Monday, August 3, 2015

LETTERS FROM WABANAKI

When my mother dragged the well-worn steamer trunk down from our attic and said "It's time to get ready for camp," she was talking to me.  I went away to camp every summer from the age of six until I was thirteen.   And not for a one-night sleepover.  And not for just a week.  But for the entire summer -- 8 weeks, from late June until the end of August every year.   The way I remember it, camp was eating an ice-cold fudgsicle on a hot, sticky day.  Or better yet, riding high on the ferris wheel at Old Orchard Beach.   In other words, I remember loving camp.     



This trunk was heavily used



The idea of being away from home for eight weeks did not scare me, even at my young age.  My parents sent my older brother, Jima, and my sister, Nitsa, to summer camp too, so when I was six, my turn came around.  That was 1950, when my parents were still working 24/7, first in the restaurant they owned on Main Street, and later, Perkins Motel.  "Aunt" Chick and "Uncle" Chuck, who owned Camp Wabunaki, gave families from Littleton a big financial break because they lived in a nearby town and knew most of the local kids.  I credit camp for giving me a great start early in life.   I learned to play sports, like tennis and archery, do arts and crafts, ride a horse, and make friends with kids  from far away places and various backgrounds, much different than mine.   





A few months ago while looking through some personal stuff I hadn't seen in years, I came across an old manila envelope on which were written two words in faded ink.



                   LETTERS FROM CAMP 1950-1958



DEAR DADDY   HOW ARE YOU.   THIS AFTERNOON I THREWUP IN THE INFURMARY. ARE YOU COMING UP FOR PARENTS WEEKEND.  I AM MAKING A PUZZEL.  MY NURSES NAME IS PHOEBE STEPHENS.  HOWS THE RESTAURANT.  IS MOM WORKING HARD.  DID YOU SELL THE KITTENS.  I HAD A SHOT IN MY REAR.  TELL THE WAITRESS I GROWN AN INCH.  TELL ELSIE, JILL EWING AND PATSY TO WRITE AND ME ARE SICK IN THE INFURMARY. 

                  



                                        
               










L-R  Peggy Ann Root, Me, and ?

DEAR MOM AND DAD.  HOW ARE YOU AND JIMA AND HELEN.  TODAY WE ARE GOING SWIMMING AT FOR OCLOCK.  I CAN'T WAIT.  LOVE AND KISSES  PAMELA

                                      
                                  






Me -- Second from the left in the front row next to Debbie Gassman




                                                                  July 13, 1952

DEAR MOM AND DAD.  I WISH YOU WOULD COME UP AND SEE ME SATURDAY.  PLEASE SEND ME SOME WRITTING PAPPER AND ENVELOPES.  SUSAN HOLLY DIDN'T LIKE CAMP SO SHE WENT HOME AND TOLD THEM TO COME AND GET HER.  SHE WENT HOME THIS AFTERNOON I THINK.  SO SEND ME SOME MORE COMIC BOOKS.  SEND MY BEACH ROBE.  SEND ME SOME OF MY BOOKS.  DON'T SEND ME ANY GUM.  YOU CAN SEND ME CANDY THAT'S O.K.  HOPE YOU LIKE THE WABUNAKI WHISPERS.  ROSES ARE RED. VIOLETS ARE BLUE. YOU VISIT ME AND I'LL LOVE YOU.   PAMELA
                 










L-R  Me, Lee Berndt, Jill ? (Counselor), ?, and Roberta Ahlgren

DEAR MOTHER   HOW ARE YOU.  CABIN 8 AND 9 WENT ON AN OVERNIGHT TRIP.  IT WAS BUGGY.  THE BUGS WERE BITING.  IT IS SUNDAY TODAY.  THERE IS GOING TO BE A HORSE.  LOVE AND KISSES   PAMELA 







             
L-R  Debbie Glassman, Me, and Joyce Ann Graves


DEAR MOM AND DAD    HOW ARE YOU.  WE HAVE A COUNSELOR NAMED TERRY TERRILL. SHE WAS NITSAS COUNSELOR WHEN NITSA WAS TEN.  I HURT MY FOOT VERY BAD AND PLEASE COME TO SEE ME AT FOURTH OF JULY.  LOVE AND KISSES    PAMELA










Me on the Bottom, Ann Dockham on top
DEAR NITSA   I AM FINE.  WE HAVE SWIMMING EVERY MORNING AND EVERY NIGHT.  WE HAVE A GIRL FROM HI.  SHE DANCE BOOM BOOM BOOM    LOVE PAMELA                
           

