Tall Timber Tales
An Exhausting Winter’s Tale
by Demian
December 30, 2005

Winter Trees - March-April 1975.
Dad spent a good chunk of the off-season planning summer camp activities. Part of the reason he chose to work there was because he wanted his sons to have a summer camp experience, and there wasn’t money to send us off. His directing camps allowed us all to have a summer “vacation.” It was, in reality, a lot of work for him, me, and especially for mom. She had to make a second home out of a rather humble, thin-walled dwelling, and keep us fed under primitive conditions.

It appeared to me that the camp experience often seemed more important to dad than to the rest of us. It was a high point of the year for him, which utilized all his skills, providing him with challenge and great pleasure.

We sometimes made supply-stocking trips before the summer. These were not taken lightly because the journey — from Newtonville, Massachusetts (near Boston) to upstate New York — ran five hours. One winter we made a trip that challenged not only dad, but each family member’s strength and endurance.

Sylvia, my mom, looked this up in her diary and told me a few details, including the fact that this particular trip began on Saturday, February 18, 1961.

I’m 15, and Allen, as usual, is a year younger. Norm is just three. We have been packed into the car and are leaving the comfort of our home. Our task is to bring supplies to the Hillocks bungalow colony.

x, x
x, x, Lori Field (?)
My 1960 group of Kiawanna campers.
Anyone remember the names of these kids?
I’ve already had a couple of seasons as a counselor at this colony’s “Camp Kiawanna,” which is located in Lake Mahopac, New York. In the summertime, it is mosquito heaven.

Making a little trip this time of year theoretically makes the trip for the whole summer an easier one. Mom has reservations about the weather — it is too blustery — however, she will not let dad go by himself.

Dad had bought an old, blue, wooden open trailer to hitch to the car. We’d piled camp goods and household items in it and covered it with a tarp. Because of the snow and ice, the drive is treacherous. With little warning, the car and trailer skid about, sometimes in different directions.

We reminisce about other journeys we have made; for picnics, to see fall colors or historical landmarks. One ride’s highlight was the time mom was pouring a cup of milk when the car hit a bump. Instead of saying “oops,” she came out with the memorable onomatopoeia, “splook.”

We arrive after six hours, worn out from the ride and anxiety. However, the work has just begun.

Because of the snow — which now drifts three feet high — we can’t drive near our cabin. So we lug boxes and boxes of supplies several hundred feet up the hill. After a couple of hours, my arms and legs are hurting. We are not happy campers.

At last, all crates are stowed. The light is now gone from the sky, and we need a place to rest for the night. And these cabins have no electricity or heat this time of year. In fact, the summer tourist town of Mahopac has nothing open at all. So we hit the road to find a restaurant and a motel.

Ominous Tree, 1963.
The snow drifts are higher and the car keeps getting stuck. Backing up with the trailer is not easy, and dad carefully explains how to avoid the “jackknife” effect as he expertly backs the car into yet another snow drift. This time we require a tow.

The snowfall gives way to very thick fog, and the night drive is suddenly more dangerous.

We find a restaurant — Nino’s, on Route 6 in Connecticut — and are happy just to find a place with lights and heat. Meals are ordered.

A huge amount of food is placed before each of us. In our household, food is understood to be an expensive item, and it was never left uneaten. Everyone is always a member of the “clean plate club.”

After a few bites … I just sit and stare, dopey-eyed at the full platters. No one else has eaten much either. I am way too tired to eat. And far too tired to weep for the muscle soreness. I am glad that the ordeal is over and there is a nearby motel room with a big, warm, comfy bed.

As my head sinks into the pillow, I realize we had been in real danger from the elements, as well as from the emotional and physical drain. I also know that dad pulled us through with pure physical strength, and a stubborn determination to get the job done and get us home safely.

I do not finish this last thought because, by the time my head stops sinking into the pillow, I am in the very deepest sleep.

— Tall Timber Tales —
            Tall Timber Tales - An introduction by Demian
            My Dad - by Demian
            An Exhausting Winter’s Tale - by Demian
            Summer Camp Emergency - by Demian
            Tall Timber Drama - by Demian
            Thanks for the Plaque - by Jay Leites
            Indifference to Poison Ivy - by Bob Solomon
            A Boy Called Jacob - by Peter Berkrot
            The View from Far Right Field - by Peter Berkrot
            The Time of Our Lives - by Debbie Levy
            The Choice - by Jeff Gilbert
            Tall Timber Alumni - Notes from the campers
      Photo Galleries
            Summer Camp Kids - Photos by Demian
            Jack’s Kids - Photos by Jack Ritterman
            Roza Photos - Photos from Barbara Roza Iannotta
            Rucker Photos - Photos from Brian Rucker
            Arthur’s Photos - Photos from Arthur Marder
            Robin’s Photos - Photos from Robin Melasky Sloma
            All-Camp Mug Shots - Photos of the entire camp
                    1961 All-Camp Mug Shot - Who’s Who - Indentities
            Group Mug Shots - Photos of individual groups
      Reunion - Aug 15, 2009
            Reunion 2009 Photos by Jon Broz
            Reunion 2009 Photos by Jay Leites
            Reunion 2009 Photos by Michael Melasky
            Reunion 2009 Photos by Gary Solomon

Entire contents © 2015, Demian
Seattle, WA