Wednesday, 27 March 2013

1971 New York radio

As I was saying in the previous page when I commented abou radio gadgets, I started listening New York City radio stations since the very first day I arrived in the USA in 2 October 1971. Looking back it feels like I had been given the key to the city's radio even before I had arrived there. I turned the radio on the first night and listened to whatever was being broadcast.

I think the first sound I noticed and was made conscious of was the mandolins playing at the end of Rod Stewart's 'Maggie Mae'. That sound would soar into the air and make itself the king! Slowly I realized it was the end of a song... a long song that told the story of a young man that was going back to school because it was late-September... exactly the time of year we were on.

From 'Maggie Mae' I started picking songs I liked very often. I remember Jonathan Edward's 'Sunshine' which had a really pleasant jangling guitar sound with a singer's good voice. Lee Michael's 'Do you know what I mean?' was a very powerful song! It had rhythm and a mean organ that counterpointed Lee's clear voice. Gee, in the US one had a magnificent radio that churned hits after hits.

'Superstar' with the Carpenters was the most beautiful song possible. I had never heard of Karen Carpenter or that they were brothers. 'Superstar' was heavenly and it was #2, kept from #1 only by the strength of 'Maggie Mae'. North-american radio was a fairy-land for me. I liked everything I heard even if I didn't understand the lyrics. The sound was good. Even the commercials were amazing. I fell in love with a Chrysler's Plymouth ad that I first I thought it was a regular song. Then I realized it was shorter than a 'common' song and soon I picked up the lyrics: Chrysler Plymouth coming through!!! To be in the United States was so good. Such a dream come true!

I lived in the Portuguese-Puerto Rican ghetto in Newark, N.J. and I soon realized that WABC was the most popular radio stations among Brazilians. But as I also had a FM radio I noticed that FM-stations were more 'stylish' than AM stations. I kept going back and forth. I even remember tuning to a New Jersey AM station: WWDJ of Hackensack, N.J. It was similar, on the same lines as WABC but its signal was weak.

The FM stations I remember I listened through 1971, 1972 and 1973 were: WCBS, WPLJ, WNEW, WOR-FM. I could listen to album-tracks of The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands I already knew from living in Brazil.

In the USA I was introduced to Chicago, Carpenters, Rod Stewart, Elton John and many others. I remember the 1st time I listened the name Elton John being pronounced. I thought at first that it was Tom Jones, the Welsh singer, but then I learned better. I was really impressed by the vocal beauty of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and became an instant fan... then in 1972, Neil Young individually became my idol. Talking about music idol I already had one in the shape of 'American pie's Don McLean... but Neil Young was more dramatic and exuberant.

Chicago Transit Authority was a band that impressed me a lot too. I saw them as the next step after Blood, Sweat & Tears much more in the line The Beatles had opened. Their 2nd album was so amazingly good... the one which starts with 'Wake up sunshine', goes through 'Make me smile' and ends with 'Colour my world' and a rock rhapsodic fantasy. Such an amazing album side. They played the whole side on WNEW.

Melanie's 'Brand new key' couldn't be a better song to end 1971. 'American pie' would play constantly in jukebox. It was divided in two parts... but in the FM stations it played the whole 8 minutes and 23 seconds. Think that Sly in the Family's 'A family affair' had been #1 in the country for 2 weeks and the amazing Isaac Hayes had been #1 too with his 'Shaft' theme (John Shaft).... what glorious period it was 1971's Autumn.

Dan Ingram, argueably New York's most popular radio DJ in the late 1960s and early 1970s at his post at WABC Radio in the autumn of 1971.

Frank Kingston Smith was at WABC from 1971 to 1974. He worked weekends and was the primary fill in DJ over those years. He had a long radio career at many great stations like WFIL/Philadelphia and WRKO/Boston (as "Bobby Mitchell").

Over the years people have forgotten the important place that news held at Musicradio WABC.

While it's true that music programming was the primary emphasis, no radio station could keep its license without "serving the public good".

Unlike today's music stations, WABC had a real news department that had a job to do... and did it well. Ironically, the news department at Musicradio WABC in 1975 was better staffed than its counterpart is today at "News-Talk Radio" WABC!

Rear: Paul Ehrlich (News Director-tending to teletype machine), Bob Capers, Bob Hardt
Foreground - a secretary, John Meagher, Gus Engelman.

