In early Summer, 1976, I traveled from England to the USA to work as an exchange student at the Heiden Hotel in the Catskill Mountains of New York. My work included making beds, washing floors, mowing the grass, cleaning the pool, painting signs, fixing windows, baby-sitting, and helping in the smooth running of a hotel full of other students working at other hotels over the Summer. It turned out to be an unforgettable “coming of age” experience.
Since then, I have occasionally returned to the hotel to document it’s slow decline and eventual fall. In June, 2008, the crumbling structure burnt to the ground. I drove ten hours with a ruptured appendix to make some photographs of the remaining ashes. I felt like a friend had died. Although it was possibly the single silliest thing I have ever done, I went anyway. The next day, I missed my daughter’s university graduation and had emergency abdominal surgery instead.