Friday, November 30, 2007

the day Jim's car floated in the lake

It's a VW Rabbit, on the docks. Yes. And yes, you read the title of this entry correctly. Jim Leaver's car, floating in the lake. The first telling of this true tale of FV antics--dated 1989--comes from Glenn Horton:

My end of the story comes from a conference director's position. Jim Leaver and Chris Dumas had put together a great rocketry program with Chris Dundorf standing in when they needed engineering assistance. The weekend of the occurance was one to remember. We had a substantial amount of rain all weekend, no power since Friday evening, 600+ guests and a tired group of staff that had assisted in a Friday night bus accident. But believe it or not, most of the weekend went off well.

It was Sunday morning and I made an early trip to the dining hall to help staff set up when I noticed a lot of the kitchenstaff was not there. A mud slide had closed the road into FV. I was trying to figure out how to tell 600 people they might have to add an extra hour plus to their drive home due to the closed road when Jim Leaver comes to me with a small problem.

"I don't have a lot of time Jim, what is it?" He said his car was in the middle of Lake Cole. Took me a minute, but I breathed a sigh of relief when he said it was floating on the dock in the middle of Lake Cole. But that wasn't Jim's concern. Jim was most concerned about the fact that all the rocketry equipment was in the trunk and he had a 9AM launch in Big Tree Field.

In walks Dundorf and his accomplices with huge smiles.....until they saw my appearance of discontent. I think my words, calmly spoken, were "Great practical joke, just bad timing," and I asked them to have the car off the pond and Jim's program ready to go by 9...which they did.

I could have yelled and screamed for hours over that, but I have always felt that humor got you through a lot and during those years, it got you through long hours of work and lots of time away from home and family. Oh, and there was the part where I wished it had been my idea. It was done so creatively well.

A few days after Glenn's account got mailed around--to me and the participants in this drama--Chris Dunforf himself, a perpetrator of above-narrated sin, chimed in as follows:

I scrounged up a photo of the Leaver's VW on the raft. It's taken from across the lake so you can't tell how far from shore it is but proof none the less. Wheels on raft, raft on water. The back of the photo reads "Weekend of 5th Annual Frisbee Golf Tournament, 1989."

Now as for Glen's version of what happened... couple holes there but fairly good account for someone of Glen's... ummm... numerous life experiences. I would be remiss not to bring into the story Kenis Sweet. Kenis has always been a form of a mentor for me. In the late 80's he was quick to guide my cabin mate, Patrick "Patman" Brasington and I to the best stores of building materials, unsanctioned beverages and to discuss numerous off-road FV vehicle driving techniques for when driving in non-off-road vehicles. I digress. At some point after dinner on said weekend Kenis and I decided it was appropriate to repark Jim Leaver's VW Rabbit. The waterfront didn't seem too busy that night so we settled on one of the floating rafts. There were however two unfortunate factors needing to be dealt with. First off, the raft was still moored in it's winter offshore position, and secondly it began to downpour challenging our marginal-at-best logistical planning. We headed out across the lake in a borrowed rowboat, untied the raft and brought it in to shore. Next, Kenis scored a pair of long 2x10s to act a ramp. (Technical Note: For those of you who've never done this before but might someday, remember to not bring the raft all the way up on shore before loading the vehicle. Otherwise, the weight of the vehicle will sink the raft floats to the ground and you'll have trouble getting the raft afloat and free of the shoreline.) We set the ramps up and I think it was Kenis who drove the Rabbit on to the raft. Taking an engineering approach to the task at hand we were naturally concerned about an elevated center of gravity since most swim rafts are not designed for this use. With the car fully onboard and the raft floating we performed a quick stability test by strongly rocking the raft from side to side. The raft and cargo remained upright so we deemed the the vessel seaworthy and began the long row to deeper depths.