This advertisement appeared in "Broadcasting Magazine" on 27 October 1975

This is Musicradio

Yes, the newsroom at America's most listened to radio station WABC we don't think we got to be Number One by doing just a few things right, so we weren't too surprised by the results of this year's New York State AP Broadcasters News Competition where New York stations - including the all-news ones - were judged in six categories.

WABC's afternoon drive newscast with Bob Hardt was named Best Regularly Scheduled Local News Program. Hardt's report has earned this accolade six of the last seven years. Nobody's ever done that before.

Newsman John Meagher received the AP Award for General Excelence of Individual Reporting. Meagher won that one for his investigation of boon-doggling in resort area land sales.

And WABC's Public Affair program, 'Perspective New York', earned Honourable Mention in the Documentary Category.
Not bad for musicradio.
an ABC owned AM radio station

Les Marshak at WABC in 1969; then he moved to WPIX (Pix 102).

Stan Brooks, a familiar voice on 1010 WINS, dies at 86

By Paul Vitello for The New York Times.

23 December 2013

Stan Brooks, a reporter whose long tenure and prolific output on New York’s first all-news radio station, 1010 WINS, made him one of the most recognized and consistent voices on the radio for more than 40 years, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86, and had worked until a month before his death, delivering his last report from City Hall on Nov. 20. The cause was lung cancer, his son Bennett said.

Mr. Brooks joined WINS, 1010 on the AM dial, as news director in 1962, when it was still one of the dominant pop music stations in the country, with a lineup of popular disc jockeys including Murray Kaufman, known as Murray the K.

When Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the station’s owners, decided to make WINS an all-news operation soon after Mr. Brooks’s arrival, he helped assemble the staff and lay the groundwork for one of the first all-news radio stations in the country — and the first in the city.
The switch took place on 19 April 1965. The blackout on 9 November 1965, which plunged most of the Northeast into darkness, put Mr. Brooks’s news team on the aural map.

By tapping into a transmission line based in New Jersey, WINS was one of the few radio outlets that managed to stay on the air. From a 19th-floor studio in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Brooks and his reporters broadcast news and information throughout the night.

“Reporters had to go down 19 flights to get the story and then walk up 19 flights to go on the air,” all by candlelight, he told an interviewer.

After several years as an executive and then a national correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting radio station system, Mr. Brooks became a local reporter at WINS in 1970. His voice has been on the city’s airwaves almost every day since.

In understated dispatches between 30 seconds and one minute long, he reported on plane crashes, race riots, municipal near-bankruptcies, the tall ships, the Son of Sam, the Attica prison uprising and every mayoral administration from John V. Lindsay to Michael R. Bloomberg. He conducted interviews under a light rain of ash and debris on Sept. 11, 2001. Before ducking under his desk, he delivered a live report from the scene after a gunman killed Councilman James Davis at City Hall in 2003.

He liked the precision of short-form journalism. “When you’ve got 35 seconds, you’ve got to tell people what they need right away,” he said in an interview last year. “You want to get to the spine of the story.”

In a 2005 interview, Mr. Brooks said he was often asked when he was retiring. “I don’t want to live in Florida,” he said. “I like living in New York, and as long as I’m living in New York I want to be active, and I think the most active and the most fun thing I could do is this.”

Stanley Bertram Brooks was born in the Bronx in 24 January 1927, to Herman and Mildred Brooks. His father worked for a paper company, selling paper to printers. He attended City College for two years, before serving in the Army. He later transferred to, and graduated from, Syracuse University. After working for newspapers in Westchester County, he became a reporter and editor at Newsday on Long Island, where he worked for 10 years before moving to WINS.

Besides his son Bennett, he is survived by two other sons, George and Rick; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, the former Lynn Schwarz, died in May.

On August 22, 1972, John Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturale and Robert Westenberg, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East 3rd Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Wojtowicz and Naturale held 7 bank employees hostages for 14 hours. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day. The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested and Naturale was killed by the FBY during the final moments of the incident. Wojtowicz answered the phone and gave Stan Brooks an interview. The robbery was turned into the Oscar winning film Dog day afternoon - listen to a 1971 radio ad by Chrysler.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Borcht Belt memories

Lou Godstein, left, leading a game of 'Simon Says' at Grossinger's in 1985. He worked at Grossinger's from 1948 until it closed in 1986 as a tummler, keeping hotel guests amused. 

