Hotel Staff

staffFrom the 50’s on, the hotel dining room staff was usually hard working young teenagers who were focused on two things; making money and having a good time. The former was something that was expected from teenagers, the quest to have a good time drove my parents crazy. However even in the 40’s The Brookside needed staff.

From Sadie’s Reminisces:

My remembrance of these two waiters at the beginning when I first went there. After the war, when Daddy came home, he agreed to go into the hotel business with Pop Friedman and Uncle Si. Times were still not good, and Pop had many acquaintances from his organization (The Progressives). Morris Halpern had worked in restaurants and came to work as a combination waiter and salad man. He was excellent and brought a new flair to our hotel. Up until that time, the young waiters and busboys did that job and it was sloppily done. I remember Morris, on a Friday night would make these center pieces of celery in a tall glass and with toothpicks attach radishes and olives at the end making it look like a bouquet of flowers. We used to just put them in a glass float. He stayed with us for quite a few years and became part of the family. He also helped plant flowers in the front of the main house.

After he left, we hired a young refugee from Germany, who had been in a concentration camp. He brought his wife with him and because she had a bad heart, he would carry her up and down the steps as they slept in the attic with all the other workers. His wife had left her mother, sister, and brother-in-law in Germany and they were waiting for them to come to the United States so they could help take care of Ralph’s wife. Ralph worked for us for quite a few years and the family was able to live in one of the outside bungalows. Well, one summer they came to the hotel, for work, but minus her sister who had passed away in the interim. By that time, Pop had given Ralph a bungalow near the kitchen, so that it would be easier for him and his wife. When they came, we could only give them one room, so it was decided that the mother and daughter would sleep together and the two brother-in-laws would do the same.

The chambermaid, Clara Berman, came and told Mom Friedman that something strange was going on as there were men’s clothes in the room where the women were. We later learned that Ralph’s mother-in-law married her son-in-law and became Ralph’s father-in-law. We had a lot of laughs from that one.

From Rich’s Reminisces:

Initially at the Brookside the only staff that was needed was a waiter, some kitchen help and my Grandfather’s family. My dad and his brother Si took care of a lot of the general repairs that were needed, and since the number of guests was so low not much else needed to be done. My Grandmother and Mother were in the kitchen cooking and that was that.

sadieinkitchenOver time more and more staff was added to meet the new needs of the guests. A bell hop, the Day Camp Director and camp counselors, the band, a social director, a children’s waiter and busboy, a maintenance man, chambermaids, and dishwashers joined the hotel staff. Soon finding a place for them to stay for the summer became an issue, and as usual my Father’s approach was to recycle buildings, add on to small bungalows, and incorporate space in any building he was planning to build.

Bungalows that were in the way of the Vacationer building were moved to another spot on the property. Rooms were carved out of space next to the stage in the Casino Building, and additions were done when needed.

The dining room staff worked for tips, that is as my Father put it, “to insure proper service”, because for many years there was no formal pay. I remember the first paychecks that we received once the law was changed and we had to get paid, all of $2.88 for a week. However, earnings through tips allowed most of us to pay for college, save a little for spending money, and still have enough to go to the Log Cabin or Casino Restaurant in Kerhonkson after meals for pizza.

Each child in the family would start to work in the dining room or day camp and had friends that wanted to join in. Barry had his group, several years later I had mine, and then Sue and Whendi’s friends became waiters, busboys and counselors. In all most of the people who worked at the hotel as teenagers went on to succeed in life and one hopes that the experience they had at The Brookside played a role.

In addition to the teenagers the hotel needed ‘specialist’ like a cook, a saladman, a baker. My parents and grandparents did this work originally, but as the numbers grew and the work multiplied they found people who would fill these roles. Sometimes they became like family, Minnie, Rose, Mike the chef. Sometimes they were gone in a week or two for various reasons. All of it added to the chaos of the hotel.

