Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This was the main lodge and dining hall of Camp Conrad Wesier in the mid 70's where I spent a glorious month each Summer. It was all boys and run by the YMCA. We camped and shot .22's and hiked and canoed and rode horses and played softball. We were taught orienteering and fire building and life saving.We played ping pong and horseshoes and tether-ball and engineered pranks on the other cabins. When you hit the upper villages as an older kid you slept in tents on cement platforms and then in open front lean-to's. Your clothes were damp but not your spirits.
In the dining hall one kid at each table was assigned as "waiter." When your day came in the rotation you awaited the command from a slightly androgynous steward named "Skip." He would chirp into a microphone up front: "Waiters serve" and you would file through the kitchen and trays would be heaped with stainless steel vessels of steaming baked chicken and mashed potatoes or spaghetti or meat loaf, green beans and salad that was more white butt-end of iceberg than it was green. Ham on Thursdays with a vaguely Amish toned raisin sauce, Roast Beef on Sunday that ended up fatigue brown and over-cooked thanks to the Berks county ladies who staffed the range in the back. Fried chicken was a hit and grilled cheese at lunch was a kill or be killed affair. Breakfast offered spongy pancakes with a gelatinous syrup substance in a stainless pitcher over which someone had whispered the word "Maple." Bowls of dry-wall mud oatmeal barely palatable with fifteen scoops of brown sugar. The hamburgers were gristle pucks and the peanut butter was like cooled macadam that had faded to brown. We were 11 and 12 and 13 year old kids. We ate for fuel and little more. We had rules at the table and the counselors tried to sneak some manners into the routine. If you breached the loose rules of etiquette...and we did...you had to stay behind and wipe down tables under Skip's relentless scrutiny.
On the walls were college pennants and Indian paraphenalia.The ceilng had huge beams and every surface was spotless. One wall held green and white arrows with names burned into the wood. My name is on a few of those arrows commemorating the days I was chosen as "Officer of the Day" during my later Summers.
A few years ago we took our Cub Scout den to a weekend event at the Camp. I found my name on those arrows and the smell was still bleach and wax and boiled hot dogs.