Lou Goldstein, borscht-belt master of 'Simon Says', dies at 90

written by Joseph Berger in 15 April 2012 for The New York Times.

Lou Goldstein was the consummate tummler, one of a zany species of entertainer who kept them laughing, or tried to, long ago in the borscht belt hotels of the Catskills.

A tummler (pronounced toom-ler) - the job title comes from a Yiddish word for someone who stirs up tumult or excitement - was a jack-of-all-trades social director who was supposed to amuse the hotel guests with jokes, songs and shtick that might be better described as slapshtick, as they sat by the pool, emerged from lunch or headed for bingo. 

Perhaps the classic illustration was given by Mel Brooks, himself a former tummler.

'A tummler wakes up the Jews when they fall asleep around the poor after lunch,' Mr Brooks said. 'One of the things I had to do as the pool tummler was, I used to do an act. I worwe a derby and an alpaca coat, and I would carry two rock-laden cardboard suitcases and go to the edge of the diving board and say, 'Business is no good!' and jump off.' 

But Mr. Goldstein was moren than a tummler. He was also probably the most famous impresario of Simon Says, a commanding figure (in a manner of speaking) in a game beloved by children as well as adults when they're in a playful mood; his act appeared on national TV and in sports arenas (at halftime). 

Perhaps the classic illustriation was given by Mel Brooks, himself a former tummler.

"A tummler wakes up the Jews when they fall asleep around the pool after lunch," Mr. Brooks said. "One of the things I had to do as the pool tummler was, I used to do an act. I wore a derby and an alpaca coat, and I would carry two rock-laden cardboard suitcases and go to the edge of the diving board and say, 'Business is no good!' and jump off."

But Mr. Goldstein was more than a tummler. He was also probably the most famoous impresario of Simon Says, a commanding figure (in a manner of speaking) in a game beloved by children as well as adults when they're in a playful mood; his act appeared on national TV and in sports arenas (at halftime). 

He died in 2 April 2012, at the age of 90 and had lived in Liberty, N.Y., at the southern edge of his beloved Catskill Mountains. His wife, Jackie Horner, said the cause was complications of Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Goldstein, a slender six-footer, performed his antics at Grosssinger's, perhaps the premier Catskills resort, from 1948 until the hotel closed in 1986. He'd hold absurd exercise classes. He' have a circle of grown men don silly hats and maneuver them onto one another's heads, with one hand and without letting the hats tumble to the ground. He'd tell jokes during pauses in a diving exhibition, or tell stories on tours of the Grossinger's grounds and kitchens (one for meat and one for dairy).

"He used to joke that the tour was 45 minutes and all downhill," said Douglas Lyons, 64, a lawyer and son of the columnist Leonard Lyons. The younger Mr. Lyons went to Grossinger's every summer from the time he was a baby until 1980, and Mr. Goldstein, he said, was the annual highlight.

In addition to Mr. Brooks, world-class comedians like Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar and Red Buttons put in summers as tummlers, according to 'The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America', by Lawrence J. Epstein. 

Mr. Goldstein did stand-up routines as well, Ms. Horner recalled, more than a few with borrowed jokes. There was the one about the mother whose son excitedly announces that he has been picked for the part of the Jewish husband in a school play. The mother replies, "You tell the teacher you want a speaking part."

But his forte became the Simon Says routines. (He spelled it Simon Sez.) Contestants stayed in the game as long as they did only what Simon told them to do, of course, and Mr. Goldstein, with a rapid-fire delivery was masterly at tricking them into doing what Simon had actually kept mum about.

As his renown spread, he began performing the act on "Wide World of Sports," "The Mike Douglas Show," ABC's "Superstars" and other TV shows, sometimes with sports celebrities like Reggie Jackson. He carried his act to halftime at professional basketball games, cruise ships and corporate and charity events like the Special Olympics.

"Simon says, move to your right," he would tell a group, or, "Simon says, jump up in the air," then whisper to a too-satisfied participant, "By the way, what's your name?" When the person answered, Mr. Goldstein would reply in a mock gruff voice. "You're out!"

Corny as it was, there was something about his patter, with its grumpy Yiddish inflection, that charmed. 

"They watched him more than listened to him, and if you watched him he would do the opposite and you would be out," Ms. Horner said. 

For his talents, Mr. Goldstein earned $600 a week and room and board at a hotel whose Jewish dishes were legendary for both their taste and their size. At one point the singer Eddie Fisher was his roommate.

