Thursday Memories – Kutsher’s Resort, The Catskills

 

 

Ten years ago this month, I found myself hauling my guitar to The Catskills in Monticello, New York. I, along with a few hundred others, was playing a folk festival at Kutscher’s Resort. The festival was really about marketing. Almost everyone there was either a performer or a booker of gigs. It was only three days, but the schedule was jam-packed. I really had no time to explore the place, which was too bad.

 

A lot of folks believe Kutsher’s was the inspiration for the setting of “Dirty Dancing.” Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know. But the place was amazing, and it did have quite a history.

 

I speak of Kutsher’s in the past tense because it’s gone. It was torn down last year and all that remain are memories. There’s a fantastic group of photos in this Gothamist piece, and a lot of what you see there isn’t much different from what I saw ten years ago. The dilapidated parts are worse than anything I witnessed, to be sure. But the place was old. Real old. Regardless of its heyday heights, it definitely declined.

 

Take a look at the photos in that Gothamist piece. They’re kind of amazing. Not just for the decay, but for what once was. Kutsher’s seemed, to me, like a dream. It was so many things I imagined, but never actually knew. Family vacations. Summers in The Catskills. Ten years ago, simply being there was crazy. And cool. And now it’s just a memory.

Thursday Memories

 

 

 

The other day I was out walking and crossed the L.A. River. Now I’ve crossed that section of drainage time and time again, and never noticed the giant pipe spanning the area. When I did see it, it immediately took me back to being a small child in Barnesville, GA. And once my mind started down that path, I began digging on the interwebs. Y’all – I learned plenty.

 

When I was in the first grade in Barnesville, my best friend lived two houses down and her name was Lisa Haire. Lisa was a year or two older than me and worldly. She was the youngest of four kids and that meant she was exposed to much more life than I. Not only that, but her mother was C-O-O-L. Miss Haire was this happening lady. She looked cool. She was laid-back cool. Even her food was cool. She introduced me to anchovies on pizza, for cry-eye. That was, for this small-town Georgia girl, revolutionary! It also caused quite a stir at my house when I spoke of the matter. I was told, “We do not eat anchovies on pizza in this house.”

 

Anyhoo – behind our houses was a beautiful, wild creek. Lisa and I used to hang out there and play. We’d swim in the deepest part (waist-high) and search for critters. The crawfish were fascinating and fun. We had to put our heads underwater to watch them beneath an overhang. The old albino catfish, the one we named “Gepetto,” was beautiful and in time he allowed us to rub his belly. The occasional snake was none-too-welcome by me, but they never seemed to bother Lisa. And when we’d sit on tree roots that extended out from the bank, high above the creek below, we’d look for fairies in the grass and weeds. Remember – I was all of six years old.

 

A ways down from both our houses, a giant pipe extended across the creek to the other side. Now – unlike the pipe I saw the other day in L.A., the old Georgia pipe did not have a flat part running across its top. It was just round, and it was about fifteen feet above the creek below. Lisa and I would cross that thing whenever we wandered down that far. We were careful, and I don’t remember either of us ever falling. I do remember some mean boys from the other side of the creek coming after us one day. Lisa and I had crossed the pipe and were wandering around the other side. That area was mostly backyards and woods, and I guess those boys claimed that territory as their own. When Lisa and I were spotted on the wrong side of the creek, the boys decided to run us off. As we huffed and puffed toward that pipe, I remember one of the boys saying something about how they had us. But they didn’t know we were brave. They didn’t know we trusted that pipe and ourselves. With Lisa leading and me a few steps behind, we got across as quickly as we could and left the mean boys on the other side of the creek. They were too afraid to cross over.

 

After remembering and thinking about all this and be-bopping on my laptop, I happened upon an obituary for Miss Haire. She passed away earlier this year. Reading through that obituary, I was reminded of having known Miss Haire and her family. I also learned a few things about Miss Haire herself, things I never knew. Like how she had been active in the US Air Force and had been stationed in occupied Japan. And how she had worked at the Warner Robins Air Force base until she retired at the age of 80. I certainly never knew she’d graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tift College, with a degree in English and Journalism. As it turns out, I really knew nothing about Miss Haire. To me, she was my friend’s mama. And she was nice. I suppose for a six-year-old child, that was enough.

