Grow­ing Up At Grossinger’s

  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Had Eloise been Jew­ish, less pre­co­cious, and more Catskills than Man­hat­tan, she might have been a girl like Tania Grossinger. Both had unusu­al child­hoods, grow­ing up as hotel kids, sur­round­ed by adults who were unre­lat­ed to them, many of whom were eccen­tric and famous. 

This appeal­ing com­ing-of-age mem­oir, writ­ten by a mem­ber of the Grossinger clan, reveals the behind-the-scenes oper­a­tion of the famous year-round resort hotel, but it also reveals a girl’s devel­op­ment into a woman while sur­round­ed by much that was fab­u­lous and unusu­al. Grow­ing Up At Grossinger’s is Tania’s sto­ry. It takes place when she is between the ages of eight and her mid-thir­ties. It reflects a time of pro­found change in the Jew­ish resort indus­try, when social mores and acces­si­ble jet trav­el affect­ed the social and reli­gious ethos of the moun­tains.” Tania invites the read­er to sep­a­rate the per­son from a care­ful­ly craft­ed image for such as Eddie Fish­er, Deb­bie Reynolds, Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor, Kim Novak, and of course Jen­nie Grossinger, but she also con­veys just how spe­cial were the qual­i­ties of a Jack­ie Robin­son, or of Jan and Alice Peerce, beyond their fame and talents. 

This is a bal­anced por­trait of the emer­gence of an adult, but also of the evo­lu­tion of an indus­try. At the book’s end, the adult Tania returns to vis­it the hotel. She admits to appre­ci­at­ing the expe­ri­ences she had, yet if giv­en the choice, she con­fess­es that she would be unlike­ly to inflict such expe­ri­ences on a child of her own.

Noel Kriftch­er was a pro­fes­sor and admin­is­tra­tor at Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­si­ty, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly served as Super­in­ten­dent of New York City’s Brook­lyn & Stat­en Island High Schools district.

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