The Softball Team in the Seventies
The Softball Team in the Seventies

Day Camp and Counselors

8 Responses to “Hotel Staff”

  1. hope winkelstein firestone says:

    the summer of “’62 or ’63 i was supposed to work at the hotel. i would have been sleeping in the girls’ room behind the stage in the old rec. hall. i flunked chemistry and as a result had to go to summer school and not to the brookside. i remember sadie was happy because she knew things were a little wild back in the rec. hall after hours and didn’t think i was mature enough to handle the goings on!!! (she was right on target, as always!)

  2. Jerry Bogartz says:


    Feel free to copy and paste or edit to your hearts content this rambling recollection. It may turn out to be a stream of consciousness a la Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes or a well thought out crafted essay, only the muses know.
    I worked/played at the Brookside for 4 years 1964 – 1968. I started as Lewis Sims’ children’s dining room busboy my senior year in high school and ended up singlehandedly taking care of 30 plus guests after the summer that ended my senior year in college. That was the last time I ever volunteered for ANYTHING!
    I remember the waiters put out the silverware and glasses and the busboys setup the dishes. Extra credit was given for keeping a 12 top of monkey dishes spinning simultaneously. The cleanup duties were split with dishes cleared by busboys and glasses and silver by the waiters. These thrice daily duties were punctuated occasionally by the sound of a juice glass shattering into a million shards .The ordeal ended with waiters and friends sitting in front of their stations drying and storing the silver.

    Breakfast vacillated from leisurely to frantic depending on how and when the guests trickled in. (Cue Mitch Petesevsky’s immortal cry “I’m hit!). Lunch was a disaster waiting to happen……invariably no matter which juice was poured to start, the guests would want something else. There was a similar corollary for dinner… melons, cantaloupe versus honeydew. The odds of the lower ranking stations’ guests getting what they wanted if the leader bombed were astronomical. And, of course, nothing was more tranquil than Sunday lunch on a nice day. The guests who were supposed to leave after breakfast didn’t and the guests who were scheduled to arrive after lunch showed up early. Consequently we were always adding settings on to already full tables for the guests who would only want a “cup of coffee”, but ended up eating a full meal.

    Before I break into a nervous sweat, let’s move on to dinners. Each night was color coded so we “brain dead” wait staff could know what day it was. Friday nights were blue linens, Saturday red and Sunday gold. The napkins were rolled into candle like works of art and placed into the goblets. If memory serves me right, Friday we served roast chicken, Saturday…steak, and Sunday…roast beef. The lights in the kitchen were fluorescent white and the dining room lights were reddish, so what looked well done in the kitchen was blood red on the plate in front of the guests.

    Softball games were the great diversion and as long as they were played somewhere other than our sandpit field were a great deal of fun. I played center field, or if were were at home, left center or right center because there was this frigging tree lined up with second base and it blocked the view of everything! For me, who had moved away from Kerhonkson in my sophomore year, returning to play sports with most of the guys I played Little League with ,was priceless. I really didn’t care if we won or lost, it was just great fun having a great time with my buddies. Toby, Hal, Richie, Lew, Mitch, David, Mike D., thanks for the memories.

    To Sadie and the memory of Nate, I treasure those years, I can never thank you enough for letting me share them with you.

    • Richard says:

      Hi Jerry

      Thanks for your memories….how about the summer of the monkey

    • Jerry,
      Geez, what great memories. As i wrote on one of my own rambling comments pages: I’ll never forget
      cutting off one of your dead-on-a-line-lazer throws from deepest centerfield that probably would have
      nailed a guy at the plate. As I stood there, 15 feet in front of Denk, I couldn’t decide whether to try to
      crawl into the ground or run really fast so that you couldn’t kill me!

      I also remember one of my guests granddaughters who came up to meet me. After a week of wearing
      me out (and scaring the hell out of me), we worked out a deal and I kind of handed her off to you.

      Those were great times. I miss everyone

    • Ken LaPorte says:

      Hey Jerry,

      Wow, many many years since we worked there !!!


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