I think I'll take a break here and see if Kenis or anyone else wants to chime in. In the meantime I'll dig around for some more photos of the era and will try to revisit memories of the next morning. I will say this, Glen was not pleased. Until next time...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

three girls (audio)

Three contemporary campers talk about their summer '07 experience. It's a 5 minute and 20 second mp3 audio file, and you can listen to it by clicking here. Topics that arise:

1) how good the staff is
2) rainy Olympics
3) winning Olympics
4) what you do when you know no one in the cabin
5) coming of age
6) how your friends at home react
7) anticipating a summer as an oldest camper
8) the air we can breathe

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

and we set sail....


Jim Ewen & Ellen Rutan (audio)

Photo taken last night here in Philadelphia: Ellen, my kids, and Jim.

Jim Ewen and Ellen Rutan stopped by yesterday to pay an annual pre-Thanksgiving visit. I feel so currently connected to them - or, rather, that I've been consistently connected to them over the years - that I was startled to remember that they stopped working at Frost Valley in around 1973! Jim's time at camp ran from 1959 through '73, and Ellen was there from around '63 to '73. Jim was part of the Westfield, NJ, gang that clustered around the great public high school there, the various sports teams, and the Westfield Y. Jim's dad, Ed, ran that Y, and established a close relationship to Wawayanda. In fact Ed was a member of Frost Valley's "camp committee" or "Wawayanda Committee" and was a member of the hiring committee, led by Woody English, that chose Halbe Brown to be the new associate executive director in 1966.

Jim and Ellen are among those couples that met at Frost Valley. It's a nice story, and in the conversation we had last night, which I recorded, they tell it. The met at camp, fell in love, and 30 years later are together and still very very fondly remember anc cherish their FV experience.

Some of the folks mentioned in this convo: Peggy Rub, John Ketcham, Bev Gross, Dave King, Peggy Hope....

So here is the link to the audio recording of these two wonderful people remembering their FV time. Below are two photos taken of Jim during the 2001 reunion. Jim led the chapel service that Sunday morning in the old Wawayanda Chapel.

Above: Jim and Lisa Ernst.

new wellness center

The extraordinary new Wellness Center is scheduled to be finished before the summer of '08 - if the weather cooperates and there aren't any surprises in the phases of construction. The top floor is on the same level as the dining hall. The building is being built at the edge of the flat one flat up from the main field along the bottom of the valley - so that it's bottom floor, built into the hill and looking out across the lower flat toward Wildcat, will almost meet the level of the lower flat. In other words, you'll be able to enter the building from the lower field; or, for the health and infirmary (and dialysis) facilities, you'll enter from nearby the dining hall.

The main reception room on the upper level is named "The Alumni Reception Room." It will be a comfy, inviting waiting room. Just off the Alumni room will be the main nurse's office, and this is being named in memory of Joy White, who always craved a nice and big-enough space in which to dispense TLC.

The lower level will include a gorgeous new theatre - with bench-like tiered seating, a real stage, a real backstage area.... Very exciting. (We've never had this. The closest we came was years ago, when the lower floor of the girls' dining hall - now Geyer Hall - was called Conover English Hall and at the far end of it was built a stage, with a curtain, etc. But we haven't had that set up since the early 70s.)

The whole building is being named in honor of Paul Guenther, long-time chairman of the FV Board and for years an advocate of the idea that we urgently needed a new health facility.

Below are photographs taken in the past few days:

Here (below) is a photo of the construction site as seen from the dining hall area (on September 15):

Monday, November 19, 2007

those good days are a hedge against today's sadness

Jodi Rossman (Jodi Rockower) at Giant Ledge. It's 1993 or '94 and she's with her co-CIT Director, Sam McTiernan. "Sam and I were a great team," she recalls, "and we had some great CIT's."

She's happy remembering Sam and that trip, but our dear friend Jodi is sad these past few days, having lost her father, Gerald Rockower of Oswego, New York, on November 15. If you knew Jodi at camp, or if you just want to be a member of Jodi's extended FV family, go to this site and leave a note for her and the family in the guestbook for Mr. Rockower. Jodi, take care of yourself and your family over this Thanksgiving.

Write to Jodi at Jodir(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com.