Mr. Goldstein, the son of a taylor, was born in 8 September 1921, in a small town outside Warsaw. The family immigrated when he was 5 and settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

He was a basketball standout at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn and Long Island University. When the Catskills hotels started basketball tournaments to entertain guests, Grossinger' recruited him. And when he proved adept at other forms of entertainment, the hotel signed him up as its tummler

Ms. Horner, who was a consultant and something of an inspiration for 'Dirty Dancing', the 1987 film about a mountain resort not too different from Grossinger's, said she and Mr. Goldstein met when she came there as a dance instructor. They married at Grossinger's in 1960 and lived at the hotel, in Liberty, N.Y. for the many years they worked there. They stayed onin the town afterward.

Ms. Horner, her husband's only immediate survivor, has always enjoyed repeating some of Mr. Goldstein's tummler jokes, like the one about the wife who tells her husband after a bitter argument that when he dies she's going to dance on his grave. The husband goes to his lawyer the next day and asks for a new clause in his will. He wants to be buried at sea. 

Irving Cohen, Major-Domo in Catskills, dies at 95

written by Margalit Fox in 3 October 2012, for The New York Times. 

Irving Cohen, who was known as King Cupid of the Catskills for his canny ability to seat just the right nice Jewish boy next to just the right nice Jewish girl during his half-century as the maître d' of the Concord Hotel, died on Monday at his homes in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 95. His son Bob confirmed the death. 

By all accounts, Mr. Cohen, the borscht belt's longest-serving maître d'hôtel, worked at the Concord, in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y., from his early 20s until he was in his early 80s. He would have worked there longer, he said, had the hotel not closed in 1996. 

Officially, Mr. Cohen presided over three meals a day in the vast kosher empire that was the Concord dinning room, helping thousands of patrons navigate its towering shoals of gefilte fish, pot roast, potato pudding and a great deal else. 

Unofficially (though only just), he was the matchmaker for a horde of hopefuls, who flocked to the Catskills ostensibly for shuffleboard and Sammy Davis Jr. but in actuality to eat, drink, marry and be fruitful and multiply, generally in that order. 

Thanks to Mr. Cohen, many did. In the 1940s, he paired the Concord's original clientele. In the '60s, he paired their children. And in the '80s, he paired their children's children. It is no exaggeration, Bob Cohen said Tuesday, to say that thousands of marriages resulted from his father's sharp-eyed ministrations.

And thus, simply by doing his job - which combined Holmesian deductive skill with Postian etiquette and a touch of cryptographic cloack and dagger - Mr. Cohen single-handedly helped perpetuaate a branch of American Jewry.

Irving Jay Cohen was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on 11 May 1917. After graduating from Seward Park High School, he found work as a busboy at Grossinger's, another well-known Catskills resort. He eventually became a waiter there, serving the likes of John Garfield (né Jacob Julius Garfinkle), Milton Berle, Eddie Cantor and Irving Berlin.  

Mr. Cohen joined the Concord as a waiter in the late 1930s. In 1943, he became the maître d', commanding a dining room that seated more than 3,000. Before long, he was taking phone calls from a multitude of mothers, who beseeched him to seat their eligible daughters beside eligible young men.

Corresponding calls from mothers of sons were rarer, Mr. Cohen said, though not unknown. For making matches, Mr. Cohen relied on his keen ability to suss out subjects at a glance. Age, sex and marital status were of crucial concern, of course, but so too were occupation, tax bracket and geography. 

"You got to pair them by states and even from the same cities," Mr. Cohen told The Daily News in 1967. "If they come from different places, the doll is always afraid the guy will forget her as soon as he gets home."

To keep track of demographic information, Mr. Cohen used a specially built pegboard, 10 feet long, on which each of the Concord's hundreds of dining tables was represented by a circle. Around each circle was a set of holes, and as Mr. Cohen seated each diner, he stuck the appropriate hole with a colour-coded peg - pink for single young women, blue for single young men, white for older people and several other colours denoting characteristics so secret they appear to have been known only to him. 

Though Mr. Cohen plied his trade well into the computer age, the pegboard endured. "Can a computer get to the human element?" he said in the Daily News interview. "I ask you, can a nice widown, maybe a little on the plump side, but nice, can she tell all her aches and dreams to a computer? Never!"

