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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Camp Comstock - 1959 - Merrymen Unit

  After Frontier Unit, the next summer, regular campers went either to Viking or Merrymen. I was put in Merrymen. It was 1959 and I had just finished 6th grade. Merrymen had platform tents instead of shelters. I did write down the first names of these girls: Carol, Karen and Judy. But I must never have interacted with them again after those two weeks. I have no idea who they are.
platform tent

My memories of Merrymen are very sketchy. It was camp, so it was great, but I did not really make any friends. We were all on the brink of junior high, but as you know, I had no interest in being a junior high girl.

The counselors, as always, were college girls. This is Sol and Soapy.
college girls 1959

This is Skeeter. I sort of remember her a bit. She wasn't as girly as the other two, so I liked her. Notice the camp uniform: white shirt, green Girl Scout shorts, green knee socks, and the unit tie. Each unit had its own color.

One of the best things about not being in the Frontier (tenderfoot) Unit was that you got to do some more interesting things. Way at the north end of the camp property was a cave. It was called Fossil Cave. Of course, this is New York shale. There were fossils everywhere. I came home with pockets full every year. But it was a full-day adventure to hike to the cave and explore. We went as a unit, with packed lunches, and got to fool around.
cave in shale cliff

Of course, the waterfront was a huge part of the daily activities. I was still stuck in Green Caps (intermediate) because I could not manage to get the "scissor" out of my frog kick. The docks are pretty much the same to this day, although I'm sure the actual structure has been replaced. You can see the buddy board. There were sets of round dogtags that you pinned on your swimsuit. When a buddy check was called, you had to quickly join up with the other girl with the same number as you, hold hands and lift them high out of the water. This is an easy safety check. It could still be used for all I know.
camp waterfront

I was disappointed that Merrymen still had to use rowboats. I really wanted to learn to canoe! Now, I'm glad that I DO know how to maneuver a rowboat, although it's sure not a skill I use very often.

The song of the Merrymen was: "We are the Merrymen, jolly-o, Merrymen. We come from Comstock as you all may know. As for the work we do, we leave it up to you. We're the merry, merrymen. We're not so slow, Ho!"

Just to record it, although I never was in Viking, that song was: "Vikings are we, for we love the sea, and we sing and dance so merrily. And we never mind the weather, just as long as we're together, we are sea-birds of a feather, Vikings are we."

Incidentally, Marie and I did not meet until the following summer, but we just missed each other in 1959. She always went to camp for 2nd session, and I went to 3rd session. She was also in Merrymen that year, but we were staggered by two weeks.

So, what was I like in 1959? Well. Ugh. I was awkward and confused. Because I was so good at school studies, teachers always liked me. But in 6th grade, the teacher that started the year got pregnant and took a leave. She was replaced by a man who did not like me. I guess he thought I was more of a smart aleck than smart. I didn't really know how to deal with that.

We had school pictures taken every other year. This is me in 6th grade. I have the fake front teeth (see link below). I was put back in glasses for a while.
6th grader

Here's another picture of me from the summer of 1959. I'm showing you this one because there is a story that goes with that jumpsuit. Mom had actually purchased new fabric to make that for me. It was off-white with little drawings of people on old fashioned bicyles. I really liked it. That fall, I begged and begged to wear it to school with a skirt over it (of course, we had to wear skirts). Mom finally relented, but gave me a serious lecture about not ruining it. I was really hard on clothes as you can imagine. At recess, I sat on the wooden bleachers and didn't play any games at all so I wouldn't damage that suit. At the end of recess, I slipped getting off the bleachers, caught it on a rough spot, and came home with a triangular tear in the shoulder. You know how happy my mother was. I doubt she ever believed my story, but it was true. It was mended, and seemed fine to me, but I know Mom was sensitive about sending me to school in patched clothes.
thin girl

So, here I was, aged 11, and heading into 7th grade. When gifts were called for, people were giving me gifts for a "young lady." I wanted jackknives, a horse, and books. Sigh.

One other really nice thing happened that summer, though. There was a Fireman's Carnival every year, and I took a bunch of pictures. This one, taken from the top of the ferris wheel, was printed in the local paper. My first published work.
1959 carnival

In other news: I got boxes of stuff lined up to go to recycle this week, and I took a first shot at recording my books for audiobooks. If I have to pay a narrator, I'll never make a cent. I may be able to do it well enough.

See 1958- Frontier Unit
See the entire series about Camp Comstock


Ellie said...

Where is Camp Comstock? Your pictures reminded me of the four summers I spent as a Girl Scout Camp counselor. I have many (not very fond) memories of the counselor uniform. However, for two of the years we actually had white shorts. How crazy is that! I actually loved sleeping in those platform tents all summer, under the mosquito netting and usually with the canvas sides rolled up. When I got back to college at the end of summer, sleeping in my dorm room seemed horribly stuffy and my feet got sore from walking on pavement instead of soft dirt. I spent one of my summers at Cap Tocanja, near Muskegon. Lots of great camp memories. Thanks for helping me remember!

Ann said...

The good old days. I never went to any summer camps.

The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "We looked this place up on the Google! Was it in Ithaca? Our Dada says it looks very Watkins Glen-y!"
Charlee: "Speaking of our Dada he says he only went to summer camp one summer and it wasn't a staying-there camp, it was a riding-there-on-the-bus camp, and it was almost comically bad. So we're not surprised he never went back. Your camp looks like a lot more fun!"

Sharkbytes said...

Ellie- on Cayuga Lake in NY

Ann- aw, that's a shame

Lulu- it was. I introduced the camp at the beginning of the series. See https://myqualityday.blogspot.com/2021/03/comstock-and-bailiwick-setting-stage.html

Charlee- tell Dada that's really too bad. Camp should be a great time for kids in the summer