 

Now that I’ve taken notice of the big pipe spanning the L.A. River, I’ll be sure to look at it every time I pass. I’m guessing I’ll also remember – each and every time – my friend Lisa, and her sweet mother, Miss Haire.

Thursday Memories – Cute

 

 

The photo above was taken 20 years ago. (Gulp.) Look at me – I was cute, for cry-eye! I loved that outfit. The skirt is long gone, but I still have the hat and the velvet jacket. When I wear them now, I get loads of compliments. I guess my old clothes now qualify as “vintage.” Go figure.

 

Now that I am my age (ahem), compliments aren’t tossed my way as often as when I was younger. Mind you, I go about town in my work/painting clothes most of the time, and I’m not on the make. I’m past flirting to get my way and I’m also past tempering the truth to make others feel better. So not only do I walk around in the world looking like trash, I also don’t hold back when I encounter a jackass. For example, perhaps I should offer apologies to the pharmacist who said he’d gotten the dates wrong on my prescription because he’s new, which led to me telling him that if he’s new to numbers, he’s in for a rough road no matter where he works, as using numbers for dates isn’t new and that maybe he should come up with a different weak-sauce excuse for the next time he screws up. But I didn’t just meet me. That guy will not be getting an apology. But I digress…

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go fishing for compliments. I am generally happy in my own skin, which negates the need for external validation. But I am human. And I do respond favorably to authentic, nice words (especially on those days when I’ve relied on the kindness of lipstick, earrings and a comb). I also respond to not-so-nice words. And those times, rare though they are, are a bit bleak. (I’m talking to you, lying pharmacist.) I once had a dear friend who repeatedly made fun of the way I dress. I know how I dress. I know my taste isn’t for everyone, and I’m cool with that. But you don’t say mean stuff about something so shallow to your friends. Dag. You don’t act like that with anyone. It’s lame. And ugly.

 

Anyhoo – yesterday I was out in the world and I got not one, but two (count ‘em – two) compliments from strangers as I went about my bidness. I didn’t have my lady parts hanging out, and I wasn’t wearing make-up, so I don’t know what the hell was going on. Maybe L.A. was experiencing a group-high. Maybe the weather agreed with me. Maybe the fact that I was consciously aware of being grateful during the day showed on my face. I really don’t know. But I don’t have to know.

 

When I told Mister about my 1-2 punch of compliments, he said I should take it where I can get it. Wise man. I should probably remember to compliment him on that.

Thursday Memories. Sort Of.

 

 

One of the things I do at summer’s close involves my wardrobe. (I use that word loosely, as most of my clothing serves only to cover my parts. I am in no way a fashionista.) Yes – I’ll be wearing warm-weather clothes for quite a while. But the nights are getting cooler, so a light sweater is occasionally called for. Mornings are cooler, too. And that means pulling out my old, full-length robe.

 

 

This robe is fabulous. I love the pattern and I love how soft it is. Originally, it had shoulder pads. Shoulder pads, y’all! It made me feel like Joan Crawford! But after years of wear and washing, the shoulder pads are only a memory. And when I say years, I mean years. You see, I’ve had this robe for almost 30 friggin’ years. I’m not kidding. Mister gave it to me one Christmas and I’ve simply kept it. It’s in great shape. No holes or sagging seams. Because it lives most of its life in a dark closet, it hasn’t faded one bit. When I recently put it on the bathroom hook, I caught myself smiling. This robe makes me happy. And that’s pretty cool.

 

So today I salute my robe. I wear it around the house. I wear it to walk outside. I have no shame when it comes to this robe. Only pride. It’s an oldie, to be sure. It’s also quite the goodie. Even without the shoulder pads. I think Joan Crawford would be jealous.

Thursday Memories

 

 

I drove past a high school the other day and saw a sign out front that read “Welcome Class of 2020.” My brain hole immediately flashed back to my own high school graduation. I was a good kid, with a good heart. But such a kid, just the same.

 

And then I thought about all those high school freshmen, who will be graduating in 2020, and wondered how many of their commencement speeches will focus on some aspect of Vision (their graduating year being 20-20 and all). I’m guessing every last one of them, is how many.

 

Hope they’ll be good kids. With good hearts. Kids, though they are, just the same.

