The leader of a writing workshop I took years ago asked us to think back to our earliest memories and write about a place our heart remembers. I thought of my grandmother’s hotel in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York where I spent childhood summers. (See My Game Mother, The Troubadour)
When I was 11 my grandmother was no longer able to run it, and the hotel was sold. Then years later when the Catskills were no longer fashionable we heard that a developer had taken over the property and razed the buildings to the ground. But my heart remembers the hotel just as it was those long-ago summers when I was a child, and so I wrote about it in a child’s voice.
“At my grandma’s hotel we have a hill and I can roll right down all the way to the lake. And we have a dock and we have four rowboats, and they have their names on them. My mother painted the names and one rowboat has my name – DANA!
And there’s a waterfall where the lake gets very small and goes underneath the Neversink Road into the woods. And at the other end of the lake there’s a special place – the swamp where the big snapping turtles live. Sometimes my father takes me there in the rowboat and we sneak up on a big old turtle if he is sleeping on a rock and if I’m very careful my father let’s me tap old Mister Turtle VERY GENTLY with my oar!
And at my grandma’s hotel a favorite place to hide is under the porch. No one can see me there, but I can hear the people talking and if it’s before the time to eat I can hear the waiters inside the dining room setting up the tables and the tinkly noise of the glasses and the plates and the spoons.
Then when it’s time to eat my grandma goes on the porch and rings the big dinner bell to tell the people to come, and all the grownups come to the dining room. And all the kids come too and we run to the children’s dining room in back of the big dining room. It’s noisy in the children’s dining room but no one makes us be quiet so it’s fun.
My grandma has a cook and a salad man and a baker and a dishwasher man, but my father says sometimes they quit or they get drunk or my grandma has to fire them and then my grandma is the real cook. And sometimes my grandma is the real baker too and she makes apple strudel for the dessert on a big table where she rolls out the dough with a big rolling pin. And guess who my grandma says is her very best helper? She says it’s ME!”
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!