Our History

beginningThe origin of The Brookside Inn:

Poppa had emigrated from Russia. Leaving behind family and friends, but bringing with him his bride-to-be, Esther. In the old country, Poppa had been apprenticed to be a blacksmith. Here in America, he could only find factory work, and had become a presser in the garment industry. The struggle for daily survival was spent in long hours of hard work. Poppa remembered and often spoke of a small village where he had grown into manhood. The village was in the sprawling countryside. Farms and orchards seemed endless to him. His dream was to get his family out of the squalid dirty neighborhood he had come to from Russia and into the countryside.

Soon an opportunity was at hand. “A thousand dollars: Itcheh (Isador) exclaimed! “That is what the man told me, but don’t forget, that is only with the condition that you don’t go to look at the property” explained Itcheh’s fellow worker. A thousand dollars for a property in the country is still a bargain, even if I can’t go to look at it thought Itcheh. He barraged the co-worker with questions, but was told “Look, if you are this interested, I will give you the man’s name, address, and telephone number. You get in touch with him, and ask him all the questions you want.” Itcheh waited impatiently for the end of the workday. Finally, changing into street clothes, he hurried home to his wife and his sons, to share with them the news about this place in the country. A thousand dollar bargain!

That evening Poppa spoke with the owner. He was told that the property consisted of thirty-three acres more or less, with some old buildings. Also that it had not been lived in for several years, and only because of family problems was he willing to sell. The owner was insisting on his condition of money first, and looking later. Poppa agreed. How could he resist. Not only was this a bargain, but the opportunity to fulfill his dream of getting out of the city. However, no matter how much of a bargain this property was, Poppa did not have a thousand pennies he could call his own. To get a thousand dollars had to take a bit of doing Where to get a thousand dollars! The most obvious answer was a rich relative. Fortunately the next day was Saturday, a good day to visit. The wealthy relation he had in mind was a cousin, a Lawyer, who had helped before with small loans. However, a thousand dollars was another matter entirely. After the greetings, the exchange of family gossip, and the inevitable tea with cookies, Poppa asked the cousin for a loan of the thousand dollars. Telling him of his dream to leave the city, of this golden opportunity which had presented itself and that he had promised the owner that he wouldn’t go to look at the property before he paid for it. The cousin listened without comment until Poppa had finished. “Itcheh I understand what you are saying. I also would not hesitate to lend you the thousand dollars. I know that you would repay me no matter how long it took. However, I cannot understand your promise of not going to see this property before buying it! How can you buy a cat in the bag, so to speak! You promised, Okay! However I didn’t make any promises, so you will tell me where this property is located, and tomorrow being Sunday, I will take a drive in my car to look at this thousand dollar bargain.”

Upon hearing this, Poppa gleefully said “Look if you are going for a drive, do I know where you are going? So Esther and I will sit in the car and go where you go. We will be ready whenever you come to pick us up.” Upon hearing this, my brother and I began to clamor to go along. It was the middle of the night when we all squeezed into the car, a 1935 Chevrolet. We were off to a place in the Catskill Mountain called Kerhonkson, to look at an old farm that had been deserted for several years. Momma, who hadn’t shown much enthusiasm, or shared Poppa’s excitement, said as we started out– “I hope that going to look at this cat in the bag, doesn’t turn out to be a wild goose chase.”

The drive seemed endless. The first glimmer of light came upon us as the car chugged its way up one of the steepest hills we had yet encountered. This was to be the final climb before we came to the area where the old farm was located. Looking out the car window into the dawn’s early light, I saw for the first time the trees, the woods, and the open sky that Poppa had been telling us about. We finally came to the turnoff from the main road, and rode in what we learned later was called a back-road. Our driver slowed down; peevishly he said “where are we going? I’ll ruin my car yet on this rut ridden pot hole of a road.” “It shouldn’t be too far from here. I was told the place is only about a mile from where we turned off from the main highway,” Poppa answered him. Suddenly, rounding a turn which almost took us into a stream alongside the road, we crossed a small bridge and made a sharp left turn into yet a narrower road than the back-road we just left. A moment or two later we came to the property that we had traveled almost five hours to see.

