs. Sylvia Jacobs. She and Mrs. Doris Whiteare the two permanent matchmakers at the G. "All the girls," said Mrs.Jacobs, "come up here and say, 'We've heard so much about Grossinger's.Where are the gentlemen with the thought of meeting someone?' That's thethought. They won't admit it, all of them, but there is a better opportunityhere because we do attract a large number of single men. There's a gentlemanhere right now who is 88 years old, and he is interested in a lady in her 40s.He looks like Bernard Baruch!
"So the girlswant to meet the gentlemen. Mr. Dave Geiver, who has been the headwaiter andwho is a psychologist and a diplomat, plans the seating, and we try to seatsingle men with single women. I have encouraged the guests to go down to have acocktail before dinner because I feel it relaxes them. When I do introduce afellow to a girl, I first get to know him and his background. Then I speak tothe girl about the fellow, and before they meet they have an idea about eachother. That's my method and it has worked. I just attended a wedding that I wasresponsible for introducing. The girl was rather plain. Well educated, butplain. I went over to this young man, who was shy, and for three days I triedto get them together. But he was too shy. So one night I took him by the handoutside the dining room, and I wouldn't let him go. Finally I took him over toher and suggested that they meet after dinner since they weren't sitting at thesame table. At the wedding they both thanked me so much. They said if it werenot for me they would not have met. So happy! So happy! There were tears in theeyes of the bridegroom when he kissed me."
Mrs. White, Mrs.Jacobs said, has charge of the honeymooners. "That's a very important partof the hotel," she said. "We give honeymooners a photo album of theirvisit, a complimentary golf lesson and complimentary dance lesson and freemassages. The bride has a gift certificate for a hair-set at our salon. Theyget a free bottle of champagne, a wedding cake and a copy of JennieGrossinger's cookbook, autographed. And she meets each couple personally, busyas she is, blesses them, and they leave here with one of the most memorableexperiences after having met Mrs. Grossinger. I think that gift tops them all.Also when they get here, they get a plant from the grounds, and a basket offruit is sent to their room."
What givesGrossinger's much of its flavor is the hotel's constant celebration of theindividual. Not only does Grossinger's have everything but everyone atGrossinger's is somebody. "This is part of our concept," Blackstoneexplained one afternoon on the golf course. "Communism is a mass thing.Democracy is the individual. We write color about people." Accordingly, TheGrossinger Tattler, the daily paper distributed in the dining room, strewsnames of guests about with gay abandon: "The lighthearted NORMAN BERGERSadd zip, zest and vitality to any holidaying throng...Glamour Doll LINDA STERNcircled by male admirers whenever we see her...Long-tressed eyeful HARRIETFILDERMAN can have her pick here now...SUZIE KLEIN makes a visit to Table 23 Fa superlative adventure.... A man of quiet charm and superb graciousness—that'sMILTON KERNER." Grossinger's weekly ad in the Sunday New York Times followsthe same policy.
Celebrities whohave visited the G are honored by having their pictures placed on the "Wallof Fame" outside the Canteen, the coffee shop. Among those on the Wall ofFame are Mrs. Roosevelt, Cardinal Spellman, Herman Wouk, Governors Dewey,Harriman and Rockefeller, Jayne Mansfield, Max Lerner, Sam Snead, Lena Home,Whitey Ford, Herbert Lehman, Jackie Cooper, Siobhan McKenna, Senator Javits,Anita Loos, Lucille Ball, Elia Kazan, General Sarnoff, Yogi Berra, Paul Newman,Joe Louis, Earl Wilson, Gene Sarazen, Alben Barkley, Bill Tilden, DavidSusskind, Elston Howard, Irving Berlin, Ed Sullivan, Fredric March, RalphBunche, Laurence Harvey, Jack Benny, Nat Holman, Joshua Logan, Abe Burrows,Basil Rathbone, Leonard Bernstein, Jack Dempsey, Roberta Peters, WilliamHolden, Ernest Borgnine, Jan Peerce and Doris Day.
Celebrities whorate extra attention have tournaments named after them. There are the EddieCantor and Milton Berle tennis tournaments, the Sylvia Lyons Golf Tournamentfor Women (she is the wife of Columnist Leonard Lyons—they honeymooned atGrossinger's) and the Dr. Leo Michel Golf Tournament for Men. The late Dr.Michel was known variously as physician to the stars, Dr. Broadway and medicoto the entertainment world. In the nightclub is the Eddie Fisher Jukebox, whichwas dedicated, the sign says, on July 6, 1952. (Besides being discovered atGrossinger's, Fisher married Debbie Reynolds there. He later brought Liz Taylorup for a weekend.) On the grounds, Cantor and Berle are doubly honored byhaving lodges named after them. There are also cottages named after BarneyRoss, Abe Lyman, Mom Grossinger and, fittingly enough, Milton Blackstonehimself. The Holiday Inn is named after the film.
