Altas Obscura has this wonderful photo article depicting the Ruins of the Borscht Belt. Thanks to the movie Dirty Dancing, most people should be familiar with the concept of the Borscht Belt: Jewish family-friendly mountain resorts in the Catskills of Upstate New York. Okay, the movie does not explicitly use the term “Borscht Belt” but with the movie resort’s location, and its name — Kellerman’s— some sort of Jewish connection can easily be inferred.
I have to admit a rather personal interest in the Borscht Belt. In fact, not too long after Dirty Dancing’s release — long before the advent of the internet and webpages devoted to curious destinations — my mother once dragged me to the ruins of Trojan Lake Lodge, the resort featured in the postcard above, a place she visited many times throughout her childhood. You see, I am the direct descendant of a Borscht Belt romance. My maternal grandmother, the fantastic woman I called Mammy, first met my grandfather at Trojan Lake Lodge.
After finishing her summer tenure as a camp counselor, my grandmother met her family on their summer vacation at Trojan. Her mother, my nana and another pistol of a woman, insisted her daughter have a room on the same floor where she and her sister were staying. So, the resort owners moved their freeloading nephew to a different room, and thus, made space for Mammy and her much younger first cousin. While these two were getting dressed for dinner, there was a knock on my door. Mammy wasn’t quite ready, so she hid in the closet. There was one problem. The nephew had come to get his shoes that he had forgotten in the closet. And the nephew with the shoes, that was my grandfather. Forget Baby and Johnny. Now, that’s a scene from a movie.
(Vintage postcard of Trojan Lake Lodge via Boston Public Library)