Tuesday, January 5, 2010



Some of my fellow bloggers have been in a sentimentally mood talking about places and times gone by, so I will gone the fray after finding an old laundry bag in my excavation.

At a younger time and a younger me, I was shipped off to Carolina to camp for several weeks during the summers of younger years.

This was probably to get me out of the house, out of town or out of their lives, but I had no choice in it.
A narrow sandy beach on a shoal draped by wooden drafty cabins, shutters clapping in the wind became my home for weeks, my only familiar was a wooden trunk with towels, t-shirts, and underwear. My new life was spent with college age men showing young boys how to shoot arrows, sail small boats, and water ski, before retiring to rusty spring cots with tight sheets listening to parties in the distance.

Early on there were campfires and stories of Black Beard pirate escapades, but within a year the base became familiar and easy to adjust from city to sandy. I began to look forward to being gritty for weeks with sand and salt water, and with time became an accomplished archer and sailor.

Every summer, the camp would load themselves into canoes (except the counselors boarding speed boats to meet us at the docks on the other end) and we would paddle across the shoal to a distant point for a lunch and a trip back. Quickly I learned that paddling a canoe is a partnership with the crew and the water. First in front, then in the back, my partner and I tried every configuration to straighten our path, only to zigzag under the burning summer sun. Finally reaching our destination, we were rewarded with a lunch at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant situated out on a pier.

I had eaten in some of the best restaurants, but this was different. Tony’s was famous for homemade fresh seafood straight off the boat by local seamen and prepared by the finest home cooking available in Carolina.

A rich creamy smooth clam chowder was placed in a bucket of a bowl and served with ground pepper corns and fried hush puppies. Even my sunburn enjoyed this new taste pallet. For the first time in my life, I actually tasted home cooking.

The meal filled us and gave the energy to paddle back to camp into the dark with new partners and a straighter path.

And camp wasn’t all about getting away from parents, playing in the water, and eating local delicacies. There was an introduction to girls.

Every summer, at the end of our stay in this camp, there was an interactive activity known as dancing. Yes, boys and girls, the social culture required every boy and every girl to learn how to hold each other close.

So a woman in flying glasses and tights came to the dinner hall with the tables moved to the corners. She wiggled and jumped and swayed in motions never seen by these young prepubescent boys.

After we learned to twist and gyrate to the turntable playing safe songs of folk music and a whiff of African American rhythm and blues, we dressed in our cleanest t-shirts and waited for the arrival of the opposite sex.

A busload of young ladies in puffy dresses and turned up sprayed hair does, were presented to the dusty floor to the awe of a wall hugging line of boys and the chuckles of the older counselors cajoling with the female escorts.

The music began to fill the hall, but no one moved from his or her secure lines across the void. The counselors started the action cutting up he rug. Then one girl crossed the room and tapped a shy boy who reluctantly followed her to the center of the floor and started to shake. Then a boy feeling brave cross the no-man’s land grabbing a girl’s arm and started a movement. Eyes scanned the room for an appropriate partner. One by one we all made the leapt of faith into a new world of music, conversation, and touching the opposite sex.

So Camp Morehead was a huge learning experience for brief summer visits.

1 comment:

TripleG said...

Great story. I'm amazed at all the old photos you've saved from way back; very glad you did.
The name of the camp is pretty amusing, and you described a teenage dance in the 60s exactly. They must all have been the same, and I bet they all played "Blue Moon" (1961) at least once.
Last night I noticed that the Red Lobster parking lot is always filled with Buicks -- and Tony's has three Buicks outside too. The more things change...some things don't, really.