Once upon a time, not so very long ago, only very wealthy people could afford to hop on a plane and fly to Florida for a vacation. From the 1920s through the boom years of the 1950s and a little beyond, middle-class Jews fled New York City’s summer heat to enjoy abundant kosher cuisine and up-and-coming comedy stars in the hotels and bungalow colonies of the Catskills. The destination that came to be known as the Borscht Belt swiftly lost its clientele in the 1970s and ’80s as air travel became more affordable, and little is left today of the area’s once-busy venues.
Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld, who grew up in the Catskills, has been haunting what remains of the Borscht Belt – resorts that lie in ruins, are abandoned, converted into something else or in a few cases still operating – capturing large-scale color images of lobbies, pools, dining rooms, guestrooms, showrooms and stages. In support of her new book, The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland, Scheinfeld will be giving a slide talk and booksigning on Saturday in College Theater, Room 108 on the SUNY-New Paltz campus, sponsored by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
The lecture begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 15. Admission is free. For more info, visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum/programs/public_programs.html.