Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor
A July Memory of Rowley's Pond at Camps Wabigoon and Wahanda

August 11, 2022 --

As always, the months of July and August are causes for remembering the summers LPR spent at Camp Wabigoon (sister Camp Wahanda) from 1947, as a seven year -old freshman, to 1961, as a fourth-year and 21-year old counselor. This year's end-of-July heat wave got LPR to thinking of the Wabigoon response to hot July days: all-day swims at our location on the south shore of our lake, officially known as Rowley's Pond. In particular, LPR remembers the comment of Wabigoon head counselor Rusty Grant, announcing activities would be canceled for the swim: "Be thankful you're not in the city on a day like this."

This summer marks 75 years since my first summer at Wabigoon, just two years after the end of World War II. Interestingly, the world has changed a lot less the past 75 years, compared to the 75 years between 1872 and 1947. After all, we had planes and radios and telephones in 1947. All were yet to be invented in 1872.

Under camp directors Dr. Phil and Gladys Brandstein (who was a lawyer in an age when there weren't many women attorneys), campers at Wabigoon and Wahanda enjoyed a variety of cultural, as well as sport, activities. In large measure the culture was some-bred-- with a group putting on a show every Saturday night. The drama staged at Wabigoon in 1956 sticks clearly in mind --amidst a full day of team sports, softball, basketball, volleyball, plus swimming, and gold and tennis, the senior group that year performed Stalag 17 -- where did we find the time to learn our lines?

The boys of Wabigoon probably thought they were going to an athletic camp, but a sense of culture gently intruded on the Wabigoon spirit. There were the annual trips to Tanglewood for the concert by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston. Pops Orchestra (consisting of players from the Boston Symphony). As a camper, I saw my first Shakespeare plays, Measure for Measure at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ct., in 2016 and, the following year, The Merchant of Venice with the marvelous Morris Carnovsky as Shylock. In addition, the girls of Wahanda traveled to the dance festival at Jacob's Pillow, in Massachusetts every summer. Included as a cultural activity must be the weekly "Spell It Out" game at Wabigoon; even the geographical treasure hunts.

The Camp Wabigoon waterfront on Rowley's pond as seen from left field on the old Wabigoon softball field. A fly ball in the lake was usually a home run (unless, in going around the bases, the runner missed second, as this writer once did--the one time he hit a ball into the lake.)

Sunday night was movie night at Wabigoon and Wahanda.

Wednesdays, the seniors went into Winsted for a matinee feature at the Srnd (other other groups less frequently). An annual cultural activity was the group sings at Wabigoon and Wahanda, presaging the sings at the two camps that bought a close to the three-day activity-filled event known as color war, where each camp was separated into two teams, the Green and the White (for the camps' colors).

(LPR was general of the White Norsemen in 1959; we lost, by four points -- out of some 900 -- to the Green Vaqueros.)

Also included as a cultural activity must be the annual Big Show, a Broadway musical, performed halfway into August by the seniors of Wabigoon and Wahanda, after merely two weeks of rehearsals, amidst inter-camp games with teams from Wah-nee, Delaware, Berkshire, Birchwood and Mooween.

The boys of Wabigoon believed strongly that our camp had a spirit unlike any other camp. Part of that spirit was engendered by the all-day swims of a hot day in July on Smith Hill, above Winsted, Connecticut.