While the Concord may accept bankrupt twenty years ago, I afresh chanced on a glimpse of what it already was to be a resort bedfellow at the grandest of Catskills resorts, about 1959.
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It all started with the flyer. I’m abiding it broadcast about the Upper West Side faster than chat of Loehmann’s demise.
“Seeking men and women to portray Jewish resort guests ages 18 – 99.”
Here was the allotment I was built-in for! I’d be a natural! My fond, alike if faint, memories of visits to the Catskills came hasty aback (although my ancestors headed to the Poconos added generally – I’d accumulate that tidbit off my submission). I promptly pulled a photo off my iPhone from a contempo bar account I attended, anxiously circumscribed my bedmate out of the shot, and beatific it in with my stats – average amber hair, short, adroit but arresting nose, and Jewish for 40-some odd years additional a millennia of generations. While I accurate doubts that I’d be alleged – secretly I was abiding they wouldn’t canyon me up. There was alike a adventitious I anticipation they would see my affection to Midge and casting me as her adherent and fashionable aunt.
And the fashion! Those clothes! The ablaze nails, blush lips, alluring hairdos and courtly dresses the brand of which haven’t been credible aback the era. No cocky apropos Upper West Side babe would canyon up the adventitious to transform and carriage herself to that time of allure and innocence. The email accustomed the abutting morning. I affected surprise, calling my bedmate first.
“I’m activity to be a TV star!” I purred.
“Sure, sounds fine.” he replied. “Wait why are you accomplishing this – don’t you charge to be at work?”
“Well, they say that added assignment can be apathetic with lots of cat-and-mouse time so I’ll accumulate up with assignment remotely.” I advised to myself. A brace of emails later, and I was appointed for my apparel applicable at Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Fleet Yards. Jumping into an Uber with a analytical acquaintance (what UWS babe knows annihilation about accepting about Brooklyn?), I was anon bushing out my application forms. $13 an hour was the non-union rate, I learned. With my Uber book there and back, I was in the abrogating already.
While I wasn’t advised to a appearance of the flat sets, I was advised to a aiguille at the all-inclusive barn of aeon accouterment and accessories acclimated by the show. I anesthetized racks of apparel already alleged by account who had visited beforehand than I. Anniversary accomplished apparel arbor included a bright hanging garment bag, a complete accouterments with accessories such as gloves, shoes, and bags. Hanging from anniversary was a photo credible with the name of anniversary amateur and a abounding anatomy attempt of their alleged costume. As I peered about the bend cat-and-mouse to be alleged I wondered if I would accept the adventitious to browse the racks or would my apparel be alleged for me? Glittering heels? A glassy atramentous clothes in aristocratic purple? Continued gloves evocative of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot?
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Nearby a few men were cat-and-mouse for binding haircuts – abbreviate and apple-pie at the aback and sides, the beautician explained to the men, reminding them to be apple-pie baldheaded for filming day. Apparently, hipster beards weren’t yet accepted in the 50s. I was alleged in about 20 account afterwards my appointed arrangement time, asked to bead my corpuscle buzz in a shoe box at the entrance, and leave my acquaintance behind. Sorry, the alteration allowance is small, no amplitude for you, they assured her. With an atoning smile I scurried afterwards the apparel team.
We pulled aback a blind to a baby bathrobe allowance with a desk, several chairs, a abounding breadth mirror, a rolling rack, and breach bedding of aeon clothes and accessories taped on the walls. On the arbor were two dresses, one aristocratic dejected glassy with a account collar and abbreviate skirt, and the other, a ablaze dejected dress with beaded neckline, abbreviate belt, analogous anorak and full, annular skirt.
Let’s try this one first, one apparel abettor suggested. Yes! I thought, that’s the glassy dress I imagined. As the women helped me blooper it on and pulled the attachment up it became credible that this one wasn’t for me.
“The attachment isn’t closing – you absolutely can’t accept any ribs for this one, let’s try the other” she said.
“But, wait, I can abrasion a girdle, tighter Spanx, let’s try again!” I pleaded as she bound pulled it off me and affective the additional dress.
As they alleged my shoes (navy covering with a pad to advice fit), helped me into the crinoline slip, and blimp my best appearance bra with acicular pads, the apparel came to life. With the approval of the apparel ladies, I added my grandmother’s beaded bag (more acceptable from the backward 60s, but again, article I didn’t mention). I twirled my brim and advised it thoughtfully. Was this article my mother or grandmother may accept worn, had either of them been advantageous abundant to appointment the Concord in 1959 instead of active abaft the Adamant Blind in Czechoslovakia? Would my grandfathering — a adept of the shmatteh barter — be annoyed with the braid of the fabric, the aerial beading forth the neckline?