Bud Cox goes on a lion hunt (audio)

After Bud Cox finished leading us in a high-octane revival of "Lion Hunt" at the September 2006 reunion, the several generations of FV'ers gathered there gave him a seven-minute standing ovation. It was a great moment. Bud started at Wawayanda in 1954 and this was 52 years later. I made a video of the miraculous performance and will eventually find the patience to make it available here, but for now I've made an audio version. You can download it by clicking on the link; or right-click on the link and choose "save as". Be sure to have this on your IPod! Or you can stream the audio by clicking on the little encircled triangle (if you see it). So here now is your link to Bud.

this week, please think of James

Eileen Hahn (whom we at camp knew as Eileen Barnes) is the former Wawayanda Director at the far right in this reunion photo. We need to help Eileen and her family with our thoughts and, if you pray, your prayers. Here is Eileen's message to us:

I'd like to ask everyone in the Frost Valley community to pray for my little boy, James.

Jason and I had twins on August 14th. I had a boy and a girl, James and Kathleen. The babies are amazing and so very sweet. Kathleen is doing great and growing like crazy. James is also doing well but was born with a congenital heart defect called AV Canal Defect that requires open heart surgery. This is a relatively common condition in children born with Downs Syndrome, which he has. He spent his first 6 weeks in the NICU mostly due to feeding but has been home for 8 weeks now and is just as sweet as they come! Unfortunately he needs the surgery to repair the 2 holes and valves that are part of this defect. The surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday (two days from now). I would really appreciate it if you could send an email out to the FV folks asking them to pray for him this week.

Thanks so much. Sorry if this is not clear as I'm fairly sleep deprived these days:). Mary is doing great and is an amazing big sister. All she wants to do is kiss the babies!

Thanks so much for getting the word out asking for prayers. We will take all that we can get. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Eileen can be reached at eileenbhahn [at] gmail [dot] com.

Update: as of November 26, James is doing well. The surgery went well, James has been in the cardiac ICU and will soon be off the ventilator.

Update: as of November 29: "I thought I'd give one more update. James arrived home on Monday afternoon - just 5 days after his surgery!!! His recovery has been just amazing! We expected to be in the hospital for a couple of weeks so we are just thrilled. We just can't get over how quickly he has been healing. He is such a little super hero!! Thank you all for your prayers! They have clearly been heard. We understand that hundreds of people have been praying for him and many of them were children. So sweet! Not to be greedy :) but please keep James in your prayers for his continued healing and for his challenges with feeding. He is such a sweet little guy and has two wonderful big sisters. Mary and Kathleen(who is only older then him by about 40 seconds). We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week and we wish you a beautiful holiday season filled with many blessings. Thanks again."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ok, how are we going to put this thing together?

Slow but skillful trio from the back (left to right): Frank Meigs, Pat Ricciardi, and Peter Barnett. It's 1970 and this is an Adventure Trip. Photo by Gary Gold, who was a camper on that trip.

Hambone, Hambone, how you been?

The previously mentioned Hambone - Ken Hamlin. What a spirited guy! Here are two photos of him from the early years.

All this talk of Hambone caused Dave King to comtemplate as follows:
Regarding Ken 'Hambone' Hamlin. "'Bone" was from "Slummit" (his term for Summit NJ) and was my camp clerk. He was truly "gifted" mentally, and was extremely loyal to the camp and to me personally. During Halbe's first summer [1966], when the Maintenance Director, Paul Cypert, quit and took his entire maintenance crew with him, Bone stepped up and helped me keep the camp going. He and I made the trash run every other day, he and I made the cookouts for boy's camp and delivered the food and milk cans of "Bug Juice", and he, in essence, picked up for me when I did the mowing 3 times per week. "Bone" also made town runs, and helped with driving out- trips. In addition,he kept the mail flowing and the office going. He also was involved in programs where I needed him. He was a true Frost Valley pro! I last saw him at the previous reunion, and haven't heard from him since. Shirl and I loved him then, and we still do today. He will always be one of 'My Boys.'

we won't forget ya, John

John Ketcham in the early 60s.

