Once-sprawling resort now exists only in photographs
It seems to have vanished without a trace. It canâ€™t even be found on the Internet, that home of the lost and obscure.
It is for items of vanishing history such as this that local historical societies are so important. Thank goodness, then, that the Salisbury Association Historical Society is presenting photos and a history of the Cedars Country Club,which was once one of the most famous resorts in the country. Ask anyone today about the Cedars and youâ€™re likely to get a blank stare. Even from Salisbury residents.
One hopes this will all change thanks to the show at the Historical Societyâ€™s space in the Academy Building (across from Town Hall). The show opened Jan. 16 and remains in place until May 7. It was curated by Betty Stratton and Marilyn Yarnell, the two daughters of Cedars founder Louis Oshman.
â€œMy father was a tennis player, and he was looking for a place to open a resort,â€ Yarnell recalled in an interview last week. In 1917, he purchased a farm on Long Pond Road from Joseph Ledwith and opened a sprawling resort that rivaled the great Catskills country clubs of that era. Like those clubs, there was entertainment every night, with performances from the likes of Henny Youngman, Eddie Cantor and Molly Picon.
Every night, there was after-dinner dancing to the music of two orchestras (one performed standards, the other had more of a Latin sound). Many staff members went on to become famous entertainers including Chuck Connors (â€œThe Riflemanâ€) and Peter Marshall (â€œHollywood Squares).
Many famous athletes of the day came there, some to take part in exhibition softball games put on by Oshman. Some of the participants in these games included tennis great Bill Tilden and boxing champions Jake â€œRaging Bullâ€ LaMotta and Max â€œSlapsy Maxieâ€ Rosenbloom.
The 150-acre resort had 90 buildings, an 18-hole golf course, seven clay tennis courts and of course Lake Wononkapook (better known these days as Long Pond), which it shared with nearby Camp Sloane.
Today, the camp has completely disappeared, not only from the landscape but also from the memories of all but the most senior residents of the Northwest Corner. The property (which is at the south end of the pond) has been subdivided many times. The town now owns a big portion of it, which is known as Mary Peters Park. The entrance to the park is marked by two stone pillars, which used to proudly bear brass plaques that told visitors they had arrived at the Cedars.
One plaque is now on display at the Academy Building, as are many photos of the country club in its heyday.
Admission is free. The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.