Summers of Love At a Bungalow Colony

A Reunion Where Time Stands Still

By Lenore Skenazy

Published August 04, 2010, issue of August 13, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

‘You! You look great! Let’s take a picture! We all still look the same!”

Reminiscing: Many of the teenagers pictured above who spent the summer of 1970 at the Rosmarins bungalow colony returned this year for a reunion.
COURTESY OF SCOTT ROSMARIN
Reminiscing: Many of the teenagers pictured above who spent the summer of 1970 at the Rosmarins bungalow colony returned this year for a reunion.

Really? Thirty or 40 years after they last met as spades-addicted teens, and they still look the same?

Well, maybe they do — to each other. Maybe all it takes is meeting up again at the same bungalow colony and seeing the same old luncheonette, the same handball wall, even some of the same families at the pool (sitting in what may well be some of the same lounge chairs). Maybe when you see all that, the faces of long-ago friends look the same, too. At least that’s what happened a few weekends ago, at the 69-year-old Rosmarins bungalow colony, still miraculously alive, well and unchanged, in Monroe, N.Y.

It’s the bungalow colony where I spend my summers, too. But I’m a newbie — I only arrived in 2001, as an adult. This reunion was for people in their 40s and 50s who’d spent their summers there as kids. Thanks to modern miracles like Facebook, e-mail and the occasional stent, about 75 of these folks were planning to get together at a Manhattan restaurant in the middle of winter when Scott Rosmarin, the third generation of his family to run the colony, said (electronically): “Wait! Why not come up here, where it all started, in the summer?”

So they did. And they stayed for 12 hours, through drizzle and sun, from lunch right on through that Catskills staple: a floorshow in the “casino” — barn, that is — complete with singer, comedian and jokes. (Some of those were from 40 years ago, too.) Mostly, though, folks just talked.

“I remember everyone cramming into my bungalow to watch the moon walk,” said Norman Schulman, now a real estate developer in Parkland, Fla.

“Beads! We lived for those little beads. They came in tubes….”sighed Lori Koonin, a Long Island mother of four.

Robin Molho, now a risk manager living in Manhattan, recalled, “When you were taking a shower and your neighbor turned on the water, you knew” — because suddenly the shower turned freezing. (Still happens, I informed her.) But most of the memories hinged on something far warmer: romance.

“I remember I was 16, and I said to my parents, ‘This is going to be my last summer here,’ and then all of a sudden, it was like the heavens opened up, and there were 20 guys coming down the street,” Randy Schonfeld said. She told her parents she’d changed her mind. Good thing, because she ended up marrying one of those guys (sent, it turns out, not directly from heaven, but by the closing of another bungalow colony).

“I must’ve fallen in love 12 times,” recalled Pete Grossman, a writer now living in Westchester County, N.Y. And when it wasn’t love, he added, it was its close relative. “I can remember going: ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!’ just to see a bikini strap,” he said. “It’s a good thing we had athletics.” In fact, they even had a teen bowling team back then. (Still do, I told him.) “I won ‘Most Improved Bowler’ one year,” Grossman boasted. “And I don’t think I’ve improved since.”

But back to romance.

Thanks to the “Brigadoon”-like quality of the colony, kids — even teens — were (and are) allowed almost unheard-of license.

“We’d come back from the teen group” — an evening trip to the movies, or the aforementioned bowling league, for instance — “and we’d all run off the bus to the sundeck to play spades,” said Rona Schulman, now a stay-at-home mom in Columbia, Md. “We’d sit there till 2 or 3 a.m. Our parents knew where we were.”

But did the parents know what they were doing?

“We’d play spin the bottle,” Norman, her brother, piped up. “Or seven minutes in heaven.” (Don’t ask!)

“Those were the happiest days of my life,” said Rockland County, N.Y., advertising agency owner Jayne Koonin, not caring how trite she sounded. “We bathed in that freedom.”

Nonetheless, that is not what most of them are bathing their own children in now. While some families renting bungalows at Rosmarins have three or, in one case, even four generations up here together, most of the reunion-goers have moved on, however wistfully.

“I understand why people would come here if they lived in an apartment, but when you have a house and a backyard, it’s hard to justify,” said David Tratner, 41, a publicist who lives on Long Island. “I used to love to do this, but I don’t know if it makes sense.”

Summers today, like the rest of the seasons, tend to be much less communal: Every backyard for itself. Summers are also more structured. There are specialty camps and internships and a lot of dual-income families where neither parent can spare time away from the office. And there’s also the sneaking suspicion that freedom itself is — wrong. Unproductive. Dangerous.

And yet, everyone at the reunion was longing for it. “There were no cars, no streets, no play dates, no enrichment. They went outside to play,” said Joyce Tratner, David’s mother, who also attended the reunion. “The mothers didn’t have enrichment, either. We just played, too.”

As the Tratners were reminiscing, David’s 4-year-old daughter wandered off to a big grassy field, and David, suddenly noticing this, dashed off after her, despite the fact that there are still no cars on the property, no strangers, no danger. The girl kept running farther and farther away, laughing.

It’s that feeling that everyone at the reunion had come to recapture.

The laughing part, that is.

Lenore Skenazy is the founder of www.freerangekids.com and author of “Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)” (Jossey-Bass, 2009).


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.