|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|
|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 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.