Dirty Dancing fans are crying today because the Catskills hotel that inspired their favorite film has burned to the ground. Aww. Poor them. Here I thought the fire at the Grandview Palace in Loch Sheldrake, New York was a tragedy because some people barely escaped with their lives from their homes.
Born and raised in the Catskills, I remember when the Grandview was Brown's Hotel, today being hailed as the inspiration for the resort where Baby Houseman went to lose her innocence with a sexy dance instructor. But Saturday night, I wasn't thinking about movies as a fire so big it's being called the biggest in my county's history was raging on. I was biting my fingernails as I refreshed Facebook, hoping to hear that the residents of the 396 condominiums built in the old hotel were safe.
Get that? I cared about people. Not some stupid movie!
Blasphemy, I know. I am a child of the '80s. I know better than to put Baby in a corner. In truth, it's a dirty little secret that Dirty Dancing, as schmaltzy as it is, remains one of my favorite movies to this day.
A fire so big it could be seen from miles aroundBut I am also a true child of the Catskills. And I've gotten used to the place where I skinned my knees playing hopscotch, learned to ride a bike, and caught salamanders being the butt of the world's jokes. I got up and walked out of a college class at New York University when the professor decided to crack wise about what was left behind in the place most famous for starting the careers of some of the world's most famous comedians (from Jerry Lewis to Jackie Mason) only to be left behind as the world moved on to the glitz and glam of Hollywood. I didn't put up a defense. I walked out, defeated.
But reading some of the short-sighted laments about the loss of the so-called Dirty Dancing hotel this morning, I'm not going to accept Hollywood putting the Catskills in a corner this time. Folks, it may or may not have inspired a movie a long time ago. But that's not the real story of the Grandview Palace fire.
The real stories are the 300-plus volunteer firefighters who spent all Saturday night and much of Sunday morning risking their lives to put out a blaze that could be seen for miles around. Got that? We don't have the luxury of paid fire departments here. We have volunteers who run into burning buildings to save lives.
And let's talk about lives. There were people who lived in Grandview. Dozens of people. Old ones. Young ones. Kids. And now, their clothes, their furniture, their memories, their toys, they're all gone. Those people could care less that they lived in an iconic place; they just want their lives back.
But this is all they have left:
Kind of puts a silly movie in perspective, doesn't it? This wasn't cinematic history destroyed. It was people's lives.
How about instead of bemoaning the fact that you can't go see a landmark that's tangentially related to a movie (did I mention it is only said to have INSPIRED the movie, it wasn't actually filmed there?), you do something useful today? Go check the batteries in your smoke detector. Buy a box of donuts and take it down to your local firehouse to thank those folks for what they do. Fill a bag with used (but not abused) clothes to take to the local non-profit that helps fire victims get back on their feet.
How did you take the news that the Dirty Dancing hotel is gone?