- A Special PlaceNew York City in summer is not the place to be if you have a choice. It can be humid and hot enough to fry eggs on the concrete sidewalks.When we were growing up, air conditioning was not available for most and fans, too, were a luxury. SO, Mama and Papa, at least on two occasions, granted us the opportunity to escape the unbearable weather. The Catskill mountain area was the “in” place for vacationing. It had an abundance of accommodations of all kinds from luxury hotels to bungalows to the kuchalains ( cook for yourself). Shortline bus transportation and hackers were readily available and the trip from the city was not too long.It was with great anticipation that we readied ourselves for our trip to Shangri La. For Mama it entailed doing all the packing, sheets, pillow cases, towels, and since it was to be a kuchalain, some pots and pans. Thus there was little room left for the other necessities, clothing, but that was a small sacrifice for the wonderland that lie ahead. We could barely sleep dreaming of the marvels we would experience.Finally, the day had arrived. We got to the bus carrying all our possessions in bags of various shapes and sizes and one or two brown suitcases. As we left New York City, we were awestricken, the landscape was green, green, green, green grass and green trees. The hills and small mountains were green. Colorful summery flowers dotted both sides of the road. What a wondrous sight for someone who had never been out of the city!We arrived at the Goldwasser farm and were ready to be greeted by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gate. The farmhouse was an old ramshackle place with five bedrooms, one for each family. We unloaded our “luggage” in a room on the ground floor, one that was being built as an addition to the main house but not yet reached the wallboard stage. We were then escorted to the communal dining and kitchen area. Each family had one shelf in an ice box and an equal number in the cabinet. Three stoves were also crowded into the small area. Three old kitchen sets were placed in between the cooking area, and so eating time had to be staggered. . The communal kitchen turned out to be the social center for the women, a place to chat, exchange recipes and food, and make friendships. We, also, enjoyed the camaraderie of the other children while we were having our meals.The grounds to us were magnificent, a cornfield on one side and a wheat field on the other side, a freshwater running stream to swim in was a short distance away. That and 10 acres was to be our playground for the summer. The stream was cool and refreshing, although there were sometimes unknown and unfamiliar water life to become familiar with. For the other activities, we used our creativity, imagination, and the varied experiences of the others who lived in different parts of New York. Toward the end of the summer, there was the additional joy of going on hayrides. At night, we looked for shooting stars and the magnificent milky way, a sight denied to us by the ever present clouds and haze in Manhattan. It was a good life.For me, a 14 year old, there was an additional bonus. My hormones were beginning to flow, and with it so was my interest in boys. As fate would have it, Yudie, a 14 year old boy who lived in the Bronx, was also there for the summer, and so it became an opportunity for an education-to learn about the opposite sex. He became my constant companion, someone to talk to, someone to laugh with, and someone to have fun with.Papa, was also able to visit once by being offered a ride, one that he thoroughly enjoyed, a ride to the country in the rumble seat.Labor Day was coming and it was back to life on the Lower East Side after a dream summer at a special place. The next spring when Mr. Goldwasser was making his rounds to solicit customers for the summer, he casually said to me, ”By the way, Yudie asked about you and said “Hello.” For only just a minute, I couldn’t remember the boy who was my first romantic fling and had made that summer so extra special.