Mr. Cohen's first wife, the former Sarah Berzon, whom he married in 1944, died in 1982. He is survived by his second wife, Christine Golia; 3 children from his 1st marriage, Bob, Arnie and Barbara Cohen Parness; 2 stepsons, Ed and Christopher Ventrice; and grandchildren, step-grandchildren and great-granchildren.

Mr. Cohen's dining-room savvy extended far beyond matters of the heart. As he recounted in the 1991 book "It Happened in the Catskills," by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer, he was accosted one night by a guest, purple with rage.

"My wife almost choked," the man told him. "I'm going to sue the hotel for a million dollars." The offending object was a small metal tag, called a plumba, affixed to meat to identify it as kosher. The tags were normally removed before cooking, but this one, on a chicken, had been overlooked.

"What's your name?," Mr. Cohen asked the woman harriedly. "Your address?"

He raced to the dining-room microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen," he intoned. "Mr. and Mrs. Sam Weistein from Cedarhurst, Long Island, have just won a bottle of Champagne. Mrs. Weinstein is the lucky lady who wound up with the chicken with the plumb."

gorgeous swimming pool at the Kutschers in the early 60s. 
Floyd Patterson at Kutshers in 1958.
Duke Ellington swings with Jack Landman at Kutsher's in this photo from the Catskills Institute.

Mark, Helen & Milton Kutsher in the summer of 1977. 

Milton Kutsher, Catskills hotelier, dies at 82


22 November 1998

Milton Kutsher, who built Kutsher's Country Club into one of the leading resorts in the Catskills and kept it successful even as many other top hotels in the region lost their allure in the 1980's and 90's, died Monday in Monticello, N.Y. He was 82 years old.

Mr. Kutsher's life spanned the rise and fall of the grand Catskills resorts. He was born in Monticello in 1916, when the region was still a sleepy little mountain enclave of rooming houses where Jews in the garment trade could escape the summer heat of the city for ''the good air.'' 

By the middle of the century, the Catskills were world famous as the Borscht Belt, a place of large, often luxurious hotels and resorts where urban vacationers, mostly Jews still hemmed in socially by anti-Semitism, could relax and unwind, entertained by the most famous names in show business. By the time he died, the Catskills were in decline, a region seemingly made vestigial by jet planes, air-conditioning and the loosening of religion-based restrictions.

But while other resorts like Grossinger's, the Concord and Brown's have gone out of business or declared bankruptcy, Kutsher's continues to prosper, a tribute, many say, to Mr. Kutsher's vision.

He bound Kutsher's closely to big-time sports, attracting heavyweight boxers like Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano, who used Kutsher's as a training base in the 1950's. Professional basketball players still come to Kutsher's for the annual Maurice Stokes exhibition game, which raises money for needy former N.B.A. players and is now in its 41st year.

Amateur sports was a major attraction in the Catskills. Resorts would field basketball teams made up of staff members and compete against one another, drawing visitors up from the city to watch (and bet) on the games. Mr. Kutsher was an expert at hiring the best high school and college players to work summers, like a skinny high school student named Wilt Chamberlain, who worked there as a bellhop in the early 1950's.

''When I got Wilt, I was looking around for the right coach to work with him,'' Mr. Kutsher recalled years later. A guest told him about a man who had once coached his son, and might need a job. ''That's how I got Red Auerbach to coach Kutsher's basketball team,'' Mr. Kutsher said of the man who would later gain fame as the coach of the Boston Celtics.

Like the other resorts, Kutsher's in the 1960's had a roster of comedians like Shecky Greene and Alan King, but as the years passed Mr. Kutsher tried to keep the acts current. Until his television show took off, Jerry Seinfeld was a frequent performer at Kutsher's, said Mr. Kutsher's daughter Mady Prowler.

''This is one of the few resorts that continues to attract a crowd,'' said Myrna Katz Frommer, who, with her husband, Harvey Frommer, wrote ''It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents and Others Who Lived It'' (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991). ''It's a very special place in that it has a true family feel. It's luxurious without being tacky, and he never allowed it to get run down.''

Through it all, Mr. Kutsher and his wife, the former Helen Wasser, were a constant, visible presence. They appeared at every meal, and they remembered the names of their guests. ''If she saw a piece of paper on the floor, she'd pick it up,'' Ms. Frommer said. ''She'd say, 'This is my home.' ''

Mr. Kutsher represented the second generation in his family to operate Kutsher's, which was founded by his father and uncle in 1907. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1937 and serving in the Army in the Pacific during World War II, he returned to Monticello and took over Kutsher's, expanding it from a small operation into one of the region's biggest resorts; it now has 410 rooms.