Friday, November 16, 2007

former camper & staffer saves horses

On the left is Mark Gottdenker, and on the right, Brad Gaver - at the Labor Day '06 reunion.

Brad was a barn rat, pretty much from the start (I think he was first a camper at the age of 8 - I was his camp director). Years passed and next thing you know he's on the staff at Frost Valley's horsebarn. And then, flash forward, and he has a dream of creating "Pure Thoughts Horsemanship" and of specializing in rehab and in the animal-human connection and equine therapy.

Now he is involved in the largest rescue effort yet. It's such a big deal that apparently he and Jen will be on Inside Edition on TV in the coming few weeks. Watch out for them.

The project is described at length here. The final paragraph of the long press release describes Brad, and here it is:

Pure Thoughts Inc. has the advantage of having a fantastic rehab trainer Brad Gaver M.Ed, Co-Founder of Pure Thoughts Inc. Horse & Foal Rescue, has a history of success working with youths. His conceptual dream, “Pure Thoughts Horsemanship” which has turned into a reality, was started so that he may lead and guide our children on a path of success through equine therapy. Mr. Gaver has spent years studying the animal / human connection and has developed a program that unitizes horses as his means for not only reaching these children but also as a catalyst for each youth to grow within their selves, understand their true self and know that their future is for them to discover…. and decide the path they wish to take. The horses deserve a second chance to be loved and so do our children. Bradley Gaver is also an accomplished horseman, farrier and trainer specializing in the "Art of Equine Communication for the Competitive Edge." Brad trains both human and horse to communicate on the same level so that their experience together is a rewarding one. In his words..."There isn't a horse out of reach.... time, patience and repetition are the key. Before anything a bond and mutual trust must be formed.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

he carried her tent for her

A few summers ago Sandy Bohn (formerly Sandy Shapiro) and John Wellington were both judges at Challenge Night. One of the challenges involved the telling of stories about two very dear camp friends. The kids took their turns but then these two judges revealed that many years earlier they had been CITs together, and they proceeded to tell a short version of the story of their CIT (actually "LIT") backpacking trip.

The trip had been a difficult one, and John ended up carrying Sandy's tent for her. Here is a video recording of these two old friends, reunited at camp recently, telling of tough moments and enduring friendship.

the day Harry Potter arrived

There was a buzz around camp the day the new Harry Potter came out, late July '07. A good many parents had pre-ordered the book from Amazon; Potter-styled Amazon boxes, nearly a truck full, were delivered to the Ad Office in the morning. Several enterprising staff members got into the pile and pulled out their own copies and hustled off to periods off and rest hour to get started on the reading. Mail is delivered to campers at dinnertime and so for most of the Potterites there was a whole long glorious day of anticipation. At dinner VCs came with bags and armloads of books.

Two Sacky counselors - Emily and Nikki, above - were dressed for the occasion.

Then the reading began. Somehow, campers who had, shall we say, a lot of activities to do, including an evening program, somehow got the time to read. Laiya A. was one of them. Laiya was already famous for, two summers earlier, having finished the then-new Potter book within 24 hours of its arrival. She did the same, somehow, in 2007. On this night I was walking around, CQ fire to CQ fire, "on call" (a sort of director-level night watch, a CQ of CQ's). Laiya was in cabin 36. At nearly 1 am, my "on call" evening nearly done, I walked slowly through Sacky (cabins 36-40, old 6-10--it used to be Susky). There was one little light shining out of a bunk window in 36. Surely this was Laiya, pulling an all-nighter for her cherished Harry. I walked quietly into the cabin...all asleep except indeed Laiya, who saw me and got a big smile on her face as she peered at me from under the flashlight which she held up with one hand while the other held the huge tome. And she said: "Al. It's really really good." I said goodnight and walked down the hill past the mists gathering across the surface of Lake Cole. Our own old magic, but for just that night not the only magic in the area.