“Stand adjoin the curtain, one bottom in advanced and acicular out, button up and eyes up and to the right,” instructed the apparel lady. This would be my apparel photo — there was no axis aback now!
Over the abutting canicule I waited agilely for a bulletin from the casting aggregation about aback and breadth I’d be filming.
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Finally, several canicule later, I accustomed notice: We were to access at 1pm to Astoria World Manor.
When I accustomed I followed signs to “HOLDING” and anesthetized added signs to “WARDROBE” and “HMU.” I’d afterwards apprentice “HMU” was beard and makeup. First, we’d charge to complete the application forms again. Time in and out, assurance here. Delay to be called. Head to apparel and afresh HMU, breadth we were instructed by a assembly abettor who batten to us as if we aerial academy acceptance in detention.
After reacquainting myself with my costume, my aboriginal stop was the beautician CiCi, who specialized in ambience abbreviate hair. We chatted about our families and clothes for added than an hour as she anxiously coiled my beard with a hot iron.
CiCi guided me to architecture while the curls would set and afresh she would see me afresh to aggravate them out and set them in abode with abundant pins. Linda, my architecture artist, gave me a absolute foundation alongside atramentous liner, dejected adumbration and blush aperture to complete my aeon look.
We were assuredly alleged to the capital amphitheater about six hours later.
While I can’t admit capacity of the storyline, I can say that alfresco of on-camera moments the account begin their own storyline to accumulate occupied. Men and women who were commutual to sit calm abiding their lives – “You’ll be my fiancé,” “I’ll be the mother-in-law.” Some accompanying extra’s absitively they were on a aboriginal date, while groups of accompany became cousins on the boondocks for the evening. Addition brace invented an busy affair. Aback we were beatific aback to captivation the conversations angry to Jewish geography, both abreast (Camp Ramah? Camp Stone? University of Michigan?) and celebrated (Poland? Georgia? Israel?).
There were added moms from my neighborhood, professionals arena hooky from assignment for the day, Yeshiva students, alike a bedfellow from my Shabbat table beforehand that year. We aggregate our claimed belief with new begin friends, took on the personas of our costumed characters, blanket glances in the mirror and selfies on our corpuscle phones. We marveled at the hours it took to transform ourselves and advised how women would accept done the aforementioned consistently in the accomplished – the curlers, girdles and heels. Was it a simpler time aback roles were added defined, expectations set? Possibly. But for Mrs. Maisel, it was a time of activation as she apparent her ability from society’s expectations.
Day two began with a blunt argument at 7:31am from the casting aggregation allurement for my ETA due to an Uber disciplinarian who couldn’t acquisition his way on the Upper West Side. “I am in now,” I bound replied at 7:33am. The 7:30 accumulation had already headed to apparel and I would charge to delay until alleged next. A 7:30am accession led to a 12:30 call time, a few takes and cafeteria hour at 5:30pm.
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Take afterwards booty came and went. The assembly abettor gave us direction, some alone and some as a accumulation – angle here, mime the words, louder, softer, try again, he went on. At the end of the day we were advised to administration from the administrator herself, who appeared admiring with us as a group.
As the day wore on, so did the change of the job.
Our new accompany began kvetching. “How abundant longer?” they aside to one another. “I charge to be up aboriginal tomorrow,” afraid addition added cat-and-mouse in holding. Those alluring clothes began to crawling afterwards 12 hours. The curls that hadn’t budged for over 24 hours, the 43 pins abrading my scalp, the bra pads, corrupt and spanx, oy vey!
As anon as the assembly abettor exclaimed “That’s a wrap!” backward in the evening, 150 account ran to the too baby bathrobe breadth to change aback to their 2018 selves.
Waiting for my turn, I shimmied out of my bra, crinoline and blooper while still cutting my dress. Some twenty account later, I was in my sweats and sneakers cat-and-mouse to allotment a acknowledgment Uber with my newfound UWS accompany – anniversary address their alluring 50’s clothes while their faces, still in abounding makeup, told a altered story.
It was a beautifully camp moment. Despite the continued hours and bad candy, whether advised or by adventitious — by isolating a allowance of over what was acceptable 100 Jewish individuals with an affection for the 1950s, the casting aggregation succeeded in recreating a moment in time I like to anticipate was conceivably not so antithetical to the moments of brotherhood accomplished by guests at the Concord in its heyday.
Deborah is an advocate and mom to three boys and lives on the Upper West Side.
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