Mr. Kutsher made sure that his children also became involved, and today his son, Mark Kutsher, runs Kutsher's with Helen Kutsher. In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Kutsher is survived by two daughters, Ms. Prowler of Philadelphia and Karen Wilson of Bryn Mawr, Pa., and seven grandchildren.

Besides the country club, Mr. Kutsher also ran Kutsher's Sport Academy and a summer camp for children, and was a trustee of the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

One thing Mr. Kutsher did not like was the term Borscht Belt. ''I don't think he liked the idea that a place was depicted by a soup,'' Ms. Prowler said. ''He thought it sounded too cliquish and closed off to the world, though he had no problem with it being known as a Jewish resort.''

Helen Kutsher in 2002. 

Helen Kutsher, pampering matriarch of a grand Borscht Belt resort, dies at 89

by Joseph Berger, written for The New York Times - 23 March 2013. 

Helen Kutsher, the matriarch of the last of the grand Catskill resorts, who greeted guests with a “Welcome home,” made sure the regulars got rooms facing the lake, entertained them with comedians and filled them with blintzes and stuffed cabbage, died on Tuesday in Philadelphia. She was 89 and lived most of her life in Monticello, N.Y., in a house on the grounds of the hotel.
Her daughter Karen Wilson confirmed the death.

In the heyday of the summertime Catskills, the largest, liveliest resorts included legendary names like Grossinger’s, the Concord, Brown’s and Kutsher’s Country Club, and all but Kutsher’s have closed. They, along with hundreds of smaller hotels, drew a summertime avalanche of guests — mostly Jewish — to what was fondly known as the borscht belt. Kutsher’s is still owned by the family that opened it more than 100 years ago, though three years ago it was leased to another operator.

The secret to the longevity of many of these palaces was a motherly figure who made guests feel pampered. Jennie Grossinger and Helen Kutsher were models of the breed.

“The only way you could make a hotel work is to be a warm, gracious hostess,” said Phil Brown, who grew up as the son of a hotelier to become a sociology professor at Northeastern University and to write two books about the Catskills. “You had to make people feel this was their home away from home, because the truth was, they could go farther away and find a fancier hotel. What would bring them back was that the hotel felt like a place their parents and grandparents could have gone to.”

Kutsher’s had shuffleboard, bingo, indoor and outdoor pools, poolside dancing, an 18-hole golf course, a ski hill, an ice-skating rink open even in summer, and tummlers, the high-spirited provocateurs whose job was to keep the guests amused, or just occupied, with various high jinks.

The hotel had the full cholesterol-be-damned panoply of East European cuisine. In the early days the waiters were often Jewish students; they were later replaced by Latinos, who imitated the patter and shtick of their predecessors. Big tippers were known to get a second heaping of the entree on the sly.

The nightclub featured performers like Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason, Jerry Seinfeld, Harry Belafonte, Billy Crystal and Tony Bennett. Mrs. Kutsher knew them all and wouldn’t hesitate to call one up as a last-minute replacement for an act that had failed to show.
About a decade ago, the hotel called the comedian Alan King at the last minute. He obliged. Flourishing his trademark unlit cigar, he began his act by telling the audience, “Welcome to the end of my career.”

The business side was overseen by her husband, Milton, who loved schmoozing with sports stars and local power brokers. One of his hires, for hotel athletic director, was a young Red Auerbach, who went on to coach the Boston Celtics. Milton and Helen also had a lifelong friendship with Wilt Chamberlain, who had worked at the hotel as a bellhop.

“They were his second set of parents,” said Mark Kutsher, Helen’s son and the hotel’s last president.

Milton Kutsher died in 1998. In addition to her son and daughter, Mrs. Kutsher is survived by another daughter, Mady Prowler; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

She was born Helen Wasser on 11 July  1923, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She went up to Kutsher’s, which was founded as the Kutsher Brothers Farm House in 1907, as a 10-year-old after her mother had died. Relatives felt that she and her brother Joe could benefit from time in the country. Helen became a favorite of Rebecca Kutsher, the widow of founder Max Kutsher, and introduced Rebecca to her widowed father, Sam. The grown-ups married, and Helen spent the rest of her childhood at Kutsher’s — and then never left.

