Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Archival footage, old newsreels, home movies, and other material here provide a rich history of the unique geographic slice of Americana known as the "Borscht Belt" -- an area of the Catskills about 100 miles northwest of New York City that thrived between 1910 and the early 1950s as a getaway for city-weary New Yorkers. Throughout the region, live entertainment was as good as the food (including borscht, a beet and cabbage soup). There were 1200 Jewish families here in 1910, and they began to convert old barns and other structures into summer inns and hostels for New Yorkers who wanted a weekend or week-long escape. While the paterfamilias sweated out the week at his job in the city, his wife and kids would be running their boarding house or bed and breakfast. From this modest beginning, fabulous hotels sprung up, and soon entertainers the likes of Eddie Fischer, Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis and others were bringing laughs and songs to an appreciative audience. Alas, when television became the bridge to stardom in the early 1950s, entertainers were lured away to the small screen and the Borscht Belt was no more.