My view

The memorable scents of summer

By SHARON MARK COHEN
Posted 12/21/21

Here we are on the cusp of winter, and I’m thinking about the smells of summer. Growing up, spending time in the Sullivan County Catskills in summer included the familiar strong odor of cow …

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My view

The memorable scents of summer

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Here we are on the cusp of winter, and I’m thinking about the smells of summer. Growing up, spending time in the Sullivan County Catskills in summer included the familiar strong odor of cow manure. There was also the salty burnt-rubber scent from the intensity of defensive sprays from skunks, the refreshing smell of freshly cut grass, and… the pleasing aroma of freshly ground coffee.

Everyone knows by now that the Catskills is my happy place. Sitting at the kitchen table with my husband this fall, I mentioned the all-consuming aroma, back in the 1950s, when we walked into the A&P in Livingston Manor.

Similar thoughts that come to mind about my childhood days in the Catskills are shared routinely in Facebook groups such as People Who Went to Catskill Bungalow Colonies and Catskills 1960s and ‘70s (Borscht Belt). Some such Facebook groups that have started over the past few years can be educational, helpful, and downright fun.

After chalking up another Northeast summer as a delightful memory, as the leaves were changing colors outside, it didn’t take long to go to the People Who Went to Catskill Bungalow Colonies Facebook group to add a post on November 4. “Thinking back, walking into the A&P in Livingston Manor in the 1950s, what’s the first pleasing aroma or welcoming smell that greeted everyone?” It was so exciting to see an instant reply from Sandy Maxon Ritzer, playing along and announcing the correct answer, which is “coffee.”

With that, I added a question, asking if anyone remembered the grinding machine while stating this is all so funny because I’m not a coffee drinker. The first two replies were from Sandy Maxon Ritzer, saying, “I’m not either, but the aroma was wonderful!” and Elliot Browar, who replied, “I’m not a coffee drinker either but I remember the machine and the aroma like it was yesterday.”

That’s even funnier. The three of us remember the aroma of coffee that permeated the Livingston Manor A&P and the machine that ground the beans, yet none of us are coffee drinkers. The picture on the title page of this Facebook page shows the image of a vintage coffee grinder found on the internet, not the one that we remember at the A&P in Livingston Manor.

I mentioned that the Facebook groups could be educational and helpful, as well as downright fun. One responder to my post on the group page, questioning the pleasing aroma that greeted everyone in Livingston Manor so long ago, noted that, “Neil Sedaka married the owner’s daughter.” Now you all know more about the A&P of yesteryear frequented by mountain revelers in the summertime in the Sullivan County Catskills.

If I could tell my grandchildren something that they’ll remember forever, funny as it sounds, it would be the smells from their childhood. May they have only sweet memories of time well spent, enjoying life’s simple pleasures, whether they drink coffee or not. I hope they have as much fun sharing and caring with others who come from similar backgrounds.

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