Arts & Culture
Stories from Grossinger’s
I am currently writing a new book, a memoir titled Letters to the Child I Never Had. I thought it might be interesting to offer an advance peek of three short excerpts from a small section of the work-in-progress, written … Read More
I am currently writing a new book, a memoir titled Letters to the Child I Never Had. I thought it might be interesting to offer an advance peek of three short excerpts from a small section of the work-in-progress, written in the present tense, called Snapshots. They were ‘taken’ in my early days at Grossinger’s. Many similar stories can be found in the book. ____________________________________________
It is a wintry Saturday afternoon. The staff is figure skating; instructors have just finished performing for the guests. A special attraction is announced. The World’s Barrel Jumping Champion from Detroit has just arrived and will attempt to break his record at the Grossinger Ice Rink. Film crews are in place. Tension mounts as he clears twelve, thirteen, then fourteen barrels. He has run out of barrels to jump. The rink manager spies me in the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he intones. "One of the young members of the Grossinger family has just volunteered (Volunteered? I’m just there to enjoy the show!) to help us out!" Someone leads me to the ice. I panic. "Don’t worry," I’m told. "It’s just part of the act!" He shows me how to kneel, cover my head with my gloved hands, and assume the asinine position of a barrel. The introductory music blares. The audience collectively holds its breath, as do I. I wish I remembered how to pray. I peek through my fingers as the blades of the champion’s skates skim my hat. I’m a goner for sure. The audience breaks out in wild applause. The record has been broken. I have survived.
Nobody even bothers to help me up.
It is a busy Memorial Day weekend, the prelude to a bustling summer season. Guests, in their chic resort attire, sit on the terrace watching the Director of Activities, Lou Goldstein, conduct his famous "Simon Says." I am eleven years old. I march to where he is standing, trumpet in hand, wearing an ill fitting Girl Scout uniform and cap. I know the guests want to be entertained, but this is a very important holiday. Honor must be paid to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. Ever so solemnly, without asking permission, I interrupt the festivities and ask everyone to please stand. I proceed to play Taps without missing a note. As I finish, it dawns on me that I might be in a lot of trouble. What could I possibly have been thinking? I start to run away. I hear applause muffled by tears.
God Bless America.
My mother’s closet–in the attic room we share in Pop’s cottage–has a lock to which only she holds the key. Each night as she gets dressed to play hostess to the guests, she unlocks the door and takes from the floor an oversized gray sock that holds her jewelry and other valuables. After making her selection, she then returns the sock to the closet floor and locks the door. The routine never wavers. With me looking on, she then places the key under her scarves on the right side of her top dresser drawer. She knows I know where it is and has made me give my word I will never touch it.
Why does she have to lock the door? Is she testing me? Can I be trusted? Will my curiosity overcome my sense of honor? Or will I be comfortable with secrets and locked doors the rest of my life?
And so my week blogging for Jewcy has drawn to an end. Who would have thought that losing one’s Internet virginity could be so much fun?!
Want a free, autographed copy of Growing Up at Grossinger’s? Participate in this week’s giveaway contest! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and at the end of the week we’ll choose five winners. Good luck!