Silver Lake, Camp Oh-Neh-Tah, 1955



1955 was my first year as a camper at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah, I was 8 years old, and this photograph elicits very powerful memories. The sepia tones of the photograph are close to the color of the waterfront on some very early mornings.

The bus would to drop us and our luggage off right there behind the Trading Post.
While we were receiving our cabin assignments and meeting our counselor and cabin mates, Mr. Kading was using the old station wagon to deliver our suitcases to the cabins.
My first counselor was Miss Arlene (Conboy), Miss Mary (Wheeler) was Program Director and lived in our cabin too; first cabin: Kickapoo, first best friend: Claire McDonald. Claire's brother Billy, was the waterfront director at Sebago, and he was very cute, which made Claire especially popular among the counselors. : ) Billy eventually married Miss Julie (Igneri), the waterfront director at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah.

I remember the sound of our shoes hitting the wooden deck of the waterfront as we headed toward the dining hall for meals. I remember a few of us walked really fast along the path from the flagpole down to the dining hall for breakfast in order to be at the front of the line. We needed to be at the front because every morning there was a huge spider web on the wooden guardrail. The web dripped with accumulated dew and looked like a majestic diamond necklace. The web was there every moring, but eventually one of the campers would reach out and swat and destroy it.

You had to be toward the front of the line if you wanted to see the web in all its glory.

The dininghall was warm and cozy, with magnificent views. All tables were the best tables in the house. On one side was a view of the waterfall, on another a view of the stream meandering through the trees and around a bend, and on another, Silver Lake, which on the rare occasion included, if we were lucky, the snapping turtle, which would pull itself out of the steamy lake and up onto the raft. If that happened, a combination of waterfront and nature counselors headed out in canoes with the hope of capturing the turtle and having the cook transform it into a nice soup.

There were bleachers attached to the boathouse. We would sit there while waiting to hoist off in a boat for our rowing lessons. Miss Elsie taught me to row in less than one session. She taught in exactly the way required for me to learn. When I was a senior camper and taught rowing, I taught it exactly as Miss Elsie had taught me. We also sat in the bleachers for special events, like the water programs, and occasionally vespers. Other times, if a light rain prevented our swim, we might sit there singing or having an impromptu talent show while waiting out the rain.


June 2006

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