Sunday, 16 September 2012

1976 Summer at the Nevele, Ellenville, N.Y.





continued from "The Nevele Country Club - Ellenville-NY.

After Passover, I sort of got tired of Victor’s imperial ways.  Herman, a grey-haired waiter who used to have his station next to Victor’s knowing I was unhappy with him approached me with an offer I couldn’t refuse, and to Victor’s utter consternation I dropped him and started working with Herman. But that didn’t last long. I was in for the shock of my life when at  the very week before the summer season began I was uncerimoniously dropped by Herman who had a fresh Brazilian bus-boy to take my place. Victor who had already got over my 'defection' could not help but gloat about my undoing. I felt betrayed by Herman, the bastard, but couldn’t do much about it because that's the way it goes in this heartless business. 

I was given a position everyone shunned:  to work as a relief bus-boy for those on their day off.  It was a strange arrangement because the bus-boys I relieved had to pay me out of his weekly pay. The bus-boys paid me on the Sunday afternoon after their guests left for the city. It was really weird having 6 bus-boys whose days-off I had covered come to me all at once and pay me out of their tiny tip-envelopes. What a fish market that was. But it worked all right.  Americans are really organized when it comes to money matters.



The Nevele dining room. The picture must be from the 1970s because I remember those black water pitchers so well.

Relieving bus-boys on their day-off I had the chance to work with almost every single waiter and waitress at the Nevele dining room. One day at a time. Then, after a couple of weeks I was given a new position:  to work permanently with Guru Dev in the Kids’ Section. Older kids and teen-agers. That’s when everything started falling into places.


GEORGE  KONG 

But before we get to that I’d like to introduce George Kong, a very nice Chinese young man who started working at the Nevele a few weeks before the Summer season.  We became fast friends almost instantly. I liked George because he was intelligent and had a bright school-curriculum. He was still at High School, probably 1977 would be his graduation year.I liked George and George liked me. I liked him because he spoke English as a native speaker.  He probably he was born in the U.S.  His mother worked in the pantry - in the kitchen - and she was a very noisy lady who was always shouting at everyone. After she realized I was her son’s best buddy she started treating me well, but I always avoided her because she was unbearably loud.  George was her opposite, such a sweet boy.  Soon after the other bus-boys started talking about us as if we were an ‘item’, but George was too young and used to a High School environment to be bothered with that kind of innuendo. Anyway, most of the talk was done in Spanish and Portuguese so George was not even aware of it, which gave me a quiet pleasure knowing that the rabble were so low and their pettiness so base and inane that it wouldn’t even make itself known to their intended target. 

George and I used to talk all the time while we were setting up tables; before the dining room doors opened,  while guests were entering; while guests were sitting;  while in the queue for soup or bread; while carrying bus-boxes to the dishwashing crowd; while waiting for the last guests to leave; while setting up for the next meal. It was never a dull moment, and I guess the other fellows were jealous of me, because I was able to be friends with someone whose language was not Portuguese or Spanish, was much younger than I and didn’t belong to the immigrant’s world even though his mother was an immigrant. But George behaved like a regular citizen who knew how to speak the local language.  

I tried to learn as much English as I could listening to him talking about all kinds of subjects. He used to say that he only went swimming when the thermometres marked 90º Farenheit. I was  even learning how to deal with the Farenheit gradation with George. At first I was afraid George would make fun of my accent but he never showed any concern about that which made me proud of myself. He was used to hearing all types of accents hailing from a Chinese background.  He probably spoke more than one kind of Chinese too, although I never heard him speaking anything but English.

Brazilian bus-boys & waiters had a whole vocabulary of their own:  ‘sarapiar’ meant ‘to set up’ 

Even when Summer really arrived and I was demoted to being a relief-bus-boy George and I found ways to talk to each other when we happened to be working near each other's stations. 

Then, when I started working with the kids in the back I saw less and less of George because I started work earlier and left earlier too. George was lucky enough to have found another Chinese bus-boy to bond with. Jeffrey was a small China youth whose parents worked in the kitchen somewhere. He was shy and collected whereas George was exuberant and out-going. I wish I kept in contact with George. I wonder whatever happened to him. He must have gone on and become a middle class professional.


