Here is an excerpt from Jonathan Ames’ new novel Wake Up, Sir!, in which a ruined bathhouse is discussed. The bathhouse is located in Sharon Springs, a town that once catered to Holocaust survivors in need of a cure but by the time of the narrator’s visit is “getting an A+ in the Lost Grandeur department.”
Inside, the bathhouse was gutted — the floor had dissolved. I walked on dirt strewn with sections of pipe. The place reeked of sulfur. There were still rows of old rusted tubs, like rows of coffins. It was spooky imagining that people had once bathed in these tubs, healing themselves. The division of rooms was still visible: there were doorframes and walls, and one one wall there were hooks for towels, and built into another wall were cubbyholes with faded metal name tags. This bathhouse had once been a destination, a place you went often enough, over the course of years, over the course of a life, to have a name tag in metal. On one doorframe was the ubiquitous mezuzah.