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It Happened in the Catskills
An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others Who Lived It
It Happened in the Catskills
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Myrna Katz Frommer - Author
Harvey Frommer - Author
Excelsior Editions
Paperback - 272 pages
Release Date: March 2009
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-2748-5

Out of Print

Summary Read First Chapter image missing

A collective memoir of the “Borscht Belt.”

A collective memoir of the famed “Borscht Belt,” that fabled summer resort area “just ninety minutes from Broadway,” It Happened in the Catskills melds side-splitting humor and tender nostalgia into an evocative look at the Americanization of New York’s Eastern European Jewish population and the impact of Jewish culture on the larger American scene. More than a hundred Catskill veterans—from the famed entertainers who got their start in bungalow colonies and small hotels to the cooks, waiters, busboys, mamboniks, and boys in the band—reveal through their recollections an experience that now exists only in memory. Illustrated throughout with period photographs.

“…the whole geshecht … The nostalgic photos are to die for.” — Chronogram

“…a window to the world of that time … This book is a treat for anyone who lived through the golden days of the resorts or simply wants to know what it might have been like.” — Jewish Review

“The truth about the Catskills—unexpurgated tales of heartache and laughter. This book will touch all who read it.” — Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara

“The definitive story of a time and place that I hope will never end.” — Regis Philbin

“Great insight into what the Catskills were about.” — Yakov Smirnoff

“I enjoyed it. I should—I lived it.” — Alan King

“Exuberant—an unqualified treat.” —  Publishers Weekly

Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are the authors of many works of oral history, including It Happened in Brooklyn, It Happened on Broadway, and Growing Up Jewish in America. They both teach at Dartmouth College, and they live in Lyme, New Hampshire.

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Table of Contents

Cast of Characters
2009 Introduction

1. A Place in the Country
Getting there on the O & W and Old Route 17, from kochalayn to country club, and the birth of the tummler

2. The “G”
The seven decades of Grossinger’s Hotel and the “Good Gracious Grossinger Guests”

3. The 10 Percenters
How the agents and talent bookers took over-from social staffs to Charlie Rapp, King of the Catskills

4. The Era
Midcentury: There’s a Small Hotel, mountain love stories, Neil Sedaka as Esther Manor, and mambo time!

5. Only at the Concord
Arthur Winarick’s vision of Romanoff royalty, and Philly Greenwald, King of the Opening Acts

6. That’s the Flavor
Show time: Shtiks and stars-from cozy casino to imposing Imperial Room

7. Order Everything
Maitre d’s, waiters, busboys, and food, glorious food-from pickled herring to chocolate croissants

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