Peter Frampton was all the rage of  the summer of 1976 with his double-live-album ‘Frampton comes alive’.  ‘Show me the way’ was the most popular song among the teens.



The Nevele's Kid's Section

Working with the kids, I entered a different world where English was spoken all the time instead of  the usual half-Spanish-and-Portuguese. Guru Dev was a Jewish young man from Manhattan who obviously was a rebel against his heritage even though he was earning his summer money at a Jewish resort. Stewart, the other waiter, was a local Ellenville boy and Gates, Stewie's bus-boy, was a young Jewish local dude who was stoned most of the time. It was so much more fun working with these guys than with those who only thought about how much money they would make at the end of the week. 

Stewie was blonde and very popular with girls and boys. He played the guitar and sang reasonably well. He was particularly fond of America, a threesome pop group who broke out with 'A horse with no name' in 1972 and had been very popular in the summer and fall of 1975. Stewie played 'Sister Golden Hair' [# 1 in 14 June 1975], 'Tin man' [November 1974], 'Sand man', 'Daisy Jane' , 'Lonely people' and other assorted hits. 

I suddenly noticed I was popular with the teens whom I served and liked by my co-workers as well. I was a mystery to them because I never mingled with anybody after work. As soon as we were finished, I would go back to Jeffery's room where we watch TV together or talked about life in general.

Guru Dev was curious about my whereabouts after-hours and one day he asked me: ‘Why don’t I ever see you with other Brazilian boys after work?’ I knew exactly what he meant because Brazilians are a lot of gossipers and they must have told something about my living with an American Blackman. I just evaded the question with a smirk and a silly answer.

Guru Dev was a very smart guy who wore a short wig on top of his long hair in order to be allowed to work as a waiter at the Nevele and even though he was into Indian religion and philosophy he was very matter-of-fact in his dealing with money and a neat and reliable waiter. I thought he might be gay but I was never sure about it as he wasn't sure about my sexuality.

Guru Dev and myself served about 4 giant tables of older teens and Stewart & Dale served another set of four tables with younger teens. That was the teen-ager section of the Nevele at the very back of the dining room. Even though the kids paid a little less money than the adults, actually we ended up getting the same amount of tip-money because we served a bigger number of them. In the end serving kids was a much better deal than serving those old farts. Kids come early and leave as soon as they finish eating whereas adults drink endless cups of coffee or tea after their meal. Most kids skip soup altogether. The only thing we had to work on the double was the massive ordering of iced-tea and ice-cream for lunch and sherbert for dinner.


Salmon pink was the colour of the dishes for breakfast and lunch and blue was the colour for dinner, as the Jewish custom dictates. One cannot eat dairy products in the same dish that one has eaten meat. That’s the kosher law. Basically one is not supposed to mix the mother’s milk with the mother’s flesh and blood. Does that make sense? None whatsoever, but that is their custom. The ideal situation should be not to kill the mother to start with. Then there would not be any flesh to mix with milk or blood.



Peter Frampton’s Live Album ‘Frampton comes alive’ was all the rage in the summer of 1976. Jefferson Starship’s ‘Red Octopus’ came a strong second. 

Some kids were curious about my music tastes and would ask me if I liked Peter Frampton's music being myself a foreigner. I suppose I was a special foreigner because I knew most of the Top 40 hits. 

Guru Dev used to hum Lou Rawls’ ‘You’ll never find another love like mine’, which I hated and then make fun of myself telling the kids it was my favourite tune. Dev whose real name I don’t remember was such a good person. He used to be very skillful in getting the kids to decide their orders very quickly. As we started earlier than the rest, Dev was getting the main dish ordered and served when the adults were still entering the dining room. 

Working in such a huge dining-room is like a race against time. We, the bus-boys used to ‘root for’ our waiters to see who would be first or second in the kitchen line. Dev was always first because there was no way of beating him. We started at least 15 minutes before the rest and as we skipped the soup racket, we ended up with a two-course meal: main dish and dessert. That was my revenge for having been dumped by bloody Herman. I ended up better off than all of them together.



Flying me back to Memphis got to find my Daisy Jane...



A Nevele post-card from 1948.


Ellenville-NY nowadays. Now that the Nevele doesn't exist anymore Ellenville looks even smaller.