At the peak ofGrossinger's cult of personalities stands Jennie Grossinger herself. Thehotel's brochures constantly sing her praises. "The famous smile of thebeloved Jennie" is "a local landmark." When the occasion is deemedsuitable, Jennie leaves her quarters in Joy Cottage and appears before theguests. They treat her like a white goddess. Not long ago she attended the bigSaturday night show in the Playhouse. The show included Ventriloquist RickyLayne and his dummy, Velvel, and starred Cab Calloway, who exited shouting,"See you all in shul [synagogue] next week!" The audience was about todepart when the master of ceremonies announced there was a special treatcoming.
Jennie steppedforth to tumultuous applause. She reminisced briefly about the Grossinger's ofthe past ("I used to hope someday we would have a horse and carriage")and was obviously deeply touched by the reception. As she headed for the wings,the M.C. seized her arm and shouted, "I just want to add one little note,and I'm sure every person here agrees. In a hundred years may we all be here,and you, Jennie, at this same microphone with us!"
"Wonderful!" said Jennie.
The Concord isprobably the most luxurious of Mountain resorts. A newcomer to the Mountains,it is the baby of Arthur Winarick, a bald ex-barber who made a fortune withJeris Hair Tonic. Now 74, he gets his pep inhaling oxygen two hours a day. Hegot into the hotel business inadvertently in 1935 when the owner of theConcord, or New Concord as it was then called, defaulted on the mortgage thatWinarick held. Aside from installing his son-in-law as manager, Winarick didlittle until after World War II, when the old hotel burned down. "Mr.Winarick got panicky when he saw the firemen," says Lee Berman, theConcord's tummler. "He yelled, 'No water—fans!' "
Winarickcommissioned an architectural firm that had done a number of hotels in MiamiBeach to design a new Concord. The architects responded with a huge nine-storybuilding, featuring a mammoth lobby, done in white marble with a sweepingstaircase and dazzling chandeliers, that might best be described as JetAirlines Terminal Contemporary. When some of the guests complained that thelobby was "too cold," Winarick hastened to install wood paneling, justlike they have at Grossinger's, over the white marble walls.
Winarick has notstinted in any way. There is a special room just to pickle the herring. Everynew guest room has two bathrooms. The tropical indoor swimming pool, the firstin the Mountains, cost $2 million. (The one at Grossinger's cost only $1.5million.) Grossinger's has one championship golf course; the Concord has one18-hole course, one nine-hole course and is building another 18-holer. Legendhas it that before Winarick built the first one he asked a golf architect howmany holes Grossinger's had. "Eighteen," said the architect."Then," said Winarick, "build me a 50-hole course."
The Concord hasfive bands, including a 75-piece symphony orchestra led by Sholom Secunda, thecomposer of Bei Mir Bist Du Sch√∂n. The hotel follows a name policy in liveentertainment. Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland got $10,000 each for theirone-night stands. To keep out gate-crashers from other hotels, the Concorddeploys a 30-man security force over the premises on show night. They look formuddy shoes and disheveled jackets, the result of their owners clambering overthe high wire fence surrounding the 600-acre establishment. The Concord'sannual gross is secret, but it is estimated at around $10 million, $3 millionmore than Grossinger's. A comedian once called Winarick "the Jewish RobinHood—he takes from the rich and keeps it."
On a recentafternoon a sizable crowd was clustered around the desk waiting to check in."You're not going to get anywhere unless you shout," a clerk advisedone late arrival. A bellhop trundled a clothing rack through the throng."Let's move, girls," he called out to a couple of elderly women. Offthe lobby a car was on display. Signs announced that Mr. Arthur Winarick hadgiven it to a charity raffle. Along the shopping arcade known as Little FifthAvenue signs exhorted guests to get in the swing of things. One said
MAKE AN OILPAINTING IN AN HOUR.!!
EVERYBODY A REMBRANDT
IN THE BESTCIRCLES
THEY ARE SQUARE DANCING!
The guests woreclothes of a flashier cut than those at Grossinger's. There was a lot of mink.Ladies without their own could rent a mink from Irving Shavelson, a frequentConcord visitor who runs Abet Rent-A-Fur in New York. Once Shavelson and hiswife appeared in the lobby with a clothing rack containing five different furpieces. The guests gasped, unaware that only one was for Mrs. Shavelson, theothers for relatives already there.
Shortly before 6,long lines began to form outside the dining room. Inside, the ma√Ætre d'h√¥tel,Irving Cohen, checked seat assignments by inserting a colored peg into a largeboard showing all the tables. White pegs stood for married guests, blue forsingle men and pink for single women. If this all worked perfectly, there wouldbe a blue peg for a pink peg at every table. With a mere glance, Cohen couldcheck up on romance. "This is the largest dining room in the county,"Cohen said. He might have said country. A Concord joke has it that a waiterrefused to serve a guest because "your table isn't in my state."
