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The Evolution Of The Summer Resort
by [?]

Nothing is more remarkable in the history of American summering than the number of new resorts which are discovered and taken possession of by “the city people” every year, the rapid increase in the means of transportation both to the mountains and the sea, and the steady encroachments of the cottager on the boarder in all the more desirable resorts. The growth of the American watering-place, indeed, now seems to be as much regulated by law as the growth of asparagus or strawberries, and is almost as easy to foretell. The place is usually first discovered by artists in search of sketches, or by a family of small means in search of pure air, and milk fresh from the cow, and liberty–not to say license–in the matter of dress. Its development then begins by some neighboring farmer’s agreeing to take them to board–a thing he has never done before, and does now unwillingly, and he is very uncertain what to charge for it. But at a venture he fixes what seems to him an enormous sum–say $5 to $7 a week for each adult. His ideas about food for city people are, however, very vague. The only thing about their tastes of which he feels certain is that what they seek in the country is, above all things, change, and that they accordingly do not desire what they get at home. Accordingly he furnishes them with a complete set of novelties in the matter of food and drink, forgetting, however, that they might have got them at home if they pleased. The tea and coffee and bread differ from what they are used to at home simply in being worse. He is, too, at the seaside, very apt to put them on an exclusively fish diet, in the belief that it is only people who live by the sea who get fish, and that city people, weary of meat, must be longing for fish. The boarders, this first summer, having persuaded him to take them, are of course too modest to remonstrate, or even to hint, and go on to the end eating what is set before them, and pretending to be thankful, and try to keep up their failing strength by being a great deal in the open air, and admiring the scenery. After they leave, he is apt to be astonished by the amount of cash he finds himself possessed of, probably more than he ever handled before at one time, except when he mortgaged his farm, and comes to the conclusion that taking summer boarders is an excellent thing, and worth cultivating.

In the next stage he seeks them, and perhaps is emboldened by the advice of somebody to advertise the place, and try to get hold of some editors or ministers whose names he can use as references, and who will talk it up. He soon secures one or two of each, and they then tell him that his house is frequented by intellectual or “cultured” people; and he becomes more elated and more enterprising, enlarges the dining-room, adds on a wing, relieves his wife of the cooking by hiring a woman in the nearest town, and gives more meat and stronger coffee, and, little by little, grows into a hotel-keeper, with an office and a register. His neighbors, startled by his success, follow his example, it may be only longo intervallo, and soon the place becomes a regular “resort,” with girls and boys in white flannel, lawn-tennis (which succeeds croquet), a livery-stable, stages, an ice-cream store with a soda-water fountain, a new church, and with strange names taken out of books for the neighboring hills and lanes and brooks.

This stage may last for years–in some places it has been known to last thirty or forty without any change, beyond the opening of new hotels–and it becomes marked by crowds of people, who go back every year in the character of old boarders, get the best rooms, and are on familiar terms of friendship with the proprietor and the older waiter-girls.