The Nevele Country Club dining-room staff in the summer of 1976.

This photo was taken on a Sunday after lunch just when everyone was happy with their tips received a little earlier. In summer guests usually stayed for a period of seven days arriving for Friday dinner and leaving after Sunday lunch. There were a lot of waiters and bus-boys who are not included here. I could name at least 10 off the top of my head.

Starting from the last row in the back from left to right: 1. Scott, bus-boy; 2. 'Tomato Juice' nickname of a funny Colombian bb; 3. Rudy Aguilera; 4. Dalmo, Victor's Brazilian bb; 5. Humberto Flores, Peruvian bb; 6. Santos Rodrigues, a Peruvian waiter; 7. Pablo Castro, an older Peruvian bb; 8. Angelo, an older Colombian bb; 9. a tall Jewish bb; 10. Luiz Amorim [myself]; 11. George Kong, my best friend; 12. Harry Wellman, the oldest bb at Nevele.

2nd row from the top - from left to right:  13. [standing] Alberto, the tallest staff member - a Colombian bb; 14. Alejandro Abondano, Colombian bb; 15. Ernesto, Colombian bb; 16. waiter Londoño, Juan Pablos's brother; 17. Oscar Diez; 18. Ray Foster; 19. Kaya, a Turkish bb; 20. Tadeu's Colombian bb; 21. Kats bb; 22. another Jewish bb.

3rd row from the top:  23. a new Colombian bb; 24. Echeverria, 'el Cura', an older Colombian bb; 25. Henry the funniest Colombian bb in the place; 26. Jeffrey, a Chinese bb; 27. Juan Pablo Londoño; 28. a Jewish bb; 29. Fernando Montoya; 30. Henry Castaño ['Petardo']; 31. Oscar [flaco], Colombian bb; 32. Bob Schiess, the shortest bb in the Nevele; 33. Leon Gomes; 34: Lima, an older Brazilian bb.

4th row from the top - all standing up:  35. Arthur Miller, waiter; 36. a Jewish bb; 37. Abby bb; 38. Kaya's brother; 39. Jay, the social-democrat Jewish bb; 40. Don, bb; 41. Mike Molina, the only Puerto-rican bb; 42. Victor's friend whose name I can't recall; 43. Jayme;  44. a young Jewish waiter; 45. Gabriel Morales, a Chilean waiter; 46. Joe, waiter; 47. Kaplan.

5th row from the top:  48.  Carlos Benz, a waiter; 49. Tchaikowsky, a Brazilian bb; 50. Perelechinsky, an Argentine waiter; 51. Bobby Brown, waiters' captain; 52. Mr. Irving Gerstein , Nevele's Maitre D; 53. Sam Rasummy, 2nd captain; 54. Jewish Cindy; 55. Chinese Cindy Chueng; 56. Meylee  Newman; 57. another Chinese waitress I can't remember.

sitting cross-legged on the floor: 58. Jorge Quintero, the Captain's Colombian bb; 59. Ritchie, a Jewish waiter; 60. Bruce Fox, a favourite Jewish waiter [he was going to Medical school].

Note:  What I mean by 'Jewish bus-boy'. They are those Jewish high-school students who work at Jewish resorts during the summer months to make a little money of their own. It means that they arrive a week before Memorial Day and leave soon after Labor Day. I don't recall most of their names because there was not enough time to get acquainted with them during the busy summertime days. That's why I don't remember their names.


Waiters & Waitresses working at The Nevele Country Club circa 1975-1976:

Captain:  Bob Brown;  bb: Jorge Quintero

1.       Sam Rasummy [heart attack] – Captain’s deputy                           
2.       Terry (Tadeu);  bb:  Ernesto (?)
3.       Ryan ;  bb: Tchaikowsky
4.       Victor;  bb: Dalmo
5.       Victor’s old & bald grumpy companion
6.       Herman;  bb: Brazilian bus-boy with glasses
7.       Evelyn (or would be Beverly?)
8.       Her blonde (too) Ellenville friend
9.       Colombian coffee planter (forget his name); first waiter I worked with.
10.    Arthur Miller
11.    Perelechinsky (Argentine);
12.    Rudy Aguilera;
13.    Ray Foster (gambler);
14.    Santos Rodrigues (Peruvian smiley man)
15.    Leon Gomez
16.    Jayme (?)
17.    Gabriel Morales (from Chile) 
18.    Joe
19.    Kaplan
20.    Carlos Benz
21.    Cindy (Jewish)
22.    Cindy Chueng
23.    Meiylee Newman
24.    Chinese new waitress
25.    Ritchie
26.    Bruce Fox
27.    Mauricio, mineiro magro carrancudo (Brazilian);
28.    Guru Dev;  bb:  Luiz
29.    Stewart (Stewie);  Dale Gates
30.    Londoño (Juan Pablo’s brother)
31.    Jewish student with rimless glasses
32.    Cathi (Oscar Diez’s sweet-heart)
33.    Howie (Howard) some time my waiter


BUS-BOYS


1.       Tchaikowsky
2.       Humberto Flores
3.       Juan Pablo Londoño
4.       Myself
5.       George Kong
6.       Gustavo
7.       Oscar Diez
8.        (from Governador Valadares)
9.       Lima [1st room-mate]
10.    Dalmo [Victor’s bb]
11.    Herman’s Brazilian bb w glasses
12.    Dale Gates
13.    Henry Castaño (Petardo)
14.    Jorge Quintero
15.    Mike Molina
16.    Echeverria (Cura)
17.    Ernesto (Tadeu’s bb - Colombian smiling face)
18.    Pablo Castro
19.    Fernando Montoya
20.    Peruvian bb w Variant; cara fechada
21.    Angelo (grey-haired bb)
22.    Tall Jewish boy
23.    Kaya
24.    Kaya’s brother
25.    Kats
26.    Alberto (tallest man in dining-room)
27.    Tomato Juice
28.    Alejandro Abondano
29.    Ernesto
30.    Henry (Burro)
31.    Oscar [(he thin one)
32.    Jeffrey (the other Chinese boy)
33.    Abby
34.    Jay (social-democrat)
35.    Don
36.    Michael’s friend (?)
37.    Harry Wellman (oldest bb in Nevele)
38.    Bob Schiess (shortest bb)
39.    Carmine (his father was a waiter, but I don’t remember who)



Ellenville's only movie theatre is still in existence... but it doesn't show movies anymore.


18 comments:

  1. I am so happy to read this eloquent entry. I was one of the older kid in the back tables of the dining room in 1976! This brings back so many memories.

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  2. Hello Marc, it's really nice to hear from you. I think I remember you, but as I said, there was not much time during those hectic summer weeks to really get acquainted with everyone. Would you have a photo taken during 1976 that you could share with us? I would really love to have a look at it... Thanks so much for writing. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.

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  3. Amazing to see these pictures! Im Tadeu's and Ana's daughter.

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  4. I can't believe it... I remember your Father so well... I think you had already been born when I met both Tadeu & Ana... they used to live in a detached house near the boom gate... actually there was no boom gate... it was only an entrance to the Nevele itself. Tadeu was the best of the Brazilian fellows... Tell more about you and your family... this is my e-address: luizcarmorim@gmail.com I always wondered whatever happened to TADEU... please, let me know it.

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  5. I worked in the Nevele Dining Room as busboy / waiter from 1964 to 1972 while going to high school in Ellenville then college at NYU. My father was Irv Gerstein. Regards, Stu Gerstein

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    1. Hi Stu Gerstein... Irv Gerstein wasn't the Maitre D'? He was a big balding guy... I remember him very well... it's a pity I haven't got his photo. I used to like Irv very much... well he was the one who ACCEPTED me when I was sent in by Mrs. Hayes straight from Harlem, NY. to work at the Nevele in the Autumn of 1976... There were two bosses: Irv Gerstein and Jerry - I forget his last name now (it may be Goldstein). Jerry was a SHORT guy and used to wear a bow-tie... he was sort of 'lovey-dovey', but I did not like him... I preferred your Father who was (apparently)'gruffy' but actually truer... do you have photos of your father and other people who used to work at Nevele? Would you be so kind as to SHARE those photos with US? You could send to luizcarmorim at gmail.com

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    2. a few mistakes I've made: Irv Gerstein is on the CENTRE of the photo taken in the summer of 1976 at the NEVELE dining-room. I started working at the NEVELE in the Autumn of 1975, not 1976 as I stated above. Yes, I'd love to see pictures you, Stu Gerstein may have in your posession concerning those years you worked at the NEVELE... I wonder whatever happened to your Father... is he still alive? I hope so. Do you know of the whereabouts of other people are in those pictures? Thanks a lot.