Back in '05, Laiya finished volume 6 at sunrise. She was sobbing, sad at the death that concludes that book, but also, as she explained to me later, feeling lonely that she as a reader had experienced this all alone. The others in the cabin, her dear friends, awoke to the sound of Laiya's sobs and knew exactly what was going on. They all climbed into her bunk and all of them starting crying in sympathy. Through Laiya's tears: a smile. These were her friends and whatever it was that happened in this novel, they would feel what she feels.

Even the reading experience, typically a solitary thing, is an instigation to communal sympathy and emotional sharing. We're all in this together.

the Wawayanda spirit, it never does die

Max Geiser in the dining hall with his MAC kids, last day of session 1, summer 2007.

Friday, November 9, 2007

dying from in-door-ness

This is the 1915 Camp Wawayanda brochure. It's in the Kautz Family YMCA Archive which is housed at the University of Minnesota. Melissa Pauls found, on the web, an article by historian Michael Smith that describes the history of "the ego ideal of the good camper." Smith reproduces our old brochure in his article, and here is his caption:

This brochure for Camp Wawayanda, one of the oldest boys' summer camps in the United States, evokes the countermodern ethos of the organized camping movement. Many early camp leaders focused on the power of "roughing it" in nature to build character and uplift spirits, to save the race from "dying from in-door-ness."

Here is a link to Smith's article. The notion (uplift spirits, get kids away from cities, etc.) is described generally in a book by Jackson Lears about "anti-modernism" in the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th. This was of course the era in which Wawayanda was born (1901).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

more firsts up Doubletop

Gail McNeill writes: "...first trip up Doubletop. . . My first was a solo climb in February, in which I was climbing in belly-deep snow and got avalanched off a ledge. . . more on that if you want! Ron House went up the first time in, I think, April, late winter in FV, with a group of inner-city kids. . . the leaf buds on the valley floor had just cracked, and Ron went up to play in the snow with the kids. While he was gone, the temp went up into the 70's and the leaves all opened up. Late that afternoon, I saw Ron, walking behind the line of kids, wide-eyed and uneasy at the spring scene around him. . . he came up to me, grabbed me by the collar, and asked, 'How long have I been gone?!'"

more Trailblazers

Pictured are from left to right: Fletcher Cockran, Wayne from Green Village, Paul Augustine, Bill Starmer, Geoff Steck, and Ken Hamlin. The photos was taken on one of the Trailblazers trips in the summer of 1961.

Jim Wilkes has made available this photograph and four more from these amazing early 1960s Trailblazers trips. You can see all five - plus captions - here.

Ken Hamlin hasn't been mentioned in this blog at all, I don't think. He stayed on for many years, into the early 1970s I think. He was quite a character. Somewhere along the line he got the nickname "Hambone." He was known for wild escapades and terrific practical jokes. At least one summer he lived in the Ad Office, and there were some rumors of fun times had there.

In recent years Hambone was or perhaps still is in the green grocer business in the New York area. For a while in the mid-1990s he was involved enough with the alumni association to be an active volunteer. I remember that for a while he drove fresh vegetables and such in his truck up to the camp to donate it or sell it at very low prices.

Anyway, many thanks to Jim Wilkes for unearthing these classy pictures and scanning them for us.

One of the first "jobs" Jim was given when he arrived at camp was to take care of a fawn that had apparently been abandoned by its parents. The photo below of Jim and the fawn appeared in the Newark Star Ledger.

Jim Wilkes on Hambone: "The first time I drove to Summit to pick up Ken, I saw Ken flying (airborne) out the front door of his house, never touching the steps with his Dad in hot persuit. He was a tough kid on all the trips to Canada and the name "Hambone" was well earned. Ken and I worked together for many years. He built a house next to Camp Speers where he lives today ..... when he is not in Florida."

More on Hambone...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

tomorrow's the day Moldova's gonna come

Yes, Moldova. Wasn't the Olympic team from Moldova, vintage 2006, creative when they sang this song as one of their country's chants? They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Have a look and listen.

conference weekends, early 1960s

Even before Frost Valley was available to schools and families and conference groups year-round (today some 30,000 people visit each year) - when the place operated mostly as a summer camp - there were a number of weekends when, for instance, groups of "Indian Guides" were there. Jim Wilkes took this photograph on one such weekend in the early 1960s. Here are three staff who worked that weekend: Baldwin, Levy and Augustine.

