Our Special Guests by
(308 Stories)

Prompted By Trauma

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Our Special Guests

My loyal readers may remember that I spent happy childhood summers at my grandmother’s small hotel in the Catskills.  (See My Heart Remembers My Grandmother’s Hotel,  My Game Mother,  Playing with FireHotel KittensThe Cat and the Forshpeiz,  and The Troubadour)

Here’s another hotel memory,  though this one is bittersweet.

Every summer for many years a busload of guests would come up from the city for a two week stay.  The arrival of these  “special guests”  was a much anticipated event,  and I remember waiting on the lawn with my grandmother as a big bus pulled into the hotel driveway.  And I remember the sense of excitement as several dozen men and women,  many still dressed in their city clothes,  and some with small children in tow,  stepped off the bus carrying packages and suitcases.

What was special about our special guests?  Like everyone else who came to our hotel,  they enjoyed my grandmother’s wonderful cooking,  took hikes through the woods,  went swimming,  and rowed on our small lake.  And on rainy days many could be found on the big hotel porch playing cards,  or chess,  or Mah Jongg,  while sounds of someone at the piano drifted out from the lobby.

But I realized that all our special guests spoke with unfamiliar accents,  and young as I was I sensed a formality about them,  and I sensed that the other guests treated them with a special deference and respect.

And every summer when their two-week stay came to an end we gathered on the lawn once again to see them off,  and I watched as each departing guest embraced my grandmother before boarding the bus for the trip back to the city.

“We had a wonderful time!”   “It’s a paradise here!”  “Thank you so much!”,  they told her.

”Thank you for coming!”  “Have a safe trip!”  “We’ll see you next summer!”,   we called back.   And we waved goodbye until the bus disappeared down the Neversink Road.

When I was older my parents told me about the Holocaust and the six million who perished.  And they told me about those who endured unspeakable horrors and survived,   like our very special guests.

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman 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!

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Tags: Holocaust, Hotels, Catskills
Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Wow, what a powerful story, Dana! I must admit that I had a pretty fair inkling of what was to come, especially given that the hotel was in the Catskills. But you still unfolded it beautfiully and sensitively.

    I can only imagine the joy these “special guests” must have felt during this vacation. And how perfect that they travelled on “Neversink Road” to get there.

  2. Thanx John, and so glad that like me you appreciate the wonderfully, metaphorically named Neversink Road.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    So glad your special guests had this chance to relax and enjoy themselves, Dana. You’ve told this story as you remember it, all those years ago and let us find out how special those guests were in a delicate way.

  4. Dave Ventre says:

    A sweet and moving story, Dana. Lovely how your grandmother was able to give the gift of joy to people who had suffered something that I can only very faintly imagine.

  5. Suzy says:

    Beautiful story, Dana. How touching that these special guests had two weeks of joy at your grandmother’s hotel.

  6. Marian says:

    Beautifully written, Dana, and it is heartwarming that your grandmother could give this gift of a nurturing vacation to those people who so deeply deserved it. Glad to know of this memory.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    You created a lovely picture of your grandmother’s warmth and the bond with the special guests, told from a child’s memory. How wonderful that she could provide such a healing experience for those who suffered so much.

  8. Laurie Levy says:

    So wonderful that your grandmother provided a great vacation for her special guests. I was not surprised by who they were from your description, but they certainly deserved the hospitality she was able to extend to them.

  9. I like the way you addressed “trauma” without describing it at all, and leaving it for the final words of the piece. An attentive reader can sense what is coming. Well done.

  10. Khati Hendry says:

    I do remember this very moving story Dana. Thanks for posting it again. The balm of human kindness is inspiring while the depths of evil are appalling. Your grandmother was a fabulous role model.

  11. Jim Willis says:

    What a vivid memory of the special guests, and it’s no wonder they were treated with such deference and respect! Your grandmother and her mountain retreat sound so wonderful and serene.

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