Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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September 4th, 2020

Reminiscing Summers Past – When Things Were Better in Sullivan County

Summer 2020 is officially coming to an end this weekend and we celebrate Labor Day and salute the American Worker.

Just when we thought things were beginning to look brighter for Sullivan County – BOOM.

No Bethel Woods, no Resorts Word, no Kartrite, no fun.

Instead – wear masks and social distance.

COVID19 has hit us hard in so many ways. This is a summer we will never forget.

If ever there were a time to reminisce about Labor Days past it is now.

It is hard to reach Labor Day weekend in Sullivan County and not reminisce on how it once was in our beloved Catskill Mountains known to all as the Borscht Belt. 

The Hills were once alive with every major hotel serving borscht and every other Jewish delicacy. Along with all the excellent culinary food came world renowned entertainment at hundreds of resort hotels and bungalow colonies.

Driving around Sullivan County we can see the relics left behind from a past era.  

Looking through back copies of Panorama and The Mountain News we can smile of our glory days. They are vividly etched in our minds along with the pages filled with pictures, articles, and advertisements pertaining to our hotels and the big named talent that preformed here. It always brings smiles and sadness in unison.  

It was a time when the Catskill Mountains was alive – and the joyful memories of our past will always live on.

The Concord, Brown’s, Pines, Kutsher’s, Stevensville, and hundreds of others are gone. This summer – even the tall Grossinger’s buildings that were part of the Route 17 and Liberty’s landscape were taken down and is now gone forever.

Memories still live on for many of us – That just can’t be taken away.

By Labor Day weekend Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp would be exhausted from running around nonstop. They would be busy putting the final touches to the hundreds of shows planned at our famous hotels, bungalow colonies, and seasonal communities.

By now you all know who Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp are. The famed and beloved talent agents from Charles Rapp Enterprises that booked the majority performers that turned the Catskill Mountains into the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Each year while we usually wait with bated breath to find out who will be appearing at Bethel Woods – announcements are filled with drum rolls, much exhilaration, and even make headlines.  We usually look forward to several concerts in a season with mostly the same entertainers, but we forget we used to have hundreds in just one night.

Many of us remember the thrill of driving up on the Quickway and getting excited by seeing all the billboards listing all the big named entertainers.

Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Donna Summer, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve and Edyie, Tom Jones, Ringo Starr, Bette Midler, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, George Burns, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Pat Cooper, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Jerry Seinfeld, and Shirley Bassey to name just a few were all booked by Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp and appeared at our famed hotels.

Arnold and Howie are still going strong in Sullivan County even booking shows this summer at the Villa Roma and private communities on lawns and at pools with all the special Covid19 protocols,

Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp are probably two of the nicest, caring, professional, and hardworking people one could ever meet. They truly love what they do and personalize all entertainment needs to make an event exciting and memorable.

From Comedians, Music Groups, Singers, Bands, and Novelty Acts – Charles Rapp Enterprises has been our leading supplier of entertainment.

Just ask Sullivan County famed hotel operators Martin Passante and Paul Carlucci of the Villa Roma as well as the Kutsher family, the Slutsky family, the Parker family, Erlich family, and the Grossinger’s and Etess families about how the Charles Rapp Agency shaped the Catskill Mountains into an entertainment mecca by delivering for them great entertainment each and every day. 

Arnold Graham who was featured in books, television shows, and documentaries on the Catskill Mountains reminisced with me about our past and talked about the entertainment business in 2020.

“Those were unbelievable days – Everyone was having fun. Every entertainer wanted to be booked at a Catskill Mountain Resort. I remember driving up Ray Romano and John Stewart to play a late show at the Concord and how excited they were.”

Charles Rapp Enterprises had a corporate office at the Concord for over thirty years.

Graham, who still maintains an office in Sullivan County, now focuses a major portion of his growing business in Florida and New Jersey communities, corporate events, and private parties. 

“We offer all types of entertainment at all price ranges. From comics, singers, bands, to novelty acts, we strive in making every function memorable and enjoyable.”

Graham admits his love is still the Catskill Mountains. “It’s very hard to let go of a place I love, and spent my entire life. It is very difficult to see what has happened,” he said with a crackle in his voice.

“This year has hit the entertainment business hard. I am pleased that we were able to book many shows in Sullivan County this summer bringing much needed entertainment during this Covid crisis.”

“I want to thank the people of Sullivan County for their loyalty and Support of Charles Rapp Enterprises over the years. I want to thank all the entertainers and Musicians for helping us entertain people over the years.”

Graham and Rapp have expanded their agency in Florida where they book big named entertainment in famed venues.

“No one knows what will happen with live entertainment until things get back to normal. Things will have to change, venues will have to space out seating to accommodate safety protocols, and follow special rules and guidelines, but people want to get back to work and entertain. We all need a good laugh.”

Graham is now booking for the 2021 summer season in the Catskills.

Thank you – Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp for all you have done for Sullivan County past and present. You are both special people. Happy Birthday to Shelia Graham.

Arnold Graham can be reached at Charles Rapp Enterprises at (212) 247-6646, Howard Rapp (561) 883-7760 or via email at to discuss all your entertainment needs.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post

1 comment to Reminiscing Summers Past – When Things Were Better in Sullivan County

  • Mort Segalj

    Love the article and yes it
    brings back many memories of the past and the history that was created. At 91 I still lecture about same and those who had been to The Catskills love to reminisce and Aldo tell me their stories that remain as part of their history