She attended Monticello High School and what is now the State University of New York at Delhi. She married Milton Kutsher, Rebecca’s nephew, in 1946. The young couple joined the family business.

Ms. Wilson said her mother was the face of the hotel. It was Mrs. Kutsher, soignée with her trademark scarf, who would see to the guests’ contentment, circulating around the dining room, recognizing wedding anniversaries in the hotel newsletter, sending food baskets up to rooms, and, until a few years ago, handling reservations so she could make sure that regulars got the lakeside views year after year.

Fastidious, she would pick litter off the carpet or admonish a staff member, “It’s on your side.” She coached her staff members — some 400 — on greeting guests, advising them always to look a customer in the eye. Neat attire and well-coiffed hair were mandatory.

“No beards, she didn’t like beards, ” her daughter said. “She taught them how to be a mensch.”

Julius Slutsky, Nevele Hotel founder, dies at 94.

9 April 2006.

Ellenville, N.Y. Retired owner and operator of the Nevele Country Club, passed away on Friday, 7 April 2006, at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla. He was 94. 

Julius Slutsky was born in 9 February 1912, the son of Joseph and Yetta Rubin Slutsky, in a farmhouse just south of Ellenville, then known as the Nevele Falls Farm.

Later, with his parents and his brother, Ben, they expanded a small summer hotel known as the Nevele Mansion into The Nevele Country Club, one of the premiere hotels of the Catskills resort area.

A 1972 article in the Times Herald-Record credited him and his brother Ben, with developing the Nevele into one of the 'big three' resorts in the region, in addition to the Concord and Grossingers. "They really expanded it into what it is today," said David Slutsky, who ran the hotel until the family sold it in 1997. It now is called the Nevele Grand.

His father and other hotel owners helped form the Monticello Raceway as a means of attracting more guests to the area, he said. Julius Slutsky was a big man, standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds. But his son most remembers his hands.

"He had big hands from working on the farm. As a kid, I worried if he ever hit me. He never did," David Slutsky said. "He was so kind and gentle and wise. He only wanted to protect us all the time."

Even at 94 and bearing the complications of congestive heart problems, his father went to Disney World and other places.

Perhaps the darkest moments for Julius Slutsky came in the early 1970s. The federal government charged him and his brother, Ben, with income tax evasion. They both spent time about a year in jails as a result.

David Slutsky, a lawyer, said that incident was a travesty. "My father bore that burden like Hercules. It never should have happened... My father was so amazing." 

He was a member of Congregation Ezrath Israel Synagogue, serving as its President for 19 years. Funeral services today, 9 April 2006, at 1 PM, in Congregation Ezrath Israel Synagogue, Ellenville, N.Y. Burial in Ezrath Israel Cemetery, Wawarsing.

He is survived by his 3 sons, Jeffrey, Richard and David, and his daughters-in-law, Lynn, Robin and Natalie, his 8 grand-children: Vicki, Jason & wife, Courtney, Adam & wife, Tracy, Sande, Kim Papke and her husband, Kevin, Amanda and Jordan; and his great-grand-daughter, Lilah; his cousin, Jeanette Shildkret, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Alice; his brother, Ben Slutsky, and his sister, Lillian Regenbogen. 



jumping off the WTC tower...

Dear Lulu,

today I found the wonderful image of you with the WTC in the backgroud. The picture is really beautiful!!! - so I have to contact you immediately to ask you whether you'd like to participate in our project: three years ago we - Robert Ziegler and Stefka Ammon - started working on our private project MY_WTC. 

It is our goal to explore the question of the site' s myth via (mostly) tourists' photographs of the World Trade Center in New York City (August 5th 1966 - September 10th 2001). Also we would like to find out why so many people took pictures of themselves in front, on top of, inside or next to the WTC. Our project is about exploring the "specific aura" of the World Trade Center from the angle of tourists from all over the world.

On our photo-blog you can see pictures submitted from many places and, this is important to us too, you can also comment on pictures with your memories and associations. We hope to create a vivid exchange. We would be very happy if we arouse your interest with our MY_WTC project. It would really be wonderful if you also submit your great picture! Maybe even with some comments or descriptions (year, reason for photograph...)

In any case we are very much looking forward to hearing from you! Best greetings from sunny Berlin, Germany
Best Robert and Stefka

A December 1970 photo of the Twin Towers shows construction was at a break-neck pace. A year later both towers were complete, even though the buildings were officially opened in 1973.
21st February 1971. 
Spring 1971
Yoko Ono & John Lennon and the WTC Twin Towers in 1971.

