Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Documentary In My Head

When I was younger, I worked at a few hotels in the Catskills, but none meant more to me than Kutsher’s Country Club. I don't even remember interviewing for the job, but I worked at the front desk and occasionally, in the main showroom. Milton and Helen Kutsher, who owned the hotel, were very present in the day-to-day operations and I saw them daily as their offices were both just behind the front desk.

I recently found
this article which brought all the memories back to me. I'd love to see this documentary. Just seeing the video, which features Helen Kutsher herself (she's the voice you hear at 0:16 and then you see her at 0:18), made me want to know more.

In the article, it's mentioned that this hotel was the inspiration for the movie Dirty Dancing. I had always thought Grossinger's was the inspiration since I had read somewhere that Eleanor Bergstein, the woman who wrote the movie, stayed there as a young girl. Now I'm reading that she stayed at both resorts.

Makes sense though, because to me, my experience at Kutsher's was much like that of the characters in the movie - just there to have fun, enjoy the summer, and flirt with the boys. There were so many boys at the hotel, most of them students working there just during the summers, and many of the staff lived in staff quarters during that time. Just like in Dirty Dancing, the staff quarters were old bungalows, away from the eyes of the guests. And the staff, just like in the movie, hung out together socializing and having fun.

There were two guys I remember vividly from my time there - Scott David Danziger and Chuck Everson. Scott worked at the hotel as a bellman, was Jewish, was very cute, and super smart. For some reason, I think I remember him saying he was going to be a doctor. I wonder if he ever did that? He was also very witty, and a great conversationalist - we literally "talked for hours". I had such a good time that to this day, I can remember what I was wearing that night.

The other guy, Chuck Everson, went to Villanova University and was a rookie basketball player who had recently been drafted by the Utah Jazz. He was at the hotel to participate in the annual Maurice Stokes Benefit game. He was 7'1" tall and four years older than me. I remember calling my Dad that night to ask him if I could stay out a little later (I was 18 or 19 at the time, but still living at home) because I wanted to look "cool" by taking Chuck to a local dive bar I had heard some of the waitresses in my family restaurant talking about.

He was so tall, that even with the bench seats of my Chevy Monte Carlo pushed all the way back, his knees were up to his chest. He was extremely handsome, very nice, and a really good kisser - that part I found out later when we went back to the hotel. It was late and the lobby area was vacant; where we were sitting, we couldn't really be seen by anyone passing by. Not that I would have cared - all I was thinking about was that I was kissing a really hot guy almost a foot and a half taller than me, who played basketball for the NBA! What a story I had to tell my friends!

I don't know much about sports (then or now) but I recently Googled him and found several articles. Apparently, he was featured in an HBO special and some other videos because of an incredible game that was played between Villanova University (his team) and Georgetown University - a game that Villanova won, making them the 1985 NCAA Champions (that's Chuck in the back row, third from left).

From what I've read online, the game is often cited among the "greatest upsets in college basketball history". Wow, who knew?? He's married with two teenage kids, both whom play basketball, and he's been involved with coaching youth basketball for over twenty years. And he's still kinda cute!

Boy, this post sort of got off-topic, didn't it? For me, it was a nice walk down memory lane. The Catskills hold incredible memories for so many people, and I feel very special to have been there to make so many of my own. My best friend and I often reminisce about the good times we had back in the eighties. There were many of those famous Borscht Belt hotels that I've either worked at or frequented and most people I know have also worked in at least one of them at some point in their lives.

I'm hoping this documentary will be available for download or purchase at some point in the future since I know I won't make it to New York by the 26th when it's showing. I guess I'll just have to replay my own documentary...right in my own head.

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Anonymous said...

Very nice blog post. Interestingly when it came time to film the movie they actually filmed the majority at Mountain Lake Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia...They still hold a Dirty Dancing week long package every year. People dance sing and dress the part in the original ballroom seen in the movies..The staff out buildings are part of the resort and you can stay in one of the cottages.....Unfortunately a geological anomaly has caused the Lake to experience a significant reduction in water level...Still the area and the Resort are beautiful and I find it interesting that when it came time to film the movie they came to the Virginia Mountains to do so..

The Daily Rant said...

Anonymous: I know all about where they filmed the movie - my best friend and I have often talked about going there for a "Dirty Dancing" weekend!! I didn't know about the lake's water level though...interesting. But I love Virginia and that area is so gorgeous. One of these days...