We made history on Labor Day weekend of 1995! We held our first conference, and as a result of its success, launched the Catskills Institute. The most perfect weather graced our days at Sunny Oaks Hotel in Woodridge, right in the middle of the old Catskills resort area. Our very successful conference drew approximately 100 people from all over, as well as a number of local residents. It was a wonderful combination of talks and panels, informal sharing of Catskills experiences, an old-fashioned ping-pong tournament, a wonderful klezmer concert, and the ambience of a friendly family hotel that refreshes the history of the small hotels that made the Catskills what they were.
Talks were presented by: Phil Brown (Brown University) from his book in progress, Catskill Culture, Shalom Goldman (Dartmouth College) on the social history of the Catskills, Don Prowler (University of Pennsylvania) on hotel architecture, John Conway (Sullivan County Historian) from his book in press, Gangsters of the Catskills, Deborah Dash Moore (Vassar College) on "Jews and the Pursuit of Leisure," Harvey and Myrna Frommer, from their book It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others Who Lived It, Paula Orndoff on the planning and production process of a new documentary film on the Catskills, and a panel of ex-maitre d's and hotel owners.
Discussions during the conference led to a meeting of the conference organizers during the fall of 1995, and the Catskills Institute was launched.