With the days getting cooler and shorter now, we are more comfortable remembering the long, hot summers of years past. Summertime in the Bronx was somewhat different from the summertime in the slower moving deep south. People were crowded into large tenement buildings, and the children played in the streets where the traffic was light, and worry was little.
We may not have had the rivers, creeks, and ponds that our southern cousins had to swim in, but then we had... Coney Island! Enduring the three hour ride by train from the Bronx to Coney Island Beach was well worth the trip. For the kids it was paradise by the sea. There was a large amusement park with all the rides including even a parachute jump if you were daredevil enough to try it. There was all the junk food that kids dreamed about for days before going. Gastronomical delights like Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, hot corn on the cob, fries, and all the other junk food you can name. To top it all off there was the cooling mist and crashing waves of the Atlantic to refresh the senses. I was lucky. On the days that I didn't make it to Coney Island, it was only a bus ride for me to the local beaches and pools where I could swim all day.
In my family the highlight of summer was going on summer vacation to the Catskill Mountains. These were about one hundred miles north of New York City, and was also known as the Jewish Alps. There were accomodations to fit any budget from boarding houses to large hotels, and in between that smaller hotels and bungelow colonies.The boarding houses were the most reasonable fare.You could rent a room with the community bathroom down the hall, and you prepared your own meals on a hotplate in the large community kitchen. Of course, someone else might be cooking right alongside of you on another hotplate.
A bungelow could be rented fully furnished for a seasonal rate. The smaller hotels were very reasonable for a weeks stay, but the services were limited. For instance, while three meals were served a day, there was no choosing from a menu. No swimming pool here, but there were the ponds and lakes like our southern cousins enjoyed. Now, the large hotels had everything their patrons could want. Elegant dining rooms with full service. An activities director planned the entertainment for the patrons, and in the evenings there was dancing and a show in the hotel night club. Many famous entertainers like Jerry Lewis and Red Buttons got their start in the Jewish Alps.
After dinner in the evening the waiters and bus boys from the dining room underwent a metamorphesis from server to dancing partner for all the young single women. For a young single man it was utopia set to music. For the young single woman it was the hunt for a husband. Arriving at the bus stop, we were picked up by the hotel staff car, and the adventure began.
All those wonderful times live on today only in memory. Time moves on and things change. There are only a few hotels still operating today, and you could probably count them on one hand. They are the almost ghostly reminders of a time when life was so much simpler. A causeway from the naivete of innocense to the sophistication of awakenings.
Where have all the flowers gone.?..long time passing. SHALOM
Originally found here
Picture originally found here