Photography

Discussing Rose Haven With Ron Biegel

Source: Boston Public Library; “The S. S. Rose Haven.” New steel swimming pool at Rose Haven, Acra, N.Y.”

The following is a bit of correspondence I recently had from Ron Biegel. Recently, I was discussing my visit to Rose Haven in Acra, New York, and the abandoned swimming pool I photographed in 2011. Since then, I have heard from numerous people who have had various ties to the former resort, including Jim Velsor, who sent me a series of vintage photographs of the resort. Ron asked me to post the audio recording along with a few pictures of how Rose Haven looks today. I happily obliged.

January 7, 2023
This follow-up email comes many years after several I sent you back in 2017. It seems long ago but compared to the subject Rose Haven not so long ago. At the time I had either sent you or was contemplating sending you digital files of the meal announcements at Rose Haven and other conversations with staff and their children. This was from the summer of 1973.

Regarding the audio clip, I did locate it on my computer.  I am reattaching it again in the hope you may be able to post it on your website.  In the comments on your website, one person was trying to recall how many times the meal announcements were repeated. My audio clip confirms it was three!  Reading through the posts, it seems there was quite a bit of interest in the nostalgia surrounding this place including a post from my fellow dishwasher Jimmy and one of the family members. I have wondered if that family member was the young voice I was “interviewing” in my audio clip.  I really have no close ties to any of these people but it was fascinating to see the responses.

Clearly, you have a talent for finding subjects that strike chords with many.  For me, it’s a fond teenage memory of working there in the summer of 1973 and commuting from a nearby bungalow complex on Route 23 in Cairo [New York] that my parents and relatives owned using my Yamaha motorcycle.

Not sure when that Rose Haven fire actually occurred but I believe the place was still there in the summer of 1974.  I had tried to get a job there again that summer but either they were not hiring or never fully opened. Jimmy and family members probably know lots more but just like the place my parents and relatives owned in Cairo that is still there but in disrepair, it is sometimes better to remember the better days.  Thanks to you and Jimmy there are some nice photos for that purpose on your website.

Back on our Rose Haven connection, where I live now is only about 10 minutes from the Rose Haven property. I have many times been tempted to walk around the property but there is a chain and sign prohibiting trespassing that I respect and don’t want to violate. I did relatively recently ( Aug 2021) ride by on my current electric motorcycle to take a few pictures including a panoramic picture of the property as it looks from the old entrance from old route 23. Not much different than what you saw but more recently as I pass by it on Route 23 it looks like someone was clearing the overgrown brush. I wonder if it was sold by the family and perhaps someone is planning to do something with it. The steel pool frame still stands and both it and the sign are the best references for the layout back when it was a busy resort. I hope they don’t throw the rusting sign away. That really should be restored and put in a local museum!

Thanks,
Ron Biegel

8 Comments

  • Jim Velsor

    Ron, thanks for the voice recording brings back memories. If that is from 1973 and I was fired then it was my last year which means the resort burnt down sometime in the fall of 1973.

  • Ron Biegel

    Hi Jim! Hope all is well. Yes, that would make sense that the Rose Haven fire occured sometime in the fall of 1973 and would explain why there was no response to my inquiry to work there the summer of 1974. I ended up working as a waiter at the Acra Manor resort down the road that summer but it only lasted a week. I was a terrible waiter and I guess I dishwashing was about all I could handle back then:-). In this recording from the summer of 1973 you can hear us joking with young Anthony. We were in the entrance lobby area next to the loudspeaker and I was getting ready to record the lunch meal announcement on my small portable Grundig cassette radio player. Young Anthony was talking about a softball game then says that Robert is going to get fired and that you were already fired! I ask if I was also going to get fired and he says no. I though all a joke. I guess as dishwashers we had little job security ­čÖé ! Not sure why as the pay back was pretty low and we had no tips. I think I’d get an envelope with 60 something dollars and some change each week. That was for washing dishes 7 days a week, 3 meals a day so a good 40+ hours. That means we were probably barely getting the minimum wage of $1.60 per hour at the time! I think they took out part of that if you lived there but I didn’t so not sure. I was also trying to recall the names of the waitresses and other employees. Only names that sticks in my head are Penny, Amy and maybe Jessica. I may have one or two more recordings amongst the many old boxes I moved to our recently finished home in Cornwallville not too far from where Rose Haven stood. I’ll also try and get a more recent picture looking down the driveway since the current owner has cleared the area quite a bit and you can now make out the white painted curbs that were at the entrance to the main building. These can be seen in that photo you gave Thomas to post from Rose Haven’s heyday. Not sure why this all interest me but it oddly does! Thanks again to Thomas for making this possible!

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