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  6. Hello. This is incredible! My dad is seen in the picture of the dining room staff. His name is Leon Gomez. I just showed this to him and we are having such a great time looking through your posts. My mom was a maid and they met while they both lived there.

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  7. Hi there. I'm glad you found Leon Gomez's photo. I remember your daddy quite well. I would be really glad if your Dad would share some of the pictures he may have from those times. In case you have any photo, please, write to me: luizcarmorim at gmail.com Thank you!

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  8. Unfortunately, he does not have any photos of his time there. IN fact, until I came across this blog he hadn't seen any photos at all of his time there. He is still friends with a few others in this picture including Oscar Arias and Jorge Quintero. They still see each other once in a while. I would love to restore the picture of the wait staff and have it framed as a birthday gift for him. Would you be able to email me the picture? paulaagomez15@gmail.con I would greatly appreciate it. I think he would love it. If you have any more pictures of this time, please send. He and his friends still talk about their days at the Nevele all the time.

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  9. Hi Paula, I will send you the picture you requested.I'll make a new copy for you. Just wait a few days. Oscar Arias was a blonde fellow, wasn't he? I remember Jorge Quintero well too... he had the best position as a bus-boy at the Nevele dining room, for he was Bobby Brown's bus-boy. Bob Brown was the chief waiter aka 'captain' so he used to get the richest guests and obviously make more money. Where do all these people live? Around New York City? I came back to Brazil after leaving the Nevele and then migrated to Australia where I lived 20 years. Now I'm back in Brazil but I still remember fondly those years I lived in the USA. I think I have a photo where Quintero is shown near one of those artificial lakes at the golf course... I have to search for it... Thanks for answering.

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  10. Thank you so much! I greatly appreciate it. Yes, Oscar was blonde, and he is in this picture, too. My dad Leon, Oscar and Jorge all live in Miami, FL. Oscar married Consuelo, who also worked there (but divorced for many years now). They are also friends with another lady named Maria Eugenia who also worked there. Oscar was in a very bad car accident many years ago, and almost didn't make it. But luckily he recovered and has been well ever since. Jorge Quintero is quite ill now, and my parents are hoping he will recover. My parents are thinking of having a get together at their house in the next month or so so they can show them these pictures you've posted. I don't think any of them have ever seen photos of the Nevele since they left.

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  11. Hi, Paula... I've just posted a photo I took of Jorge Quintero while he was trying to fish at the Nevele artificial lake in the Spring of 1976... have a look at the link - it's the last photo in the post: http://newark-path-manhattan.blogspot.com.br/2012/09/spring-1976-in-ellenville-ny.html

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  12. Thanks for letting know whatever happened to some of those people I worked with in 1976. The Nevele was probably the friendliest place I have ever worked... when I say friendly I mean the STAFF not the Management... If I could go back in time I would have STAYED for at least another year instead of coming back to Brazil. Well, the good memories are still with me... I wish Jorge Quintero will get well soon.

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  13. I still have a song-lyrics magazine (a Hit Parader, probably) that somehow belonged to Oscar Diez... Oscar or his girl-friend wrote some coments about their favourite songs that were the most romantic ones, anyway... I'm glad to know Oscar got over his car crash. If you have any photo of these people, please, send them to me. Thanks.

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  14. I worked there as in the sports dept. after I got out of the Army in 1963. What a place for a single guy. No women, no way to get a glass of milk with a turkey sandwich and watching the fights between the guests for a Nevele t-shirt.

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    1. 1963 must have been heaven compared to 1976 - 13 years later... Judging from what I've read this country-club-industry started going down the drain in the late 1970s... because by then air-fares were so much cheap that New York City families might as well go to Europe instead of spending a week at the Nevele... it's a pity in a sense... but that's reality... the 1960s were much more glamorous than the 70s... for sure.

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