Press play on Tania Grossinger’s bright memoir Growing Up at Grossinger’s and prepare to be whisked back in time and space to Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel, that infamous summer getaway for the hoi polloi of New York City, where, from 1919 to 1986, celebrities mingled with commoners during the muggiest months of the year, and mischief and matchmaking reigned supreme.
Laura Giannarelli’s voice has a compellingly brash quality, sarcastic and incredulous by turns, and she brings a wonderfully wry humor to this light, nostalgic trip down memory lane. Even for those who never experienced a charmed Catskills summer, there’s much enjoyment to be had from this funky memoir.
From 1919 to 1986, Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel provided a summer retreat from the city heat for New York's Jews, and entertained the great, the near-great, and the not so great, Jews and Gentiles alike. A melting pot of the Borscht Belt, sports, and show-biz worlds, loyal visitors included Red Buttons, Rocky Marciano, Eddie Fisher, and Jackie Robinson. Tania Grossinger grew up there. In her fascinating insider's account of life in the hospitality industry, she sheds light on how hotel children keep up with the frenetic pace of life, and how they come to grips with the outside world (which intrudes now and again), sex (happening in every room), and, occasionally, their intellectual interests. Growing Up at Grossinger's is both a wonderful coming-of-age story and a sentimental reading of a chapter of the Jewish experience in America that has now closed.