by Irwin Richman
Temple University Press, 2003
Paper: 978-1-59213-190-7 | eISBN: 978-1-4399-0450-3 | Cloth: 978-1-56639-585-4
Library of Congress Classification F127.C3R37 1998
Dewey Decimal Classification 974.738004924

Every year between 1920 and 1970, almost one million of New York City's Jewish population summered in the Catskills. Hundreds of thousands still do. While much has been written about grand hotels like Grossinger's and the Concord, little has appeared about the more modest bungalow colonies and kuchaleins ("cook for yourself" places) where more than 80 percent of Catskill visitors stayed.

These were not glamorous places, and middle-class Jews today remember the colonies with either aversion or fondness. Irwin Richman's narrative, anecdotes, and photos recapture everything from the traffic jams leaving the city to the strategies for sneaking into the casinos of the big hotels. He brings to life the attitudes of the renters and the owners, the differences between the social activities and swimming pools advertised and what people actually received. He reminisces about the changing fashion of the guests and owners—everything that made summers memorable.

The author remembers his boyhood: what it was like to spend summers outside the city, swimming in the Neversink, "noodling around," and helping with the bungalow operation, while Grandpa charged the tenants and acted as president of Congregation B'nai Israel of Woodbourne, N.Y. He also traces the changes in the Catskills, including the influx of Hasidic families. Richman talks about what it's like to go back and to see the ghosts of resorts along the roads he once traveled.