For awhile, all of us in the car just looked. Not one of us said a word. There was the old farm house set back from the road abut seventy-five feet. As I looked at this old building, some words to an old country ballad came into my mind. “This old house ain’t got no windows This old house ain’t got no doors This old house ain’t got no people This old house ain’t got no floors.” Finally Poppa broke the silence. “Okay everybody, let’s get out and see what we came to look at.”

signWe crossed over what was once a lawn. Now the ground was a tangle of overgrown grass, weeds and briars. Upon getting to the house, we found the door locked. However, an open window was found and I was the chosen one to climb through. I did, and discovered the floor to be rotten, as I almost fell through. This almost mishap stopped further exploration of the old farm house. We then walked around to the back of the house and came upon an old red barn and a broken down building which looked as if it might have been a chicken coop. Then hearing the sound of water, we pushed through some heavy brush and came up on the brook which pursued a course alongside the farm house. Our enthusiasm for the property had been steadily becoming less and less. Now the sight of the rushing noisy brook made the long hours in the car suddenly worthwhile. Especially, when Mamma, who until this moment had said very little, and wasn’t seeing eye to eye with Poppa on this venture, exclaimed “This water alone is worth the thousand dollars.” With this expression of approval, Poppa’s dream began to become a reality.

The relative loaned Poppa the money, even a little more than was originally asked for. The owner was given his cash, and Poppa had gotten his thousand dollar bargain. Of what use was this bargain if it could not support itself or the dream that had brought Poppa to this place?? Farmers we were not, but Mamma was a good cook – Poppa knew lots of people. The boys were strong and willing and eager to help; and we had been told that working people and their families wanted to go away to the country in the summertime for vacation.

This knowledge was enough to start Poppa repairing and remodeled the old farmhouse and convert it into a boarding house for the summer season. All of us worked hard, and that summer of 1936, the Brookside Inn opened its doors for the first time. This is the story of the way that first effort developed, how the thousand dollar bargain brought with it pain and disappointment, but also gave us the sense of humor that enabled us to overcome the disappointments and establish a rapport with those of you whom we had the great pleasure to call our guests. So read on, there may be a chuckle or two as you relive with me the building of a “dream” and the growth of a boarding house called the Brookside Inn.

8 Responses to “Our History”

  1. Bob Koenigsberg says:

    Last night, at dinner with my sister, she mentioned a ‘new’ Brookiside web site and an ‘upcoming reunion’

    I have been in touch with Marty Lovinger recently but he never mentioned it. I see John Mills often and occasionally speak with Steve Petusevsky, but this reunion never came up!

    sadly it is past, but memories still remain

    Steve and Mitch P were meeting with Sadie and Suzanne maybe a year ago (maybe 3???) and they were going to try and call me so I could speak with Sadie and Sue, but it didnt happen

    so, love to all who remember me, and to those who dont, love you any way

    Bobby K

    • Randy Kittenplan says:

      Bobby, Its Randy…Mitch’s brother…hope all is well with you and all the old crew from the Brookside. If you see or talk to anyone PLEASE give them my e-mail address and tell them I would love to hear from them. Thanks and great seeing that you are still around the memory of The Brookside….

    • Richard says:

      Hi Randy,
      Glad to hear from you. Hope all is well and that you enjoy the website…..Sue, Barry and I enjoyed trying to put together some history and pictures from the hotel days…

  2. Allen Tepper says:

    Hi All,
    From what I’ve heard, I think too many people were excluded from, or did not hear about our last reunion. I think it would be great if someone could create a very visible page or link on this site so people can leave email addresses and/or phone numbers. Maybe it can be done so just the webmaster (Rich?) sees them. This will be a great help if we try to arrange a reunion in the summer of 2012 (and I hope we do) in Kerhonkson as we spoke about at the last get together. It’s always great to see my old friends!!

    Miss you all,

    • Richard says:

      Hi Allen

      Good idea…I am glad to act as an ’email distributor’ as long as everyone knows that the email will be shared among the ‘Brookside Alumni’. The account was hacked in the past and I don’t want to have anyone get spammed and lost in Malasia without any money as I was supposed to be.

      I will check with a friend and see what can be done.

      Just a quick update…my Mother traveled to California to attend her grandniece’s wedding (Seth and John Dunn’s niece Aran). Everyone had a great time.


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