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. Tobi Kibel Piatek says:

    I still remember the smell of the silverware, slightly eggy and a little greasy. Helping the waitiers was a ‘privilege’ for the girls who were waiting for the boys to get done working and come out to play 🙂

    Mitch (I remember you, and have photos somewhere of your parents), and Jerry, you were my waiter in the children’s dining room.

    The summer of the monkey was a story my mother told and retold to my kids. She loved that smart monkey. Thanks for all the memories.

  2. Larry Buter says:

    Who could forget “mama” walking around the dining room passing out her famous rolls.

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