Thursday Memories

 

 

While recently going through some old film negatives, I found some shots of friends’ babies and had a few pics printed. Which I then passed on to said friends. They’d never seen the photos before.

 

The shot above shows two sweet sisters, the oldest not quite three. She’ll be off to college soon, which only goes to show how this wondrous ride can slip by in the blink of an eye.

 

Anyhoo – when I gave copies of the old photos to our friends, the big sister (of the two shown above) and I were talking about the path before her. At some point I told her the only things she has to do right now are live her life and be fabulous. I then turned to the little sister and said the same. That’s when the little sister smiled with utter and complete confidence, looked me in the eye and said, “I always live my life and I’m always fabulous.”

 

And y’all – she meant it.

13 Years Ago: Someone Else’s Thursday Memories

 

 

This Thursday Memory isn’t my own. It’s a photo of our young friends Taylor and Kyli, from 13 years ago.

 

The reason I dug up this old pic is that I just saw these chicks last week and they’re practically grown. Which I don’t understand. I mean, how do the kids keep aging and yet I and my contemporaries stay the same? Is it going to take 40 years passing for me to look at my friends (and myself) and see a change? I wonder. Or maybe my failing eyesight is doing me a large by keeping a nice, friendly blur going wherever I look. Hmm.

 

It really is amazing to see kids grow up. Thank goodness – a whole lot of them are turning out to be awesome people. Taylor and Kyli certainly are.

Thursday Memories

 

 

It has happened. Mister and I have pulled out our full-on summer clothes and we’ve started changing up the food we eat. Long sleeves and hearty comfort foods don’t cut it anymore. It’s time for lighter fare. It’s time for lighter everything.

 

This old photo is a hoot for me. Check out that pink carpet! This was snapped when we lived in an old folks complex in Dallas. Ah – good times.

 

These days, I don’t look anything like that girl. And I’m a much better cook than she was. But I still love her. With all my heart.

Thursday Memories

 

 

My desire to pare down possessions continues. (It’s been actively going on for several months, mentally going on for decades.) And as the fine people at a local charity are picking up quite a haul today, I’ve had occasion to go through some things to add to the donation. One item that ended up in the give-away box was a gardening book about Eudora Welty. Tucked in its pages, I found the pieces of paper shown above. That means I had that book with me when Mister and I traveled to Japan in the 1990s. The map is from Kyoto. The beer label, well, I don’t remember. I’m guessing I got that in Tokyo, but I’m not sure. The only things I remember for certain are taking a bullet train to Kyoto, hanging with dear friends, “The Caboose” in Tokyo (which may or may not be gone now), Mister’s odd ability to spot and understand Kanji at twenty paces and Typhoon Tom. Yep. Mister and I were stuck in the airport during a typhoon. But I digress…

 

I have a thing about books. I want to hold on to them, to keep them. I want them on shelves and stacked on tables. Art books, coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction – I take all comers and I love them. I’ve read most of the books in our house. (I do have several in my to-be-read pile, and that’s cool.) And some books I’ve read are adored more than others. And then there are the books that don’t really hold any significant meaning for me. For the most part, I got something out of them, but do I need to see them on a shelf? Do I continue to derive pleasure from their presence? No. Not really. Those are the books I’m letting go. Those are the books I hope will find their way into the hands of some eager reader, at a discounted price. And maybe those books will be loved by another. Maybe even prized enough to warrant a place of honor on a shelf.

 

In the meantime, I go through each give-away book, just in case I’ve left something important tucked in the pages. I haven’t found any money yet, but I have found memories. That counts.

Thursday Memories

 

 

I unpacked a box the other day and found my old journals. All at once, I felt a surge of sentimentality. Which quickly passed after opening a random journal to a random page and its random thoughts.

 

I don’t know why I kept these books. Based on the single entry I read, I certainly wasn’t saving them for the content. In fact, I’m guessing that if I were to go through these journals, page by page, I’d find myself in the middle of a great big snooze-fest. Or a whine-a-rama. And if there is an entry worth revisiting, something to be gleaned from my past scribbling, it is surely rare.

 

But I have kept these journals. And though I may very well use them for kindling at some point, I will probably go through each one before letting them go. Because if I find even one musing worth saving, that will do. Maybe. Anaïs Nin, I ain’t.