Tall Timber Tales|
Indifference to Poison Ivy
by Bob Solomon
July 13, 2006
I was at Tall Timber, though hardly ever at camp.
It was my job to pick berries, although how I knew to do that is a bit of a mystery. Like most campers, I was a New York City child, from parents who grew up in the City as well. My parents never ate wild black berries or black raspberries, they were a bit nervous about eating something wild that did not grow on a truck. They weren’t sure that what I was eating wasn’t poisonous, and they tried to discourage my wanderings.
I actually did do well at croquet, and won some points in a color war. Was I on the red, or blue team? Ah, but then, it was not a political question.
My wanderings from camp, and stubborn, ill temper when thwarted, made me a thorn in Uncle Mel’s side. I hated the conformity of camp, but I sincerely regret the trouble I caused him, because my perspective on those memories — some fuzzy, some clear, and all undoubtedly rusted by time — is that he was energetic, kind, and more patient with me than I deserved. He was innovative and tried to motivate us to have fun, sometimes against our will.
Tall Timber was not immune from the effects of Viet Nam. The 60s was a rebellious time. And there were other troubles. There is a tale of the bungalow colony owners, Joe and Molly’s son, Art, back from the war, wandering around one night with a rifle, his mind still back in Asia, taking Marshall temporarily prisoner at gunpoint. Or so the rumors went.
My father and I came back to Tall Timber some time after it closed. We saw the Marders when we came to collect some possessions that we had left behind. The especially tall oak at the far end of the Long House leaned a little more precariously over the sandbox, though it seemed less destined for an imminent fall than I remembered.
I remember all the camp songs. I was pleased with myself for learning them as a young child. I mocked their silliness, and resented knowing them as a pre-teen. Now, I find myself humming them, from time-to-time.
I never thanked Uncle Mel. I owe him that, and would gladly thank him. In many ways, he was the architect of that experience, for which I was too young to know I was loving it.
Article © 2006, Bob Solomon
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