Later, when I was in high school, I "worked weekends" just like this. It was the early 1970s. I would get out of h.s. on a Friday afternoon, jump into my red VW bug, drive northward through the NJ suburbs picking up various weekend workers, and arrive at camp at 7 or 8 PM. We ran programs (archery in the fall and spring; led hikes all year; ran the tobaggan run and tube run and ski shop winters), rushed to the dining hall to set the tables before meals, did dishes in the kitchen (exactly as these guys in the picture are doing), and ran back out to programs. Evenings we led campfire singalongs. For all this I was paid $20 for the weekend and got a tank of gasoline for my car.

friend to friend

One Frost Valley friend tells another how much she means to her. The friend speaking was new to camp; her cabinmate, a long-time camper with a big group of already established friends, made a special effort to new include the new girl. Now watch and listen as the latter expresses her thanks for this...a small but powerful gesture. VIDEO

Monday, November 5, 2007

talk about your lifer!

Paul Augustine (Lt Col, USAF, retired) went on nine of the 10 Trailblazer trips that went canoeing in Canada. Nine of 10!

Paul wrote me today: "These trips with Jim Wilkes and Bill Starmer were instrumental in shaping and guiding young men in the right direction; especially in my case. I had had several brushes with the law before I joined the Trailblazers and my success as an Air Force pilot I directly attribute to lessons learned on these trips. I've never been able to thank them enough!"

For more on Jim Wilkes, go here. According to Jim, Paul Augustine's father was a member of Frost Valley's Board of Trustees. For more about Augustine and 1960, go here.

Frost Valley video podcasts now on ITunes

Thanks to Dan Weir, Brian Sense and Kam Kobeissi, Frost Valley's video podcasts are now available through ITunes. If you click this link


- your ITunes will be launched (if of course you've already loaded ITunes on your computer) and you'll go directly to the ITunes Music Store, and specifically to the Frost Valley channel. Then either "subscribe" to the whole series of podcasts or download any individual videos. (Free of charge, of course.) If you subscribe--which I recommend--then whenever Dan and Kam put up new podcasts, they will be downloaded automatically to your ITunes.

song to Halbe (video)

During the Labor Day weekend reunion of 2006 - that Saturday late afternoon, to be precise - we gathered under the newly completed Halbe & Jane Brown Pavilion to dedicate the building and thank Halbe and Jane for their many years of service (1966-2001). It was a blustery, rainy weekend, and indeed the power was out all across the valley; we had noisy smelly generators running not far away, just to get the power we needed to amplify the speakers. And we were shivering in our seats with the cold. Despite these natural impediments, however, it was a very moving ceremony, with Halbe and Jane sitting in the front row--two people who find it difficult to listen to lavish praise of them--and seemingly enjoying all the sentiments of respect and love and remembrance. One encomium was offered by John Giannotti, who rewrote Bob Dylan's "Song to Woody" so that it became a "Song to Halbe." Although I my hand was shaking in the frigid wind, I made a video of this with my little Nikon, and I'm glad I did. So here is that video and I hope everyone enjoys John's tender, loving, sweet, funny, and poetic homage.

And here are some photos:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

from the top of Giant Ledge (video)

This short video clip is a panaroma from the top of Giant Ledge in autumn**, just after the leaves were gone. To the extreme right of the camera's swing, you can see Slide Mountain.

At the very end of the clip, there's Bill Abbott's happy face.

Below are three photos I took from the ledge. In the first one you can actually see Winnesook Lake and the buildings around that lake. (Winnesook is the club that is located about 5 miles from camp, just before the road turns sharply downhill.)

