was one of the lucky ones who can say she grew up in
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,