MOODUS &
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The Last Whaler
Old Chimney Stacks
East Haddam in 1913
Ode to a River Town
Early East Haddam

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& MOODUS SITES

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Between Boston & New York
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East of the River
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The New Pequot
The Real Bob Steele
Schemitzun!
Suburbia: The Good Life?
USS Nautilus
Working the Land

 

Back in the Day at Orchard Mansion

What I Learned at Orchard Mansion
Rose and Herb Kabatznick Created a Down-home Resort for Families Who Came to Relax in the Country and Meet New Friends.

The green-and-white cabins at Orchard Mansion featured simple rooms with basic furnishings.
Click here for more Orchard Mansion photos.

By Steven Rosenberg

There I was last week, swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, eating healthy meals with my wife and son, and actually relaxing on vacation. At night, when the evening rains came, we watched TV, talked and went to bed early.

This is the way an adult goes on vacation, I thought. Go away to a resort and forget about what you do 51 weeks out of the year. Rediscover that you have a family. Create new memories.

But, as the nights progressed, I had exceeded the limits of introspection, and my thoughts drifted back to the Jewish resort my family would travel to every summer. While it lacked virtually any real sense of luxury or comfort, it had the one quality that was missing from my vacation: real interaction with people.

I often wondered why my parents would make the 120-mile trip to Moodus, Connecticut every summer. Year later I would learn that it was simply a matter of economics. Where else could a whole family spend a week on vacation for $250?

It was a poor man's Catskills, and its name conjured up images of everything it could never live up to: Orchard Mansion. Yet, despite its modest appearance, it attracted thousands of New York and Boston Jews every summer. At its entrance was a lopsided tennis court, and an enormous dining hall and recreation center. After checking in, families would make their way to one of the few dozen green and white bungalows that dotted the grounds. The rooms were simple; the beds were hardly firm; and hot showers were at a premium.

But people were not there for the amenities. They were working class Jews who needed a break and stumbled upon a good deal. For my parents -- small business owners -- it was heaven: fresh country air, a big swimming pool, camp for the kids, and some quiet time that they couldn't get in the city.

Time was spent outdoors mostly at the pool and often, in a matter of hours, complete strangers who had randomly chosen lounge chairs were chatting away like lifelong friends.

 

Other Orchard Mansion Memories
by Dennis Freed

To this day my family and I talk about going every summer to Orchard Mansion.  It was the best. Here are the highlights of what I remember from the summers I spent there as a kid:

-The graveyard at night.

-Malted milkshakes in the evening.

-Bats flying around the movies.

-The high-dive platform.

-Father/son softball game.

-Camp and counselors.

-Nighttime hide-and-go seek.

-Carnival in town.

-Seeing the first people to smoke pot (counselors and the 60's).

-No parents around all day or night.

-Dinner was next day's lunch.

-Rubber band as a toothbrush holder in the rooms.

-Hiking to the dam.

 

 

And, of course, there was the food. Three times a day, hundreds would pack the dining hall and eat. I mostly subsisted on bread and butter and bug juice, but all around me I saw people partake in indescribable portions, morning, noon, and night. From my vantage point at the long, narrow kids table next to the kitchen, I was able to view the carefully managed chaos that each meal would offer. While the adults sat back, eagerly consuming plate after plate, the waiters and busboys would fly in and out of the kitchen doors, narrowing missing each other as they carried their large trays.

At the center of this most unlikely of retreats were Orchard Mansion's owners, Herb and Rose Kabatchnick. They were adored by the guests, who sensed that the Kabatchnick's were hardly getting rich on their investment. Herb seemed to know everybody's name, and Rose ran the kitchen like a true professional.

After dinner the grounds seemed to sparkle. Kids would rush off to the barn for an evening movie; teenagers headed over to the shuffleboard court and adults sat on the bungalow porches talking with new friends. Later in the evening the family room (part of the dining room complex) would serve as a central meeting spot, while offering a little something for everyone. Adults played cards, kids ate ice cream, and the teens flirted.

While there seemed to be some kind of grand order to it all, it was simply people opening up to one another. Getting away was really getting involved with others and socializing.

Perhaps that was what I was thinking about during the quiet of the night last week. As a society, some of us overthink the meaning of a vacation and get too far into our own thoughts. When I reached that point I ventured out with my family in search of conversation.

In a matter of minutes, we became fast friends with an Israeli family from New Jersey.

If you would like to share memories of your time spent at a Moodus resort, or if you have photographs of the old resorts, please click here to e-mail us.

OLD MOODUS CENTER
BACK IN THE DAY


From the Early 1900s
to Its Teardown

HISTORIC VIEWS OF
MOODUS RESORTS

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Ads & Flyers

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Banner Lodge


Camp Wopowog


Cave Hill


Ted Hilton's


Other Resorts

EARLY VIEWS OF
EAST HADDAM

Goodspeed, Gelston, Vistas, Travel & More

1913 BRIDGE
OPENING SOUVENIR

Celebrating a
River Crossing

 

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