Miss Fannie worked as housekeeper to the Kauths after Mrs. Kauth was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. When a cook could not be found for Talako in 1943 she was to cook for one season. She stayed until 1976. She remained in Tuckahoe, keeping house for Mr. Kauth after Mrs. Kauth's death. Afterwards she returned to Virginia where she died at 99 years old.

I was one of the lucky ones who can say she grew up in camp.

I started as a scared homesick kid at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah. Had never been away from my family or the Bronx up to that point. Ran away, had everyone looking for me. Laughing now, was not funny then! But once I gave it a chance, there was no looking back.

We moved that winter to the suburbs and I was transferred to Camp Talako, since it was closer. And there I stayed - Camper, Senior Camper, Kitchen Girl, CIT, Counselor, Assistant Waterfront....even worked three years at a non Girls' Vaction Fund, Inc. camp after Talako was no more, bringing with me all the joy and knowledge I had been lucky enough to garner the previous summers.... But some of my very best memories are of Miss Fannie.

I can't begin to tell you how this amazing woman affected my life. She was funny but serious, gentle but tough, an incredible teacher not just in the kitchen but in the stuff of life. One of my earliest memories is of her asking me to peel eggs - something I'd never done. Well, when she came over to check on me, she realized I'd lost half the eggs themselves along with the shells to the garbage can! But instead of getting upset, she laughed and laughed! "Miss Chickie!" she tried to yell in between bursts of giggles, "have you never peeled an egg, child???" Makes me laugh out loud to this day.....and I am the BEST egg peeler now!

She and I became very close. I wanted to thank her for the summer, so I saved my money and presented her with a beautiful light cardigan as a gift at the end of the season. It actually touched her to the point that I saw tears in her eyes, which of course made the same thing happen to me. She said it would be her "going to church" sweater from that day on. I don't think I'd ever been more proud.

A few years later, rebel that I was, I ran away from home for a week or so. I knew exactly where to go - and stayed in Miss Fannie's cabin, hidden behind the big rocks by the side of the road, where I'd spent so many hours just talking with her. It was perfect - still had her curtains, her bed, her scent. I stayed alone with my books and guitar (learned at camp, of course), except for talking with the occasional fisherman down at the waterfront. To this day, it was one of the most peaceful weeks of my life.

I kept tabs on Miss Fannie through the Kauth family on occasion, but we all eventually lost track of each other. I was so sad to hear of her passing, but I knew she had considered her life a success, deservedly so. And she was so present when we all gathered last year to memorialize my friend, Glenn Kauth. The presence of all the Alumni, still with us or not, was palpable that day - I wouldn't have missed it.

So Miss Fannie, thank you again for the wonderful days you gave me. A smile still comes to my face when I remember our many conversations and I hear your laughter. I hope you and the Kauths and the other Girls' Vacation Fund/Boys Athletic League folks are looking down and also smiling as you are all so fondly remembered....

With love and affection,

Chickie*

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