It Happened in the Catskills

An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others Who Lived It

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
Select Bibliography
Picture Credits

More than one hundred voices recall the "Borscht Belt" in its heyday.


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. Illlustrated throughout with period photographs.