Al Pacino in 'Serpico' directed by Sidney Lumet, 1973.

Dear Robert & Stefka,

thank you for the invitation to express myself about  the Twin Towers.

Yes, you can use the photo from my blog. Unfortunately it is the only one I've got with the towers on the back ground and it is not a good quality picture.

That photo was taken by my friend Damazio Nazare on a very cold Saturday morning in February 1972.

You see, I’m Brazilian and migrated to the US in October 1971. Even before I went to live in the Tri-State-Area I knew that the Empire State was no longer the tallest building in the world. It had already been surpassed by the Twin Towers in the Lower Manhattan tip.

I've always been an admirer of tall buildings and it was only natural that I would be interested in knowing about the World Trade Center twin wonders.

I remember so well the first time I beheld the Towers from Newark, NJ. It was a cold Autumn morning in 1971 and the sky was clear as crystal. I remember distinctly well the blue tarpaulins on top of the Northern Tower. Both Towers were already done even if the buildings themselves were not open to public visitation yet. WTC would only be officially open only in 1973. 

I guess a love affair between Myself and the Twin Towers started when I took that first look at them from far-away Newark, NJ. How could I resist not falling in love with such beautiful and immense structures? They were so straight! They were so identical! They had such a marvelous metallic colour! And they were the tallest in the world. That topped everything! I didn't know then that the Twin Towers were built and owned by the states of New York and New Jersey... actually The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the same company that owned the Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue and 41st Street which played such an important role in my life too.

I arrived in the USA on a Saturdady, 2nd October 1971, went to the Bus Terminal and took a bus to Newark, NJ. The following day I took a bus back to Manhattan, walked to 34th Street and visited the Empire State Building. That was like a mission! That was the first thing I ever did as soon as I had a chance. But strangely enough I never went up the Twin Towers.

I lived in Newark, NJ from 1971 to 1973. I used to take the PATH [Port Authority Trans-Hudson]trains to go to Manhattan. As you know one could go either to the 33rd Street Station in mid-Manhattan or downtown to the World Trade Center station deep under the bowels of the Twin Towers. I took the PATH trains and alighted at the WTC station many a time but due to the Towers not having been opened yet I never had the chance to go up to the top. I had to come back to Brazil in early 1973 just before the WTC was officially opened.

I went back to the Tri-State-Area many a time after that, but never had the chance to make that dream come true. Never went up to the top.

Last time I was in the NYC area was in the summer of 2001. As usual I stayed in Newark, NJ with a Brazilian friend who had migrated to the US in the early 70s. He had a small business on Ferry Street needed a permit from the US authorities to import Brazilian merchandise for his shop. He asked me to go to the WTC with him to get those permits... and that was the only time I went inside one of the Towers. The office we went to was on a very low floor one so I did not have that 'feeling' I was in a 'special' place.

Then, on June 10, 2001 I had to take my plane back to Brazil. The last time I was near the Towers I did something 'funny'. I went really close to one of them, stationed myself exactly on the south-west corner, leaned against it and looked up all the way to the top and stayed in that position for a few moments. I felt good to look up at such a straight line that took me almost to 'heavens', such a clean metallic feel. It is one of those moments that one never forgets. Thank God New Yorkers don’t have the time or inclination to watch what goes on around them otherwise someone could think my attitude was ‘peculiar’.

One might say I am fantasizing about something in retrospect but that's not true.  Even if Osama Bin Laden had not destroyed them I would still cherish those moments I had with those structures. They had been part of my own story as a migrant. I could say I grew with the them. I naturally thought they would out-last me for a few centuries but that was not supposed to be.

In the morning of September 11, 2001 I was home in São Paulo, Brazil. I remember it was a cloudy morning and I was probably reading when my younger brother who was watching TV shouted something like there was a building on fire in New York. I was curious about which building was on flames and turned my TV on. One of the Twin Towers was mysteriously on fire. Then the 2nd Tower was on fire too and later on we had the experience to watch the greatest show on earth happening before our own eyes. Not even Hollywood could have done something on that magnitude. I could hardly believe what I was watching. I could hardly believe I had just been ‘hugging’ one of the Towers just 8 weeks before.

Lulu Maximus, 31st May 2012. 

No-safety net... 1974 
cops couldn't do much but yell at the Frenchman...