DEAR MOM AND DADDY    HOW ARE YOU TODAY.  THIS MORNING NITSA SEND ME A MAPLE SUGAR MAN NAMED PETER.  PLEASE SEND ME SOME CRAYONS.  I LOST MINE.  I STILL AM IN THE OLD INFURMARY.  I HAD A VISIT WITH THE DOCTOR YESTERDAY.  LOVE PAMELA     
                



DEAR MOTHER    HOW ARE YOU AND THE FAMILY.  TODAY IT IS RAINING.  WE STAYED INSIDE OUR CABIN PLAYED GAMES.  PEGGYANN PLAYING WITH MY BATON.  THESE ARE THE KIDS IN MY CABIN  JOYCE ANN GRAVES, PEGGY ANN ROOT, DEBRA GLASSMAN.  I AM HAVING FUN HERE AT CAMP.  IM GLAD YOU SEND ME HERE.  MY TOP ON BEACH BALL.  I LOST IT.  DON'T SEND ME ANY GUM.  SEND ME LIFESAVERS IN A LETTER   LOVE PAM






            
L-R FIRST ROW:  ME AND DEBBIE GLASSMAN,
L-R SECOND ROW:  PEGGY ANN ROOT, MARGO ? (COUNSELOR IN
THE MIDDLE) AND JOYCE ANN GRAVES
                           

                                    July 10, 1955
DEAR MOM AND DAD.  I AM MAKING A YELLOW + WHITE DOG LEASH FOR CEASER.  DO YOU LIKE THIS STATIONARY?  I THINK IT IS VERY CUTE.  CARLEE ASTLE GAVE ME THIS.  TRY TO MAKE IT PARENTS WEEKEND SAT. ONLY BECAUSE THERE IS GOING TO BE A SKIT A WATER SHOW AND YOU CAN SEE ME RIDE.  THEN YOU CAN LEAVE SUNDAY.  HAVE LOUISE COME UP.  SHE + NITSA IF POSSIBLE (O.K.)   TODAY IS THE HOTTEST DAY IN MY LIFE.  WE ARE GOING TO STAY DOWN TO THE BEACH ALL AFTERNOON.  THE BUGS ARE HORRID.  THERE ARE THREE ALIVE HORNETS NESTS ABOVE MY BED.  I'M SCARED.  I SAW CYNTHIA TODAY.  SHE IS FINE. LASTS NIGHT WE HAD LATE NIGHT.  THAT IS WE STAYED UP UNTIL 9:30.  WE HAD A SNACK, WROTE LETTERS, PLAYED GAMES.  I WORKED ON MY DOG LEASH.  IT IS THIS LONG SO FAR  _________________________  I TRACED IT ON THIS PAPER.  PLEASE SEND ME SOME 2 CENT POSTCARDS LIKE I MAILED TO YOU.  I PASSED MY FOREHAND IN TENNIS.  I AM WORKING ON MY BACKHAND.  IN ARCHERY I PASSED MY BOWMAN IN WHICH THE WHISPERS MY CABIN MATE WOULD  NOT PUT...........................
           
















Me and Debbie Glassman (my best friend at camp)








After reading my childhood letters many times, I realize that while my annual camp experience was a bonus for me and I learned a lot, I was terribly  homesick for my parents, although I tried hard not to show it.  It's difficult for me to say this out loud, even sixty years later, but while I asked Mom and Dad to visit me in almost every letter I wrote, my recollection is that they never came once.  Not even on Parents' Weekend.   Maybe when I was growing up, I figured my parents were just too busy, but now that I know better,  I think it was simply called neglect.    All in all, camp was a wonderful time in my life.  And yet, there were some painful experiences that I've never fully shaken off.  I'll save telling you about these for a later post.  




4 comments:

  1. Pam, I was prepared to laugh my way through this post until I got to the end when it tugged at my heart. Another great one. Many thanks for this. And you don't need to tag your name (at least for me). I'd recognize you anywhere, any age.

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  2. oh my!! what a poignant post. Reflections of childhood and a mature realization at the very end. I cant believe that you preserved all of these over the years! Awesome!

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  3. Uncle Charlie was my grandfather, Aunt Chick my grandmother; I was born in Littleton. I loved reading your posts because it reminded me of both of them and my own camping days. I spent treasured times at Camp Wabunaki.

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    1. Dear CRL -- I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this post. Of course, we called your Uncle Charlie Uncle Chuck. I have so many more stories to share. Please feel free to write me at pamperk1@gmail.com so we can communicate outside of my blog. Thank you so much for writing. I might have known your father or your mother and would love to know more about them. I treasured my days at camp. Regards,
      Pam Perkins

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