"Say hellowith the first names," said the waiters as they introduced tablemates. Atone table there were two young girls who had come up together for a weekend.After dessert they went downstairs to the Night Owl Lounge that "tummulsall night long." Above the throb of bongo drums, the girls talked about whythey had come to the Concord.
"Grossinger'sis like an older crowd," the blonde said. "I just wanted to have aball, that's all. What do I want out of this? I don't know yet. Anything canhappen up here."
"The guys bidetheir time more or less," the brunette said, "but they have to put alltheir time into one weekend. I'm very hard about this. I don't believe thelines they put out."
They continued onto the Imperial Room to see Buddy Hackett. ("You'll gasp at themagnificence," says a Concord brochure.) The Imperial Room is the largestnightclub in the world, seating 2,300. In the same building is the CordillionRoom, seating 1,800. It used to be the biggest until Winarick built theImperial Room. When Hackett walked onstage, the guests applauded by rappingswizzle sticks against their drinks.
Hackett was upsetby the children present. "I don't believe you should have young childrenhere," he said. "Not at 11 at night. I hold you responsible forwhatever they learn tonight, and I'm going to see that they learn a lot!"He kept his promise.
In the morning 200guests assembled on the second-floor patio for a tour that Lee Berman was togive of "the Seven Wonders of the Concord." Berman (so Nat Fleischer,the house psychologist and hypnotist at Grossinger's, had said) typifies thebrashness of the Concord. "He throws people into swimming pools,"Fleischer says, with a look of horror. "He's trying to be an oldtimetummler. He apprenticed with us under Lou Goldstein, and he took everythingthat Lou has! And Lou feels like cutting his throat! He even got a wifehere!"
Told of thesecharges, Berman said, "Instead of pushing people into the pool, I geteveryone to jump in. Grossinger's may have tradition behind them, but we've gotmoney behind us."
Berman warmed upthe group. "This is the largest hotel in the world on the Americanplan," he said. "Jeris is not guaranteed to grow hair. It buildshotels. You know the Gypsy Trio? They weren't satisfied with their quarters, soMr. Winarick built them an empty store. The indoor swimming pool is open allhours except between 6 and 7. That's when we wash the dishes."
As Berman led theway downstairs, he revealed that the Concord used up 10 tons of meat and 7,000eggs each day. The breakage of dishes alone ran to three freight-car loads ayear. "The amazing thing is it's all busted by one busboy—but he's arelative." Then he headed for the outdoor pool ("seven hundred andfifty thousand gallons of water, 2,000 chaise lounges"). In the coffee shopRay Parker, Winarick's son-in-law, talked of his pride in the Concord's snowmachine for skiing. The hotel, he said, also had been the first to color thesnow red, blue, yellow and green. "Very pretty," he said, "but italso stained the clothes." What the Concord will do next is anyone's guess.Expansion is always in the air. Winarick has been reported chopping down treesnear the George Washington Bridge, of all places. The strongest rumor, startedby Milton Berle, has it that Winarick plans to build an indoor mountain. LouGoldstein says Grossinger's isn't worried.
CATSKILLS TRAVEL FACTS
GETTING THERE: Monticello is 90 miles from New YorkCity by the N.Y. State Thruway and Route 17—the Quickway. Most Catskill hotelswill arrange for limousine service from local and New York airports and fromPenn Station and Grand Central.
STAYING THERE: Sullivan County alone has about 300hotels; most of them are packed into the small area shown on the map. Thedistance between Pauls and the Pioneer is only 20 miles. The Concord is thelargest (1,000 rooms), with rates from $105 to $189 per week. Grossinger's has600 rooms; rates are from $108 to $178. Brown's has 365 rooms, with rates from$80 to $150. The Pioneer, Kutsher's and the Pines all have 300 rooms. Theirrates range from $77 to $147. The Raleigh and the Windsor have 250 rooms each.The Raleigh ($87-$150) has five bands and a new nightclub. The Windsor, run bythe same family for three generations, appeals to family groups. Pauls, on theother hand, with 170 rooms ($80-$137), takes adults only, as does Chesters', 80rooms ($85-$135), a hotel known for its intellectual atmosphere and following.All hotels mentioned follow kosher dietary laws except the last two. Those thatwelcome children have special programs and day camps for them. Rates arecalculated per person, based on double occupancy, American plan.
PLAYING: All hotels have tennis, Softball, shuffleboardand riding. The area is carpeted with golf courses. In addition to those atGrossinger's and the Concord, the Pioneer and the Pines each has 9 holes andKutsher's has 18. Community courses are everywhere. Artificial ice rinks andindoor and outdoor pools abound. The Neversink, the Beaverkill, the Willowemocand the Mongaup are legendary trout streams of the area, and the lakes arestocked with bass, pickerel, perch and pike. There is deer hunting from Nov. 19to Dec. 5. For fish and game regulations, contact the New York StateConservation Department, State Campus, Albany 1, N.Y.