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Marisa and Allison Kutshers copy.jpg

Like many people, the fondest memories of my youth take place in the Borscht Belt. These pictures were taken at Kutsher's in the mid-to-late 1980s, shortly after my parents, sister and I moved from Brooklyn to Kiamesha Lake, NY (next to Monticello). 

I still recall the playground where I would spin around on the bug-shaped merry-go-round for hours (pictured at left and center). Afterwards, my Grandpa Jack and I would take a paddleboat out onto the lake. I recall seeing fish in the pond and being amazed by their bug-eyes popping in and out of the murky lake. I remember the smell of the lake and also the pungent chlorinated scent of the indoor pool where afterwards I would swim around like those pond-fish with my grandmother, Ruth. I remember learning to play pool, but never being very good, and pumping quarter after quarter into the Indiana Jones video game in the game room. I remember my family, youthful and happy.

I went back to Kutsher's in July of 2014 to photograph what remained of the hotel and afterwards, while driving down Broadway in Monticello, I felt an tremendous sense of sadness and loss. Among all of the shoots I have done on this project and the various hotels and bungalow colonies I have visited (or revisited), Kutsher's played on my heartstrings more than I ever anticipated that it could. I still have not fully digested the emotions that I felt when I went back to Kutsher's - which wavered somewhere between a place of total devastation and utter bewilderment. Surrounded by bulldozers and construction equipment - the hotel, carcass like and in a state that seemed like light years way from its former glory as I knew it - was slowly but surely being demolished by the hands of people and by time. 

I will always remember Kutsher's and the imprint it left in my mind (and heart). Of course I can never forget my friend, that merry-go-round bug, who when I think about will always make me smile. 

Please feel free to share your Borscht Belt stories (and pictures) with me using the form below. Please note: this form does not allow the uploading of images or documents.  If you wish to share your personal Borscht Belt photos via an online link please use the website field. Or you can email them to marisa@marisascheinfeld.com.

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