** 11/5/2006.


The past bunch of summers, four cousins - my kids, Ben and Hannah, and my sister Liane's kids, Stephanie and Danielle - have been at camp all at the same time. Somehow in 2006 - Stephanie was a counselor, Hannah in Lakota, and Ben and Danielle in Windsong and Pac - three of the four of them ended up on the same Olympic team, Ireland. And Ireland won! (Luck of the Jewish Irish, I guess.)

first time up Doubletop (video)

Hike up Doubletop: late June 2006, with Bud Cox, myself, and Bill Abbott. I have some great pictures of this trip, but I'll add them later. We left camp at 8 am on this particular Saturday in the drizzling rain, and maybe it was 60 degrees, but no warmer. And we decided to climb up a little-used way - up High Falls Brook, which of course comes down the mountain far far above where most folks see the brook (at High Falls itself). Following the brook to its source (which is really a bunch of swampy streams) we walked through mud and brambles, and it was still raining.

So there were nicer days of hiking, but this was fun. When we got to the two tops of Doubletop, the rain and fog lifted and so we were able to see down to camp (you can see the Ad Office from up there!). we were hit by swarms of black flies.

Oh, and as a bonus, here's a video of Bud being Bud - hilarious - as we rested during the final ascent (very steep) up the High Falls Brook-side (or western) ridge.

Send me your first-time-up-Doubletop stories.

The first (in several respects, as you'll see) is Bill Sonsin, who goes way back, wrote me about recent posts to this blog: "The 'first time up Doubletop' and 'Hemlock cabin 24' together brought back memories. I was in Hemlock #24 in the summer of 1959. Art Fritz was the counselor. I think we were the absolute first group [from the camp] to climb Doubletop, ever." Fritz was from Westfield and a student at Syracuse University (class of 1962). Other campers besides Bill from cabin 24 that summer were Ron Lochly, Ed Kieling, Chipper Hoeck, Robert Floyd, Joe Allen, and Dave Edsall.

Here are two more Doubletop firsts.

Friday, November 2, 2007

cold shower technique for learning Greek

Hemlock, cabin 24, 1964. Back row: Jim VanZant, Fred Partridge, Pete Trias. Sitting on railing: R. Cantor, D.P. Blackford, A. Pinderhughes, Geoffrey Hazel. Sitting on the ground: S. Umberger, Greg Peach. Counselor: T. Brown.

Geoff Hazel remembers: "At night, the counselors would leave and we'd all stay up swapping stories and jokes (yeah, I don't think we want to get into what those jokes were, now do we?). Anyway, sometimes we'd get a little loud, and at least once every 2 weeks, our counselor would barge in and we'd each have to sit in the shower, with the cold water running, and recite the Greek alphabet. And since he was in the Omega fraternity, we'd have to say Omega about 10 times. It was kinda fun, and I learned the Greek alphabet along the way."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

look for me if I ever pass this way

From Finding the Way Back (published in 2001), text by Al Filreis, photographs by Jody Davies Ketcham:

I willingly although sadly go my own way now but I'll look for you if I'm ever back this way. Do find your way back, and you will find me. I depart as air, shaking my locks at the runaway sun. The car drifts in lacy jags. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, and if you want me again look for me along the road. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, but I shall be good health to you nevertheless. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you.... Memory. The first time you cane (you recall it now as a present tense) your bus turns left over a bridge and weavers through the forest along the water's edge. You're certain that tilting your body with the motion of the bus is the very thing that is keeping you from spilling into the stream. Seven miles later - or was it a hundred? - you come out of the woods an into a clearing. There are horses on the other side of the road. There are cars with roof racks and a long line of buses and kids everywhere and a bunch of people who look like your older brother and sister except they all wear identical t-shirts. There are buildings the same color as the rocks in the river you almost fell into. You have no idea what is happening and you are asked to follow someone wearing one of those t-shirts and she knows your name and she talks to you as if she's your friend, as if she's your first friend, and you hear one word out of every ten because you can't help noticing that your legs are not quite holding you up and you hear bits and pieces of conversations and you soak up the dizzying sun and somehow know you will see this place many more times and that you will depart from it many times too, and you do, you leave and return, depart and come back again and again, and you will learn that "Doubletop" is named that way because there is a peak you can't see on the other side. For now, you accept that on faith, as you do everything else.

The opening is a free adaptation of Walt Whitman.